The everyday-carry scene is full of flexible options that are meant to be as versatile and as portable as possible. From backpacks to knives, they are all meant to blend in and pack as many different features as can be merged together. Before you spend hours reviewing the latest design marvels in this niche, why not go back to the original item designed to be the ultimate “one size fits all” gadget?
Multi-tools may have started like a thickset alternative to Swiss Army knives, but many high-end models are now proper portable toolboxes. Many have even developed specialized models that target specific hobbies or subcultures – ranging from hiking to backroad motorbiking or even tactical gear aficionados. Nevertheless, the true supremacy in the multi-tool industry will always be versatility, which is why you will find any model on this list to be capable of saving a life – if used right.
Sturdy and eager to let your inner MacGyver fly, these 12 best multi-tool models will give you what you need.
If your carrying capacity is limited, then it makes sense to want to devote as little room as possible to the utilities you are unlikely to need. On the other hand, it will be doubly important to ensure you are carrying everything you will actually have a use for. This can be a hard balance to strike in the everyday-carry community, but it is also a test that the Leatherman Squirt has passed with flying colors.
With a closed length of just 2.25 inches, this multi-tool is small enough to hang from your belt or attach to your keychain without making your pockets explode. Nevertheless, they have still managed to pack nine different tools inside: a pair of pliers, wire cutters, a resistant bottle opener, a small knife, and a couple of screwdrivers. Add the fact that it’s made from stainless steel and a proprietary carbon composite, and you have a true lightweight winner.
This is a completely redesigned multi-tool that eliminates the weight imbalance that is typical of most multi-tools currently available. They have managed this by creating two axes from which all the components stem, rather than just one. If this sounds like something to be avoided, as it would make for a terribly bulky and unwieldy tool, then you ought to take a close look at the Center-Drive first.
This tool can be opened or closed back with just a quick flick of the wrist. The full open length barely reaches 6.6 inches, and when fully compressed, it is barely 4.7 inches. Somehow, they managed to turn this into enough space to pack 12 different tools, which include a 3.25-inch utility knife, spring-loaded pliers, a set of screwdrivers, a serrated blade, and a #1 cross bit. Finally, the black sheath that surrounds the package makes it look remarkably elegant.
For those who are heavily invested in mechanical or construction work, there is little to be gained from a set of tiny tools that are unable to resist a standard day of hard labor. Does that mean that you should stick to carrying oversized toolboxes and heavy chests? Not with the Leatherman Surge, at least.
This is a heavy-duty piece of equipment in every sense of the word. It is not something that you will be able to sneak into your pocket discreetly. Instead, it is a combination of 21 highly functional tools, which include knives, pliers, screwdrivers, decently sized scissors, a “small saw,” and a highly accurate ruler. Despite a closed length of just 4.5 inches, the main blasé offers 3.1 inches of edge. All these whistles remain easy to maneuver thanks to the MOLLE sheath mechanisms and spring-loaded closures. You can choose between a premium, nylon-coated black finish or a stainless steel one.
There is little left to be said about Victorinox; there is a reason why this brand has risen to become synonymous with utility knives and multi-tools alike. They did not invent the concept, but they were among the first to mass-produce it and make it affordable to people of all ages – as well as to turn it into a pure symbol of adulthood and self-reliance.
With the Swiss Tool Spirit X, they have also driven the concept to a new height. The ergonomic grip appears very similar to that of most multi-tools, but it hides functional, spring-loaded tools that are just as capable of applying strength as they are to perform a delicate task. In addition to the mandatory can and bottle openers and basic screwdrivers, this tool also packs a reamer and a crate opener, amidst a total 27 different functions. They are all available in smooth, industrial-grade steel and weigh less than 10 ounces.
A “bare-bones” edgy design hides a highly precise set of anti-bacterial tools that have quickly become a favorite of paramedics and first responders. This is a great testament to the design’s resilience and reliability and makes a great case for the ultra-rapid set of springs that holds the package together.
In the Skeletool RX, you will be able to find seven different tools, each one serving several simultaneous purposes. The length of just 4 inches, combined with its slimness and lightness (just 5 ounces), make it remarkably unobtrusive. It comes with an integrated carabiner that will find its final destination easily on your belt loop and that will prove a blessing by itself in different survival scenarios. Add a safety lock, a carbide glass-breaker tip, and a beautiful red nylon sheath, and you will be fully ready to face the unknown.
If you are proud to be a Jack of all Trades, then you will definitely appreciate the benefits of partnering with an experienced and creative designer such as IDEO. For SOG, this bold idea started out as a risky gamble; this design firm has as many divisions and branches as humanly possible and has created deluxe accessories for musicians, governments, and the military alike. The resulting knife is not only packed with hidden utility tools, but it’s also easy to clean, quick to master, and beautiful to look at.
The basic layout follows a butterfly-shaped foldout, which allowed SOG to keep both ends usable and operational. This small and discreet baton is made from aluminum and stainless steel. In addition to a smooth knife, a serrated pair of scissors, a bottle opener, and a Phillips screwdriver, it also hides a small but powerful flashlight that can provide up to 70 lumens, a smooth-edged nail clip, and a set of precise tweezers that would make a surgeon jealous.
The FREE-P Series was first started by Leatherman as a cheeky response to the invasion of do-all, be-all electronic appliances. Just like you can now use your smartphone to handle basically any office-related task, the Leather Free P2 breaks free from the constraints of its genre and can be considered a “smart-multi-tool”.
The magnetic closing and warranty-protected springs are in charge of making 19 different tools get along, hugging each other tightly for maximum convenience. All the included tools can be flung open easily, without risking any broken nails or erroneous deployments. The idea is to ensure that you can choose exactly what you need, reach for it, and have it ready for action using one hand only. The indescribable amount of haptic feedback and unwavering reliability necessary to make this a reality deserved a price – as does the fact that it can all fit in less than 5 inches.
A multi-tool is not a professional toolbox, so it should not cost as much as one: if your budget is tight but your needs are extensive, the Gerber Dime model can provide you with a good compromise until you can upgrade to a larger multi-tool. Do not make the mistake of thinking low price is synonymous with poor quality; while the Dime keeps everything small and tidy, the designers have ensured that every tool included works well and can last for years.
This small stainless steel marvel comes in seven different colors and packs 10 tools. This includes a wire cutter, a fine-edged blade, a serrated knife, a package opener, tweezers, and a jail-worthy nail file. The total length, however, barely reaches 4.25 inches when fully extended and is less than 3 inches long when closed; this is an ideal size for discretion.
The James Brand has created a utility knife that can act like a multi-tool, although it could simultaneously be described as a portable toolset that can double up as a chef’s favorite knife. Either way, there is little room left to doubt that this is no mere foldable knife.
Let’s start with the materials. High-grade aluminum and Sandvik steel were both smoothed out and tempered to near-perfection, then reinforced by phosphor bronze. This will nullify the long-term effects of rust and will deter bacteria from growing near the blades. The built-in tools include a flathead screwdriver, a scraper, and two knives (a serrated and a smooth-edged one). They all use a Lockback mechanism to stay secure until it’s time to use them. When fully extended, it reaches a total length of 6.1 inches, although it only weighs 2.8 ounces.
SOG has a wide enough catalog to offer utility knives and tactical gear for a variety of professions and specializations. Following this trend, their Power Access Deluxe Multi-Tool has been specifically created for electricians and mechanical technicians. This is immediately evident by the emphasis on pliers and drivers, which can easily adapt to almost any wire or console that needs to be accessed on a whim. In addition a ¼-inch hex bit driver and a small wood saw round out a powerful, if slightly heavy, tool.
The sheath is coated in ballistic nylon, which is exactly what you need if you wish to preserve the industrial strength and sharpness of its stainless steel. With a total of 21 tools and less than 5 ounces, this model provides the best power-per-ounce available to the general public.
Few purists would admit that a credit-card-shaped piece of metal can count as a true multi-tool. While many cheaper brands have attempted such “utility solutions” and failed, Wallet Ninja was the original creator of the idea, and so far, have remained the only ones to create a truly durable, yet affordable success.
The secret is in the steel; while it will make any metal detector ring, it has been heated 4 times and is therefore rust-resistant and resilient enough to be used without fear of breaking. This is not the kind of gear you can take while hunting, but it includes an eyeglass screwdriver, a box cutter, a cell phone stand, and a series of practical openers that will keep you covered during social situations and emergency repairs alike.
Hoffman Richter has not shied away from design innovations or superb materials when creating their HR-100 Multi-Tool. The easiest difference to spot between this model and all its competitors is the shape; at first glance, the HR-100 appears to be a set of light pliers with surprisingly thick handles. Closer inspection will reveal that each side of the handles actually holds together over 5 tools each, which range the full gamut between basic nail clippers to thinly edged knives.
The materials were clearly chosen to maximize utility and durability rather than to be hidden on a dress pants’ pocket. Ultra-durable 440 stainless steel makes up most tools and the safety lock, while the main handle is made from a proprietary composite that has been carefully textured to improve the grip.