Super Awesome Everyday Design – Rubbermaid Roughneck

As designers and engineers we work hard to develop products that stand the test of time and have a positive impact on society.  Knowing how challenging it is to accomplish this goal, makes us appreciate the designs around us that have achieved it. Some of these products we use and acknowledge every day, while others live in the background, smoothing out our lives without us even being aware of it.

In our new series, Super Awesome Everyday Design, we will take a look at some of those great designs that may be going unnoticed.


Let’s face it, we love stuff. We love new things that enhance our lives. We love old things, like family photo albums. And we love things that we use once or twice a year on special occasions – that ceramic Christmas tree with lights your grandma made. Surrounding and protecting this stuff lives a silent warrior. The Rubbermaid Roughneck. Simple and robust, the Roughneck lives in cold garages and damp sheds, pickup beds and 4×4 roof racks, standing in the face of time and the elements to keep precious cargo safe.

Originally conceived in the 80’s by Rubbermaid Commercial Products division, the storage container was named the Brute. Quite fitting. What sets this design apart from the crowd is its focus towards extreme real world use. The plastic blend used on the container is made to withstand large impacts, resist breaking down in extreme temperatures, and resist sun damage.

In 2006 the Brute became the Roughneck, and went through a minor color and branding refresh, led by Don Presnell. Beyond minor alterations through its history, the Roughneck has remained the same. A testament to simple design and strong craftsmanship.  Often its durability outlasts even its contents, and its uses are, well, endless.

We have compiled a list of unconventional uses for the Rubbermaid Roughneck thanks to the good people who write reviews on the internet:

  • Kitty litter box
  • Crocheted tea cozy storage
  • Fresh shucked oyster transport
  • Greasy engine part storage
  • Sledding
  • Science lab equipment storage
  • Luggage
  • As a pond
  • As a bedframe and under bed storage
  • For growing seedlings
  • As a (tiny) bathtub

So, next time you unpack your camping gear or load up for the family road trip, take a moment to appreciate the product that has done so much, and asked so little.  Thank you, Roughneck.