Welcome to my third installment in the “is this accessory compatible” series. Today we’re going to be looking at the Kobalt K-Rail track system.
If you go to Lowe’s as much as I do, you’ve probably seen Kobalt products.
Kobalt is a Lowe’s store brand of tools and accessories. It was created in 1998 to compete with Home Depot’s Husky and Sears’ Craftsman brands.
Fast-forward twenty years, Lowe’s purchased the Craftsman brand from Sears in 2018.
Some speculated that the Kobalt line would be discontinued, but the brand is still going strong several years later. There has yet to be an announcement one way or the other about the future of the Kobalt line.
You can check out the other installments in my “Will this accessory work” series here:
- Will this accessory work with Gladiator GearTrack?
- Will this accessory work with Rubbermaid FastTrack?
- Will this accessory work with Craftsman VersaTrack?
Now, let’s dig into the Kobalt K-Rail system.
How the Experiment Works
The theory behind this test is simple.
- I bought a hook and track piece from Rubbermaid
FastTrack, Gladiator GearTrack, Craftsman VersaTrack, and the Kobalt storage rail system found at Lowe’s.
- I mounted each on my wall and tested each brand’s hook to see if it fit and if it could hang anything reliably.
One of my biggest gripes is that I’m never really sure if the hook or accessory I’m looking at will work with the system I already own. This experiment seemed like a cheap and easy way to figure it out, and I hope it’ll help you too.
This test also helped me choose the best track storage system for my garage.
I hope you like what I discovered.
The Kobalt K-Rail Design
It’s easy to see how the Kobalt K-Rail got its name if you look at one of the tracks from the side. It makes a very distinctive ‘K’ shape.
The rail itself is made of black textured PVC plastic. There’s a simple white Kobalt logo on the bottom left of each rail, but it’s easy to cover it up or scrape it off if you want a cleaner look.
Installing the Kobalt K-Rail is very similar to installing any other track system.
Each rail should be secured to at least two wall studs. However, attaching it to more, when possible, will add to its weight capacity.
In the image above, the rail is secured by a screw in the center. However, you can also attach it with screws in the top and bottom of the rail.
How the Kobalt K-Rail Accessories Are Supposed To Fit
The way the hooks attach to the rail makes the Kobalt different from any other track systems I’ve tested. It’s closer to a slatwall storage system than something like RubberMaid
Typically, the weight of the hook and what its holding provides the friction needed to stick on the track. Usually, the tracks themselves are smooth plastic or metal pieces.
Kobalt takes the opposite approach.
The Kobalt K-Rail hook is smooth and relatively streamlined. Rather than the hook providing friction, the friction needed to keep the hook from sliding around comes from the rail itself.
You can see in this image below that the Kobalt hook looks very different from the typical ‘C’ channel found in every other track system.
Looking at the bottom of the Kobalt hook, the differences become apparent.
There is no upwards curve, and the hook seems to rest on the track rather than grip it.
That likely contributes to the Kobalt hook not working on systems other than their own.
Test 1: Gladiator GearTrack
The Gladiator GearTrack accessories slide on easily over the top of the Kobalt K-Rail. Yet, there’s nothing to secure them on the bottom.
As a result, the Gladiator accessories are incredibly insecure when you put them on the K-Rail.
There is a ton of side-to-side motion, and I can’t imagine putting any weight on this hook.
It just doesn’t feel secure.
The Gladiator accessories snap into the GearTrack and
It has no stability because there’s nothing for those hooks to latch on to on the K-Rail system.
Compatible with Kobalt K-Rail? Barely
Test 2: Craftsman VersaTrack
This is the first test that the Craftsman has failed.
The Craftsman accessories are at least somewhat compatible with all of the other system I’ve tried.
Not in this case.
The Craftsman VersaTrack hooks and accessories have one of the most secure and versatile ways of attaching to their channel. First, the top of their hook is an upside-down ‘U’ shape that locks onto the track.
The bottom of the hook has a locking mechanism to give it more stability and keep it from moving around under load.
Unfortunately, for this test, the lock on the bottom of the Craftsman hook won’t let it slide over the top of the K-Rail channel.
Because of that, the Craftsman VersaTrack accessory fails this test outright.
Compatible with Kobalt K-Rail? No!
Test 3: Rubbermaid
If you thought the Craftsman VersaTrack result was bad, wait until you see the Rubbermaid
It barely hangs on, even when the hook isn’t holding any weight.
The C-channel on the top of the Rubbermaid hook is so shallow that it walls off at the slightest vibration or even a fairly strong breeze.
The Rubbermaid hook is too narrow that it can’t slide over the K-Rail’s lower channel.
Compatible with Kobalt K-Rail? Definitely not!