Let’s face it, you’re most likely not one of those guys who has every tool for every job. Caught yourself trying to pry something open with a pen or a fork lately? We’d say you’re in the market for a handy all-in-one multi-tool. Sure, it won’t come close to fixing everything, but in a pinch, it’s a great “go-to” instrument that could make a difference (especially if your tool kit comes from the local pharmacy).
Multi-tools have been completing odd jobs since the original Leatherman PST (Pocket Survival tool) came out in 1983. As good as the PST was, multi-tools (or multi-pliers) have come a long way since then, today varying in size, tool type and count. Some are even specialized for gunsmiths and electricians. In our quest to find the best, though, we also discovered that many manufacturers have abandoned their multi-tool production due to poor sales. We call it “thinning the herd”, and it’s actually for the better, as the ones that survive tend to be the most user-friendly and the hardiest. Ready to become a Renaissance handyman of honey-do lists? Here are the best full-sized multi-tools on the market today.
Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Multi-tool
Best Survival Multi-Tool
Bear Grylls may not be on the Discovery Channel anymore, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t still a survival expert. His name goes right on one of Gerber’s best multi-tools, and it’s outfitted with 12 stainless steel tools that will help you do more than just get by in the field. The handles are coated in grippy rubber to minimize slippage, and each one of the tools utilizes the Safe.T.Plus System, which locks the tool in place. Included in the Ultimate are key items like spring-loaded needle-nose pliers, plain and serrated blades, a saw blade, wire cutters and scissors. And just so you don’t feel totally alone in the cruel wilderness, Gerber includes survival instructions in the military-grade nylon sheath.
Best Tool Box Multi-Tool:The Baladeo Locker’s name suits it well. Along with having standard multi-tool components like pliers, a knife, a saw, scissors and a can opener, the socket end of the tool also accommodates a host of included bits like flathead and Phillips screwdrivers (and even hard-to-find Torx bits) for a total of 18 separate tools. All of the tools are made with 2CR13 corrosion-resistant stainless steel, and the comfortable curved handles are made of coated aluminum. Sure, it won’t replace your entire toolbox, but it also doesn’t weigh 50 pounds.
Best Bargain Multi-Tool: If you haven’t heard of Tekton, don’t scoff. Although they don’t have the cache of the big boys, they do offer a great tool for a fraction of the price. The sub-$20 multi-tool has handles made from strong anodized aluminum and each tool is made from corrosion-resistant stainless steel. And, just so you know they didn’t scrimp elsewhere, the pliers are spring loaded for one-handed convenience. The Tekton comes with three screwdrivers (two flathead, one Phillips), as well as wire cutters, a saw, a file and that all-important can/bottle opener to crack open your reward for a job well done.
Power Tech Fire Talon
Best Big-Handed Multi-Tool: If you’ve got T. rex arms, this probably isn’t the multi-tool for you. The Power Tech Fire Talon’s bigger size ensures a firmer grip for tougher tasks, and the handle inserts are made of grippy rubber for even more security. The Fire Talon is built using heavy-duty black oxide stainless steel, so it looks stealthy and remains strong. In addition to spring-loaded needle-nose pliers, wire cutters, a stripper and a combo edge knife blade, the Fire Talon comes with two LED flashlights, one at each end of the tool for maximum operating visibility. Which, of course, gives you no more excuses to quit once the sun goes down.
Best Man Jewelry Multi-Tool: Chalk it up as both radical and impressive, the Leatherman Tread ($150-$200) is the multi-tool you can take just about anywhere a bladed multi-tool can’t go. (It even meets TSA requirements.) The bracelet tool, which comes in both stainless steel and black finishes, has a total of 25 tools in its nine links — including Allen wrenches, screwdrivers, hex drivers, a cutting hook and even a glass-breaker. And it can be sized and customized to meet your needs. Just take off the bracelet, fold it to reveal the tool you need and put it to use. When you’re finished, it simply goes back on your wrist. Leatherman is also planning to make an optional watch for the Tread, made with stainless steel, sapphire glass, a rotating bezel and Swiss quartz movement. What will they think of next?