Little Laborers: The 8 Best Keychain Multi-Tools

Not everyone can afford to have a full tool belt strapped to their body everywhere they go; but without some kind of multi-tool, how are you going to be prepared for all the breaks, brainteasers, and unopened bottles in your life? You’d be as helpless as a person without thumbs out there in the world. Which is why at the very least you should think about strapping a tiny piece of hardware to your keys that can undo a screw, open your mail, and pry open a pale ale. It will make you feel human, if only barely.

When we started looking at keychain multi-tools, we were concerned with space primarily. Our goal was to find tools good for EDC (Everyday Carry) that are small and safe, so that you could lug them around all the time without getting jabbed in the leg orneedlessly weighing down your pockets. Then we found those that had the most reasonable everyday applications without tacking on a corkscrew, an unusable saw, or a huge hex wrench you’re never going to use. When the daily repairs were done, we had the 8 best keychain multi-tools anywhere.

Gerber Shard

Gerber Shard

Pro: Pry bar can crack a can of paint with ease
Con: Terrible wire strippers

Little Devil: The tough, single-body construction of the Shard makes it durable and capable of withstanding lots of mistreatment, but with all the sharp edges, it’s probably not something you’re going to want in your pocket. Excellent leverage makes the pry bar and bottle opener work with stellar acuity, and the titanium nitride coating is a welcome protector. The phillips driver and wire strippers will take a little extra work, but the whole thing is airline safe, so it’s easy to take anywhere.

Purchase: $3

Columbia River Knife and Tool K.E.R.T

Columbia River Knife and Tool K.E.R.T

Pro: Exceptionally sharp
Con: Actual keyring is weak

Dire Circumstances: The same way you want a backup sidearm in a war zone, so too do you want a tool on your keyring for when things have gone horribly wrong. WIth a ¼” hex driver, basic screwdriver, oxygen tank opener, and seatbelt cutter so sharp it requires a rubber cap to keep it from injuring you, the K.E.R.T. (Keying Emergency Rescue Tool) designed by Ray Kirk is your final lifeline. Slender enough to pair with other tools,  no survivor should be without one.

Purchase: $8

Gerber Dime Micro Tool

Gerber Dime Micro Tool

Pro: Easy tool access even when closed
Con: Parts tend to bend and scrape

Drop a Dime: A little on the large side at nearly three inches when closed, this might not be ideal for everyday carry if your pockets are already stuffed, but if you’re looking for a solid Leatherman emulator with a leaner price tag, you can’t do better than Gerber. Made with 3Cr13 stainless steel and sporting plenty of files, pliers, drivers, and scissors, you’ll be able to handle most fast-and-dirty computer repairs or basic office fixes with the Micro. Just don’t plan on a lifetime love affair as some parts are flimsy.

Purchase: $14

Leatherman Style CS

Leatherman Style CS

Pro: Glass-filled nylon scale
Con: Weak screwdrivers

Quick Clip: A little on the long and awkward side for keeping in a pocket, the CS includes a much-needed carabiner for snapping to a belt loop or your backpack for lugging around with you. Instead of bulky pliers, Leatherman has chosen to go with a set of serious scissors on the end which are ideal for trimming and clipping. With a streamlined body that keeps weight down, you’re not stuck with tools you don’t need, just the basic drivers, cutters, and filers you’ll want for average duties with one of the best bottle openers in the business.

Purchase: $18

SpyderCo ClipiTool

SpyderCo ClipiTool

Pro: Different varieties
Con: Smooth body is hard to hold

Fight or Fix: Now you don’t need to decide between carrying a decent folding knife and a useful keychain tool. From one of the best names in real pocket knives comes a tool that has much more than a quaint little letter opener. With SpyderCo’s recognizable leaf blade complete with quickdraw thumb hole, this is a blade, bottle opener, pry bar, screwdriver combo that ticks all the right boxes for a backup cutter. With a full flat grind and 8Cr13MoV material, the blade is deadly serious, as are the stainless steel handle scales.

Purchase: $20

Leatherman Squirt PS4

Leatherman Squirt PS4

Pro: Pliers include wire cutters
Con: Knife doesn’t lock

Complete Craftsmanship: With a small set of pliers and a 420 high carbon steel blade, as well as the bulletproof Leatherman build and design, you can’t go wrong with the Squirt. Constructed using stainless steel with anodized aluminum handles, it resists rust whether you work from home or are out trapping crab aboard the Cornelia Marie. Standard screwdrivers, spring-loaded scissors, and work/nail file flesh this out to give you the tools you will need without any wasted space.

Purchase: $27

Victorinox Swiss Army Rambler

Victorinox Swiss Army Rambler

Pro: Magnetic phillips screwdriver
Con: Useless toothpick included

Swiss Made: We don’t make a secret of our love for Victorinox, and that’s because they continue to produce products like the Rambler. A simple blade, a pair of basic screwdrivers, a set of grooming scissors, and the ubiquitous bottle opener are all you need for day to day duties. The body is a little slick to handle heavy-duty operation, and the lack of a pocket clip makes it a slippery piece for EDC, but you’ll still want it on hand for all those basic duties.

Purchase: $30

Machine Era Co. Tool

Machine Era Co. Tool

Pro: A single, solid piece
Con: Limited functions

Pocket Engineer: Crafted with care out of a single block of 6al-4v titanium, this will be with you for your lifetime and beyond. It’s incredibly simple bearing just a bottle opener, flat and phillips head screwdrivers, basic measuring device, and embedded attachment hole that ensures you’ll lose your keys before you’ll lose this slick bit of kit. At triple the tensile strength of aluminum, you can also bet it won’t scratch even after years of hard use. The functions are more for the ever-ready DIYer, but average folks will get something out of it too.

Purchase: $32

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