The multi-tool is one of the most useful and essential items carried by all recreational enthusiasts.
Whether you avidly enjoy hunting, fishing, backpacking, hiking, mountain biking, or any other form of outdoor recreation, you’ll find many uses for a good multi-tool.
In the modern age, there is a multitude of multi-tools to choose from, including knives, basic tools, flashlights, and dozens of other options.
We’ve sorted through hundreds of selections to give you our Best Multi-Tools of 2023.
1. Leatherman Wave
At the top of the list is the Leatherman Wave. With 17 different tools including knives, pliers, screwdrivers, wire cutters, wire strippers, scissors, bottle and can openers, and a ruler, it’s sure to prove useful in almost every situation.
Leatherman is known for creating top-quality uncompromising tools, and the Wave is no exception. It weighs only 11.2 ounces and is crafted from stainless steel. With a stylish look, this is a great buy for anyone looking to add a multi-tool to their collection.
2. WETOLS Multitool, 21-in-1
The WETOLS Multi-Pliers Multi-Tools with Self-Locking is a versatile tool that can be used for various purposes. It is made of high-quality stainless steel and features 16 different tools, including pliers, wire cutters, saws, knives, screwdrivers, and more.
The tool is designed for easy handling and comes with a durable nylon sheath for safe storage and transport. The self-locking mechanism ensures safe use, and the ergonomic handle provides a comfortable grip. It is ideal for camping, hiking, and other outdoor activities, as well as for everyday use at home or in the workshop.
3. Gerber Diesel
With a unique one-handed deployment, the Gerber Diesel is ultra-efficient, tough, and ready at a moment for any job. These Gerber pliers offer fifteen total tools, including wire cutters, a partially-serrated knife blade, and a cross point screwdriver.
Built for industrial jobs, it has proven strength that situates it above the competition. The Gerber Diesel weighs just 8.6 ounces and offers industrial-strength quality. This is a great option for anyone working those jobs that require a tough mentality and rugged tools.
4. Fangfo 14-In-1 Multitool
This multitool is an all-in-one solution for all your needs. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a handyman, or just someone who needs a reliable tool at your fingertips, this multitool is perfect for you. Made from high-quality stainless steel, this multitool includes pliers, wire cutters, knives, saw, bottle opener, can opener, screwdriver, and other tools that come in handy in various situations.
The compact and lightweight design of this multitool makes it easy to carry and store, and the included nylon sheath ensures that it stays protected and within reach when you need it. With its durable construction and versatile functionality, this multitool is perfect for camping, hiking, fishing, hunting, and other outdoor activities. It’s also great for everyday use around the house or at work.
5. Dango Tactical Wallet
Designed with a beautiful visual in mind, built with quality materials to bring to life a wallet that does more than holding up to 12 different business or credit cards. With 14 different functions built in, this wallet is sure to exceed your expectations.
The Dango Tactical Wallet includes RFID blocking, which keeps people from scanning your microchipped credit cards with radio waves. It is also TSA compliant (when multi-tool is removed) and is manufactured from 6061 aerospace-grade CNC’d aluminum.
6. Off Grid Tools Survival Axe Multi-Tool
This is not your typical axe. With 30 different features built in, this is an axe that you’re not going to want to leave at home.
This survival axe includes a replaceable 6-inch saw blade, a hardened steel glass breaker, and a seat belt cutter. With a heat-treated blade edge, a reciprocating saw blade socket, hex sockets, a pry bar, and a bunch of other awesome components, this axe is a beast.
7. Leatherman Tread
Leatherman makes the list again, this time for an innovative wearable multi-tool. In other words, the Tread is essentially the best bracelet you’ve ever worn, and it’s TSA-compliant!
With a travel-friendly design and 29 different tools and customizable links, this is one multi-tool that is sure to please. The Leatherman Tread’s aesthetically pleasing and lightweight design (just 6 ounces), makes it a multi-tool that can be worn for nearly any occasion.
As you can see, there’s no shortage of multi-tools available today. Fortunately, manufacturers are designing tools for specific purposes with greater frequency. This means that whatever your needs, there’s a multi-tool out there that will satisfy them.
The Swiss Army Knife brought immense popularity to the practicality of multi-tools in the late 1800’s (1), but multi-tools have been around since the time of the Roman’s, who primarily constructed multi-tools for eating purposes (2).
To help you make a decision, however, this Buyer’s Guide will focus on these main factors: the primary intent of the design, size and weight, accessibility, and price.
Primary Intent of Design
There are multi-tools for specific industries, trades, and needs. There are multi-tools with just bike tools, just knife repair tools, and basically any category that you can think of. One of the main reasons that people buy multi-tools is for the purpose of having a tool that can help with a variety of tasks.
When sorting through the market, consider why a certain multi-tool is designed the way it is. What we mean, for example, is that multi-tools with a large blade and only a handful of other tools are designed for a different primary use than a multi-tool with more than 25 various tools included.
Some multi-tools are designed for the avid distance biker while others are crafted for the enthusiastic outdoorsman. The needs of these demographics differ greatly, so make sure you’re considering who the manufacturer was primarily targeting when designing their unique multi-tool.
Size and Weight
Multi-tools range from those that easily fit in your pocket or attach to your belt loop to larger, axe-sized varieties. If you’re looking for something to carry in your pocket while hiking, for example, a multi-tool that weighs almost two pounds might not be best for you.
When comparing your options, a side-by-side comparison is always helpful. There are several comparative multi-tool weight charts available online (3) that allow you to easily see how multi-tools from different manufacturers compare in terms of weight.
Size is also a factor. It’s always handy to have a multi-tool that can store in your back pocket for quick fixes on the trail or for the removal of a fishing hook when you finally land the day’s prize. But if you’re looking for a tool that can store in a backpack until you need it to build and tend to a fire in camp, you can get away with something a bit larger.
Some of the credit card multi-tools are great tools to keep in your back pocket. We never quite know when the need is going to arise, but when it does, a quickly-accessible multi-tool can make all the difference. Some tools offer cases that can clip to a belt loop and others allow you to open them with just one hand.
In this story from Leatherman’s “Tool Tales,” a man from Sacramento details how his multi-tool saved his life after he was involved in a serious car accident (4). It may sound cliche, but having an accessible multi-tool by your side can be the difference between life and death when you least expect it.
Multi-tools can range from $20 all the way up to almost $500. More expensive models typically offer a wider variety of features, but some have simply been masterfully designed for a very select purpose. Generally, most people can find a multi-tool that offers the features they’re looking for somewhere in the $40-$150 range.
Frequently Asked Questions
Multi-tools are highly effective tools in a variety of situations. Some people even claim that the right multi-tool has helped to increase their efficiency and makes them better prepared to handle anything life throws at them (5). If you still have questions, however, maybe we can answer them in this section!
Why Should I Carry a Multi-tool?
Carrying a multi-tool can be incredibly beneficial for various reasons, and it’s a practical addition to your everyday carry (EDC) items. Here are some compelling reasons why you should consider having a multi-tool:
- Versatility: Multi-tools are designed to provide a wide range of functions in a single, compact package. They typically include a combination of various tools such as pliers, knives, screwdrivers, bottle openers, scissors, saws, wire cutters, and more. This versatility allows you to handle a variety of tasks without the need for multiple individual tools.
- Convenience: Having a multi-tool means you have access to multiple tools at your fingertips. It saves space and weight compared to carrying individual tools, making it more convenient for both daily tasks and outdoor activities.
- Preparedness: You never know when you’ll encounter a situation that requires a specific tool. With a multi-tool on hand, you can be better prepared to handle unexpected challenges, whether it’s fixing something at home, assisting with car repairs, or dealing with outdoor emergencies.
What is the best material for a multi-tool?
Many multi-tools are manufactured from stainless steel. Although stainless steel is NOT rust-resistant, it IS corrosion-resistant. This simply means that, given proper care and maintenance, a stainless steel multi-tool will resist corrosion. Without regular maintenance, however, rust and corrosion can occur.
How should I clean my multi-tool?
The best cleaning method can depend on how you use your multi-tool. Tools that are primarily used in saltwater or marine environments should receive regular fresh water rinses and dried thoroughly before being finished with a water displacing product, such as WD-40.
Multi-tools with an excessive build-up of debris or sticky materials should be cleaned using a mild solution of soap and water. Mineral spirits can also be used to remove conglomerations of tar or similar substances on your multi-tool. Users should be careful never to use a chlorine-based solution to clean their multi-tool.
Is it possible to sharpen my multi-tool?
The short answer is yes! You must make sure to use the correct type of sharpening material for the specific blade you wish to sharpen, however. Straight blades can be sharpened with any standard piece of sharpening equipment but serrated blades require equipment specifically designed to sharpen that type of blade.
What other regular maintenance should I perform on my multi-tool?
Most multi-tools can benefit from being oiled regularly. We don’t recommend using just any old oil you have lying around the house though. A specific multi-tool oil like those offered by Farrar & Tanner (6), for example, are great for regular multi-tool maintenance.
What are some common signs of wear and tear on a multi-tool?
Depending on the material your multi-tool is constructed with, wear and tear can appear in many different forms. Primarily, however, rust, debris build-up, and dulling of the blades are among the most common forms of wear and tear on multi-tools.
What are the most-used features on a multi-tool?
The most-used features on a multi-tool can vary depending on individual needs and preferences. However, some features tend to be more universally popular and frequently used due to their practicality and versatility. Here are some of the most commonly used features on a multi-tool:
- Pliers: Pliers are perhaps one of the most frequently used features on a multi-tool. They come in handy for gripping, bending, and manipulating objects, making them essential for a wide range of tasks.
- Knife Blade: The knife blade is another highly utilized tool on a multi-tool. Whether it’s opening packages, cutting rope, or performing small cutting tasks, having a sharp blade readily available is incredibly practical.
- Screwdrivers: Multi-tools often include various screwdriver tips, such as flathead and Phillips, which are essential for tightening or loosening screws in everyday objects.
- Bottle Opener: A bottle opener is a simple yet essential tool for popping open bottles of beverages, making it a popular feature for social gatherings or outdoor activities.
- Scissors: Having a pair of scissors on your multi-tool can be incredibly useful for cutting paper, thread, or even bandages in emergency situations.
- Can Opener: A can opener is particularly valuable during outdoor adventures or emergencies when access to canned food is necessary.
- Wire Cutters: Wire cutters are helpful for various tasks involving wires, cables, or small metal objects.
- Saw: Some multi-tools include a small saw, which can be useful for cutting through branches or small pieces of wood during camping or outdoor activities.
- Awl: An awl is a pointed tool that can be used for puncturing holes in materials like leather or fabric.
- File: A file on a multi-tool can be handy for smoothing rough edges or surfaces.
There’s no question that multi-tools have adapted greatly from the earliest Swiss Army Knives and the even-earlier tools crafted by those ingenious Romans.
Well-known companies like Leatherman, Gerber, and SOG are receiving increasing competition, but as consumers, this is only producing a wider number of multi-tools for us to choose from. Whatever your needs, we hope this article has helped you find a multi-tool that’s right for you!