Are you always prepared?
If you are, there’s a big a chance you probably have your own set of multi-tool and looking to own the best multi-tool. However, if you’re not familiar with having your own multi-tool, here’s a scenario for you:
You’ve often found yourself in need of unscrewing a panel or stripping down a wire, but didn’t have the right tools at hand. I suppose you could rely on a well-stocked toolbox at home or in your truck, but as technology is constantly evolving, so is the functionality and philosophy of using a wide array of common tools.
In short, there’s no need to have a huge assortment of pliers, knives and files when they can all fit into one snug package – the multi-tool. There’s been quite the surge in their availability and popularity, so I’m here to help you pick up the best multi-tool for you by writing this guide.
Navigate Our Top 10 Multi-Tools
Below is the table which shows the Top 10 Best Multi-Tool 2018. Every multi-tool on this list have been chosen by our specialist reviewers.
|Multi-Tool Name||Knife Length||Include Scissors||Include Sheath/Pouch||Price|
|Leatherman Wave Multi-Tool||2.9 inches||Yes||Yes|
|Leatherman Squirt PS4 Multi-Tool||1.6 inches||Yes||No|
|Victorinox Swiss Army SwissTool RS||2.5 inches||Yes||Yes|
|Victorinox Swiss Army SwissTool Spirit X||2.75 inches||Yes||Yes|
|Gerber Dime Multi-Tool||1.5 inches||Yes||No|
|Leatherman Skeletool Multi-Tool||2.6 inches||No||No|
|Gerber Shard Keychain Tool||None||No||No|
|SOG PowerAssist Multi-Tool S66N-CP||2.75 inches||No||Yes|
|Victorinox Swiss Army Huntsman Pocket Knife (Editor's Choice)||2.5 inches||Yes||No|
|Leatherman Juice CS4 Multi-Tool||2.27 inches||Yes||No|
Be sure to check out our Multi-Tool Buying Guide before making a decision on your purchase and help you determine which multi-tool is best for you.
First of all, I feel the need to put multi-tools in a wider context as they certainly are part of one. I’m talking about EDC or everyday carry. EDC is a kind of practical philosophy that advocates self-reliance, preparedness and taking control of any situation without letting it hold you back.
At a basic level, EDC are the useful things you’re already carrying on you all the time like your keys, smartphone, and wallet, but it also places an emphasis on improving this selection and tailoring it to your personality. Whatever else you might want to put in your pockets, virtually all EDC enthusiasts agree that a multi-tool is an essential part of the whole and shouldn’t be ignored.
If you think about it, having a number of diverse and durable tools on you at all times is a great and convenient way to be able to deal with everyday annoyances as well as situations you didn’t expect, but now have a solution at hand for. No one is expecting them to accomplish more challenging or complex tasks, but you can still be the hero with a wire cutting or screw driving solution at the ready.
A lot has changed since Victorinox’s Swiss army knife made its first forays into the uncharted territory of having multiple tools at the ready – a fierce competition has sprung up during the last two decades with other manufacturers delighting us with their own top quality takes on preparedness.
I already had a couple of my own multi-tools ready for review, and all that was left was to add some of the best and most talked about models to produce a proper guide and offer you a number of diverse, quality options to pursue. Taking everything in is well worth it since you’ll have a firm base to help make your selection easier once you’ve read the guide in its entirety. There’s also a small general segment towards the end that will aid you in making a smarter decision regardless of which multi-tool ends up catching your eye. Let’s jump on in, shall we?
1. Leatherman Wave Multi-Tool – The Best Leatherman Multi-Tool
When you want a high-quality, reliable tool that can perform a myriad of tasks without losing its edge or buckling under pressure, then Leatherman continues to be the go-to company that provides exceptional products for everyday and specialized use.
The Wave is certainly one of their most recognizable and popular multi-tools, and rightfully so since it provides quality at an outstanding price. Whether you’re in need of a trusty knife, practical bit driver or a strong pair of wire cutters, the Wave has got you covered. There are 17 different tools in total, not too many to make the tool unnecessarily cumbersome, but definitely enough for most situations you might find yourself in that require a sturdy tool to get the job done.
Speaking of sturdiness, I really liked the Wave’s overall construction – one can clearly see that a lot of engineering has been put into making it structurally sound and durable without sacrificing comfort and ergonomics. Its two blades lock firmly in place with a satisfying “click”, and you can apply serious pressure on the pliers without fear of something breaking. When not in use, the spines of the blades do stick out a tiny bit, so if you plan to extensively use the pliers, you might want to wear gloves to prevent discomfort.
The Wave will easily fit into most pockets, but if you’re more comfortable carrying it on your belt, Leatherman have included a leather holster you can put it in. It isn’t the most compact Leatherman multi-tool I’ve ever seen, but neither is it bulky.
In general, the theme of this model seems to be balance – it is neither the flashiest, nor does it take advantage of some of the more exotic steels available, but the make and execution of its tools makes it the best all round multi-tool in my book as far as striking a balance between price and performance goes, and that alone is a major factor that you should take into account.
2. Leatherman Squirt PS4 Multi-Tool – One of the Most Efficient Leatherman Tools for Its Size
There is a time and place for everything. Even though I prefer keeping a multi-tool with me that has some heft to it as well as a sizable selection of tools for different situations, sometimes when I’m in a hurry I simply forget to bring one along. More often than not, I shrug it off since the Leatherman Squirt or a multi-tool just like it is always attached to my keychain and is ready to spring into action.
I must admit that Leatherman have really outdone themselves on this one, and that’s saying something for a company with such a stellar track record. The reason I’m so enthusiastic about it is the tool’s build quality. For something that’s 2 inches long and weighs in at only 2.5 pounds, the Squirt PS4 delivers a clean cut or solid pressure, depending on the tool you are using.
There are 9 tools in total, providing you with a basic set to work with. Given how this Leatherman multi-tool is primarily meant as a secondary option you’d use in a pinch, the variety is more than satisfactory. The PS4 is actually the newest in a line of improvements to the Squirt and is the result of both smart engineering decisions and duly noted customer feedback. Along with some small improvements, the tough choice of going with either scissors or pliers has been eliminated since this model now has both.
There’s also the Squirt ES4, which is pretty much identical to the PS4, but has wire strippers instead of pliers. Both models are designed with handles made from anodized aluminum available in a few different colors.
I was thoroughly impressed with the Squirt PS4’s overall performance. It’s a tool that occupies a somewhat niche role, but is a useful and necessary model you’ll hook up to your keychain once and thank God for having done so when the moment to use it finally comes. As far as lightweight and extremely portable options go, this is the best multi-tool to hinge your bets on.
3. Victorinox Swiss Army SwissTool RS – The Best EDC Gear for All Occasions
The founding fathers of what was to become an indispensable tool not just for soldiers but practical people from all walks of life, Victorinox has been at the forefront of multi-tool manufacturing since the end of the 19th century and, as far as I can tell, they’ve only picked up steam since!
A multi-tool’s multi-tool, the SwissTool R5 puts an impressive array of diverse and specialized tools at your disposal. From a wide assortment of screwdrivers including a Philips head, through a crate opener and chisel all the way to their signature Swedish steel blades, this model offers almost everything you could possibly want to have handy in an everyday environment.
That’s really not surprising given the name it has to live up to. What is surprising is that Victorinox have managed to cram all of these tools into it without compromising the RS’ integrity or performance. The blades, saw and scissors are REALLY sharp, and I’ve yet to notice any observable changes in their sharpness even after extensive use.
Safety has been given maximum consideration too – the handle is rounded and fits firmly in the hand while each tool is locked into place when in use to avoid injury. Everything is made out of stainless steel, which protects the multi-tool from corrosion and gives it a cool and rugged look.
I have to admit, the Victorinox SwissTool RS has grown on me. It’s a top quality product right out of the box, but the more I kept using it the more I’ve come to appreciate how much easier a million little tasks and some not so little ones have become since. This is hands down the best EDC gear you’ll find on the market today, and considering you’ll probably be using it 20+ years from now without a fault.
4. Victorinox Swiss Army SwissTool Spirit X – The Best Multitool from Victorinox
Hot on the heels of the excellent RS comes another one of Victorinox’s distinguished models – the Spirit X. Similar to the former when you consider make and functionality but with enough differences to justify its own well-deserved place in the guide, the Spirit X is a finely-crafted tool in its own right.
What struck me most about it as soon as I held it in my hand for the first time was how comfortable the grip was. Top of the line manufacturers never really drop the ball when it comes to that, but even smaller design flaws tend to have an impact after a hard day’s work. Not so with this model – the handles’ concave shape adapts itself to the hand nicely and helps you execute precise movements you couldn’t do as easily with a bulkier design. Sure, they had to remove the ruler because of this, but that’s a trade-off I’d make in a heartbeat.
The handles’ design also helps you reach all of the bigger tools more easily because there’s more room to grasp their cutouts. Do have a fingernail or two handy though as getting them out with neatly trimmed nails can be a chore. Roundedness makes for a better grip, so you’ll really be able to use the pliers to their fullest potential.
The Spirit X was designed to endure a lot of abuse, intentional or not. Even if you accidentally leave it out in the rain or forget to thoroughly clean any of its tools after use, you’ll find it ready to take on any new task the next time you use it.
Since it occupies the same high-end price bracket and offers a lot of the same features as the RS, deciding which of the two was the best multitool for my needs has been a real challenge. Even though I ended up favoring the RS in the end, getting the Spirit X will more than likely make you just as happy.
5. Gerber Dime Multi-Tool – The Best Small Multi-Tool
After putting these Victorinox models through their paces I thought it would be a good idea to turn my attention to another miniature-sized piece of EDC gear. The Dime made by Oregon-based manufacturer Gerber was a natural choice as it is praised by many as being on par with if not better than the Squirt. Soon enough I had a full-fledged battle on my hands. The prize – being crowned the best small multi-tool and securing a permanent place on my keychain.
The Dime’s design is by no means revolutionary, but it does have a certain uniqueness to it. The version I bought has an entirely black scheme which makes the Dime unobtrusive and hard to spot while adding a grungier feel to it. The top layer might start wearing out eventually, especially on the pliers, but you’ll have to do a lot of nail pulling before that happens.
You can reach every other tool without having to unfold the Dime, which saves a lot of time if you’re in a pinch. The ones I think stand out the most are the scissors and the unusual package opener. Multi-tool scissors have always been hit or miss, even with regular-sized models. I’m happy to report that these can really hold their own against cardboard, paper, even the occasional wire! The package opener on the other hand is a nifty addition that will make short work of duct tape and help you easily unlock stubborn clasps by sliding in between them. It’s truly one of those tools I didn’t even know I absolutely needed until I actually tried it.
In the end, the Squirt’s build quality secured it the lead, but only by a very small margin. The Dime is still a very competitive, very useful multi-tool that has a few tricks up its sleeve you might be in dire need of. A somewhat smaller price is an added bonus, and another great reason to never leave home unprepared again.
6. Leatherman Skeletool Multi-Tool – The Leatherman with the Best Multi-Tool Knife
I keep coming back to Leatherman products, but since they’ve got quite the lineup of multi-tools that deserve a spot in this guide that’s to be expected. Their third offering, the Skeletool, combines an intriguing design with a small yet careful selection of tools whose quality partially makes up for the lack in diversity.
Design-wise, the Skeletool is unusual yet elegant, eschewing full symmetrical handles for more airy, ergonomic alternatives. There are only 7 tools to choose from, but each is made with a combination of hand-picked materials and precise engineering the best Leatherman products are lauded for. You’ll need to use its butterfly mechanism to operate the pliers properly, but every other tool can be accessed when the handles are closed.
The large blade is the Skeletool’s most prominent and well-defined feature. Long, easily flicked into action via a big thumb hole, and not to mention razor-sharp, it will cut through most materials without a second thought and can serve as a good self-defense weapon. Made out of 420HC steel, its plain edge will retain its sharpness even after prolonged use, and even when sharpening is required the process shouldn’t take long.
Other useful tools include a bottle opener, a carabiner you can easily attach to a backpack or even your pocket, a bit driver, hard and regular wire cutters as well as needle nose pliers.
All in all, the Skeletool’s bare-bones selection and small but annoying design flaws have cost it a higher spot on the list, but this doesn’t mean that the multi-tool itself isn’t a good value. If you find yourself having to perform the same couple of tasks this model can help you with over and over and don’t wish to break the bank on one of the more expensive models, the Skeletool stands out as a good compromise of affordability and diversity of features.
7. Gerber Shard Keychain Tool – A Simple Keychain Multi-Tool That Covers the Essentials
I’ve already talked about some keychain tools, and genuinely enjoyed using the Dime, Gerber’s main contender in this category. They apparently wanted to take that concept and strip it down to a bare minimum, a tool you could get insanely cheap, but would still find it worthwhile to carry. The result is the Shard, and I must say I have mixed feelings on this one.
For such an inexpensive tool (less than $10), the quality of the the keychain tool is really good. It is also the smallest multi-tool on the list! Even though the titanium nitride it is coated with comes off very easily, the stainless steel base underneath is as good as you’d expect one of Gerber’s products to be. You can definitely feel that the Shard has some weight to it and that it isn’t cheaply made.
There are 7 different functions you can use it for. It does a decent job of opening bottles and screwing in Phillips head screws, but the most satisfying use for me was pulling nails. Once you manage to get the nail puller’s tip under one, even rusty and tenacious nails won’t put up much of a fight, provided you don’t mind shifting your hands to accommodate the effect its small size has on its grip.
Even though the Shard can perform all of its advertised tasks adequately, I had some trouble finding the right grip for most of them. Its inconvenient shape forced me to have to adjust the way I was holding it all the time, even during quick tasks that should have been done with one quick hand movement.
The Shard is definitely one of the best keychain multi-tool for situations that requires a quick fix. Also, out of all the multi-tool on this list, the Gerber Shard is the only one that is approve for use for flights!
8. SOG PowerAssist Multi-Tool S66N-CP – One of the Only EDC Tools You’ll Ever Need
SOG have been in the knife- and tool-making business since the 80s, and even though they’re not as popular as some of their competitors on this list, their products are of the highest quality. More importantly, SOG are a company that spends a lot of time and resources on innovation, spurring their competitors on to do the same.
The PowerAssist is a successful product of this philosophy – at first glance it looks like a standard set of EDC tools with a beautiful silver finish. You can also opt for a black variety, but I liked the pristine silver better. Its sleek appearance gives way to functionality and innovation as soon as you start tinkering with one of its 16 built-in tools though.
The central feature and main driving force behind this model’s marketing is the SOG Assisted Technology applied to its plain and serrated blades. Basically, this is a system of sensitive high-tension springs that picks up on your desire to get either of the blades out and helps you do so quickly and efficiently. Once out, the blades lock securely into place and can be used safely. Both blades are also made from 420 stainless steel.
Most of its other tools are standard and perform their jobs well. However, their proprietary V-cutter stands out as a great alternative to scissors when you need to cut rope or tear through packaging. Another unique feature of this SOG model is that it can be expanded – a number of optional attachments are available that increase its functionality even further.
The PowerAssist is definitely a great value for it’s price. A minor annoyance with its handle aside, the PowerAssist is a solid, reliable and innovative multi-tool capable of above average performance.
9. Victorinox Swiss Army Huntsman Pocket Knife – The Best Multitool for EDC
Be honest – an image of this knife or one very much like it was the first thing that popped into your mind when you started hearing about multi-tools. Its iconic look and stellar performance are so ubiquitous that almost anyone has either used a Huntsman at some point in their life or at the very least saw one in action. The times have been changing for a while now and it isn’t the only kid on the block any more, but how well does the icon stand up to its modern-day competitors?
The short answer – it can still hold its own. The long one depends on what kind of a person you are. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast who likes spending his time out in the wilds, then the Huntsman is the best multi-tool for EDC you could take on the trail with you. Being a bit on the heftier side you’ll probably want to carry it inside an easily accessible pocket of your backpack, or keep it on your person if you don’t mind the extra weight.
Every tool within the Huntsman’s arsenal does a fine job of what it’s supposed to – the plain blade is sharp and hard, the saw will cut through branches and underbrush easily and without filling up with gunk, the scissors actually cut like they’re supposed to, and the accessory hook really helps if you need to carry something heavy that’s been secured with twine or thin plastic wire without it biting into your hand. Victorinox should be applauded for their craftsmanship – I have friends who’ve been using their Huntsman for a decade or more, and they have had zero issues with their knives.
The Huntsman is actually a part of my everyday carry. The main tools I use on my Huntsman is the knife, letter opener, and scissors. Sometimes I wish it was less bit bulkier like the Victornox Cadet but I find that I am much more prepared for more situations.
Overall, the Huntsman is a classic piece of survival kit, and the fact that it can keep up with the newer tools coming out every year, I definitely recommend it! Whether you plan to use the Huntsman on your outdoor adventures or just a part of your everyday carry, it is a must have for the well prepared and is considered the best survival multi-tool. That being said, the Victorinox Huntsman is also TRVNK’s choice for the best multi-tool for 2018!
10. Leatherman Juice CS4 Multi-Tool – One of the Smallest Multitools That Get Things Done
I’ve started the review portion of this guide with a Leatherman product, and it seems fitting to wrap it up with one too. Not quite small enough to fit on your keychain, but certainly a bit smaller than most regular models, the Juice promises to perform as good as a toolbox and still fit snugly inside your pocket.
It mostly delivers on that promise too – Leatherman are no strangers to making multitools that pack quite the arsenal, and the Juice is no exception. Of course, the smaller dimensions mean that variety had to be reduced somewhat, but at 15 different tools it is still pretty impressive. All of this makes the Juice heavy for its size – weighing in at a bit over 5 ounces it’s just short of feeling too heavy to carry in your pocket comfortably. I got used to the drag quickly though.
Provided is your more or less standard fare of pliers, screwdrivers, blades and can openers, all made to Leatherman’s customary high quality standards. They’ve also included an awl, which is something you don’t see every day. It’s nothing to write home about though as I’ve found its performance to be lackluster. On the bright side, the more mundane tools performed much better.
Overall, the Juice has left a favorable impression on me. As multi-tools go it offers quality you can depend on and a fair reduction in cost given its smaller size and tool selection. There are some kinks that can be ironed out in future iterations, but even so the Juice has enough positive things going for it to turn you into a satisfied customer.
Multi-Tool Buyer’s Guide
There are so many great multi-tools out there and I’m sure there will be ones that you may prefer that are not in my multi-tool buyer guide. I think that’s great because we both may have different use cases. If you have suggestions for a multi-tool that you believe deserves the title of the “Best Multi-Tool”, please leave your suggestions in the comments!
That being said, I also believe that there are some key points to factor in when deciding which multi-tool is best suited for you. Here are the fundamentals and things to look for when determining which multi-tool you should buy.
- Build and Material Quality – This is the factor that can literally make or break your selection. In this guide I’ve included only products that meet my standards, but there are many flimsy, cheaply made, and even knock off models out there that are available. The best multi-tool doesn’t need to have all the bells and whistles, but it absolutely has to be able to take some serious punishment and still get the job done without a snag. Think of your multi-tool purchase as a life-time investment. With all multi-tools reviewed on this list, this is definitely true since almost all of them include a lengthy warranty, some even lifetime warranty. So think of how much money you’ll be saving your future self with a premium quality product you’ll buy just once.
- Functional Design – Having that 4th screwdriver or a 3rd pair of pliers is certainly handy, but you might want to ask yourself if that’s more important to you than a comfortable grip and ease of deployment. I’m amazed at how much can fit inside one multi-tool, but I can do without a few niche tools that are situational at best. It’s great that there’s a lot of room for choice when it comes to this – the Skeletool is a good example of a minimalistic approach that’s got most of your bases covered, while the Swisstool RS has more than three times the tools and still doesn’t feel too bulky or awkward. It’s all about design and figuring out what works for you, so don’t hesitate to try different tool sets before you buy.
- Determining the Right Size – Largely up to personal preference and choice, the size of your multi-tool dictates how much functionality you’re willing to trade for a compact and lightweight build. Obviously the best multi-tool in terms of versatility will usually be larger and you’ll probably wear it in its holster secured to your pants via a strap. Pocket tools offer much of their bigger cousins’ performance while being smaller. Lastly, keychain tools offer the least options, but are the easiest to carry with you and not even think about before you need one. Weigh the pros and cons of portability and performance in order to buy the multi-tool you’re most comfortable with.
- EDC Law Awareness – 9 times out of 10, a multi-tool will come equipped with a dedicated main blade. Although these are utilitarian in nature and should be used as the tools that they are, a case can be made that they can act as dangerous weapons. A good rule of thumb is to assume that a blade shorter than 3 inches is acceptable, but since different states have varying laws concerning this and the legality of carrying a concealed blade in general, familiarize yourself with your state’s laws on the subject, and make sure to read up on other’s laws if you plan to take your multi-tool on an out-of-state trip.