Of the many items one acquires and uses daily, this class of tool may be considered one of the most versatile and important developed in recent years and should be in anyone’ and everyone’s every day carry.
The military now issues these to personnel and operators. Sportsman, law enforcement, mechanics…you name the profession, you find them there.
Most of us have one, some, more. Leatherman, Gerber, Victorinox, Kershaw multi-tools. They come in all sizes from pocket knife to micro, minis, to regular full size and the “do anything Beast.” The MULTI-TOOL is universal!
There is a multitude of the multi-tool pocket systems out there. Excellent to, well, not so much. Higher end ones are very good to excellent. Each manufacturer brings their ideas and concepts to the table. Design configuration and imbedded tools vary. It’s up to each of us to decide what systems will fit our demands and needs. When asked about my choices I’ve had to answer, “There are no wrong choices, just poor ones.”
This is the case when acquiring a multi-tool. List your needs, research the tool.
First, the cost involved with acquiring a multi-tool. The multi-tool family that exists today, you get what you pay for. The better and higher end multi-tools and specialty systems may cost as much as several hundred dollars. Once you determine the multi-tool that fits your needs, shop around for the best price!
Many will look for that general tool kit that is the bread and butter of most multi-tool manufacturers. The basic group of multi-tools have essentially the same family of components. Differences are in position, accessibility, durability, and replacement components.
I’m surprised a “build your own” system hasn’t come to market, choose components, their placement in the tool, and so forth. Maybe I just haven’t run into one yet.
Component tools found commonly within the multi-tool family include a straight blade, a serrated blade (sometimes combined), and wood saw. Other commonly found components are a straight and #2 cross-point screw driver, can opener, perhaps a small pair of scissors, a punch, and the pliers head—often needle nose—with wire cutters. This is the basic multi-tool foundation.
Configurations and Options
It can be mind numbing when looking for the MT to fit your needs. You may face the need to make tradeoffs or compromise to get close to your requirements. Example, there are as many straight blade options as there are multi-tools on the market. From very light use, to can skin that Elk in a pinch blades. Plier heads run from light-duty needle nose with light-duty wire cutters to heavy-duty use with replaceable wire cutter blades, to specialty head pliers along the lines of linesman’s pliers to several that preform along the lines of vise grips!
These components seem to be the most commonly considered during the decision process when looking to acquire the right multi-tool. However, it’s important to consider ALL the components of a multi-tool. Are they accessible? Will it serve your needs in a useful manner? Are parts replaceable and easily acquired? Questions to ask when looking.
Toolbox in your pocket!
I hunt in Alaska, live and work here too. It’s a remote and extremely harsh environment to exist in and make one’s way. I don’t know of anyone who spends time in the bush and back country here who doesn’t have a firearm, fishing gear, heavy-duty boots, sleeping bag, tarp, two-day survival kit and … a multi-tool, with them nearly all the time. Is hunting in Montana or the Smokies, southern and midwest forests, Rockies, Great Planes or our western high-altitude deserts less challenged?
From my own experience, and having gone through various multi-tools over the years, I settled on the following and have yet to find better yet for my needs. Several Leatherman Wave tools for the fishing vest, car, truck, and ATV. The Wave, for me, is the best general-purpose multi-tool system currently available. The Leatherman Crunch is great for the boat and the aircraft because of the linesman-type pliers head that’s also an adjustable power grip. My EDC is a Leatherman MUT/EOD and, short of removal by forcible means, it is with me nearly all the time.
The MUT, considered a specialty multi-tool, has the additional tools for working with explosives and weapon maintenance as well as the basic normal tools generally found in a multi-tool. The specialty tools I find useful on a fairly regular basis.
The MUT has a flat 3/8″ and 1/2″ box end wrench which fits nicely in the nylon belt pouch. The additional specialty tools include:
- Replaceable extra hard wire cutter heads
- Blasting cap crimpers
- Hammer endcap
- Cutting hook
- Bronze carbon scraper
- Ferrule crimpers
- C4 punch—used for making clean hole in explosives for the blasting cap
The C4 punch is removable and the threaded male end on the tool body will accept standard cleaning rods and brushes, becoming the handle for your weapons cleaning kit. Additionally, the short #2 Phillips and flat screw driver points there are four additional driver tips consisting of a star tip, hex tip, #1 Phillips, and flat tip that are on longer shafts allowing greater reach. Each of these is a replaceable and available part. The fixed blade is a combo modified drop point with 1/3 serrated edge. It holds a good edge and takes abuse well; it serves very well as a skinning blade also. The other blade is a push/pull wood saw. A belt clip and a spring para clip complete the body. The plier head are modified needle nose design with built in wire cutters, strippers, and crimper. The heavy nylon belt sheath, provided, gives good protection and secure carry. Designed for more specialize use, this particular tool has general use ability, too.
Point being, do not buy one of these because it looks cool… not a good reason. Not everyone will need a MUT as I do. Many will be looking for a more general set of applications. Something like the Wave, Sidekick, or perhaps the Crunch will serve your needs and wallet.
There are now many known and trusted manufactures of these tools so the offerings are many. Avoid the cheap ones and shop around for the best deal. There’s a wide range of pricing for the exact same product.
As this may be the ONLY tool you find yourself with on a bad day, consider in some detail, what you will ask of it and if it will perform to your expectations.
What’s your multi-tool of choice? Why did you choose it? On a 1 to 10 scale (10 = best) and why? It’s pros and cons, and what are they? Share your choice and insights with the community of sportswomen and men in the comment section.
About our guest blogger Rocky Speck – 65 trips around the sun to date. Out-lier, military, outdoorsman, builder, traveler, reader, student, writer, occasional teacher. Surrounded by good friends, food, wines, and music. Places worth going are those not seen.