Last updated: August 21, 2020

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Carrying a complete toolkit everywhere with you isn’t very comfortable. But sometimes you find yourself in a situation where you really wish you had a wrench, screwdriver, tweezers, at hand. This is exactly the type of situation for which multi-tools were invented.

This compact gadget can easily fit in your bag or pocket and offers a wide range of tools for you to take advantage of. A quality lightweight multi-tool could save your life in many an occasion. That being said, the variety of products available on the market means that choosing the right one isn’t necessarily a walk in the park.

Key Facts

  • Multi-tools have generally been manufactured to help you perform tasks that aren’t so different from each other. In that regard, they are ideal if you know little about tools but like to get things done on your own.
  • You should keep in mind that these devices do not include a specific set of tools. This is why you need to evaluate the type of work and tasks you plan on doing with your gadget.
  • Picking the right model will determine the usefulness of your multi-tools. Several key shopping criteria can help you make your decision. These include the number and type of tools included, as well as the design and weight of the product.

Our Selection: The Best Multi-Tools on the U.S. Market

Finding the perfect multi-tools for your needs can be a real challenge at times, in part because this general term encompasses a variety of gadgets. In the following section, you will discover our very own selection of the most popular models currently available on the American market. Each one is tailored to specific needs – from professional and military to domestic uses.

Best Overall Multi-Tool

Portland-based manufacturer Gerber is a leader in survival gear, so it isn’t surprising to see its Suspension multi-plier be Amazon’s Choice in the category. Weighing in at less than 10 ounces, this 4-inch multi-tool features 12 components. These include pliers, a saw, and a bottle opener, among others. The locking system keeps you safe at all times. In addition, the brand offers a lifetime warranty for this product.

Best Multi-Tool With Wrench

Crankbrothers specializes in mountain bike components and accessories, and the M19 multi-tool is the perfect device for those of us who love to ride – and more. As its name suggests, this model features a total of 19 tools; you will find various screwdrivers and a universal chain tool compatible with any bicycle. Delivered in a small case, this model easily fits in your pocket.

Best Lightweight Multi-Tool

Here is another device from Gerber, and it is incredibly affordable. This sturdy-yet-lightweight multi-tool is manufactured with stainless steel and weighs a total of 2.2 ounces. That means that you can have it on you at all times without even noticing it. Tool-wise, it integrates 12 elements: tweezers, fine-edge blade, and wire cutter, among others.

Best Leatherman Multi-Tool

Leatherman might just be the most famous multi-tool brand around, so we had to include one of their many models in our selection. The Wingman is an extremely versatile model, and it will be equally perfect for your day-to-day tasks and your adventurous holidays. It includes a total of 14 tools and a 25-year warranty – just in case you doubted its quality.

Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Multi-Tools

The best multi-tool is the one that has all the instruments you need to take care of your tasks. As you probably noticed in our selection above, many different options are available out there. This means that you will certainly find the right model for you – as long as you do your research. In the section below, we have answered the most frequently asked questions regarding multi-tools to help you in your quest.

Multitool for a bicycle. Customize the bike.

A multi-tool can easily fit in your bag or pocket and offers a wide range of tools for you to take advantage of.
(Source: Brizmaker: 100734629/ 123rf.com)

What are multi-tools exactly?

Simply put, and as their name suggests, these gadgets consist of a variety of different tools built into one. The most common ones include scissors, knives, bottle openers, and screwdrivers. The number of tasks they allow you to perform, as well as their compact size and comfort of use, makes them very popular devices. They can feature anywhere between four and twenty-one tools.

What types of multi-tools are there?

You can find many different multi-tools on the market, all of which have been designed to fulfill a variety of jobs. However, when we refer to multi-tools as such, you have to keep in mind that we are talking about a rectangular-shaped gadget consisting of various built-in instruments. There are four main types listed below:

  • Standard multi-tools (pocket or Swiss army knives): They are probably the best-known multi-tools, with their standout feature being the knife. Designed to be highly functional, they are one of the very first models of multi-tools and are ideal for anyone looking for a versatile instrument for day-to-day life. They come with all the essential elements you might need. If you don’t want a cumbersome device with extra features you won’t use, there is no point for you to spend money on a more advanced and heavier multi-tool.
  • Keychain multi-tools: Smaller and more compact, they are the best option if portability is everything to you. The main drawback is that the size of the tools can be challenging to work with at first. Once again, these models tend to include the essentials only.
  • Military multi-tools: These tactical products are tailored to both survival and on-the-go repairs. Many include firearm cleaning/disassembly tools, making them an excellent option for soldiers, campers, hikers, and hunters alike. They are very easy to use and are often manufactured with highly resistant materials that will withstand harsh treatment and intensive use. This is why they are often the most expensive devices. If you are willing to invest in a military model, you will have a multi-tool that will last for decades.
  • Credit card multi-tools: They turn your wallet into a fully functional piece of equipment, but avoid using them for camping or outdoor activities. These special credit cards are your last resort option. These tiny multi-tools generally feature a sharp edge, a bottle opener, and small wrenches.

What is the difference between these types of multi-tools?

The question you are probably asking yourself right now is: which model is the right one for me? There are major differences between these devices, and you may even want to own a couple of them. While some tools tend to appear in most products, we have detailed the main characteristics of each type in the following table to help you pick the best multi-tool:

Standard multi-tool Keychain multi-tool Military multi-tool Credit card multi-tool
Size Medium to large Small Medium to large Small
Uses Day-to-day, camping, fishing, professional and do-it-yourself tasks Basic Military, professional, camping, hunting, do-it-yourself Light
Weight Light to moderate Lightweight Moderate Light
Number of tools 4 to 20+ 4 to 10 6 to 20+ 4 to 8
Cost Low to high Low High Low

What are the most common and essential tools to have?

We know that most of us can’t carry a large toolbox around with us. However, everyone can have their own multi-tool composed of the most popular instruments for everyday tasks. In the list below, you can find out more about the six essential tools to have:

  • Pliers: They come in various shapes and sizes and are used for tasks such as cutting and bending wires.
  • Knives: While they are smaller than regular knives, they are ideal for light cutting jobs. Straight-edged models are the most useful overall, and saw knives are great to cut food such as bread.
  • Screwdrivers: Most multi-tools come with a single flathead screwdriver. That being said, the best products generally include a Phillips screwdriver as well.
  • Bottle openers: As you know, this tool is designed to remove bottle caps. Some multi-tools also feature a corkscrew for wine bottles.
  • Saw: This instrument is ideal for cutting smaller objects, such as tree branches, or for basic DIY tasks. While you won’t use it as much as your knife, screwdriver, or pliers, it remains essential nonetheless.
  • Scissors: Some people complain that these scissors are often too small to cut. But if you stick to paper, scissors are a great tool to have handy.
multitool to get into the wild

Everyone can have their own multi-tool composed of the most popular instruments for everyday tasks.
(Source: Erwin James Agumbay: 41731424/ 123rf.com)

Why do I need a multi-tool?

Let’s be honest: emergencies happen all the time and, above all, when you least expect them. Being prepared is the key to dealing with problems such as natural disasters, intruders, or a broken engine. If you have your own multi-tool at hand, you can substantially increase the chances of solving the problem faster while reducing the risk of injury or death.

When should I carry my multi-tool?

You will find this device handy in just about any situation – whether you need to cut something, open an envelope or a package, uncap a bottle of beer or your favorite drink. That being said, there are naturally different activities during which your multi-tool will become absolutely indispensable. We have detailed them for you below:

Camping

Imagine you’re out camping in the great outdoors. Starting a fire is a challenging task if you have no tools to help you. You will need at least three hours to prepare the wood to light up with a flint. A multi-tool reduces this time, making it easier to cut wood with the knife and saw devices.

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While we have discovered basic types of multi-tools from earlier, there were no innovative developments until the 19th century. At that time, the manufacturer Victorinox designed the world-famous Swiss Army knife.

Fishing

Some models include a tool to remove hooks. For this purpose, it is essential that you purchase a multi-tool that is resistant to corrosion and rust. Any tool that is exposed to rust can break at any time, in particular if you fish in saltwater.

Survival situations

You may find yourself facing an unwanted predator in nature. A multi-tool increases your chances of avoiding their attacks, fighting back, and saving your life. In addition, you should look for a model with a wrench to open oxygen tank valves.

Swiss Army Style Knife - Great Outdoors

Multi-tools are handy in just about any situation – whether you need to cut something, open an envelope or a package, uncap a bottle of beer or your favorite drink.
(Source: Steve AllenUK: 40877329/ 123rf.com)

Daily tasks

A multi-tool is perfect for all your basic daily tasks. A knife that you can open with one hand, for instance, will help you with simple cuts. Besides, these gadgets are small enough to fit in your pocket.

What are the advantages of multi-tools?

There are situations in which it’s simply better to have a multi-tool with you rather than a big box with different tools. Carrying all this around isn’t very comfortable, especially if you are outdoors. We have compared single-use and multi-tools on the table below:

Type Portability Weight Affordability Space Versatility
Multi-tool Greater Lesser Greater Lesser Greater
Single-use tool Lesser Greater Lesser Greater Lesser

While multi-tools are much more versatile, you should buy a specific tool separately – such as a hammer, flashlight, or pliers – if you need to use it extensively. In fact, combining a multi-tool with a few single-use tools is an excellent idea to be ready at all times.

Buyer’s Guide

Whether you’re looking for a multi-tool, a pocket knife, or any other tool, it is essential to know how to find the most suitable model based on your needs. You don’t want your tool to fall short, nor do you want to invest more than you have to. To help you pick the perfect multi-tool, we have delved into some of the most important shopping criteria to take into consideration:

Portability

Do you need a multi-tool that you can attach to your belt to grab it in an instant, or is it fine if you simply slide it in your pocket or purse? This will determine whether or not you should opt for a model with a clip, as well as the overall weight of the gadget. If you use it in a professional environment, you will probably want it to be easily accessible.

If your multi-tool is intended for leisure activities, on the other hand, you won’t have any problem keeping it in your backpack or back pocket. You can also look for a smaller model if you really need something ultra-portable and lightweight. However, keep in mind that it won’t be as versatile as a standard multi-tool.

Knife multi-tool, isolated on white background

If you have your own multi-tool at hand, you can substantially increase the chances of solving the problem faster while reducing the risk of injury or death.
(Source: Titipong Sukpaiboonwat: 37511272/ 123rf.com)

Multi-Tool Type

As you already know, the model that best suits you has everything to do with how you plan on using it. In that regard, some multi-tools are more tailored to performing various electrical tasks, while others will be more efficient if you need to repair bikes. This is an essential aspect, as you could end up with an almost useless gadget if you neglect it.

Quantity & Type of Tools

Carrying forty different tools on you might sound convenient at first. But if you only use five or seven of them, the rest is just dead weight to you. Instead of opting for a product with every tool ever made, you may want to choose a more specific device that includes precisely what you need.

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Did you know that many manufacturers offer custom multi-tools for your needs? That way, you can always find the perfect gadget.

Brand

You may have noticed that some products on the market will try to lure you in with false promises. Multi-tools are incredibly versatile and useful devices, but they cannot do everything either. In the end, your choice should go toward a product that combines versatility, quality, durability, and comfort of use.

In that sense, we encourage you to turn to reputable brands – such as Victorinox, Gerber, and Leatherman – and highly rated products. A multi-tool can save your life and will help you survive in a variety of situations, which is why quality is absolutely essential. A good way to know that you’re getting it is to look at the warranty offered by the manufacturer.

Summary

Our article is coming to an end, and we hope that this overview of multi-tools has allowed you to understand why you need one in your life. Whether you need a variety of blades and screwdrivers, or a more basic model to keep in your glove box, you will always find the right product to meet your needs.

If you really want something more specific, you might even consider getting a custom-made multi-tool to include everything you want to have handy. The upside of having so many options on the American market is that you can easily find a high-quality model.

Did you think that our shopping guide was helpful and informative? If so, feel free to share it on your social media for your friends and family to get their own multi-tool. You can also leave us a comment in the section below!

(Source of featured image: Titipong Sukpaiboonwat: 29413162/ 123rf.com)

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