ulti-tools are innovative sidekicks that help you cut, open, twist, tighten or loosen your way through any problem you may encounter. They have come a very long way from the Swiss Army Knife you kept dreaming about as a kid. Today, dozens of brands offer several different models with more than 20 functions in a single tool. But the best multi-tools are made by the US manufacturer, Leatherman.
The history of Leatherman
In the early 80's, Tim Leatherman had to use his pocket knife to fix his car on multiple occasions. He also used it to fix the hotel rooms he stayed in while travelling. During this time, he realized that having a pair of pliers would have been handier. The engineer in him started developing a design by adding pliers to a pocket knife. When he came back, he discussed his idea with practically every tool and knife company. No one wanted it. They thought the design wasn't feasible, and they saw no purpose in such a tool. Persistent as he was, Tim Leatherman decided to develop the first prototype with his brother in-law. The rest is history. Today, he is widely cherished as the father of the modern multi-tool.
What makes Leatherman great?
Nowadays, Leatherman has become a generic name for this kind of tool. One reason behind its popularity, is the confidence the company shows in the quality of every model. This quality is achieved by assembling and crafting all models in the USA by expert technicians!
Leatherman also offers an unmatchable Lifetime (25 years) limited warranty on their models, making their tools dependable for years to come. During this period, if anything goes wrong, you can always send the tool in and they 'll fix it or replace it for you.
Leatherman produces a variety of multi-tools with different features classified separately. Therefore, there is an appropriate multi-tool for everyone. But the question is, how do you select the right Leatherman that suits your needs? Let’s delve into the classification and their differences:
1. Pocket tools
2. Pocket-sized tools
3. Keychain Tools
4. Heavy Duty tools
The pocket tools are tiny multi-tools that can easily fit in your pocket. They often don't include a knife. They are enhanced with a bit holder, making them very versatile. They're ideal for flying and work best as a handy gift. Leatherman’s Brewzer is one of the most popular Pocket multi-tools.
Now, people often confuse pocket tools with Leatherman's pocket-size tools. The difference between the two models is that the pocket-sized tools are enhanced with pocket clips to help make them fit in your pocket even more. Models such as Skeletool, Wingman, and Sidekick are examples of this collection.
As the name suggests, you can hang these multi-tools from your keys. They are slightly more extensive and contain more features than both the pocket tools types discussed above. The most important tool in this collection is a pair of scissors along with a knife, file, screwdrivers, snap hook, and tweezers. They can help you carry out small everyday tasks – not the heavy-duty ones.
Heavy Duty Tools
These are full-sized heavy lifters. Made for all kinds of DIY jobs, these tools are preferred by demanding professionals for their everyday workload. They have more interchangeable parts and can handle every job you throw at them. The OHT, Surge+, and the SuperTool 300 are some of the prime examples in this category. They are larger and heavier making a belt sheath a must-have for storage.
This article features four of the best leatherman multi-tools and discusses what makes each of them great in their own right. Let’s take a look!
A review of the best Leatherman multi-tools
1. Leatherman Wave+
The Wave has been in the market for over twenty years. It’s incredible quality, iconic design and usability have made it a standard for multi-tools. The Wave plus further improves on it in several ways, making it a heavy-duty beast.
This neither small nor too large multi-tool features 17 different stainless tools including – but not limited to – a diamond-coated file, needle-nose pliers, and a clip point knife. The Wave+ comes in handy in situations when you have only one hand to spare. You can open or close it easily with one hand and use all of the tools without any problem – even the ones not accessible when the tool is closed.
What's more, Leatherman has fitted this advanced model with premium quality replaceable wire cutters, making it perfect for tough professional projects for years. Because of its compact size and higher utility, the Wave+ is undeniably one of the most popular multi-tools Leatherman offers today.
• More functionality in a compact, pocket-sized design
• All locking blades offer greater confidence while cutting
• Come fitted with premium quality replaceable wire cutters
• Leatherman’s lifetime warranty
2. Leatherman Surge
Surge is another popular heavy-duty multi-tool along the lines of Wave+. It features several interchangeable parts to help you rebuild the tool after long term use. You can open many tools from the outside to start working ASAP.
It looks similar to Wave+, but there is one notable difference. It's bigger, offering you much more grip when, for example, you are wearing gloves. The tools included here are also bigger and can be used for more heavy-duty tasks.
Surge offers 21 tools in a single hand. Surge gives you quick access to any of its premium tools, featuring a unique blade exchanger, replaceable wire cutters, and 4 blades that can be opened from the outside.
One disadvantage of having a bigger multi-tool is that it's quite heavy. It weighs approximately 335g. Sure, for a tool you need to keep in the toolbox, this isn’t much weight. However, don’t expect to keep it in your pocket. It's also quite noticeable when carried in the tool belt.
• 21 tools in a single package
• Bigger tools are more suitable for heavy-duty tasks
• More interchangeable parts that can help you rebuild the tool as and when you need
• Leatherman’s Lifetime Warranty
• Big and heavy
• Noticeable when carried in the tool belt
3. Leatherman - Skeletool
This lightweight, pocket-sized multi-tool (coming at a mere 5 ounces) has just what you need in a good multi-tool package – bit driver, pliers, bottle opener, a stainless steel combo blade, and a removable pocket clip. In total, it has 7 different tools in one compact multi-tool.
As such, the Skeletool is compact enough to fit in the pocket, but you can also utilize its removable snap hook to hang it from your belt loop or a bag. Because of the lightweight design, it's ideal for hard-to-reach places that require more ergonomic handling.
A popular variation of the Skeletool is the CX version, which is slightly better. It has a better 154 CM stainless steel blade and uses a carbon fiber handle for more durability.
In any case, the tools featured here are very basic and only good for occasional use. You shouldn't use it for professional heavy-duty tasks. However, if you always need a multi-tool in your hand for basic day to day tasks, Skeletool is the tool you need.
• Very lightweight and ergonomic design
• Removable pocket clip for easy carrying
• All locking tools and blades
• Leatherman’s lifetime warranty
• Basic tools for occasional use
4. Leatherman Signal
The Signal is yet another heavy duty multi-tool. It combines everyday tools with outdoor helpers. Featuring an additional integrated hammer, emergency whistleblower, firesteel, and a wood sharpener, Signal is designed as an all in one camping and survival tool for the outdoor enthusiasts.
The most unique feature of this multi-tool is the hammer. While it cannot build you a house, it comes very handy when you are out hiking or paddling. It's perfect for light jobs like cracking nuts and driving tent pegs etc. To keep the hammer from moving too much, don’t forget to use the little lock underneath its surface.
The build quality could have been better. But it makes sense because the manufacturer prioritized being light weight. It also has replaceable parts making your job easy if a part breaks. The overall action of the tool is also much smoother than your average Swiss Army Knife.
Overall, the Signal allows you to fix anything, anywhere, anytime. It's particularly helpful on an outdoor trip offering you everything you would need to get a campfire or a lean-to-shelter going in a forest. However, its higher price tag may deter some multi-tool enthusiasts.
• Combines everyday tools with outdoor features
• Can be used with only one hand
• Lightweight design
• Leatherman’s lifetime limited warranty
• Comes at a very hefty price tag
• Build quality could have been better.
It's because of such multi-tools, we can say with confidence that the best multi-tools are made by Leatherman. While Leatherman’s products obviously cost higher than most multi-tools, no one can match their utility, performance, durability, and lifetime guarantee. That’s all for this article. Thank you for reading!