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 10 Best Multi-Tools of 2018.
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. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. Ganzo G202
A highly-effective multi-tool, the Ganzo G202 is also the lowest cost product on our list. With 24 total tools, a portable, stainless steel design, and an easy-to-carry case, this is an excellent, budget-friendly choice.
In addition to the classic tools that come with most multi-tools, Ganzo includes a box of twelve screwdriver bits. This multi-tool weighs under one pound and includes a serrated blade, bottle opener, wire stripping tool, spring-loaded combination pliers, and more.
7. SOG Baton Q2
With a sleek design and a minimalistic approach towards a multi-tool, the SOG Baton Q2 is a great option for someone wanting a durable, but also visually pleasing multi-tool. With a total weight of just over three ounces, the SOG Baton is also relatively lightweight for its size.
It has four tools: a knife, bottle opener, flat screwdriver, and a 75-lumen flashlight. By incorporating the flashlight, SOG has enabled you to slim down on the number of items that you use for your Every Day Carry (EDC) multi-tool.
8. Credit Card MRF
Manufactured from 100% Hardened Stainless Steel, this EDC Survival credit card multi-tool by MRF packs a lot of tools into a small package that weighs under 1.5 ounces and has dimensions of 3.3 x 2.2 x 0.08 inches.
With over 30 different tools built in, including a knife, pry bar, bottle opener, 3-inch ruler, and compass, you can be sure it has what you need. Thin and small enough to fit in your wallet, you can have it with you wherever you are at a moment’s notice. Great for people who might have trouble with misplacing items.
9. SOG Switchplier 2.0
The name says it all. SOG has combined the effectiveness of the multi-tool with the quick action switchblade. The Switchplier springs to action at the push of a button, making it easy to use in one-handed situations, or whenever you’re needing your multi-tool extra quick.
SOG’s upgraded version of the Switchplier weighs just over six ounces and is about six inches in length. In addition to a quick-action switchblade, it features pliers, wire cutters, and a convenient pocket clip that keeps this multi-tool ready at a moment’s notice.
10. Extrema Ratio
For those who prefer a multi-tool with a heavy focus on the knife aspect, look no further! The final multi-tool in our Top Ten is a 4-inch knife first and multi-tool second.
Aside from the knife blade, the Extrema Ratio offers 4 additional tools, including a flat screwdriver, bottle opener, can opener, and marlin spike. Weighing in just over 7 ounces, this multi-tool is very useful but a little less cluttered than some of the other multi-tools out there.
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!
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?
Pliers, knives, and screwdrivers are the most common tools utilized on an average multi-tool (7). However, the tool you’ll use the most always depends on your lifestyle and preferences.
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!