Hand tools, does brand really matter?

I was watching a video yesterday with 2 Australian bush mechanics and they said they never take the ratcheting combo wrenches specifically because they're more difficult to get into tighter spaces. Their reasoning was between the head being a lot larger and no offset, it just increased the chance you may not get it on what you need.
I have both ratchets and ratcheting wrenches. Plenty of bolts on my vehicle where it is only one or the other. For example, damn near impossible to replace a spark plug with a ratcheting wrench. Likewise, damn near impossible to get a ratchet under the body to unbolt a body mount.
Back when I was younger and dumber, I spent a lot of time wrenching on high-mileage New England cars and trucks with crappy tools. I would have saved hundreds of dollars and a fair bit of bloodshed had I just bought decent stuff to begin with (breaking a socket or wrench on a stubborn bolt, especially when inexperienced, may result in sudden contact between your hand/arm and a sharp piece of vehicle). And that's not even counting the countless rounded bolts and nuts that I ended up needing to deal with.

Even 10 years ago, I would've just said, "Craftsman", because while their stuff isn't the best, the lifetime warranty means that they don't expect to be replacing it, but I've since made repeated trips to swap out failed Craftsman made-in-China ratches, and that Sears is no longer open. I'd stick with lifetime-warranty stuff, and for sockets (especially larger ones), I'd carry six-sided impact sockets even if you don't have impact tools. As long as the thicker walls don't prevent you from getting the socket on a bolt or nut, using a socket designed to handle impact forces vastly reduces the chance that you will break it by hand (even after you put a pipe over the handle of your breaker bar).
I have a lot of Craftsman tools that I bought nearly 40 years ago and a lot of Harbor Freight "Pittsburgh" tools that I have bought over the past 10 year span. Really no issues with either. Ace Hardware in my area now carries Craftsman. In my tool roll that stays in my daily its all Pittsburgh, I've beat the heck out of these.
The tools at home are a mix of mostly older (1960s-1970s) Craftsman, with a few specialty items from Snap-On, Proto, Blackhawk, SK, Thorsen. All good. The set I carry in the truck is branded Crescent (from Costco) and seems to be pretty good quality. The everyday jobsite tools are Husky (Home Depot, pretty decent), GearWrench (pretty decent), and Pittsburgh (Harbor Fright, sloppy fit but nice chrome). There is a lot of older Craftsman out there on Craigslist and such, so if on a budget, that's where I'd start.
Stanley/Black & Decker bought the Craftsman name,they already own some other common brand names.I hope the quality is as good as the Craftsman stuff I bought in the 70's.
Stanley/Black & Decker bought the Craftsman name,they already own some other common brand names.I hope the quality is as good as the Craftsman stuff I bought in the 70's.
We have Stanley hydraulic stuff and work and it is very high end stuff but the hand tools I have seen from them are Walmart big box lower price stuff. Sockets are good enough, wrenches are good enough but anything that ratchets are not so good. I have some 20 plus year old Craftsman ratchets and tools, the new ones are not the same.
I always have had Craftsman and Snap-On. I personally don't like the Snap-On wrenches...the handle/middle is really narrow and cuts into my fingers more than the thicker Craftsman ones. You can find Craftsman on sale as many have said or find them on Craigslist cheap too. Yes I find ratchets the exception to the Craftsman rule....get good ratchets....or if you don't want to spend top dollar...get a couple of moderate priced ones. Then replace the worn out one as needed. Just another way to do it for emergency tools.


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I understand it can be a considerable amount of money to tie up for "fancy name" tools; however, in a muddy field is NOT where you want your open end 9/16" wrench to blow apart.

I'm third generation Snap-On "fan boy" but in my experience, they fail the least. Note I did not say they "don't fail" because I've broken every brand of tool made (including the good European brands Facom etc.). Dad had all the tool companies coming to the shop: Snappy, Mac, Matco, Cornwell etc. Plenty of Craftsman (particularly larger sockets- 3/4" drive stuff) Tried them all, and keep coming back to Snap-On. They all fail. As noted above, the lifetime warranty on Craftsman was enticing, but going back several times in the same week to replace broken tools does not help productivity.

All that said, if you have a set (not brand) of tools that have performed well for you, those should go in your truck on expedition. I like to keep a pad on my tool box in the shop and note the exact tools I'm using during my build/restoration/outfitting so that every need will be covered. But, no sense carrying a set of Torx sockets to cover the ONE torx socket head fill plug on the R380...

So be smart about the pack, but never skimp on the quality. Once the adrenaline and rage are flowing, trying to get to the camp location as it's pushing 11:00PM, stuff can break that you just never anticipated.