The multi-tool has been a part of the outdoorsman’s toolkit for a very long time. It is an incredibly handy tool for quick fixes on the fly, emergencies and minor repairs. The idea behind an all-in-one tool has been around since 200 to 300 A.D. when the Romans created an eating tool. Constructed of iron and silver, this tool consists of a blade, spoon, fork, spike, spatula and what experts say is a toothpick. Though we envision (incorrectly) ancient Romans lounging on plush sofas of silk, gorging themselves on dates, olives and pork surrounded by beautiful serving women, most Romans weren’t gluttonous pigs. The rich did enjoy feasting, but history has been quite exaggerated when it comes to the Romans’ eating habits. With that being said, we really can’t conclude why this tool was made and how many were made. But like most multi-tools, it is an efficient design made to make everyday tasks easier.
Probably the most famous multi-tool is the iconic Swiss Army Knife. Created in the late 1800s for Swiss soldiers, the knife was made to fit in a pocket, open cans and repair the Schmidt-Rubin M1889 rifle. The original Swiss Army knife had a blade, reamer, can opener, and screwdriver with an oak handle. American soldiers called it the “Swiss Army knife,” because they couldn’t pronounce the German name, Schweizer Offiziersmesser. There is only one company that produces real Swiss Army knives today—Victorinox located in Ibach, Schwyz, Switzerland. The company sells over 25 million knives a year. The latest models include modern upgrades like USB ports and fingerprint scanners.
A multi-tool is a pocket knife that incorporates more than just a cutting blade. They vary between one or two tools attached to a keychain, to large super tools that include everything but the kitchen sink. There are thousands of multi-tools to choose from, made all over the world. There are even specialized multi-tools made for certain hobbies, sports, and activities.
Which multi-tool you choose depends on your everyday needs, how you will carry it, size, durability, and of course, your budget. Some like to buy multiple multi-tools. For example, an AR-15 multi-tool to keep in the range bag, a larger Leatherman for the bug-out-bag and a keychain tool with just the basics for every day carry.
The following multi-tools have been tested by our team members and proven worthy of recommendation.
Victorinox Swiss Army Alox Cadet
This classic Swiss Army knife is a true pocket knife, without any bells and whistles, with a slim and lightweight profile weighing 1.6 ounces. It has a 2.4-inch blade, can opener, 3mm screwdriver, bottle opener, wire stripper, 6mm screwdriver, nail file, nail cleaner and key ring. Though not built for heavy-duty tasks, it is easy to carry and will accomplish simple, everyday tasks, while looking good doing it. The steel is soft, yet strong and easily sharpened. The high-polish finish is corrosion-resistant and durable. Price: $31.09
One of the most well-known multi-tool makers today is Leatherman. Leatherman has become a generic name in some circles when referring to any multi-tool due to its longevity and high quality.
The Leatherman Wave has been a worldwide favorite since 2004. It has the same tools as the first model, with upgraded wire cutters. It has pliers, wire cutters, wire stripper, saw, 2.9-inch plain and serrated blades, scissors, ruler, can and bottle openers, wood/metal file, screwdriver, and large and small bit drivers. It is constructed of 100% stainless steel and is hefty at 2 inches thick and 4 inches long overall. The Wave works well for those who need it for work. It is versatile, durable and reliable. Price: $74.51
Use the Gerber Dime multi-tool for what it was designed for and it is an extremely valuable tool for the money. It’s not built for hardcore tasks, but it’s 12 tools will help with normal, everyday tasks. This mini multi-tool is lightweight and compact great for EDC clipped to your keys or slipped in your pocket for discreet carry. It is made of stainless steel and has spring-loaded scissors. Includes pliers, wire cutters, knife, flathead screwdriver, crosshead driver, tweezers and file. The knife doubles as a box and bottle opener. Price: $13.84
SOG markets this knife for EDC, but this knife is really made for work. The special design makes the pliers some of the best in multi-tools. Aesthetically, it isn’t innovative, but the proprietary Compound Leverage technology makes them stronger and easier to use. It is made of 5CR15MOV steel and has 18 tools. The PowerAccess is not necessarily pocket-sized at 4.1 inches closed and weighing 5.90 ounces. It has all the tools you need daily and then some of the ones you don’t—pliers, gripper, wire cutter, crimpers, can opener, small flat screwdriver, bottle opener, file, knife, jewelry driver, awl, rulers, protractor, and magnetic hex bit driver. Price: $49.95
Boker pays homage to its roots with the Tech Tool series of knives which were inspired by the knife maker’s original knife, the Camp Knife. There are 14 knives in the lineup, 2 of them are single blades and the rest are multi-tools. The Boker Tech Tool comes the closest in competition with the Swiss Army Knife. The one we like has a few more tools and costs a bit more. It is a pocket knife with a gear clip. It has a 2.8-inch blade made of a sturdy, but affordable steel, a G10 handle and precision-machined parts. It has a glass-breaker, screwdriver with bottle opener and wire stripper, small serrated blade with screwdriver tip, scissors, punch/awl, pliers, and Philips screwdriver. Price: $72.95
For a multi-tool that is more knife than tool, check out the Select Fire from Kershaw. Kershaw knives are legit and keep an edge. They are tough, very well made and dependable. They focus on the quality of the blade on the Select Fire but add a 4-piece bit set, including the bit driver, 0.25-inch hex drive, 2 flatheads, 2 crosshead bits and a ruler. The 3.4-inch plain blade is made of 8C13MoV steel. Price: $26.62
The Swiss Tech Micro-Max is a 19-in-1 light-duty tool perfect for your range bag. It does not have a knife or a blade, but it does have 2 hex wrenches, 6 screwdrivers, pliers, wire cutter, wire stripper, wire crimper, hand drill, file, bottle opener, 2 rulers (mm & inch), and 2 ruler extensions. The best thing about the Micro-Max is how compact and flat it is. This micro keychain tool is made of solid stainless steel and weighs only 3.2 ounces. Price: $13.27
CRKT makes solid knives and their carabiner multi-tool is a smart design with elements that others on this list don’t have, such as an adjustable wrench saw and an LED light. It has a carabiner and a pocket/gear clip, so you can take this multi-tool camping, on the job, backpacking or just for every day carry. It has a 2-inch stainless steel knife blade and a removable bit carrier. The Guppie won the 2007 Blade Magazine’s Best Buy of the Year award. Price: $27.28
The CRKT Eat’N Tool is definitely not an everyday need type of tool; however, for campers, hikers, backpackers and preppers, it is so lightweight and affordable, there is no reason why you shouldn’t get one. At first glance, you might think this metal spork is silly-looking and useless, but it actually is a pretty genius design, especially for the minimalist. It is a spork—spoon/fork, but it also acts as an emergency screwdriver blade, it opens canisters and includes three wrench reliefs. Price: $6.88
You won’t be able to repair a light freighter with this multi-tool, but you will be able to make regular modifications to other hunks of junk. We couldn’t help but give the ThinkGeek Millennium Falcon multi-tool its own place on this list for Star Wars fans. This tool does not include a blade, but it does have 4 hex keys, 2 screwdrivers and an adjustable wrench. Its got some heft to it, as it measures 8 x 6 x 2.2 inches and weighs 7.2 ounces. Price: $29.99
So, which one wins our Best EDC Multi-Tool? The Leatherman. Without a doubt, the Leatherman is top quality, they have an amazing replacement warranty and it is versatile. Though it won’t replace our regular everyday carry knife, the Leatherman is the best of the bunch in our eyes!