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Editor’s Note: This resource has been revised and updated for 2021.
There is a whole world of multi tools out there to choose from. Before you go shopping there are some things to consider so you make the choice that is best for your situation.
- Avoid the urge to get the one with the most gadgets
There are some multi tools out there that have tools that most of us never use. If you have purchased a big multi tool in the past and used most of the tools then ignore what I am saying but I would bet that for most of us preppers, the big ones are just added weight and expense.
- Consider multiple mid priced multi tools for use around your camp or home
There are plenty of quality choices in the mid priced multi tool range. The new retail for a good price and you can often get it for less while a single Leatherman Wave has a lot of tools that you may never use and costs 3 times as much.
If you want something more functional than a just a basic multi tool you should consider buying one elaborate model and then a few less expensive but highly functional ones. If I lose a Rev at that price it is a far sight better than losing a much more expensive multi tool.
- Save yourself the trouble of buying an “off” brand
Is it worth saving the money to get an off brand? The answer in my own experience is no. There are only a few things worse when you are trying to get something done than having a tool fail you.
I imagine a lot of you might be thinking about multi tools for your bug out bag or just your basic emergency stash. This is one of those times when buying that cheap tool is not something I would do.
- Know the limits of a multi tool
Not all multi tools are built the same and you have to realize that even the best tool can only take so much abuse, general wear, or neglect. The good ones are tough but if you push them you can definitely break one of the tools or mess of a mechanism. Use common sense when using them and you will get the best results and not be as likely to hurt yourself.
- Get the right size
When I say size I am talking about the overall length when closed. You need to be able to grip your multi tool comfortably. I have larger hands but sometimes a Leatherman Wave seems too bulky for me.
Women and kids need tools that are smaller than the ones used by the average man. Pay attention to measurements when ordering online. It doesn’t hurt to get out a ruler so you can consider what you are getting.
Leatherman Family Of Multi Tools
Waxing Nostalgic For The Original Leatherman
When I was in college I bought just the standard Leatherman and by the time I eventually lost it 8 years later or so they had stopped making the standard. The reason I like it was that it had all the basics you needed and nothing more.
The quality of the metal and the heft became the standard I used to gauge any other multi tool. Here is the basic tools I consider essential to a multi tool for prepping and general work around the farm.
- Bottle Opener
- Leather Punch
Optional But Nice
Beyond this, I feel I am just carrying weight I don’t need.
Multi Tools Top Pick
Gerber 30-000469 Dime Mini Multi-Tool
Victorinox Swisscard Lite Pocket Tool
|Check Prices & Reviews
|Check Prices & Reviews
|Check Prices & Reviews
Size: 4 inches closed and 9 oz
Even though I mentioned finding the Wave a bit bulky at times, it is one of the better multi-tools out there that has a lot of tools on it. I like that the knife part and the bottle opener are on the outside where I can get to them with ease.
The pliers are sturdy and the wire cutters can be used to cut thick wire when needed. We have built a lot of fences using the Wave for cutting the thinner wire for attaching field fence to posts. In terms of quality, it is worth the very high price if you are the type of person that has an easy time keeping up with tools. This is one you will want to wear on your belt.
Size: 3.8 inches closed and 5.9 oz
The Rev has an amazing 14 tools and can be found for a very affordable retail price. This is a bargain for what you get and it comes with Leatherman’s 25 year warranty. I can attest to the fact that Leatherman definitely follows through on their warranty. We had an older Leatherman that had been discontinued but was still under warranty when a tool broke.
We sent this decade-old Leatherman back and they sent us a Wave instead. They really stand by their products. I like this tool because it is affordable enough to have a lot of them around the house and not be worried if one gets misplaced. There are no scissors but honestly, the scissors on any multi tool are not ideal so I feel they are something nice to have but I can do without.
Size: 4.1 inches closed and 7 oz
While I am going to include Schrade on this list because they are a well known brand and available at a good price, it is important to note that they are not made in the USA anymore. This has led to some poor reviews from long time customers. On the other hand, there are a lot of new customers that seem to be very satisfied with the performance of these tools.
I like the larger and more functional scissors offered on this tool. For a multi tool to keep in the kitchen drawer, this would be a viable option. This tool has all the features of a basic multi tool such as a flat head and Phillips screwdriver bit, knife blade, bottle opener, wire cutters, pliers, etc. For a budget multi tool it is worth trying out.
Size: 6 oz and 3 ¾ inches closed
Boker makes quality knives for sure. I definitely admire the attention they have paid to details when designing this multi tool. First off it doesn’t really look like a multi tool when everything is folded up. Boker has also made the blade length long enough to be functional but still within the legal limits of places with stricter knife laws.
This tool has all the basics and none of the extras that just weigh you down most of the time. The one exception is that this multi tool has a glass breaker which makes it stand out a bit from a lot of other multi tools that just don’t go there.
Size: 9.6 oz and 4 inches closed
Gerber has really went the extra mile to create an affordable multi tool that has all your basic needs covered. I am considering this multi tool instead of the Leatherman Rev that has become harder to find.
This is affordable enough to have a few extras scattered around for convenience. A ballistic nylon sheath is even included for easy carrying on a belt so you can have it when you need it.
2.2 oz and only 2.75 inches long!
For a multi tool that you can fit on a key chain, it is hard to beat the Gerber Dime. With over a 1,000 excellent reviews on Amazon, people have a lot to say about this little tool.
It even comes in your choice of colors so you can get a brighter color that makes your keychain easier to see. This is good for those with smaller hands too. For the prepper on a budget that wants a smaller multi tool this tool has a lot to offer.
There has been a rise in the number of wearable multi tools over the years. I was not even aware of their existence for a long time. I can see how these would have a place in the prepping world, especially among those that live in cities or travel regularly where knives are a no go zone.
I am going to point out a few wearables that are worthy of consideration but I do encourage you to research further and make sure you get a wearable that is comfortable for you. If something is banging around on your wrist and not comfortable to wear then there is a good chance you just won’t carry it.
Wearables are more expensive than standard multi tools so be sure.
Size: 8.5 inch wrists or less but can be expanded to a larger size with additional tool links.
Weight: 5.9 oz weight as purchased
The standard Leatherman wearable is a bracelet. You can choose between metric or standard for your tools and if you ever lose a link, you can order a replacement for $20-$25. The bracelets are completely adjustable with Leatherman claiming it will fit any adult wrist size.
You can choose between black or silver finishes. These wearables get excellent reviews. Keep in mind that there is absolutely no knife blade on this wearable.
Notable tools on this bracelet include a carbide tip glass breaker. There is a lot of screwdriver and hex bits on this bracelet as well as a bottle opener. Those that like to hit the road with their motorcycle seem to give this tool good reviews. This tool is 8.5 inches in circumference when fully extended.
If you have a very large wrist you can add a link in if needed. This may mean you have an extra of some tools but it would at least mean you could wear this comfortably. On the other hand, you can remove a link if you have very small wrists.
3.5 inches long and 6.5 ounces
What multi tool list could be complete with a Swiss Army knife. This is one of the ones with everything but the kitchen sink on it. I have to say that if you are going to get a multi tool that has a lot of stuff on it, the Swiss Army Knife versions are very comfortable in the hand and they are made to stand the test of time.
For me, on the farm, I prefer a multi tool with more substantial pliers and wire cutters so the Swiss Army Knife doesn’t quite do it for me for an everyday carry multi tool. The magnifying glass is pretty nifty though because it can be used to start a fire in an emergency situation or offer assistance when dealing with splinters and minor injuries.
This version of the Swiss Army Knife is a bit heavier than a lot of multi tools but that is to be expected with any tool that is made to be high quality and have a lot of implements.
Size: 3.5 inches long closed and 2.6 oz
This budget-friendly name brand Swiss Army Multi-Tool has a lot to offer and is very lightweight. Again I have to comment on how comfortable the knife design is. The rounded edge handle does not dig into your palm and you can keep a decent grip on it.
If you are not worried about pliers or wirecutters this is a good multi tool and at the price you can afford to have this one around. This would be an excellent key chain knife and good for anyone that camps out once in a while for fun.
The Toothpick and Tweezer Issue
Be ready to lose the toothpick and tweezers on a Swiss Army Knife eventually. Maybe I am wrong and you are a super careful person but over the years it can be hard to not lose those two pieces that detach completely from the knife.
If you don’t put them back in absolutely all the way, it can be easy for them to slip back out. Other than that you should have very little problems with any Swiss Army Knife over the years.
Could not find measurements or weight on the company website. From what I can gather from customer comments, it appears this multi tool is a bit heavier than the Leatherman Wave but about the same length.
This was not a brand I was familiar with until recently. Hoffman Richter has an extensive line of affordable multi tools all with lifetime guarantees to back them up. This particular model reminds me a lot of the Leatherman Wingman or the original Leatherman that is no longer made.
The price point puts it up there with the Rev and other multi tools that allow you to have more than one around your place. You get a nylon belt sheath with it for easy carry and access. The tool has a safety locking mechanism that may be appealing to some. I like that there is a very small knife blade along with a large one.
The very small one could be extremely useful when doing small tasks or getting into tight spaces where a larger blade may be too cumbersome to deal with.
Credit Card Style Multi Tools
This is another type of multi tool that has gained in popularity recently but a lot of us are still not familiar with. I can see how a good version this design could be very handy for those living in town or that want something very discreet and compact that they can rely on.
Here are a few of the many choices out there. I have tried to highlight a few that seem to have high levels of customer satisfaction and come in at a reasonable price. For what you get, these tools are very budget friendly compared to a lot of multi tools.
Size: 3.25 inches and just 1 ounce according to REI.
If you are cautious about trying out this type of multi tool then the SwissCard is a good choice because it comes with an impeccable guarantee and is made in Switzerland to high specifications.
This little card contains a letter opener/blade, scissors, rulers, tweezers, a magnifying glass, straight pin, pressurized ballpoint pen, Phillips screwdrivers, and even an LED light! That is a lot of function in something you can just slip into a small compartment of your wallet or in pant’s pocket.
I think it is worth mentioning that if you regularly carry your wallet in your back pocket and have this in it you could crack or break the housing if you sit the wrong way.
I had to add this in because it seems like a neat idea to add to your other credit card multi tool and they seem to be very popular among the prepper community.
Arrowheads, fish hooks, an awl, sewing needs, saws can all be found on this little piece of metal. At the price it is a fun prepper gadget.
Do you have any experience with any of the tools above? I am particularly curious to hear the experiences of anyone that has used wearable multi tools or the credit card style ones since they are a new thing for those of us used to traditional multi tools.
Samantha Biggers lives on a mountain in North Carolina with her husband and pack of loyal hounds in a house her husband and she built themselves. When not writing she is working in their vineyard, raising Shetland sheep, or helping her husband with whatever the farm and vineyard can throw at them. She can be reached at [email protected]
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