Best Multi-Tools Reviewed
Camping, hiking, climbing, fishing, and hunting are only a few outdoor activities where you will most definitely find yourself needing a pair of pliers, a pocket knife, or other small tools. You could fill out your pockets, pouches, and packs with all of those tools which you might need, or you could just carry the necessities in one manageable package: a multi-tool. Many people put one brand in front of the rest, calling multi-tools in general by the name of that brand - Leatherman. But there are so many other great brands who produce really great and practical models as well. We went through all the quality brands out there and made our own list of what we found to be the best options available, which will meet the general needs of outdoor sports and lifestyle.
- LEATHERMAN WAVE
- LEATHERMAN CHARGE TTI
- SOG POWERLOCK
- LEATHERMAN WINGMAN
- VICTORINOX SWISSTOOL SPIRIT X
- GERBER DIME
- GERBER DIESEL
- LEATHERMAN SQUIRT PS4
- LEATHERMAN SKELETOOL CX
- GERBER CENTER DRIVE
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
1. LEATHERMAN WAVE
17 tools in a compact design
Solid Leatherman durability
Available with a MOLLE case, for more versatile carrying
25-year manufacturers warranty
A bit heavy
Leatherman tends to stay on top of the market when it comes to EDC tools. The wave is their most popular model. When I was a kid, the Swiss Army Knife was the coolest, most popular gadget as far as pocket knives and tools were concerned. Years later, along came Leatherman. The Wave is such a useful tool that is a popular pick by builders, campers, military, even those who want a reliable yet a compact tool to keep in their vehicle for emergency use. For our purpose, we will be concentrating on the practical application to camping and other outdoor sports and activities.Read more
The Wave boasts 17 different tools. it includes three different screwdrivers, needle nose pliers, regular pliers, a saw, two different wire cutters, plain edge knife, serrated knife, scissors, ruler, can opener, bottle opener, wood/metal file, and even a diamond-coated file. I hope I didn't miss one...
Ease of Use
The design seems to be thought out pretty well, allowing easy and practical use with tools that are easy to access, yet do not get in the way. Although the Wave is a bit heavy, that is really just a downside, if at all, of being constructed of quality materials. The 420HC stainless steel construction will hold up under continuous long-term use. I personally still use an older Leatherman model that I picked up more than ten years ago, one which I have put through utter hell. Yet, despite not being as pretty as it was when I first got it, it still works perfectly.
This is a great tool for everyday use. For camping and hiking, the wave is an excellent choice. In fact, both knife blades are longer than the blades on other popular tools such as Gerber's Multi-Plier 600 as well as some options from SOG.
I think the brand itself is known by many as a solidly built tool. Although not the Wave model, I picked up a higher end Leatherman many years ago, exposed it to some serious abuse while in the military, and still I use the exact same one to this day. In my opinion, that says quite a bit about the quality.
2. LEATHERMAN CHARGE TTI
Available with durable titanium handle
Available with an additional bit set
Contains just about every necessary practical tool
When folded up, the Charge TTI doesn't appear to have very much going on inside but don't be fooled. The overall performance really holds up to the Leatherman name.Read more
While I was not able to narrow down one specific feature which stands out with this tool, I would say the entire package is the feature. This is a lower profile model that is capable of tasks which the bulkier models tend to focus on more.
Ease of Use
This one has a really clean overall design and is simple to use. The beauty of this model, for many, is the lack of unnecessary tools that you might find in some models which boast enormous collections of attributes, some of which you will never use in basic applications. The titanium handle adds even more value to this model, as it does lighten the overall weight and adds strength to the construction materials. While the outward appearance is rather streamlined, this one is extremely capable.
Though the Charge doesn't really boast a super special attribute, you will find that the included tools are all of high-quality design as well as totally practical in use. The typical choice of both serrated and plain edge knife blades, a fairly aggressive saw, scissors, small drive bit and a file. Additionally, The Leatherman Charge is available with a great set of bits, which greatly increase the overall practicality of this set.
Come on, it's a Leatherman! Seriously though, the simplicity of the design doesn't offer those extra gadgets that may break or get lost easier than the overall tool. The case is made of durable Cordura, and the accessory bits are carried in a rubbery plastic sort of holster. Also, the handle has some increased durability due to its titanium construction. In all the build of this one really is quite solid, and seems to hold up very well under consistent repetitive use, especially when used for outdoor activities.
3. SOG POWERLOCK
The compound leverage technology allows more force to be applied with the pliers with less effort
16 practical tools
Some tools, like the blasting cap crimper, aren't so useful to most people
SOG tends to produce a lot of products that seem to be more geared toward military or law enforcement. However, many of those products are very useful for most activities involving the great outdoors as well.Read more
The major feature that steals the show for SOG's Power Assist is the design and function of the tool's pliers. Instead of a simple opposing hinge, the pliers operate with a linkage which allows more pressure to be applied without as much effort, thus increasing the grip ability of the tool. The Power Assist also contains other useful tools such as a serrated blade, straight edge blade, hard wire cutter, wire crimper, v cutter, ruler, bolt grip channel, bottle opener, can opener, 3 sided file, small, medium and large flathead screwdrivers, Phillips screwdriver, needle nose pliers and a crimper for blasting caps (which most won't find very useful).
Ease of Use
The overall design is really similar to any other multi-tool. However, this one has a feature built into its design that many others aren't built with. SOG's Power Assist has pliers which utilize compound leverage. This means that the pliers operate with the function of multiple pivot points to allow the user to apply more force, while not requiring more effort to be exerted. If you've ever tried to use a pair of pliers on a frozen bolt, and just couldn't get a solid enough grip to get the job done, then you’ll love these. The design among most multi-tools doesn't differ too much, but the tools and function of the Power Assist certainly do. SOG is known for heavier duty knives and tools, so we didn't really expect this one to be very lightweight.
This tool is really practical for most applications, but especially for outdoor use. As this one was clearly designed for military use, the functionality and arrangement of the attached tools seem to be set up quite well. One thing that we are noticing, is that we're seeing more models produced with more than one option of attached knife blade. When you have the choice of either a serrated blade or plain edge blade, the options of usability increase.
SOG has a product line which is known for being built on the heavy-duty side. From their bowie knives to their smaller utility knives, many are quite bulky and heavier weight pieces. The SOG Power Assist is no exception to that approach. It seems that this model will last through plenty of use, and possibly some abuse.
4. LEATHERMAN WINGMAN
Simple to use
Hybrid blade is short
Some of the tools aren’t as great as some other competitors’ options
If you’re looking for an affordable multi-tool that’s middle-sized and provides you with a lot of functionality and durability. Also, it brings you a compact, simple design that’s quite efficient for the price.Read more
The Wingman includes 14 of the basic multi-tool tools, such as a knife, ruler, file, wire cutters, screwdriver, and wire stripper. Made with some great features, the Leatherman Wingman comes with an integrated pocket clip and some external opening tools. You’ll get an innovative package opener and something that is easy to carry.
Ease of Use
The Leatherman Wingman is made to fit easily into your pocket and folds down simply. You’ll be able to hold it down, keep it closed, and carry it along with you easily. Even better, you can do all of this just one hand.
For its price, the Leatherman Wingman brings you a very practical tool that provides you with a lot of tool options. You’ll get all the tools you need in one simple to use product.
Again, considering the fact this multi-tool is inexpensive, you’ll get a lot for what you invest into it. It’s durable and long-lasting, and you’ll be able to use it for many years. There is a 25-year limited warranty, if something breaks or isn't up to par you can send it in and Leatherman will repair it.
5. VICTORINOX SWISSTOOL SPIRIT X
Can feel heavy
Doesn’t have external bit options
If you’re looking for a great product from an excellent multi-tool manufacturer, then you’ll love what the Victorinox SwissTool Spirit X has to offer. Victorinox has been making well-reputed multi-tool products since 1884, and their new version of the Swiss multi-tool is one great product.Read more
You get a great product with this multi-tool, which features the usual parts of a Swiss Army knife plus extra plier features. The manufacturer lists over twenty-six features in this one multi-tool product. The different design features built into this product include a wire bender, wire stripper, wire cutter, cable cutters, and much more. All in all, the product can do a lot and features about ten total tools in their overall design.
Ease of Use
This multi-tool comes designed with two rounded corners for additional comfort. The other two are not rounded, yet, the tool is comfortable to hold and easy-to-use. The unique design of this tool allows you to access each tool from the outside handle, making it very easy to use in a hurry. You simply press the release button when you are finished with a tool and it slides back into place.
The Swiss are famous for many things, including the Swiss Army Knife. This is similar and Swiss made, so you know it's great quality. You’ll get excellent strength in this quality product, which is built to last for years. The tool is so strong, you won’t have to worry about it losing its ability to function. Aside from the built-in confidence, you will also receive a lifetime warranty with this product.
6. GERBER DIME
Good bottle opener
Screwdriver is tiny
The Gerber Dime is an excellent multi-tool that’s a bit smaller than some of the other products on the list. But as a lightweight multi-tool that gives you what you need, you’ll love the performance you get from this product.Read more
You get several features in this lightweight and compact multi-tool, but because of its small size, it doesn’t offer as much as a full multi-tool. The Gerber Dime does come with a small set of pliers, knife blade, scissors, a package opener, and a simple screwdriver. You will also get a bottle opener with this product.
Ease of Use
Made to be a small, keychain-sized multi-tool, you’ll get everything you really need packed into one great product. However, if you’re really looking for a multi-tool that has absolutely everything you could ever imagine, then you’ll want to consider purchasing one of the full-sized multi-tools on our list.
This is a practical multi-tool if you are looking for something small and compact to use. However, just know you won’t get everything that you’d typically get with a heavier multi-tool.
Even for its small size, the Gerber Dime is quite durable and will last for several years. The materials built into this product are all high-quality, and you’ll get a long-lasting, lightweight multi-tool.
7. GERBER DIESEL
Safe.T.Plus system locks tools in place, to prevent accidental closing
Beefy, bulky construction stands up to heavy use
Easy single-handed operation
Not as heavy as it looks
Large, bulky design
Higher priced for some
Some of the functionality operates similar to Gerber's more basic model, their Multi-Plier 600, although the Diesel is a clear winner when it comes to capability. The brand's big feature is the Saf.T.Plus system, which locks each of the tools firmly into place when open and in use. Nothing ruins your day, quite like a pocket knife blade closing on your finger while you're trying to get your camp set up.Read more
In all, the Diesel offers 14 tools plus the release button for the jaw, contained in one sturdy unit. The list includes needle nose pliers, standard pliers portion partially serrated knife blade, coarse & fine file, saw blade, small, medium and large flathead screwdrivers, scissors, wire cutter, and of course we can't forget the can and bottle openers.
Ease of Use
Even Gerber acknowledges that this is one of the biggest and bulkiest models on the market. There is something to be said for a tool that has the weight and feels to let you know it can actually be used for its intended purpose. The small complaint that I have about the design is the fact that the tip of the pliers stay partially exposed, which isn't always super great when you carry it in your pocket. The overall design style is boxy with exposed controls and no stylish curves. That statement isn't meant to be negative. The Diesel is one of those things that seems to be built to perform rather than show off, which is good if you don't care about having something flashy. The location of the Safe.T.Plus locking sliders is something that takes some getting used to, in order to avoid disengaging the safety lock during use.
Practical needs are exactly what this one seems to be designed for. It is perfect for a quick access, go to solution for many of the small tasks you will find yourself with when camping, backpacking, hunting, as well as other activities that take you to the great outdoors. I actually like that fact that this model only has one knife blade, that has the option of both a serrated or plain edge. It leaves only one blade to look for in the dark.
If anyone has ever owned a Gerber, you will most likely know what I am referring to when I talk about the "rattle". Many of their models tend to work slightly loose after a short while of use, giving that rattle and even wider spread parts when folded. For most, that is one of those things which becomes tolerated, simply tightening everything up once in a while, since the overall function is great. With the newer versions, that issue seems to have been remedied with tighter construction. That also means you can say goodbye to the handle pinch that would happen sometimes. This one has a pretty bulky build and sturdy construction, which allows it to be used in some really undesirable conditions, without issue.
8. LEATHERMAN SQUIRT PS4
Might be too small for all uses
Doesn’t have as many features as larger multi-tools
The Leatherman Squirt PS4 is one of the smallest multi-tools we’ve provided on our list, and it still comes with an excellent blade. It is one of the lightest multi-tools on the market, and still very strong and durable, easily cutting wires or anything else you need.Read more
The Leatherman Squirt PS4 resembles the Leatherman Wingman in features. You get the same features with this smaller model, in a much more compact and lightweight multi-tool. This tool only weighs 2-ounces and features 9 tools, such as scissors, tweezers, wire cutters, and a knife blade.
Ease of Use
This multi-tool is only 2.25 inches long. Made to be compact and lightweight, the design of the Leatherman Squirt PS4 is excellent, bringing everything you need in a simple and small multi-tool.
Although the blade designed into this multi-tool is small, it still functions well and does the job. You get a sharp, durable blade, a bottle opener, a file, and screwdrivers.
As one would expect from Leatherman, made with quality steel and aluminum, this small multi-tool is still built to be very tough. Do not let it's small size fool you, it is very durable and will give you years of use. Coming with no surprise, this tool also features a 25-year limited warranty.
9. LEATHERMAN SKELETOOL CX
Multiple carry options
The Leatherman Skeletool CX offers you an innovative take on a multi-tool, filled with tools you’ll want to have when you are in the middle of an outdoor adventure. This model is elegant and clean with probability and ergonomics in mind. The pliers, blade, and bit driver are purpose-built, easy to use, and clean.Read more
The Skeletool comes with pliers with a blade and bit driver. The pliers have effective wire cutters which set it apart from other similar multitools. They key/lanyard clip doubles as a bottle opener. The bit driver allows almost unlimited accessorization. The but driver also comes with a 1/4 driver and comes with two double-ended bits for a total of four functions. There is an upgrade pack that has more bits.
Ease of Use
The design of the Skeletool is made to be lightweight and ergonomic. The main bad is large, well-organized, and accessible with a one-thumb swipe. The pliers are made of rounded carbon fiber. This makes for a comfortable tool. The only downfall we have seen to this product is the fact that the tools can be very stiff in their place. While this is great for safety, it can be an annoyance when trying to quickly fix something.
Leatherman did make a practical tool with this design, that should offer you a lot of good use and functionality. You’ll get most of what you need designed into this multi-tool.
Made from stainless steel with a nylon sheath style, this tool won't be wimping out on you anytime soon. The tool is bound to get scratched and endure some beatings over the years but reviewers rave that this is a strong product. If that doesn't convince you, the fact that this is a Leatherman means that it comes with a 25-year limited warranty.
10. GERBER CENTER DRIVE
The Gerber Center Drive multi-tool gives you an easy-to-use option that brings you a great performance. You’ll get just about everything you need with this tool, and it’ll help provide you with simplicity on your camping trips.Read more
The 12 features that this multi-tool brings you includes pliers (regular and needle-nose), a serrated blade, screwdrivers, scissors, a magnetic 1/4 bit driver, awl, wire strippers, ruler, flathead bit, fine edge blade, bottle opener, and dual-mount sheath. The full-sized outboard knife is 30% larger than most outboard knives featured in other multi-tools.
Ease of Use
Made with a rounded design that is easy to hold, the way this product is manufactured makes it comfortable and simple to use. Plus, both blades of the suspension include thumb-catches, which make this tool easy and safe to operate.
This is a very user-friendly tool with a simple design and made with a lot of safety in mind. It’s also easy to carry along with you, and not too large to fit your pocket.
This Gerber multi-tool is made from 420 high carbon stainless steel. It is manufactured in Oregon with high-quality materials that make it quite durable. You’ll get years of use if you decide to purchase this tool. Gerber offers a limited lifetime warranty and will repair any tools that don't function to their full potential.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Most brands offer extra accessories which go along with certain models. There are even some models which really require those little extras, which are often sold separately, to get the most use out of them. If you find that you need a lot of different bits and driver’s heads, and don’t mind carrying them around with you, then a product like that would probably suit you well.
On the other hand, if what you really need and most often require, is a model that is designed around simplicity and general function, the going for a product which requires all of those extra bells and whistles may not be an ideal choice for you. Before you purchase your multi-tool, make sure you focus in on the features you really need, so you don’t spend too much money. Keep in mind that some multi-tools offer so many different features, you might wind up with a whole bunch of features you never use, which can cost you a lot more money. Some of these extra features are really something that is a matter of personal preference but we recommend that you make sure you stick to the things you know you are going to use.
This one may seem like we are being picky, until you are up high, holding on with one hand and trying to access a specific tool with the other. At that point, you will quickly realize whether you chose correctly or not. Don’t wait until that time. Many shops will let you take a close look and try the products out at the counter. That is enough to get a feel of whether or not that particular tool is easy to operate one-handed if needed. Design is an important factor because it often influences what materials are placed into your multi-tool, how easy it is to use, and how comfortable it is for you. You want to make sure you purchase a multi-tool you feel comfortable using and carrying along with you, and one that’s durable enough to meet your needs.
Another important factor to conider with ease of use is practicality and the environment you plan on using the tool in. By environment, I am really referring to the typical conditions your outdoor tools are normally used in. If you spend most of your time in the wet or cold climates, you may want to think about what material a particular model is constructed of. Perhaps look for something with a coating or finish that is resistant to the elements. Another point to consider, regarding the environment, would be whether the product you choose is usable when wearing gloves, during the colder periods. You need to consider, as well, how practical the multi-tool will be to bring along with you and access whenever you need to use it. Make sure, as well, that you are comfortable with the handle and how it functions before you purchase it. Some multi-tool brands make tools that are more easy to hold than others to certain people.
This is obviously a big factor. You wouldn’t want to spend close to, or even well over, $100 on something that is just going to fail or even break shortly after you start using it. The picks we have listed in the review all have great track records as far as their durability is concerned. In fact, that point alone would be a show stopper for a particular product. It could have every gadget that one could think up, but without exceptional durability, the tool would be utterly useless to most of us, especially if we would need to rely on that product while out in the middle of nowhere.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
A multi-tool can be used for many things, including a few instances you may not have thought of yet. You can use a multi-tool to cut fruit, zest a lemon, remove a splinter, trim a hangnail, or even as a letter opener.
A multi-tool functions as an all-in-one tool but this tool is useless if you don't have it with you. Keep in mind how you plan on using your multi-tool. If it will mainly stay in your car, a large heavy tool will be fine. However, if you plan on travelling around with the tool in your pocket, you'll want a more lightweigh option.
Other Factors to Consider
Weight and size are two factors really go together for gear like this. One will usually go with the other, with regards to multi-tools. It does seem to be true that the heavier duty the construction is, the easier it will sometimes be to tackle the more difficult tasks. If the heavier tasks aren’t really a concern for you, then you would probably be best suited with a more simple, lightweight option. Whereas, if you tend to tackle the harder stuff, the Leatherman Wave or the Gerber Diesel would be a more appropriate choice for you.
Portability is one of those factors that can depend a lot on the person buying the multi-tool and is often up to personal preference. Really, you need to decide how lightweight you want your multi-tool to be, or if you want to purchase a larger multi-tool, then you’ll need to make sure it is easy to carry along with you. You’ll need to be able to access your multi-tool anytime you need it, so check on some of the carrying cases and other features that the different manufacturers offer. You should be able to make your decision from there. Some of these multi-tools come with belt sheaths, others come with easy to use clips, some can be put on a keychain, and still, others come with carrying cases. Whatever is easier for you to use should be your main focus when you purchase your multi-tool.
Frequently Asked Questions
Portability is an important factor with any multi-tool. You need to be able to access it as soon as you need it when you are in the outdoors, and you’ll also need to know its size and how to carry it. If you purchase a smaller multi-tool and don’t carry it with you at all times, you might wind up having a hard time finding it. Large multi-tools usually need to be carried on a tool belt and can be heavier to carry and harder to bring along. Some multi-tools do allow you to carry them using some other methods, however. The Leatherman Charge TTI offers some of the easiest carrying options out there, The Leatherman Wave is a smaller multi-tool but is also quite easy to bring with you.
One thing you do need to realize when you are trying to purchase a good multi-tool is how much the quality of manufacturing can vary from brand to brand. You need to take a close look at the hinges as well as the way the knife locks. You want to make sure those parts of the multi-tool work well, are reliable and made with high-quality products. You also want to make sure the multi-tool itself is easy to hold, and also easy to take along with you. The more high-quality the materials manufactured into your multi-tool, the more durable and reliable it will be. Make sure you take some time to look at the multi-tool, play around with it, and ensure that the important parts of the tool are made from high-quality materials.
On our list, we provided you with two choices in small multi-tools that also perform well. The one thing you do need to know about smaller multi-tools is that they are portable, but don’t offer as many features or as much functionality as larger multi-tools simply because they are built for size. They also typically aren’t as durable as their larger counterparts, but if portability and size is a major factor in your decision, then you’ll probably be better off with a smaller multi-tool. On our list, the Squirt PS4 and Gerber Dime are both pretty strong and lightweight multi-tools that function well when you are camping. They are still durable enough and work well with functionality, although they won’t offer you as much as some of the larger multi-tools on our list.
To answer that question, know that you’ll always want to check out plier hinges each time you purchase a multi-tool. As far as the products we’ve provided on our list are concerned, we have provided you with many products that did well during testing and their plier hinges are durable. Regardless, though, anytime you purchase a multi-tool you’ll want to check the plier hinges. One way to test this out is to see how the hinges perform when you cut a wire coat hanger. The Leatherman Squirt PS4 does a good job performing with durability, and so do both the Victorinox and Leatherman Wave also on our list.
You’ll need to take a look at the different functions and features that are provided by each multi-tool brand on the market. Each one is different, and many multi-tools fit different genres of use. However, the better the parts are on a multi-tool, even if the multi-tool offers fewer features, the more valuable the multi-tool will be when you are out in the wilderness. Also, some multi-tools will come with more functions and features than what you’ll ever use, so you need to take a careful look at what you need, the design of the multi-tool, and how well the functions and features the multi-tool has that actually perform well.
The most important functions designed into any good multi-tool is a good blade, nice pliers with wire cutters, effective scissors, and a bit driver. These are probably the functions and features you’ll use most often with your multi-tool, and if you know what you are likely to use, you’ll be more likely to focus in on that when you purchase your multi-tool. Two multi-tools on our list, the Leatherman Charge and Leatherman Wave, both offer all of these features.