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In the Marines, one piece of gear I wasn’t issued but always carried on me was a multi-tool.
The versatility of a multi-tool is unmatched, and since you won’t always be privy to intel regarding what obstacles you’ll need to overcome throughout your day, the multi-tool reigns supreme as one of the ultimate EDC style tools you’ll ever add to your gear arsenal!
Over the years, I’ve accumulated many of them and decided to share my thoughts about the most popular models in this review.
After rounding up all of my multi-tools and placing them on a table, I realized choosing the best multi-tool isn’t as easy as I thought it would be because there are so many models and variations available nowadays!
I decided the only fair way to layout this review would be by price and purpose-specific use case.
I’ve created and laid out this guide to inform you as much as I possibly can about the world of multi-tools, so whether your new to the world of multi-tools or just looking to add to your collection, you should find some value from it!
At A Glance: Our Top 5 Best Multi-Tools in 2022
- Best in Military Issue: Gerber MP600
- Best for Firearms Enthusiasts: Leatherman MUT
- Best in Ratings: Leatherman SuperTool 300
- Editor's Choice: Leatherman Surge
- Best in Knife Multi-tools: Kershaw Select Fire
Multi-Tool Design Considerations
When it comes to choosing and utilizing a multi-tool, you’ll need to take a long hard look at what you plan to use your multi-tool with.
Many of the multi-tools on this list, although appearing similar and having similar tools, behave completely different. Considering this is especially important if you plan on carrying one of these bad boys with you all day every day and relying on it to get tasks done on a daily basis.
Access to specific tools, defense against the elements, and overall portability are all three important considerations, usually ending up in a tradeoff between the three of those characteristics.
A good example here would be if you need the functionality of a pocket knife but you also like having peace of mind in carrying all of the other tools. If the knife is the most important aspect and is the tool you use often, you would want to consider models where the knife opens from the outside of the chassis instead of models where you have to unpack the device to then deploy the knife blade.
Many models are built specifically for quick one-handed flip outs of the blade and would make excellent multi-tools for people that depend on a blade to do their daily jobs. Something like the SwissTool by Victorinox offers easy access to all of the tools by hosting them on the outside of the shell instead of cooped up inside.
On the flip side, if you’re taking your multi-tool camping or really doing anything outdoors where your multi-tool will face harsh conditions like water, dust, sand, dirt, etc, you might want something that has an emphasis on the defense of your precious tools. A multi-tool with tools on the outside of its shell for quick access are also leaving your most vital tools open to the elements with little to no protection. Something like the Gerber MP-600 packs everything up tightly and does a great job protecting the tools inside but comes at the cost of being slower to deploy, especially for the knife blade.
Best in Military Issue:
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Best for Firearms Enthusiasts:
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Best in Ratings:
Leatherman SuperTool 300
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Best in Knife Multi-tools:
Kershaw Select Fire
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Many multi-tools contain a bunch of different tools and in the market today, many multi-tools are purpose-built for specific uses, like camping and outdoor activities or built for specific trades, like carpentry and construction. There are so many options that I do truly believe there is a multi-tool out there equipped with the necessary tools for everyone!
Considering Size And Weight
The idea of lugging around a multi-tool is to have tools that come in clutch when you need them the most! Being prepared often comes at the cost of having to carry your extra gear, though, which means you might need to find a healthy balance between preparedness and overall weight.
Multi-tools with 20+ tools might be a bit overkill for the average person but they may also contain the tool that can save your life, so make sure you list out each and every tool a multi-tool has and compare them with other gadgets to ensure you’re getting tools you actually need. Like I mentioned before, some multi-tools are designed for specific purposes, like working on a vehicle. If you like camping and that’s your primary goal, buying a multi-tool with car-related tools will just weigh you down and eat up precious pack space!
Multi-tools come in many different sizes and weights and the size of the entire package doesn’t always mean it has more or better tools. For me, I like having a blade length that exceeds 2”, so those super tiny pocket multi-tools aren’t really things I’d consider buying. As a last note, the longer the case is, the more grip and power you can exert on the tool when using something like pliers, which I find very useful. A multi-tool that is too compact can host a bunch of tools but since there is nowhere to grip it, those tools become a hassle to use so keep in mind not only what the case encompasses but the case itself!
The multi-tools I suggest are for the general outdoorsman and contain tools I find essential for everyday life and as such, contain tools that I think are worth the additional weight.
Types of Multi-Tools – What the Military Uses
The very term “Multi-Tool” can mean many different things, by the way. Some people have a very distinct idea of what a multi-tool looks like, but in fact, the term is widely used to represent a bunch of different products on the market today.
Throughout this guide, I am focused on multi-tools that encompass solutions for a way of life that you’d expect from a Marine. Speaking of being a Marine, many multi-tools are loved and adored by those of us in the field. The Gerber MP-600 comes to mind as its one of the primary go-to options for servicemen in all branches due to its simple design, rugged durability, and a perfect selection of tools that we like to have on us at all times.
So, what if you aren’t a Marine, are my suggestions not applicable? I’d say that what a Marine looks for in a multi-tool is exactly what most of my readers, military personnel or not, are looking for! Marines are constantly hiking, camping, and expected to survive harsh conditions with equipment that is incredibly prone to breaking down and needing a little TLC. A multi-tool a Marine would approve of is a multi-tool I’d imagine any outdoorsman and/or tradesman would find plentifully handy due to its wide variety of tools and overall build quality.
The time is now to pick up a handy dandy multi-tool, not after you run into a challenge you can’t solve without the right tool! Hopefully, you read the guide and have found the importance of a good quality multi-tool and you’re ready to take the plunge.
I’ll do my best to review multi-tools in a wide range of price points to ensure all of our readers are prepared for life’s challenges. With that said, however, please understand that multi-tools follow the same rule as pretty much everything else in that you get what you pay for. A low-quality multi-tool quickly becomes a liability instead of a helpful tool due to negligent engineering and low-quality materials. Once a tool or two breaks, the versatility and usefulness of your tool are harshly diminished and thus, I always recommend buying the highest quality multi-tool you can possibly afford. Trust me, following the “buy once, cry once” mantra is a good idea here as it can actually result in you saving money on replacements.
As always, if I’ve left out a multi-tool that’s been your trusty companion or something new and incredible comes out after I post this up, give me a shout out in the comments and I’ll do my best to review what you have to share with us! There are so many options in the world of multi-tools so please keep in mind, this list is focused on general outdoor usage.
Here Are the Best Multi-Tools
1. Leatherman Wave Plus (Best Under $100)
My Review: The Wave+ is Leatherman’s best selling multi-tool for many reasons. It’s one of the most versatile multi-tools on the market and encompasses 18 useful tools.
For those of you who have used the Wave back in the day, this model is the upgraded version that comes with replaceable wire cutters and the entire construction of the multi-tool has gotten a major upgrade, consisting of 420 high carbon steel that is both stronger and lighter than the previous model. This tool weighs 8.5oz which is actually fairly light and it only takes up about 4” in the pack when all closed up, making this an extremely slim multi-tool considering it encompasses so many tools!
The reason I think the Wave+ is the best EDC Multi-Tool is that it’s super compact and has a very well thought out design. For me, the most important tools to have quick access to are the blades.
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With the Wave+ you have the ability to deploy 4 locking blades without having to open the tool. The two blades that I use the most, the plain edge blade and fully serrated blade, both have nicely sized thumb holes and locking systems that allow them to easily be opened and closed with one hand.
By the way, its available in stainless steel polished finish or stainless steel with black accents and boy that black accent version is a beaut! Of course, it goes without saying that the Wave + is also protected and guaranteed under that 25-year deal Leatherman has going on!
For those of you on a tight budget who don’t need top tier durability and plan on using their multi-tool sparingly on jobs that aren’t extremely brutal, the Wave + is a perfect multi-tool with very little complaints from me.
Bottom line: As far as performance and capabilities, this USA-built multi-tool is nearly impossible to beat. To me, this is easily one of the best multi-tools under $100. I cannot recommend this multi-tool enough. Its compact size makes it very EDC friendly and the aftermarket Leatherman pocket clip gives you more carry options. It has 18 useful tools, along with lockable blades that are large, sharp, lockable, and easy to access in the closed position.
2. Gerber MP600 (Military Issue)
My Review: Before I jump into the review on this multi-tool I want to point out that the opening mechanism is very unique and people seem to either love it or hate it. If you’re buying your first multi-tool and want something more traditional then there are better options on this list. I personally am massively biased on this particular multi-tool as it’s been my trusty sidekick countless times. If you’re on a budget and you need a do-it-all device, this is one of my top recommendations as it truly gets the job done with little fuss and complaints.
It’s extremely common in the military, and while I wasn’t issued one in the Marines, I was surprised when a friend of mine told me the MP600 was a required item on the US Army Ranger Course’s packing list.
I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. The MP600 is a US-built multi-tool constructed of high-quality stainless steel, feels lightweight for its size, and utilizes a SAF.T. Plus slide locking mechanism that allows for quick one-handed access to the pliers.
This is one of the most reliable multi-tools out there and operates flawlessly even when filled with dirt and sand.
14 tools might sound under-equipped compared to many other multi-tools on this list but when you get some seriously high-quality tools all packed in tightly together that all have a specific job to do, and they do it well, 14 tools is more than enough.
They weigh about 9oz and are 4.9” when closed, which actually may seem quite hefty comparably, but they hide that weight and size very nicely.
As mentioned, it has 14 tools including a drop point blade that all hideaway snugly inside the shell and can easily be carried on a belt, in a pouch, or pant pocket.
It also comes with your choice of needle nose or blunt nose plier designs in either stainless steel or black color configurations.
Bottom line: This is a very unique multi-tool that’s tough as nails and for the money, it’s hard to beat. The only complaint I have is that tools are not accessible from the outside and the slide opening system takes some getting used to. Since the blades aren’t accessible in the closed position, It wouldn’t be my top recommendation for EDC purposes, but it is a good multi-tool to throw in a backpack or for use in the field.\
3. SOG PowerAssist (Patented Design)
My Review: A cool tidbit on this particular multi-tool is that it’s not only Marine Approved but also GSA approved, meaning its military-grade and is actually used by many operators.
SOG multi-tools are the smoothest opening multi-tools you can get your hands on today. The first thing I did when I got my hands on this tool, after opening and closing it dozens of times myself, was hand it to my friends so they could experience the joy of opening and closing this thing.
Many other multi-tools can either lock up or stick to one side of the pliers or whatever, but not these, they open right up perfectly with both sides traveling equal distance from the pliers all the way through.
The pliers utilize a compounding effort system that, in a nutshell, doubles the pressure on the pliers that you’re applying from the handles, making these some of the strongest gripping pliers on the market and excellent for those of you who really need an emphasis on high-quality pliers. These pliers have so many built-in functionalities including the replaceable wire cutters, which are absolutely exceptional and can cut thick cables that I would never even consider trying to cut with most of the other models on this list.
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The PowerAssist blade is by far the fastest deploying blade on the market and is really worth the price tag of the entire tool by itself. The super strong locking mechanism allows you to use the blade with significant force and the unlocking switch is located perfectly, right where I like to have it so that I can easily flip it over with my thumb, have that blade collapse into the shell, and throw that thing into my pocket within seconds after using it. No more two-handed folding up and shoving things away, this tool is made for high-speed productivity in mind and it’s just so silky smooth that I have to say this is one of my top tier contenders for the best multi-tool out there.
You still get the same good old 420 high carbon stainless steel construction available in polished steel or black oxide color configurations and the entire package will add just under 10 ounces to your loadout.
The flanges on the sides are unique and not seen often in the multi-tool market and although they do make using the drivers and such a bit easier, some people find them a bit annoying, but I could see why people like them too, they allow you to use the tool with force that would be difficult to handle on other multi-tools of similar size.
PowerAssist versus Powerlock
So the differences here are actually very small but notable enough to certainly warrant understanding before you buy. I’ll put this as simple as I possibly can.
If you already regularly carry a knife that is of decent quality that you trust, then the Powerlock might be a bit better for you. Although it has the same tool count (18), it has other tools in place of the extra blades that the Assist has and since you already have a knife, you don’t really need to trade out tools for additional blades.
The PowerAssist actually comes with 2 different blades inside while the PowerLock only comes with one, however, the PowerLock does have a better locking mechanism but as a tradeoff, has a couple of tools missing from the PowerAssist. The PowerAssist also has assisted opening features that make one-handed operation much easier and smoother.
One isn’t really better than the other and they are priced pretty much the same anywhere you shop, so choosing which model you need really comes down to personal preference and like I said, whether or not you already have a dedicated knife or you don’t and possibly need the better knives located in the PowerAssist.
Bottom line: SOG makes some of the best multitools out there and they’re always reasonably priced. Both the Powerassist and Powerlock are outstanding tools, but I prefer the Powerassist because I like being able to access the blades without opening the multitool.
4. SOG PowerLock EOD Multitool
My Review: I hated this multi-tool when I first got wind of it. I really did! But I’ve actually learned to really love it for a multitude of reasons and I think once you get used to its exquisite locking mechanism you’ll end up loving it too.
It’s got a spring-assisted 420 stainless blade which makes me quite happy in the blade department, but why did I hate it at first? Well, the locking flaps that protrude from the sides are kind of annoying and the pliers aren’t spring-loaded, which is kind of wack, but they are some of the best gripping pliers I’ve ever seen in a multi-tool and overall, the tool is extremely tough and easy to use with a little practice.
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The idea behind this multi-tool was usage for EOD, which for our civilian readers basically means this multi-tool was to be used in the defusal process for explosive ordinance. That probably doesn’t sound like something a civilian, or even me, would want or need on an everyday basis, however, with that said, this multi-tool is extremely tough and well built and for the price. I think it’s a steal even if you use it for something less exciting than bomb disposal. The unit provides excellent leverage as well, it doesn’t bend or give at all, even with much of my body weight pushing on it.
You’ll get 18 different tools including some really great non-spring operated pliers, a quick deploy blade, wood saw, four different screwdrivers, V-cutter, nail file, awl, bottle openers, wire cutters, crimper, and integrated ruler. It also includes a ballistic nylon sheath consisting of MOLLE technology.
5. Leatherman MUT (Firearm Enthusiast Package)
My Review: Usually, the multi-tools from Leatherman have a specific idea in mind behind its design and with the Leatherman MUT, that idea is the sanity and versatility of tools needed by military personnel, law enforcement, and civilian firearm owners!
The Leatherman MUT comes equipped with the multi-tool essentials such as pliers, bottle opener, wire cutters, a high-quality blade, serrated blade/saw, and even a glass breaker but they took things a step further and included tools such as a cleaning rod adapter, bolt override, gun disassembly tool, and carbon scraper to ensure you have the tools you need to keep your firearms in tip-top shape.
I’m a huge fan of the Gerber MP-600 and you’ll see my bias to that particular multi-tool all over this guide, however, that device requires the use of two hands and can be a little annoying to deploy tools quickly. The MUT utilizes a design that makes for easy opening and complete one-handed operation, which is especially useful since its design for use in tandem with firearms, and I’m sure you’ll want to keep a hand on your rifle!
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I mentioned how I love multi-tools that help me work on electronics in the guide and obviously, I’m a pretty hefty fan of firearms if you didn’t notice already, so this multi-tool is seemingly designed perfectly for people like me!
As a last tidbit, this multi-tool overall simply feels amazing. It’s difficult to put into words just how well this tool is built. They didn’t sacrifice much and of course, that’s reflected in the price, but if you need a solid multi-tool with no punches held that utilizes tools for your firearm, the MUT is a major contender.
I love how this multitool allows for complete one-handed operation and is backed by The Leatherman Guarantee – A 25-year repair and replace program.
6. Gerber Suspension (Budget Pick)
My Review: I had two Gerber Suspensions while in the Marines. For the price, it’s surprisingly quality multi-tool. It is a full package deal purpose-built to be cheap and affordable for everyone while still offering a great deal of versatility and usability.
This multi-tool was so successful that Gerber has actually released two similar models building off years of customer feedback. I’ll review the better of the two, the Gerber Truss, next.
If you’re someone looking for a cheap multi-tool that still offers above-average performance, this might be a good low investment opportunity to get your feet wet and figure out if the multi-tool life is right for you.
The Suspension utilizes a skeletonized frame to save weight but still provides a nice safe shelter for the 12 integrated tools inside, except the pliers. The pliers don’t get a safe shelter, unlike the MP600.
Other than that, I really don’t have much to blab about. It’s not like I have complaints, I mean this thing is a full-featured multi-tool package for only the price of a case of beer, so it’s not really fair to be extremely critical of it like I would have on something from Leatherman. It gets the job done and it’s decently portable at only 3.5” closed and 9oz.
Bottom line: This is a cheap entry-level multi-tool that offers 12 tools and is a good platform for beginners. It comes with a ballistic nylon sheath with a belt loop and velcro locking mechanism. It has a skeletonized stainless steel shell that keeps the device to a rather light 9 ounces.
7. Leatherman SuperTool 300 (Highest Rated)
My Review: Being called a super tool may not be much fun for you, but for Leatherman, that means creating an affordable multi-tool that covers each and every daily basis with some serious durability tacked on!
By the way, this is a Leatherman for under a hundred bucks, it’s a steal, buy it and you won’t regret it.
The SuperTool 300 was purpose-built to be a cheaper variant of their top tier lines while offering tools you absolutely cannot go without having. It’s less about trying to be the best at something or the most tacticool and more about providing excellent value, which it does! The SuperTool 300 utilizes 19 different tools to get the job done and is one of the most portable Leatherman multi-tools they’ve got.
Although cheaper than most of the other Leatherman multi-tools we know and love, this particular set utilizes a lot of the same familiar features such as the oversized cutouts for easy one-handed deployability, even with gloves on, and interchangeable wire cutters.
It has oversized cutouts for use with gloves, is constructed of High Carbon stainless steel, packs 19 useful tools, and comes with your choice of a MOLLE sheath, leather sheath, or nylon sheath.
8. Leatherman Surge (Editor’s Choice)
My Review: If the Leatherman Free P4 is the luxury sedan of multi-tools, Leatherman Surge is the off-road utility vehicle of multi-tools. This bad boy was built to withstand constant beatings and continue trucking on!
Judging the overall toughness of a multi-tool is pretty subjective but I think many multi-tool enthusiasts would agree that the Surge is one of the toughest around. It’s also one of the most expensive around too, but that’s fine because the Surge was specifically built to outlast and perform long after many other multi-tools have withered away.
Packed inside the jet black or stainless steel encasement are 21 tools with an emphasis on outdoor and general usage. You’ll get a pair of some of the best needle nose pliers I’ve seen in a multi-tool along with some very tough high carbon blades and replaceable wire cutters.
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It’s not light and it’s not compact, but it never sought out to be either of those things. If you want a multi-tool that does it all without flinching, the Surge is the multi-tool to have! Oh, and it actually has a usable saw, surprise! To top it off, it offers single-handed operation with ease and comfort.
Your choice of a nylon or leather sheath (the nylon sheath is better for durability).
9. Kershaw Select Fire (Best Multi-Tool Knife)
My Review: Kershaw is a brand you’ll find me raving about anytime it comes to knives and it’s no surprise they took their basic knife design that sold well and spiffed it up a bit, adding multi-functionality to the handle in some pretty genius ways!
I have a lot of respect for the engineering behind this device. When I first heard this knife was supposed to be a multi-tool, I kind of laughed not really thinking much of it as this form factor isn’t what pops into mind when hearing the term “multi-tool”. With that said, I love it and I think a lot of my readers will too!
Make no mistake, this is a folding pocket first, multi-tool second, however, it’s very much usable in far more ways than just a pocket knife with its flip-out bit adapter and handle integrated driver bits. Close the knife, flip out the adapter, select your bit of choice, and voila, your pocket knife is now a screwdriver!
Hidden in the Kershaw Select Fire are a ¼ hex drive, 2 flathead bits, 2 Phillips bits, a ruler, and a belt clip! If you already have the muscle memory built up for carrying pocket knives around but you need some screwing capabilities, I highly suggest taking a serious look here, and hey, it’s actually quite a bit cheaper than many of their other knives!
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It has a 5oz 3.4” 8Cr13MoV stainless steel blade with fiberglass and nylon blended handle. The handle encompasses your selection of bits that are used on the flip-out hex adapter. It also offers fast deployment flick of the wrist blade activation and the Kershaw Safety Lock system.
10. Gerber Truss
My Review: As mentioned, Gerber took years of feedback from the Suspension (reviewed above) and built several similar models with slightly different features. I don’t have as much experience with the Truss as I do with the Suspension, but so far it seems to be very comparable to the Suspension in terms of performance and durability.
What you get in the Truss is the pretty standard layout with some spring-loaded needle-nose pliers at the focal point with 17 other functions tucked inside the lightweight skeletonized 3Cr13 stainless steel frame.
The Truss is a pretty standard multi-tool purpose-built to be cheap and good, so it doesn’t really have any tools that are specialties, so I won’t list them all here but it’s safe to say with 18 different tools, it’s got most of the basics covered!
I will mention, though, that the fine edge blade is especially nice for what I’d expect at this price point and is actually far better of a knife than what many higher-priced options have packed away.
The Gerber Truss comes with a sheath that absolutely destroys the competition at this price range. It’s durable and it’s completely MOLLE compatible.
The Truss is honestly a lot like the Suspension but slightly lighter and actually packs in more tools. Interesting! With that said, I wouldn’t say it’s better as the two are certainly different. Gerber is a serious contender in the multi-tools arena and it seems as though their primary goal is to provide top tier quality and functionality but at a fraction of the price of the current industry leaders.
11. Leatherman Micra (best micro multi-tool)
My Review: Need something smaller than a multi-tool but more functional than a keychain? Look no further, Leatherman has you covered with the Micra!
The Micra is strategically outfitted with the most basic tools in the smallest form factor possible while still being handy and useful daily. Gone are the pliers and in are some rather decent scissors that the entire tool folds around.
The primary basis of the Micra is to provide very basic tools for very basic jobs like grooming and the occasional tightening of a screw. These are not full-fledged outdoor survival tools but more so something you can throw in your pocket and carry with ease that has a bit more versatility than just a pocket knife.
The Micra is micro, as you probably already guessed, but did you guess that it only weighs 1.8 ounces and yet packs in 10 different tools? Furthermore, the Micra comes with that 25 year Leatherman guarantee!
Bottom line: This is a solid multi-tool that contains a nail file, spring-loaded scissors, tweezers, flat and Phillips screwdriver, bottle opener, integrated ruler, and nail pick as well as a knife. The keyring attachment makes it easy to use as a keychain if you so please and available in 6 color schemes.
12. Victorinox Swiss Army SwissTool Spirit
My Review: Victorinox is a name that, when you see it, you can expect incredible attention to detail, amazing styling, and military-grade ruggedness all packed into one well-engineered package no matter the product line. From watches to multi-tools, the Swiss engineering behind Victorinox makes them a brand at the top of my list anytime I’m searching for new gear.
The SwissTool Spirit truly encompasses the passion Victorinox has for developing high-quality outdoor gear that is both beautiful and elegant in design and rugged and durable enough to endure multiple harsh beatings. This multi-tool encompasses 26 different tools and a locking release system in a rather small form factor that, despite its size, is rather easy and comfortable to use. The tools lock away rather tightly, but if you’re a marine or rugged outdoorsman you’ll have no problem flipping them out when needed.
A tad over 4” and weighing in at 9.8oz, it’s not the smallest, largest, heaviest, or lightest, but rather a very happy medium that I find to be among the sweet spot in what a multi-tool should be for everyday general usage. I’d take this camping, to the range, store it in the car, and use it around the house in a heartbeat!
I like how each tool rides on its own track and has its own spring to avoid multiple tools sticking together. It also comes with your choice of a leather or Cordura sheath!
13. Leatherman Free P4 Multitool
My Review: Yes, another Leatherman and no, it won’t be the last! The Free P4 is regarded by many to be one of the best user-friendly multi-tools made to this date and I can’t help but agree!
If you like intuitive design concepts and above and beyond engineering, you’ll really appreciate this multi-tool. Leatherman is well aware of the common gripes surrounding multi-tools such as difficulties in deploying tools and being rather difficult to use with pinpoint accuracy.
In the Free P4, they’ve done an incredible job of addressing these gripes by adding an effortless magnetic locking mechanism and an easy single finger flip out accessibility to each and every tool that doesn’t require you to send your fingernails to their death.
Overall, I think of the Free P4 as the luxury sedan in the world of multi-tools. It doesn’t do anything special that you can’t find in other multi-tools but what it does do is provide incredible ergonomic comfort and ease of use unmatched by its competitors. It’s set up to be a very “general use” type of tool and I think it hits the nail right on the head.
You’ll find 21 tools packed in this bad boy, even though its size doesn’t suggest its hiding 21 tools. The spring-assisted scissors are actually among my favorite in this model despite me not being a huge fan of multi-tool scissors. The two knife blades are situated in a way that allows for ambidextrous use and overall, the entire tool can be operated comfortably with one hand, which is something not many Leatherman competitors can say about their tools!
14. Gerber Center-Drive
My Review: Gerber is a brand all over the place. They make cheap stuff that sits on the shelves of Walmart and they also make some of the best equipment in the world that combat operators trust with their lives.
I can assure you, the Center-Drive is not part of their cheap line of products, but rather designed to compete with the best. It’s probably not the multi-tool I’d choose to ride into combat, but it is a multi-tool that can get a whole lot done around the house and on the go. You’ll get a 12 piece bit set along with a 3.25” 420 high carbon blade which makes me a pretty happy guy!
It has one of the best knives found in multi-tools at 3.25” and constructed of 420HC, 27 handy tools encased in a 4.7” (closed) encasement, and a 12 full magnetic 12 piece interchangeable bit set.
15. Victorinox Swiss Army Huntsman Pocket Tool
My Review: The long-loved Swiss Army Knife is the original gangster (OG) of multi-tools, quite literally. The Swiss Army knife is by far the most recognizable and well known of all multi-tools and arguably set the stage for future generations of multi-tools. I bet when a new company tries to design a multi-tool, they first consult the Swiss Army knife! It really is the pinnacle of this platform and deserves respect all the way!
Alright, now that I’ve gotten the Swiss Army Knife pandering out of the way, let’s be real, its by no means the “best” multi-tool you can buy today, but it is pretty cool as it’s like an icon of history behind multi-tools. That little red oval shape is notorious and all outdoorsman are going to recognize it immediately! If you’re a fan of old fashioned “get the job done” kind of tools absent the fancy and flashy design antics, the Swiss Army Knife is bound to tickle your fancy.
At something like thirty bucks, it’s hard to have super tactical ambitions for this device. In other words, no, this is not something I’d choose to bring into combat with me, but it is an excellent little tool to simply have around when you need it.
You get 14 tools in that little red oval and you know what’s freaking cool? The tip of the device has removable tweezers and even a toothpick! Yeah, probably not the most amazing features, but those are iconic of the Swiss Army Knife and just goes to show the ingenuity behind this design was well thought out and highly efficient.
Nowadays you can get these in many different color combinations and even some cool patterns, like woodland camo.
Swiss Army Knives are great starter kits and perfect for the young ones in your life but you do need one key piece of advice. You absolutely have to apply a drop of oil on this multi-tool every so often, preferably anytime after it gets wet, as it will rust shut rather quickly. Take care of a Swiss Army Knife and it’ll take care of you!
Bottom line: This is designed as a basic camping tool and encompasses a 2.45” stainless steel blade and 14 other tools. The polished red ABS case makes this one of the lightest (3.4oz) and most portable multi-tools.
16. Gerber Dime
My Review: The Gerber we know and love, shrunken down to fit in your pocket easier than a wallet! The Dime was purpose-built to be as small as possible to be easy for every day carry (EDC).
The Dime certainly isn’t the only multi-tool that will fit in your pocket and it isn’t the highest quality portable multi-tool you can get your hands-on, so why is it on this list?
Well, it’s undoubtedly one of the cheapest mini multi-tools you can get without sacrificing much versatility. This little steel dime piece hosts a fine edge blade, a couple of drivers, pliers, wire cutters, tweezers, and a file. For the basic everyday tools, the Dime is a great little piece to keep in your pocket no matter where you’re off to and it’ll only add 2 ounces and a little over 2 inches to your loadout.
By the way, big props to the exposed bottle opener. I really like how all the tools fold up nicely but that bottle opener hangs out, which at first annoyed me but come to think of it, I think its a great design and it certainly comes in handy in a quick jiffy!
17. Leatherman Style PS Keychain
My Review: A spin from the Micra, Leatherman wasn’t happy with just one compact multi-tool in their lineup so they chose to make another one! This one is pretty different from the Micra, though, and is primarily focused on light use and grooming type uses. If you’re the type to wear a suit instead of a toolbelt, this may be the multi-tool for you!
First things first, this thing is super small, much smaller than most of the other full functioning multi-tools on the list and pretty comparable in size to the Micra. It’s just a tad shorter than 3” and weighs 1.58oz, meaning it fits in your pocket and is also carriable as a keychain attachment.
The Style PS hosts an assortment of 8 tools and as I mentioned before, these tools have an emphasis on personal uses such as grooming, so if you need to constantly keep a fresh appearance throughout the day, this little tool is probably the most tactical way to do so! You’ll get spring-action pliers, scissors, a nail file, tweezers, a micro screwdriver, and a bottle opener that all folds up and fits inside the palm of your hand. The case is designed to appear sleek and modern and is constructed from stainless steel and hardened ABS plastic .
18. SOG Baton Q1
My Review: Need a multi-tool that is TSA approved and more focused on everyday life productivity? The SOG Baton Q1 is basically a pen on steroids and although it’s packed with some pretty awesome tools, you can lug it around with you in an airport without having it confiscated or being added to the FBI watchlist!
This “pen” contains four different handy dandy tools including some rather decent scissors, bottle opener, screwdriver, and of course it’s writing utensil, which is pressurized and works even when writing on something overhead (the perfect bathroom graffiti tool?).
The design quality is exceptional for the price you pay. This bad boy is constructed of 5Cr15MoV Steel which is both economical and helps to keep the price affordable while still being incredibly durable and able to withstand a decent beating while protecting your tools. It also only weighs 2.4oz so it’s hardly a noticeable addition to your day pack or backpack.
There are many great pens that have built-in features and I’ve already done a guide on tactical pens that you can find here, however, I really think the Baton Q1 is well-deserving of its place on the multi-tool list as it was specifically designed for ruggedness and the containment of helpful tools you may need on the go!
Bottom line: The Baton Q1 is a TSA compliant multi-tool pen that’s great for EDC no matter the situation or environment. It’s constructed of high quality lightweight stainless steel and contains a pressurized pen with scissors, bottle opener, and screwdriver tucked away inside.
19. Swiss Tech Multi-Tool Keyring
My Review: If you’ve got some spare room on your keychain and you can’t lug around a full-sized multi-tool with you daily, this little keychain attachment can suffice for some minor challenges and might actually really save the day in a pinch! No, it’s not exceptionally tough and no it doesn’t have 20 tools inside, but if you need a quick turn of a screw, a bottle cap popped off, or a super tiny blade, this thing has your back while being unobtrusive and extremely easy to ensure you have on hand at all times.
The tools all snap-in so they won’t fly out when you’re nervously swinging your keychain around and it’s got a little LED flashlight built-in. It’s not even 10 bucks so if you have nothing at all, this is an easy and nifty little device to hang on your keychain and forget until you need it. This tool is tiny, but it’s not noticeably tiny.
It does have a little heft to it and it is of pretty good build quality, so don’t expect to not notice it on your keychain. It might be something you may need to acquire a taste for! The whole thing weighs just under an ounce.
The Swiss Tech Keychain multi-tool does come with batteries but if you need to replace them, you’ll need two Lithium Cell CR 927 317 batteries. You know, those pesky expensive watch batteries that everyone hates! The battery life is pretty good though.
Bottom line: This is a great lightweight toolkit for a keychain that has built-in 100,000+ hour LED flashlight.
20. Victorinox Swisscard Pocket Tool
My Review: The Reddot design award recipient in 2004, the Victorinox Swisscard Lite is by far one of the most well-designed credit card form factor multi-tools on the market even today, several years after its conception.
There are two versions of the card, the Swisscard Lite and the Swisscard. Obviously, the Swisscard is the larger and sturdier version offering better quality tools with the tradeoff being weight and size. If you plan on abusing this tool under heavy usage, perhaps the Lite version will be too flimsy.
Packed inside of this thin little card is a slide-out fixed blade, scissors, multi-driver, ballpoint pen, magnifying glass, serrated card edge, toothpick and tweezers! Victorinox never disappoints me and they didn’t change that with this little gadget. You can carry this thing with you each and every day without ever even noticing it and deploy it when you need it on the go.
It’s even got a little LED flashlight which, admittedly, isn’t great, but hey, it’s stuffed into a credit card-sized package so I can’t really complain as its certainly usable as a last resort and probably pretty similar to the flashlight in my cell phone.
I’ve actually been a big fan of these little credit card multi-tools for many years now. I’ve owned several different models and they’ve really saved my butt when I failed to come prepared with other multi-tools. I can say with certainty that this design, even from 2004, is one of the most feature-rich and well-designed credit card style multi-tools on the market and is an absolute steal at its price point. Pick one up, slide it in your wallet, and forget about it. It’ll always have your back when you need it the most!
Bottom line: This is 13 different tools packed into a credit card form factor available in black, red, or blue. It is a design award recipient for exceptional quality and innovation. Simply put, this is the best credit card multi-tool available!
21. Multitool Card Black Edition V2.1
My Review: I’ll admit, I am biased towards the card offered by Victorinox because it offers removable tools and personally, I just like that configuration more, however, this multi-tool card has major pro’s too and hey, you’ll never lose a piece as I have on several of the Victorinox cards!
This card is constructed of heavy-duty stainless steel and although it’s quite rigid, it’s still light and portable enough to slide into your wallet and carry on an everyday basis without any hassle or annoyances.
The stainless steel card is available with a shiny black alloy finish or a polished steel finish and hosts 37 different functions including a built-in blade that I found to be pretty interesting. The blade is actually part of the card so if you damage it, you’re kind of screwed but hey, I think most of you would be packing this away to use as a last resort type of product and for that purpose, it excels well and I would certainly recommend it, plus, it’s American made and priced so that if you do damage a part of it, it’s not very painful to replace.
So, what can this little card do? Well, its got a ton of screwdriver and wrenching capabilities that I think are probably the center point functions of the card but it does a lot overall and it really does come in handy across many different types of jobs and challenges. I mentioned it has a blade, and it does, although it’s not great but it’ll cut light things and its got a few cabling tools such as a blender and stripping tool. Aside from that and found opposite of the blade is a saw, lanyard hole, can opener, and the card acts as a smartphone stand.
Aside from the card are a few other goodies you’ll get to sweeten the deal such as a pretty standard carabiner, magnesium fire striker, money clip, and a whistle as well as a sleeve to protect the card, or more rather protect your wallet from the card.
This card is no replacement for a full packaged full-featured multi-tool as listed above but as I said, it’s a great last resort or something to ensure you always have a suite of tools with you when otherwise you’d leave the bulkier handheld toolboxes at home or in the car.
Some of these multi-tool cards are okay to bring through airport security because they lack anything that can pierce or slash, however, both the Victorinox Swisscard and the Multitool Card are not TSA approved due to having blades and thus, you’ll need to make sure they go in your checked luggage.
22. Leatherman Tread
My Review: Looking for something that doesn’t take up pack space or crowd your pocket? Why not slap a multi-tool on your wrist?
The Leatherman Tread is the first wristband form factor multi-tool ever designed and although it lacks a blade, it contains many tools that can save your butt in a pinch! Even better, these are TSA compliant, meaning you can wear them right through airport security without any problems, although this thing is mean looking and may get you some unsolicited questions about it!
The entire thing is constructed from 17-4 stainless steel and hidden in every link is a different tool. It is roughly 8.5” in length and can be adjusted by 0.5” increments to fit snugly. Leatherman also sells replacement links on their website in case you lose or damage one, which I find to be pretty unlikely considering how durable and tough these bracelets are!
In each link, you’ll find various Phillips and flat head screwdrivers, hex drivers, box wrenches, square drivers, socket drivers, an oxygen tank wrench, bottle opener, carbide glass breaker, metal pick tool and a cutting hook.
The Leatherman Tread is by far the most tactically designed bracelet the market has to offer and manages to fit a ton of functionality into something that looks rather stylish. It’s tough, durable, and incredibly handy which is why I highly recommend getting one if you can’t carry around a full feature multi-tool with you daily.
It’s adjustable in 0.5” increments with extensions available on the Leatherman website and can be used with select watches as a watch band with separately purchased watch adapters.
23. Leatherman Skeletool
My Review: The Leatherman Skeletool is definitely is one of the coolest looking multi-tools out there nowadays but is it any good?
Is that a real question? Of course the Skeletool is good, look who makes it, Leatherman! The real question is if it’s worth the money.
The skeletonized steel casing this thing comes with but did you know about its locking 420 High Carbon half-serrated 2.6” blade? This is by far one of my most favorite blades found in a multi-tool and that’s saying a lot as I don’t generally prefer serration. Aside from the awesome blade are 7 distinct tools chosen for excellence among EDC carriers, all of which can be utilized and used in one-handed operation.
It doesn’t have nearly as many options and choices as some top costing Leatherman multi-tools but I’m not sure it was built for that. Instead, I think they were kind of going for simplistic style points, which is fine and they sure did hit the nail on the head, but don’t expect to find as much versatility as you would some of the other Leatherman tools that have been Marine Approved.
What you can expect, though, is a beautiful 5-ounce multi-tool that is exceptionally tough, backed by the Leatherman guarantee, and hosts tools that I think most people will find sufficient for everyday usage. As a bonus for those of you looking for a proper EDC multi-tool, the Skeletool comes with a removable belt clip, making it extremely easy to carry around and have on hand with you at all times.
Since this is designed to be one of the most visually appealing multi-tools available, it’s only fitting that it’s available in four different color schemes to suit your current gear!
24. RoverTac Hammer and Axe Multitool
My Review: Want a multi-tool whose primary focus isn’t on blades or pliers but more built for some good old fashion blunt force applications? The RoverTac has you covered my friend!
Now, this certainly isn’t the best-built product they could have made and you can’t really expect it to live up to a top tier Leatherman when it’s only like twenty bucks, but it is cool and it is definitely usable for things that I would never use a Leatherman for! With that said, the quality actually is pretty good and if you’ve read my content before, you know I hate spending money on cheap stuff that doesn’t last, so I’m adding this to the list because it’s cheap and it does last rather well!
So, in terms of blunt force action, we get a mini hatchet and we get a hammer! Pretty awesome and they actually did manage to fit in pliers, although they’re terrible and I don’t recommend buying this because it has pliers, but more as a “throw it in the truck toolbox” kind of thing. It’s great to have around but I wouldn’t be carrying this on an everyday basis, however, it does do many things that a traditional multi-tool would quiver at the thought of.
Many manufacturers have tried to pull off the hammer and ax multi-tool idea and although there are some others that are decent, Rovertac really stood out to me in terms of form factor and overall build quality.
The RoverTac does come with a ballistic nylon carry pouch with a belt loop, however, please understand that you have to keep track of the hatchet edge protector or else carrying this on a belt loop becomes more of a liability than a useful tool and trust me, that protector is very easy to lose track of!
Why Carry a Multi-Tool
Imagine carrying an entire arsenal of important and handy tools to have on you anytime, anywhere, deployable in a pinch. Too bad tools weigh so much and would take an entire backpack just to lug them around with you, wouldn’t it be nice to have a small handheld device capable of tackling a wide array of daily problems and annoyances?
Lucky us, we live in a time of advanced machining and tooling which has allowed some very intelligent engineers the ability to cram tons of tiny but helpful tools into an incredibly small and lightweight package that only takes up a couple of square inches of space in your backpack instead!
With a multi-tool, you get a package deal containing several helpful tools that are readily deployable at a moment’s notice. Many of these tools follow the same ideology of basic home tools mixed with some of our favorite outdoor must-haves. Expect pliers, screwdrivers, crimpers, wire cutters, knives, saws, bottle openers, rulers and many niftier little gadgets that all fold and hideaway nicely in a small handheld containment device that is easy to carry and keep with you on the go.
Potential Downsides of Multi-Tools
There are a few cons with multi-tools despite how versatile and portable they can be. Obviously, packing a bunch of tools into a small package carries along with some trade-offs like quality, rigidity, durability, and size. These tools are built to be a kind of catch-all design in that they are engineered with the idea of basic multi-faceted tools and as such, many multi-tools aren’t designed to be used under heavy and harsh conditions. A major con with multi-tools is that if you break one of the tools encompassed in the tool, it kind of renders the whole thing useless in a way because you’ve lost a major component of its functionality, a component you may really rely on such as the blade or the pliers.
Despite the cons, multi-tools have come along way and there are many manufacturers like Victorinox, Gerber, and Leatherman that know just how demanding life can be and as such, they do their best to design their tools with the best quality materials, ensuring their tools stand the test of time and endure through heavy usage. Many of the top brands offer excellent warranty service to either repair or replace their tools in the case something becomes disabled which is great because some of the best multi-tools are going to require a bit of investment to get your hands on!
Pocket Knives Versus Multi-Tools
Many people like to everyday carry (EDC) a simple pocket knife, which I have absolutely nothing against. I’ve even written several guides on many different types of knives, like my guide on self-defense knives in which also tend to make great EDC companions.
While there’s nothing wrong with choosing a trusty blade to carry with you, you can achieve a similar effect and get the bonus of having a plethora of tools at your disposal by carrying a multi-tool with you. Sometimes I prefer to carry my multi-tool, especially in instances of home improvement or just instances where I feel the need to be well prepared. I think it usually comes down to personal preference and simply thinking ahead and being prepared for what you’re setting out to do.
Some multi-tools do not contain blades at all, which is helpful for those instances that you find yourself in a specific area or building that does not allow you to have a knife. Although I do believe a knife is a tool more than a weapon, many people don’t share that sentiment and every so often, I find myself in a place where a knife could land me in trouble. If that’s the case, I simply carry a multi-tool absent of a blade so that I’m still prepared for many different challenges but I am also following the rules of the environment I am entering.
I wouldn’t advocate for buying either a knife or a multi-tool but instead, I’d say buy both and have them ready for anything life throws at you! Obviously, a dedicated knife that has a blade of some muster is going to perform far better and be more comfortable to use than the blade found inside of a multi-tool.
Since this guide focuses on multi-tools for an outdoorsman, I’d recommend picking up something from my recommendations on this guide as well as heading over to my camping knives guide and grabbing something from there too, just to cover all of your basis!
The Value of Adding a Multi-Tool to Your Arsenal
I kind of touched on this in the section above but to really hit home on this idea, let me make this as clear as possible. Everyone and I mean everyone, should have a multi-tool. These portable handheld toolboxes aren’t just for a military serviceman or avid outdoorsman, they’re for everyone!
Buy one and throw it in your car, store one in your range bag or bug out bags, keep one in your junk drawer at home, or gift your child a multi-tool before sending him/her off to college! Whatever the situation, multi-tools usually contain tools that you can use in a plethora of situations in and out of the home. Multi-tools are excellent for people that move a lot and perhaps don’t have space for an entire array of tools. They’re great for anyone that works with their hands and they’re incredible assets to have around for those who like a little DIY in their lives.
A multi-tool is a must-have and can really save your butt, not to mention some serious cash if the need arises. It’d be impossible to list the number of times I’ve relied on my trust multi-tools in situations I’d never imagined needing to be prepared for.
A favorite quote of mine that you’ll find all over my website:
“It is better to have and not need than to need and not have” – George Ellis
That quote is a piece of wisdom I have literally lived by for as long as I can remember, even long before I made the choice to join the USMC. Being prepared with a multi-tool is by far more valuable than the price tag on a high-quality multi-tool and may actually end up saving you money, or more importantly, your life, at some point. I had a multi-tool on me at almost all times while I was in the Marines.
Handheld Toolbox Selection – Finding the Right Multi-Tool
In searching for a multi-tool, I suggest you grab yourself a big glass of your favorite brew and sit out and watch the sunset while deep in thought, considering your life and the activities you partake. What’s your occupation? What are your favorite hobbies and pastimes? What pieces of equipment do you own and how are they prone to failure?
Choosing the right multi-tool really comes down to you and your ability to plan ahead and devise a generalized idea of what you’ll need when it matters most. No multi-tool has every tool, so you’ll need to choose wisely and discriminate based on what you think is most valuable for you.
Multi-tools are usually designed to be multi-purpose in that they contain tools that cover a wide range of very general uses. With that said, if you know what you’ll be up to and what tools you already like to have on hand, you may want to choose a multi-tool that’s been purpose-built for someone like yourself!
For example, I’ve had many general use multi-tools with things like a nail file, something I rarely ever use and have little need for, however, I’ve found many multi-tools without a nail file and instead, a variety of tools whose purposes are meant for wiring and electrical use. I’m always fiddling around with electronics and fixing my gear instead of replacing it and for some reason, I always find myself deploying my multi-tool when it comes to anything to do with electronics, so I know I absolutely need a multi-tool designed with tools that are great for electronics, such as wire cutters, wire strippers, crimpers, etc.
So, what tools can you expect to find in a multi-tool?
Knife: Probably one of the most versatile tools anyone can carry with them, a nice sharp blade always seems to come in handy and if you buy a multi-tool with a blade exceeding 2”, it can be turned into a survival or self-defense weapon at a moments notice! Many multi-tools actually utilize multiple blades of different lengths or blades that are fine-tipped and serrated. Make sure you check before buying and get a blade that you’re comfortable with using and that fits your intended activities.
Screwdriver: I’m not a construction worker or a mechanic so admittedly, I don’t possess a large variety of high-quality tools that I can have access to at any time. I always need screwdrivers but for some reason, I never really ponied up for a set of them. Instead, I use the screwdrivers found on my multi-tool and I’ve gotten along just fine using that! Some multi-tools are purpose-built to be screwdriver friendly and even offer an array of swappable driver bits, perfect for a tradesman!
Wrench slots/attachments: Pretty much the same argument for having these as the screwdriver tools. You never know when you’ll need to do some wrenching on your vehicle or a piece of gear and it would really drag you down to carry an entire set of wrenches with you wherever you go. Now, I will admit, most multi-tools that encompass wrenches don’t do a fantastic job of wrenching but in all reality, I’d rather have something than nothing!
Tweezers: We all know what tweezers are used for. Nobody is safe from the occasional splinter and it’s really helpful to have tweezers tucked away in a multi-tool because if I didn’t, I’d probably always forget to pack them along!
Saw: Many multi-tools encompass a flip-out saw roughly a couple inches in length. I’ll admit, I don’t use this often, but when I do, it’s because I really needed it. You probably won’t find a multi-tool with a saw capable of felling trees but they do work wonders for cutting plastic bottles, tin containers, tough fabrics, and many other things!
Pliers: For me, pliers are a must-have tool! These are excellent for providing incredible levels of grip on things you just can’t seem to keep your hands wrapped around and they’re usually a multi-tool themselves, containing a blade hidden at the base for stripping and cutting wires and string and some of them have well-designed cutouts for use as a wrenching tool as well. It’s rare that I would ever consider buying a multi-tool that doesn’t have pliers. In upper-tier brands, there are usually models that give you the choice of needle nose or blunt tip pliers.
Forks and Spoons: Yup, you can get some handy multi-tools that encompass a fork and a spoon that make excellent low weight options to carry with you when conducting multi-day hikes and camping trips.
Scissors: Let’s be real, many multi-tools come with scissors that are flat out awful. In many cases, I use the saw or blade instead but hey, I have used the scissors before and they are usable, but usually pretty fragile and difficult to keep sharp. I actually tend to enjoy multi-tools that don’t encompass scissors because I always find that the spring mechanism they use ends up being one of the first things that fail, causing a lot of headaches and sometimes making deploying or folding them back up a bit of an annoyance.
Bottle openers: Pretty self-explanatory, the bottle opener is a great little attachment to have because you never know when you’ll share a brew with the boys! They also work quite well as pry tools as well, since they’re usually quite thick and sturdy. Some multi-tools, like the coveted Swiss Army lineup, usually have a corkscrew as well, giving you some serious wine bottle opening capabilities on the go. A tough bottle cap or tight cork should never come between you and a good time!
Ruler: Many multi-tool shells contain etched rulers in their appearance and I’ve often found them to be pretty useful although probably not a mandatory feature. Of course, if you’re a tradesman cutting small pieces of material to specific lengths, these may come in clutch in case you forget your ruler or measuring tape.
I think I’ve covered all the basic tools you might come across in your search for a multi-tools. Of course, there are many multi-tools that contain specialized tools for specific tasks but for me and this guide, I’m focused on general-use tools that you might need on an everyday basis!
Frequently Asked Questions
Of course, a multi-tool comes with various different tools including can openers, screwdrivers, and even a knife along with a cork opener. They can prove to be useful in a lot of conditions – especially for those who like to be versatile while going on camping trips and such.
A good multi-tool should be made of good quality components, should have safe locking mechanisms. It should also be compact and easy to store.
You can find a good multi-tool in various different budget points. You should really first finalize a budget and then work on finding a good multi-tool based on your needs.
Leatherman’s have a really good range of multi-tools that you can find at great price points. Their quality and build are top-notch and these can be considered as a great alternative to SwissTools.