The 10 Best Multi-Tools

Oct 22, 2019

Category: Gear

Of all the different categories of everyday carry gear, multi-tools are probably the most versatile. These (most often) pocketable tools are designed specifically with two things in mind: packability and versatility. That means they’re meant to do as much as possible while taking up as little space as possible. And while they’re definitely not meant to replace an old-fashioned set of tools, they do offer up a much more portable substitute.

Unsurprisingly, these EDC darlings are favored by everyone from urbanites in major cities to hardcore survivalists on the fringes of society. As such, there are a wide number of available options to suit that expansive landscape. Still, while there’s not a single multi-tool that’s perfect for everyone, there are a few that stand above the rest regardless of venue. We’ve gathered those select few together in our guide to the 10 best multi-tools you can buy right now.

Photo: Leatherman Collector’s Edition PST

What To Look For In A Multi-Tool

Jack of All Trades

Multi-tools are remarkably versatile and usually extremely compact when compared to how much they can accomplish. That being said — and as we previously mentioned — these devices are absolutely not meant to replace a traditional set of tools. Rather, they exist to offer up a wide measure of problem-solving capabilities when it’s unreasonable to carry around a full-suite of traditional tools. As such, anyone looking for a multi-tool should curb their expectations to suit.

It’s worth noting, however, that — so long as you know what you’re in for — a folding multi-tool can sometimes be your favorite go-to piece of gear whether you’re a motorcycle adventurer, backwoods survivalist, or just a city-going savant. And that’s because, usually, their functional drawbacks are more than made up for by their wide suite of built-in tools — generally including things like knife blades, screwdrivers, pliers, scissors/wire cutters, can/bottle openers, and more. They’re not going to out-perform traditional hand tools, but they can definitely be lifesavers in a pinch. They may be jacks of all trades, masters of none — but that’s often more than enough.

Leatherman Squirt PS4 Keychain Multi-Tool

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.

No. of Tools: 9
Weight: 2 oz
Closed Length: 2.25″

Purchase: $35

SOG PowerAssist Multi-Tool

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.

No. of Tools: 16
Weight: 9.6 oz
Closed Length: 4.6″

Purchase: $62

Gerber Diesel Multi-Tool

Similar in size, scope, and appearance to the SOG PowerAssist above, Gerber’s Diesel Multi-Plier is one of the toughest and best-looking folding multi-tools around. And while it boasts one fewer built-in tool than the above offering — boasting a total of 15, rather than 16 — it’s also lighter by a whole ounce, which seems like a pretty excellent tradeoff to us. This beefy stainless steel device also boasts one-handed operation for all its tools, which includes pliers, multiple knife and saw blades, multiple drivers, bottle and can openers, rulers, spring-loaded scissors, and more — all of which lock. What’s even better is that this one is assembled in the USA. If the SOG above doesn’t quite comprise what you want, this is a more-than-suitable substitute.

No. of Tools: 15
Weight: 8.6 oz
Closed Length: 4.92″

Purchase: $63

Leatherman Skeletool RX Multi-Tool

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.

No. of Tools: 7
Weight: 5 oz
Closed Length: 4″

Purchase: $80

Victorinox Swisschamp Swiss Army Knife

Though they’re called Swiss Army Knives, these folding tools from Victorinox are definitely multi-tools through and through. And they’re also some of the most classic and iconic ever built. While it’s definitely hard to pick a favorite — especially when balancing capability and size — we’re quite fond of how comprehensive-yet-pocketable the Swisschamp you see here is. It’s still plenty manageable as a piece of your everyday carry — measuring up at 3.6″ when closed and weighing in at 6.5 ounces — but it also boasts a whopping 33 built-in functions, comprised entirely of sturdy stainless steel inserts. While the list is expansive, some of our favorite inclusions on this tool are the duo of knife blades, a trio of drivers, metric and imperial rulers, pliers, scissors, magnifying glass, toothpick, pressurized ballpoint pen — the list just keeps going on and on… Truly you’ll probably not find a more comprehensive offering at this size or price point anywhere else.

No. of Tools: 33
Weight: 6.5 oz
Closed Length: 3.6″

Purchase: $80

The James Brand Ellis Knife

The James Brand has solidified their place amongst the greatest brands in the everyday carry space for the unique combination of unmistakable styling, reliability, sturdiness, and beauty in their suite of offerings. So when it came time to build a folding multi-tool they knew to stick to their strengths. As such, the Ellis you see here isn’t the most comprehensive of options, but what it does have it does very well. Its striking, minimalist handle is crafted from aerospace-grade aluminum that offers both lightness and durability. And the tool inserts — the knife blade, driver, scraper, and bottle opener — are built from Sandvik 12C27 steel. It also boasts a lockback mechanism for security in use, a bail attachment point for a lanyard, phosphor bronze washers, and it comes with a limited lifetime warranty.

No. of Tools: 4
Weight: 2.8 oz
Closed Length: 3.5″

Purchase: $99

Leatherman Wave+ Multi-Tool

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.

No. of Tools: 18
Weight: 8.5 oz
Closed Length: 4″

Purchase: $100

Gerber Center-Drive Multi-Tool

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.

No. of Tools: 12
Weight: 9.5 oz
Closed Length: 4.7″

Purchase: $103

Leatherman MUT Multi-Tool

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. As such, its suite of 16 tools includes 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.

No. of Tools: 18
Weight: 11.2 oz
Closed Length: 5″

Purchase: $160

Leatherman Collector’s Edition PST Multi-Tool

Leatherman has a reputation as perhaps the best multi-tool manufacturer currently (or even) in business. And that legacy can be traced back to 1983 and the release of the brand’s very first offering, the PST. Now, they’ve recreated that game-changing foldable, pocketable multi-tool in this magnificent collector’s edition. Every single one of these Collector’s Edition PST Multi-Tools is made 100% in the USA and includes 14 built-in tools — including pliers, wire cutters, a 420HC knife blade, a quartet of screwdrivers, can and bottle openers, and more. They also include a wooden case, leather sheath, certificate of authenticity signed by Tim Leatherman, Leatherman’s signature engraved on the handle, and an individual serial number. If heritage throwbacks strike your fancy, you’ll not find a better multi-tool around than this one.

No. of Tools: 14
Weight: 5.2 oz
Closed Length: 4″

Purchase: $275

The 12 Best TSA-Approved Multi-Tools

If you’re a frequent flyer, you probably already realize that a standard, traditional multi-tool isn’t going to make it through security. But don’t fret, because we’ve found the twelve best TSA-approved multi-tools for travel.

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