REVIEW – The thing that you carry tools around in is often as important as the things inside of it. Does your stuff get dropped into a deep cavern to rattle around in, requiring a flashlight to find the desired object? Or does everything have a place and is easy to find? I wanted to use this Tool Roll and find out.
What is it?
The Roaring Fire Armadillo tool roll pouch is a heavy-duty canvas tool/gear organizer.
What’s in the box?
The package arrived containing the tool roll, and its shoulder strap.
- Made from Duckwear 16Ann canvas
- Size when rolled up (empty): 14″ x 4″ diameter
- Size when rolled up (full): 14″ x 7″ diameter
- Size when opened for use: 14″ x 26″
Design and features
The tool roll has 9 pockets on the top and bottom of the main compartment, for a total of 18 tool holding places. There is a 1.5″ elastic strap running down the center between the tool pockets, which is bar-stitched to divide into 16 holders. The end that rolls up has two 6.5″ pockets with a flap and velcro closure. The end that completes the roll has three 4″ pockets with a flap and velcro closure. The tool roll is held closed with canvas straps, tensionlocks, and side squeeze buckles. The tool roll has a grab handle, d-rings for the shoulder strap, and an embroidered logo.
Installation and setup
It’s very easy to unpack and start using. Like most projects, the hardest part is deciding which tools need to come off of the pegboard and get placed in the rool. Is today’s project heavy on plumbing? Electrical? Or are we going to Grandma’s to fix everything and need to be prepared like a jack-of-all-trades?
I like the heaviest and bulkiest tools to be at the beginning of the tool roll. The tool pockets are loosely distributed with wider pockets at the ends, with narrower pockets in the center. The elastic strap has the narrowest loops at the rolling end, and larger loops at the closing end. There doesn’t appear to be an alignment between the tool pockets and the elastic loops. This has an impact on tool placement, as the elastic either lines up with a pocket, or doesn’t. Pockets on either side of the tool roll don’t have the option of sharing the elastic straps.
I put in an initial tool set which was a set of essentials, and when rolled up the Armadillo Tool Roll pouch was apprfeciably heavy, but still unexpectedly small in size.
This included some socket bits, to try out the side pockets with small items.
One of the sockets came loose from the pockets into the tool roll. This made me uncertain about the end pockets and retaining small parts.
Several core tools like screwdrivers had an uncertain relationship with the elastic tool loops. The safest and knee-jerk screwdriver placement is to place the pointy end in the pocket and the handle on the interior of the roll. However, this runs the risk of pocking a screwdriver head through the pocket and into your leg, as well as making the tool roll round and lumpy. A better solution is to place the screwdriver handle in the pocket. The mass and size is distributed to the sides of the tool roll, and the poky bits are protected in the interior of the roll. I could not get screwdrivers into the elastic loops. In fact, the tools that could get secured by the elastic had to be either 1) short enough to be slid completely into the tool pockets, or 2) narrow enough to be passed through the elastic loop and into the tool pocket on the opposite side. I notice from the OEM pictures on the Roaring Fire website that the elastic loops are excellent for securing small, stand-alone items like chap-stick, mini-flashlights, pocket multi-tools, or sharpies; that might otherwise be unsecured. I don’t see a large number of screwdrivers, wrenches, or pliers.
So I got a little more serious and tried to give the tool roll a good loading. The tool roll would not hold something as large as a hammer, or my get-r-done crescent wrench. (Although – if I needed to carry it – I could just wrap the roll around it like a burrito.)
With the addition of the second wave of tools, the tool roll acquired some real diameter and some serious weight. It would be possible for me to carry the tool roll with the shoulder strap, but I imagine that the typical location and usage will be permanently behind a car seat, or waiting in the garage to be grabbed and taken to the next project.
I was able to find some items that would fit into the two end pockets. The flap and velcro has pretty tight clearance. Some rubber gloves and some tubes of glue were about as large as could be contained securely.
A roll of electrical tape was too large for the flap to close and engage the velcro.
The tool pockets closest to the closing ends are unexpectedly shallow.
The stitching for a patch of loop velcro is preventing them from being completely used. The website says that the velcro field is for applying patches on the tool roll pouch, and this velcro has stitched the pockets partially closed at the end.
Tool selection for a project is very much a “right tool for the job” situation, and this extends to the toolbox itself. I can imagine working on a car engine, with the tool roll spread open to provide an accessible and useful workspace for the tools and for the various nuts and bolts in play. Setting up a purposed tool roll that lives in the car, or the boat, with the right tool in the right place, would be (for me) an optimal usage of the Armadillo Tool Roll. For other quick projects – where I grab 12 tools and go to the backyard – a small $5 toolbox fits the workflow just as well.
What I like
The tool roll is lightweight and strong. The difference between 8 tools and 20 tools is mostly a question of weight – it doesn’t change the size of the tool roll very much, and the roll holds all tools securely. When unrolled, all tools are quickly displayed and accessible. The roll itself also functions as a work surface for parts and bits, especially when working on a car engine or a similarly awkward situation with a dearth of workbenches. The canvas will hold up well with tools or parts that have oil on them.
What I’d change
- I put a limited number of tools in the elastic loops – partly because I didn’t put many small, narrow tools in the roll. The elastic loops would be more useful if they lined up with the pockets.
- Having tool pockets with complete depth would be more useful than velcro for patches on the tool roll exterior.
- Increase the size of the pocket flaps, so that more/larger items can be stored in the pockets with velcro closure.
- The number of small/medium tool pockets was fine, but the larger tool roll pockets could be increased in size for wrenches/pliers/scissors, etc.
A generic toolbox is just a box for dropping a handful of tools into. The layout and organization of the Roaring Fire Armadillo Tool Roll Pouch promotes a sense of order, and of the specific placement of tools into specific pockets. Depending on the tools, this mostly lines up properly in this tool. A couple of flaws, but a good option for storing a regular assortment of gear that needs to be laid out as a set.