The 10 Best Multi-Tools For Everyday Carry

Updated Jan 03, 2023
Contributors

Pound for pound, no one single item or piece of gear affords as much utility in as compact of a footprint as a multi-tool. And while multi-tools actually date all the way back to Ancient Rome, it wasn’t until the 1980s that the segment was revolutionized with the debut of the first Leatherman model — a watershed design that would ultimately usher in the modern, butterfly-opening models that we know and carry today. And while most contemporary multi-tools sport the same basic architecture as Tim Leatherman’s original design from 1983, the product space has massively evolved over the last roughly four decades, giving way to ever-more utilitarian offerings in increasingly tough and pocketable packages. This includes a myriad of EDC-specific models — the latest, greatest, and most noteworthy of which we’ll be shining a light on today in this guide to the best multi-tools for everyday carry. 

Function Over Everything

The 9 Main Factors To Consider When Buying An EDC Multi-Tool

Perfectly epitomizing the very notion of everyday carry, multi-tools offer an unparalleled level of functionality and utility, affording a degree of preparedness that no other EDC item even comes close to. And while all multi-tools are designed to cram a host of functions into a super compact package, these items can vary pretty greatly in numerous areas. As such, it helps to have a basic understanding of the most pivotal factors to consider when purchasing a new multi-tool for everyday carry — nine of the most important of which we’ll briefly touch on below. 

Numbers Of Tools & Functions: As the area that ultimately determines the level of functionality and utility afforded, the number of tools that a multi-tool is equipped with plays a pivotal role in a given model’s overall quality and utility. Alongside straight, serrated, and/or partially serrated blade(s), some of the most common tools and functions include pliers, bottle and can openers, awls, wire strippers and cutters, files, numerous bit drivers, scraper and pry tools, and scissors, just to name a few. Many of the more utilitarian models on the market boast well over a dozen functions and tools. 

Style Of Multi-Tool: Multi-tools can generally be broken down into three main categories. The first — and most popular — type is the butterfly-opening Leatherman-style multi-tool, which is crafted around a set of pliers, with a host of tools and functions integrated into each side of its handles. Next is the multi-tooled pocket knife; a traditional folding pocket knife that sees its blade supplemented by one or more additional folding tools. The third type — which is essentially a proprietary spin on the second genre — is the iconic Swiss Army Knife, which is typically comprised of a myriad of smaller tools built into an ultra-pocketable folder. 

Locking Elements: One significant advancement seen in the multi-tool space has been the addition of locking tools. Almost always a hallmark of a more high-end multi-tool, locking functions increase both performance and safety and are generally easier and more pleasant to use.

Specialty Use & Features: In addition to mainstays like pliers, scissors, and knife blades, some multi-tools boast tools and functions that are designed for specific specialty uses such as firearm maintenance or performing basic repairs under the hood. There are also TSA-approved multi-tools that can freely be taken on travel — typically thanks to a removable blade or a lack of a blade entirely. 

Materials: Just like with any knife or piece of EDC gear, a multi-tool’s durability, performance, and overall quality primarily boils down to two factors; it’s design; and the materials used to bring said design to life. In the case of a multi-tool, one should examine a model’s handle construction — and whether that construction has been fortified via anodization or some other type of hardwearing finish — as well as its tool construction. It’s also crucial to review the type of construction used to craft a multi-tool’s blade(s). 

Dimensions & Weight: One of the biggest strengths and advantages that multi-tools offer alongside their ample utility, is their ability to afford such high levels of functionality in an extremely compact package, with several multi-tools on the market being capable of replacing entire toolboxes. As a result, when shopping for an EDC-focused multi-tool, it’s imperative to review a given model’s weight, as well as its dimensions for width and both open and closed length. And while it is true that the larger models tend to offer the largest number of tools and functionality, there are numerous models that are incredibly compact, while still sporting well over a dozen tools. 

Upgradability: Due to the tremendous popularity of multi-tools in the EDC space, we’ve seen a growing number of manufacturers and third-party aftermarket outfits begin producing upgrades and add-ons for existing multi-tools. This includes everything from bit sets to attachable ratcheting bit drivers to extension bars to leather sheaths and deep-carry pocket clips for EDC use. Some companies — such as Gerber and Leatherman — also offer customizable multi-tool models that can be custom-configured on the manufacturer’s website. 

Warranty: A great many multi-tools on the market are legitimately engineered for decades, if not a lifetime of use. As such, quite a few of today’s most reputable multi-tools purveyors stand behind their respective products with generous lifetime warranties, offering free (or low cost) replacements for any damaged or defective tools or elements. 

Manufacturer: One surefire method of getting your hands on a quality multi-tool is to buy from a trusted and reputable brand. And, while some companies have been giving it a decent run for its money in recent years, Leatherman remains the undisputed leader in the multi-tool space, producing what are univocally the best-engineered models in existence — a fact that’s unsurprising considering that the firm states that “the essence of every Leatherman is engineering.”

Pocketable Performers

The Best EDC Multi-Tools

Now that you’re privy to what you need to look for when shopping, let’s dive into our picks for the seven best multi-tools that money can currently buy. 

Photo: Gerber

Gerber Dime

Best Keychain Multi-Tool: Though it doesn’t come equipped with the most tools or functions, the Gerber Dime is an outstanding multi-tool that not only offers stellar value with its $30 MSRP but is also almost certainly the best keychain multi-tool on the market. Incredibly lightweight at only 2.2oz, the Dime features a dozen tools and functions including needle nose pliers, a crosshead driver, scissors, a package opener, and a plain-edge blade. Gerber has also bestowed the Dime with a bottle opener that can be used and accessed when the tool is closed — an immensely clever feature considering that the bottle opener will almost certainly be one of its most frequently utilized tools. Protected by a lifetime warranty, this model also sports a full  3Cr13 stainless steel construction — both impressive features considering this multi-tools ultra-accessible price point. 

Number Of Tools/Functions: 12
Closed Length: 2.75”
Blade Steel: 3Cr13

Photo: SOG

SOG PowerPint

Best Compact: While there’s no question that Leatherman is unecivicaolly the king of the multi-tool space, the team at the Studies and Observations Group has steadily been gaining ground on the Portland-based firm with models like the SOG PowerPint. Weighing 4.2oz, spanning just 5”, and fitted with a stamped SOG-branded pocket clip, the PowerPint was engineered from the ground up specifically for everyday carry use. Offered with a black or bare metal stonewashed finish, the PowerPint comes loaded with 18 different tools including hard and soft wire cutters, scissors, needle-nose pliers, grippers, an awl, can opener, bottle opener, flat and Phillips head drivers, a ruler, a protector, a line cutter, a straight-edge blade, and a jewelry driver. What makes this multi-tool shine, however, is its included centered magnetic 0.25” Hex bit driver, and SOG’s proprietary Compound Leverage system that not only affords ultra-smooth opening and closing action but also manages to simultaneously bolster gripping power. 

Number Of Tools/Functions: 18
Closed Length: 3.20”
Blade Steel: 5Cr15Mov

Photo: Victorinox

Victorinox Compact

Best Swiss Army Knife: Made in Switzerland, the aptly-named Victorinox Compact is an ultra-pocketable, lightweight daily-carry Swiss Army Knife that packs more than a dozen functions, all while weighing in at just 2.3oz (and measuring just 3.6” L x 0.6” H). Between its iconic red cellidor scales are a total of 15 tools and functions, including but not limited to a corkscrew, bottle and can openers, scissors, a key ring, 1.5mm and 5mm screwdrivers, tweezers, a pressurized ballpoint pen, a straight blade, and a multipurpose hook with an integrated nail file.  While it admittedly lacks some of the greater functionality of its Weatherman-made counterparts, this EDC-ready SAK does boast quite a bit of utility in a very compact — and very iconic — package. This Swiss-made multi-tool can also be upgraded via items like custom/aftermarket SAK scales

Number Of Tools/Functions: 15
Closed Length: 3.60”
Blade Steel: High-Carbon Stainless Steel

Photo: The James Brand

The James Brand The Ellis v2

Best Minimalist: Unveiled in 2018 before debuting in its second-generation form in early 2022, The James Brand’s The Ellis v2 is a spartan yet style-conscious take on a multi-tool that offers a surprising amount of functionality considering the fact it only boasts a trio of tools. Offered in seven different colors, with steel or Micarta scales, and with a straight or partially serrated blade, The Ellis v2 comes equipped with a set of folding and a pair of collapsible, Swiss Army Knife-style scissors, a 2.60” nail nick-opening blade composed of Sandvik 12C27, and TJB’s All-Things” scraper which can also conveniently double as a flat-head screwdriver or a pry tool. On top of a deep-carry formed-wire pocket clip, The James Brand has also treated its second-gen Ellis model to a non-locking slip joint mechanism

Number Of Tools/Functions: 5
Closed Length: 3.50”
Blade Steel: Sandvik 12C27

Photo: Leatherman

Leatherman Wave+

Editor’s Pick (Best Overall): Of all the exceptional multi-tools on our list, the one that the everyday carry community seems to favor the most is Leatherman’s Wave — and with very, very good reason. And while the original version was and is definitely one of the absolute best multi-tools ever made, it’s since been improved upon with the release of the Wave+. The difference between the two can be found in one groundbreaking improvement: the Plus has removable and replaceable durable wire cutters — meaning once they inevitably dull, you aren’t forced to get a new tool. Apart from that, the rest of what makes this device superb is all still intact — including its 18 built-in tools that range from pliers to blades and so very much more. Here’s a hint: if the EDC community appears to collectively agree that this is the best multi-tool around, you should trust in it. Of course, if you’re worried that it might let you down, you can always count on the brand’s 25-year warranty to ease your stress.

Number Of Tools/Functions: 18
Closed Length: 4.0”
Blade Steel: 420HC Stainless Steel

Photo: Leatherman

Leatherman FREE P2

Best One-Handed Operation: Spanning just 4.25” when closed and tipping the scales at only 7.6oz, the Leatherman FREE P2 is an American-made multi-tool that boasts a generous suite of 19 all-locking tools — the majority of which can be opened and operated using a single hand — including spring-loaded scissors, pliers, can and bottle openers, and a partially-serrated 2.76” blade composed of 420HC stainless steel. Alongside its one-handed-operational elements, this model benefits from a cleverly-designed magnetic closing system and is made all the more unique by the fact that all of its tools (minus its pliers) can be opened/is accessible from the outside of each handle. Sold with an included nylon sheath and a removable pocket clip, the Free P2 can also be customized via Leatherman’s online configurator. In typical Leatherman fashion, the FREE P2 also comes backed by the Portland-based brand’s signature 25-year warranty. 

Number Of Tools/Functions: 19
Closed Length: 4.25”
Blade Steel: 420HC Stainless Steel

Photo: Gerber

Gerber Center-Drive Plus

Most Innovative: There are a ton of multi-tools on the market that try to do as much as possible — often at their own peril. Gerber, however, took a different route with their Center-Drive. Rather than attempting to pack as many tools as possible into it, they decided to tackle one very common complaint: that the screwdrivers on most multi-tools are difficult to use and not very ergonomic. To fix this, they designed it with an innovative 3.2” center-axis driver, which opens to align like a real, full-sized screwdriver — meaning you don’t have to continuously adjust your grip to make up for the imbalance of the tool’s handle. Of course, this stainless steel device — which is exceedingly beefy and durable — also still has a suite of other functional built-in tools. That includes pliers, a 420HC knife blade (30% longer than the competition), saw, a can/bottle opener, nail pryer, and more. It even comes with a full set of bits for the hex driver. And it’s made in the USA at Gerber’s Portland HQ.

Number Of Tools/Functions: 14
Closed Length: 4.70”
Blade Steel: Stainless Steel

The Rest

Four More Supplementary Options Well Worth Checking Out

Though they didn’t make the cut to earn a spot on our best-of list, there is nonetheless a small handful of additional models that are well worth exploring if you happen to be in the market for a new EDC multi-tool. Below, we’ll quickly highlight our four favorite runner-up picks. 

Photo: Leatherman

Leatherman Squirt PS4

While most multi-tools, in general, are small enough to stash in your pocket, not everyone has the necessary room for such a haul — or they’re just not keen on the inconvenience. Well, that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck, as Leatherman’s Squirt PS4 is more than small enough to attach to your carabiner keychain, which makes it one of the best multi-tools for those limited on space. Impressively, despite the fact that it weighs just two ounces and measures up at two-and-a-quarter inches when closed, it still comes with 9 built-in tools — including pliers, wire cutters, a 1.6″ knife, screwdrivers, a bottle opener, and more. For those limited on space, there are few multi-tools that can compare to this one.

Number Of Tools/Functions: 9
Closed Length: 2.25”
Blade Steel: 420HC Stainless Steel

Photo: Amazon

SOG PowerAssist

Admittedly, SOG’s PowerAssist multi-tool is a bit on the hefty side of the spectrum — weighing in at 9.6 ounces. However, that’s more than made up for by its comprehensive suite of tools and ultra-tough black oxide-finished all-stainless steel construction. As mean looking as multi-tools get, this sinister device boasts a whopping 16 built-in functions (and we’re sure you could figure out some other uses) that include a straight-edge blade, saw, pliers with a patented Compound Leverage system for greater grip with no extra effort, wire cutters, can and bottle openers, a 3-sided file, screwdrivers, and much more. If you can get past the weight, this is a solid multi-tool if there ever was one and it’s definitely one of our all-time favorites.

Number Of Tools/Functions: 16
Closed Length: 4.60”
Blade Steel: 420 Stainless Steel

Photo: Leatherman

Leatherman Skeletool RX

As we mentioned, there are a lot of multi-tools on the market. Some are designed to offer as much as possible, whereas others are made for specific venues and ventures. Leatherman’s Skeletool RX certainly fits into the latter category. That’s because this ultralight folding multi-tool — which weighs just five ounces — was designed specifically to be used by emergency first responders. And that makes this an exceedingly unique offering. In fact, on top of the fact that it was made with an integrated carabiner for easy pack attachment, it has a suite of tools that shine most in emergency and survival situations. That includes a hefty saw blade that can cut through seatbelts, a carbide glass-breaker tip, hard-wire cutters, bit storage built into the handle, and more. Plus, the whole thing was made to be used one-handed and comes with Leatherman’s impressive 25-year guarantee.

Number Of Tools/Functions: 7
Closed Length: 4.0”
Blade Steel: 154CM Stainless Steel

Photo: Amazon

Leatherman MUT

As we previously mentioned, there are two schools of thought when it comes to the creation of multi-tools: they’re either made to be broadly versatile or pared-down to serve a select number of specific tasks for a given venue. And while most of the options on our list fall into the former category, Leatherman’s tactical-focused MUT most definitely falls into the latter group. In fact, while it’s available to civilians, this tool was made specifically with the intention to function as a field tool used for the maintenance of military equipment — including firearms. Short for the “Military Utility Tool,” this pocketable powerhouse boasts a suite of 16 tools including a bronze carbon scraper, a disassembly punch, and a bolt override tool. On top of that, this stainless steel miracle tool has a built-in partially-serrated knife blade, premium replaceable wire cutters, both regular and needlenose pliers, wire cutters, a carabiner clip for easy pack attachment that doubles as a bottle opener, a hex bit driver, and more. It even comes with a 3/8″ wrench and front-sight adjustment accessory. And — in case you don’t want to wear it via the carabiner — it even comes with a MOLLE-compatible nylon sheath.

Number Of Tools/Functions: 16
Closed Length: 5.0”
Blade Steel: 420HC Stainless Steel

The Best Leatherman Multi-Tools For Everyday Carry


Want to take an even deeper dive into the world of EDC-ready multi-tools? Then be sure to head over to our guide to the best Leatherman multi-tools for a curated list of the PDX brand’s most capable, utilitarian, and pocketable offerings.