My router came in a plastic tool box called a systainer.

It is made in a way that the bottom could interlock with the top. this means I could stack multiple of these boxes and lock them together for transport. I thought that this is a way to convince me to buy more tools from the same manufacturer.

But recently I noticed that the tool boxes of a professional carpenter from festo look similar and I wondered if they would be compatible with mine. In a store I that visited today I saw that tool boxes from hitachi had a suspiciously similar shape and locking system.

Are all these boxes in fact the same box system that different manufacturers use? Is this some kind of open standard like screw heads, bit diameters, etc.? Are the systainers from different brands compatible with each other? What other "features" does a systainer have?

  • Not a clue, but I'm interested to learn more. Never heard of them..
    – bowlturner
    May 19 '15 at 18:39
  • 2
    Walk into your local store with your empty router case, go to the return desk/office/nearest cashier so they know you're bringing it in, and ask if you can check compatibility against what they currently sell. You may get an employee escort, or they may just turn you lose, but either way, they'll most likely let you check it out in the hopes of making a sale.
    – FreeMan
    May 20 '15 at 2:11

It depends.

The most notable feature of these storage systems is that you can stack one case on top of another and engage one or more latches to securely fasten it to the case below. The idea is that you can stack as many as you want, though stacking them in this manner quickly becomes impractical in terms of actually accessing your tools.

Systainer stack


For the purposes of this discussion, I'm going to use the term compatible to refer to cases that were designed to latch together with strategically-placed latches, recesses, and tabs. When two or more cases are latched together, you can lift a stack of them with a single handle.

Systainer is the brand-name for interlocking tool cases manufactured by Tanos. Systainers included with Festool and Fein tools are compatible with each other, as well as with other Systainers manufactured by Tanos. The current line is called T-Loc, but these can still be stacked on top of the older Classic Systainers.

There are several competing lines of interlocking storage containers which are not compatible with Systainers. For example:

  • Bosch's L-Boxx line of tool cases is compatible with other L-Boxx cases manufactured by Sortimo, but not with Systainers.
  • DeWalt has two different lines of interlocking toolcases, Tough System and Tstak. Unfortunately, you cannot mix-and-match between the two lines.
  • Stanley also sells its own interlocking tool cases, but their line is not as consistent--for example, the smaller-size Stanley cases are not compatible with the larger sizes, even though they use similar interlocking systems.

If you aren't sure whether a case will be compatible with your existing case(s), you can usually tell just by looking at the product dimensions. With most of the systems, the footprint is the same for all the cases in a product line, and the cases only vary in height.

  • The is a lot of talk about this out there. Some of the other systems are "compatible" but compatible ranges from different things from they lock to they sit on each other. I would not go into this assuming that they are truly compatible.
    – Matt
    May 19 '15 at 19:18
  • 2
    I guess it's the festool stack that keeps the building from falling over and not the other way round.
    – null
    May 19 '15 at 20:34
  • I just noticed that they've got a clock hung on that stack. Validates my question of "what's the point of all these containers?". Unless you're hauling tools to worksites on a daily basis, these boxes just take up space in the shop. If you are hauling tools, these boxes take up way more space in the trailer than just putting the tools themselves in. Though, I guess at the cost of Festool, you want them to be protected at all cost.
    – FreeMan
    Sep 30 at 15:31

Systainers are all made by, or licensed from Tanos. There are two main styles - the classic style and the TLoc. The TLocs can stack on top of the classics, but not vice-verse. Several vendors, most notably Festool, but also Metabo, Fein, Makita, Veritas, and Mirka either use or offer as an option Systainers for their tool storage.

You can also purchase empty systainers.

There are 4 different footprint sizes of systainer. Maxi are available only in the classic style.

  • Mini (10.43" wide x 6.73"deep x 2.80" high)
  • Normal (15.59"wide x 11.65" deep) and 4.13" - 16.53" high
  • Midi (19.52" wide x 11.65" deep) and 6.2" - 8.26" high
  • Maxi (23.46" wide x 15.59" deep) and 6.2" - 8.26" high

Normal, Midi, and Maxi systainers are available in different heights.

  • Sys I - 4.13"
  • Sys II - 6.20"
  • Sys III - 8.26"
  • Sys IV - 12.40"
  • Sys V - 16.53"

Systainer TLoc Sizes

You can quickly determine the size of a systainer by looking at the horizontal ridges below the label area. If there are none, it is a SYS 1, 1, a SYS 2, and so on, up to 4 for a SYS 5.

Drawer systainers are also available with several different drawer configurations. They stack anywhere a classic systainer will.

Drawer Systainers

See Lee Valley for other systainer options, including carts and toolboxes.


I first bought a tool in a storage box from Bosch, it says Systainer on the lid and I found that it would stack and lock onto Makita Makpac boxes even though the Makita lid edges were slightly rounded off on one side. Unfortunately Bosch have in recent years gone to a different design called the "L box" which is no longer compatible with Makpac. This is a shame as I now have one oddball case for a Bosch Professional 12v tool that does not stack tidily with all the rest.


years later....well now you can !! I have a stack of L-Boxx's...just purchased "Englebert Strauss" (systainer)system boxes plus an adapter plate. The only down side is that the new Systainer boxes via the adapter plate are on the bottom of the older L-boxx stack. However, the plate is compatible with Tstak, Macpac,systainer,L-boxx...which is nice. (would have been better to have a plate ontop of the old boxes to accommodate the new systainers but hey ho...a step in the right direction.

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