10 Top Multi Tools Reviewed
In the days of yore there was basically one multi tool and everyone knew exactly what it was: the Swiss Army Knife. Renowned for having more attachments than Henry VIII, the venerable Swiss Army Knife ruled the multi tool universe for decades until some enterprising companies and individuals decided it was time for some competition. As a result variations on the single tool capable of multiple functions began to flood the market and today, multi tools are more exciting and more versatile than ever before.
In this multi tool review and guide we’re going to take a closer look at what we consider to be the 10 best multi-tools on the market today. We’ll be selecting the 3 best for inclusion in our Hall of Fame and we’ll also take a look at those we feel to be the best straight up value for the money.
Hall of Fame: Our Top 3 Picks for Best Multi Tool
There are plenty of great multi tools out there (we’ve got 10 to highlight here) and so picking the 3 best was not easy. Our choices below represent the consensus of our review staff.
- Victorinox has a long history of creating high end multi tools.
- A full 27 functions for mind-bending versatility and utility.
- Incredibly well engineered, durable and attractive to boot.
- Product of the Swiss precision instrument making tradition.
- A full array of screwdrivers, openers, cutting tools and more.
- A compact 4.13” in length and a svelte 5. 75 oz.
- Full lifetime warranty.
In the spirit of the classic Swiss Army Knife, the Victorinox SwissTool multi tool is quality and versatility incarnate. Its lightweight design and compact size mean it’s never a hassle to take along and its beautifully engineered handle is an ergonomic dream come true; comfortable, secure and stylish to boot. If it’s been imagined for a multi tool the Victorinox can probably handle it. This multi tool has an astonishing 27 functions making it a must for any professional handyman’s toolbox.
You’d be hard pressed to find a better engineered tool of any kind at any price. The Victorinox covers all the bases function-wise, can be opened easily from the handle’s exterior side without having to open the pliers and each tool on display here locks in place, eliminating a major cause of multi tool mishaps. Each of the stainless steel implements is warranted for life and each is carefully crafted to achieve optimal efficiency.
The Victorinox SwissTool multi tool should be compulsory equipment for handymen and women, boaters, campers, rescue workers, police, soldiers and anyone else who may run across situations that present a variety of potential challenges. For our money it’s the best of the best and deserves to occupy the first position in our Hall of Fame.
- 440 stainless steel construction endows this multi tool with incredible durability.
- 13 utensils for handling an entire panoply of mechanical issues large and small.
- Features include wire cutters, metal file, screwdrivers, openers and much more.
- The HR-100 comes complete with a bonus belt case.
- Full Hoffman Richter lifetime warranty.
The HR-100 is made of ultra-durable 440 stainless steel that guarantees long term durability. It features fool proof safety locks, 13 tough meticulously engineered implements and is small enough to slip easily into your jeans pocket. It’s a handyman’s best friend and the only multi tool that you’ll ever need.
Whether you’re a do-it-yourself fanatic, a maintenance technician for an apartment building, an electrician, carpenter, HVAC technician or any other type of person who typically uses a variety of tools in their work, the HR-100 will save you time and trouble. This multi tool makes life easy and pays for itself after just a couple of jobs. While there are other multi tools that offer more options there are none that have a more useful selection from 1 through 13.
There’s almost nothing not to like about the Hoffman Richter HR-100 multi tool. It’s a breeze to tote around, the tools are easy to deploy and lock in place. The determination of which tools to include was obviously made after a lot of consultation and study and it looks and feels great to work with. For about the price of a movie for 2 you can have this incredibly diverse tool that will make your life easier for years to come. Now that’s money well spent.
Leatherman – Surge Multi Tool Black
- An array of 21 different implements for DIYers and professionals.
- Wire cutters, scissors, openers, files, screwdrivers, metal crimper and more.
- Tools available while the Surge is in closed position.
- One handed accessibility allows you to bring the right tool to bear without compromising your position.
- Rugged 440 stainless steel construction.
- Legendary Leatherman quality.
- Full 25 year manufacturer’s warranty.
You may have owned a multi tool or 2 before but not one like this. The Leatherman Surge Multi Tool is the ultimate combination of style, functionality and price. A truly must have piece of kit for electricians, HVAC technicians, auto mechanics, handymen and do-it-yourselfers of every skill level. Sure you can lug around a heavy and cumbersome tool box everywhere you go, but why would you when you can replace practically the entire box of tools with this one multi tool?
The Leatherman Surge multi tool has been engineered with practicality in mind. The designers understand that sometimes you just can’t afford to release your hold on a wire or duct or drawer or any of a hundred other things in order to grab a tool and put it to work. So they created a multi tool with easy single-handed accessibility. A lot of folks when they learn about this feature and see it in action for themselves have the same reaction: “It’s about time.”
The Leatherman Surge is the best Leatherman multi on this list and one of those things like your car or the refrigerator that just makes your life easier. If you’re a craftsman or a do-it-yourselfer you owe it to yourself to pick one up and make it a permanent addition to your tool kit. You won’t regret it.
Now that we’ve taken a look at what we consider to be the 3 best multi tools on the market let’s look at the rest of our top 10. Keep in mind that with some of these they could have easily cracked the top 3, there just wasn’t room for everybody.
- 14 high quality tools, many spring loaded for easy, effective deployment.
- 440 stainless steel construction for long term durability.
- Knife blade locks into place automatically for enhanced safety.
- Single handed operation engineered in.
- Most tools accessible while in the closed position.
- Leatherman’s 25 year repair or replace guarantee.
The Wingman multi tool from Leatherman is another feather in the cap of that most capable of companies. Every effort has been made to create a compact, convenient, durable and cost-effective tool that allows craftsmen and do-it-yourselfers to perform to a higher level. The Wingman tips the scales at a scant 7 oz and is only 3.8 inches long when folded.
This is a great, pocket-sized piece of kit that is going to revolutionize the way you go about your work by allowing you to leave the toolbox in the truck or under the sink and approach the task at hand with a single multi-purpose implement. Designed and built in the USA, the Wingman belongs on your list of must-have gear for 2017 and beyond.
Leatherman do the concept of the multi tool proud with their latest entry, the Wingman. From its flawless stainless steel construction to its one-handed capability to its easy portability and its 25 year manufacturer’s warranty, buying the Wingman is like putting money in the bank.
- Leatherman 831207 features 6 high quality tools.
- Spring action scissors, Phillips head screwdriver, Nail file, opener, carabiner and more.
- All tools are accessible from the exterior while the unit is in the closed position.
- Extremely durable 420 high carbon stainless steel throughout.
- Compact size and miniscule weight.
- 25 year manufacturer’s guarantee.
The 813207 CS is not intended for the journeyman electrician or accomplished handyman, it’s more for the average guy or gal who tackles the occasional craft job or a minor repair to an appliance. And that’s fine because those folks make up the majority of the population and really don’t have any use for a high end multi tool with all the bells and whistles.
For such an unassuming piece of kit an incredible amount of thought obviously went into the tool’s design. It looks like something out of a science fiction movie and the fact that it has a carabiner built into the heel suggests it’s something 007 might want for his next adventure. Above we stated that the 813207 was compact and lightweight but that doesn’t do it justice. The tool weighs an incredible 1.4 oz and is only 2.9 inches long when closed.
The Leatherman 813207 makes it onto our top 10 list because it’s that rare example of a high quality tool that was built with the average guy in mind. Everything here is really well built as you’d expect from Leatherman but the design is really where this multi tool gains separation from other similarly simple tools. You might even impress the ladies with it if you can believe that.
Leatherman – Skeletool Multi Tool, Stainless Steel
- Fully locking blade prevents accidental cuts. Must be manually unlocked.
- All tools fully accessible while the unit is in the closed position.
- 7 high-quality tools in one.
- Engineered for single hand operation.
- Leatherman’s renowned 25 year guarantee.
It might seem to some that we have Leatherman on the brain but we just call ‘em like we see ‘em. The Skeletool multi tool is versatility in action. It features high quality needlenose pliers, wire cutters, bottle opener, Phillips head screwdriver, hard-wire cutters, regular pliers and a 420 high carbon combo knife. The knife is larger than you’re probably used to seeing on a multi tool and the pliers more rugged and substantial. It’s all part of giving you more to work with while limiting the number of utensils to those you’re most likely to use.
The Leatherman Skeletool pocket multi tool is beautifully designed and a scant 4 inches long when closed. It lean too, tipping the scale at a trim 5 oz. The 420 high carbon steel used in its construction means this multi tool will be at your service for years to come and acquiring it won’t send you to the poor house either.
A truly beautiful looking piece of functional kit that delivers big time where and when it counts. There are no slouches among the tools on offer here and yet the whole thing will fit into any pocket with no problem. If it hasn’t won any design awards yet it should.
Gerber Center-Drive Multi Tool with Sheath and Bit set [30-001194]
- Opens to line up like a standard screwdriver for max leverage.
- Breakthrough tool design provides functionality of full-sized tools.
- Magnetic bits snap in and out effortlessly and provide optimal versatility.
- Three full-sized tools are those you’ll use the most.
- Slim design manages to encapsulate all implements without seeming overstuffed.
- Limited manufacturer warranty on materials and workmanship.
If there is one common thread winding its way through the remarks of those who’ve resisted multi tools it’s this: no full-sized tools, no good. Well, even the most diehard skeptic must now yield to the Gerber Center-Drive multi tool. With full-sized pliers, full-sized magnetic bit screwdriver and full-sized knife blade, there’s nothing to stop you from replacing your bulky tool box with this one simple and beautifully crafted multi tool.
When folded up the Center-Drive is small enough to fit easily in your pocket and still light enough that you might forget you’re even carrying it. The full-sized tools are no gimmick. They’re all beautifully balanced, high quality kit made of high grade stainless steel. The remaining tools are not merely afterthoughts either. Several are close to full size and all are more than capable of holding their own against free standing competitors.
If you had always resisted the multi tool because you needed something with more oomph, here it is. With the precision engineering of a Swiss watch and the strength and durability of the best hand tools out there the Gerber Center-Drive multi tool is a true game changer and the shape of things to come no doubt.
Leatherman 831488 Style PS Stainless Steel Multi Tool
- 8 high quality tools.
- Spring action pliers, wire cutters and scissors as well as screwdrivers and more.
- Outside accessibility for maximum convenience.
- Glass-filled molded nylon handle for top notch durability and comfort.
- TSA approved for carry-on items.
- Leatherman 25 year warranty on materials and workmanship.
The item that gets most people’s attention is the glass-filled nylon handle and it should. This material is extremely tough and durable and negates the need for an inner steel framework, thereby reducing the weight of the multi tool. And light as a feather this pocket multi tool is, checking in at a barely perceptible 1.6 oz.
The 831448 PS folds down to a pocket-friendly 2.9 inches so there’s no excuse about it not fitting in your toolbox or being too big and heavy to drag along. This multi tool will allow you to execute all manner of minor repairs without having to have a slew of hardware at your side all the time. Ideal for hunters, boaters, campers, electricians, HVAC technicians, sound techs, roadies and more.
Size matters when it comes to your multi tool. That is you don’t want one that’s too big or too heavy. The 831448 PS from Leatherman will be Johnny on the spot for all those jobs for which a single tool isn’t enough but a full toolbox is too much. All this at an affordable price as well.
Best Bang for your Buck
Gerber Dime Multi Tool, Black [30-000469]
- Durable 440 stainless steel construction throughout.
- 10 tools including pliers, scissors, screwdrivers, openers, wire cutters and more.
- A scant 4.25 inches long when folded.
- Fits easily in your pants pocket, fanny pack or bicycle kit.
- High quality engineering from a name you can trust.
Gerber has taken a pragmatic approach to designing this multi tool. Their goal is to make it as effective and useful as possible without loading it up with tools people may or may not use. And to keep the whole thing extremely affordable. As a result there’s not a wasted micron of anodized stainless steel on the Dime and the implement looks every bit as good as it works.
The Dime is extremely lightweight. So much so that you may forget that you’re carrying it in your pocket. When the tools are open they automatically lock in place so that you don’t suffer an accidental cut or abrasion. The opener stays accessible even when the unit is closed and doesn’t look or feel ridiculous because of this. The tools are expertly chosen to allow you to apply the Dime to as many different tasks as possible and the whole thing can be had for less than 2 movie tickets. What are you waiting for?
The Dime may be the best looking multi tool on the market and it’s no slouch in functionality as well. It provides the kind of bang for your buck that you may have thought was a thing of the past but thankfully, Gerber still knows what gets the DIYer’s heart racing.
Gerber Suspension Multi-Plier
- Included SafTPlus locking system for all components.
- High quality 440 stainless steel stands up to the worst environments.
- 12 implements including mini saw, scissors, screwdrivers, openers, lanyard hole and more.
- 4” in length when closed.
- Ballistic nylon sheath included.
- Limited lifetime manufacturer’s warranty.
The Gerber Suspension multi tool plier is tough as a rock and built to deliver in all conditions. Ideal for electricians, HVAC technicians, auto mechanics, roadside assistance pros and more. The Suspension is easy to use, easy to tote around, easy on the eye and easy on the wallet. The contoured handle provides a custom feel while the logical design and placement of the various tools means you don’t spend any time tripping over them as you switch up.
Everything is fashioned from high strength 440 stainless steel and the whole thing folds up to practically nothing. The prominence of the plier function may fool some into thinking this is designed just for electricians, but it’s not. It’s for anyone who requires a variety of common tools to do their job.
From the build quality to the look and feel this is a quality device that will make your life easier for many years to come. And all for the price of a couple of large pizzas. Amazing. Definitely a ‘best bang for your buck’ item and one that restores our faith in the notion that quality doesn’t have to drain your bank account.
How to Use a Multi Tool?
Using a multi tool is not like flying the Space Shuttle (if Space Shuttles flew anymore) but it may take some getting used to for the novice. The average multi tool has a lot going on from knife blades to screwdrivers to carabiners, files, wire cutters and more so it’s important that you know the right way to approach your multi tool in order to utilize it in the most effective manner.
- Press the multi tool lock mechanism. It is typically located near the butt end of the tool and is a metal button that you would press with your thumb. Alternatively it might be a metal slide. In either case press or slide the mechanism to unlock the tool.
- Open the multi tool as if it were a standard set of pliers. Different manufacturers engineer their multi purpose tool differently so the mechanism may be spring-loaded and open itself. If not, open it manually.
- Engage whichever tool you require from its niche in the housing. There are typically very thin slits that allow you to catch them with your fingernail and pry the wanted device free of the housing.
- Make sure you close the handle of the multi tool once you’ve extended the desired implement and check that the multi tool lock mechanism is engaged before you begin to use the desired tool.
- Disengage the lock mechanism to change from one tool to the next. Then push the extended tool back into its niche and select the next tool. Repeat steps 3 and 4 above.
- To shut down your multi tool push the last implement back into its niche and return the multi tool to its closed down rectangular configuration. Store it away in its sheath or pouch.
Remember to keep the multi tool lock mechanism engaged any time the knife blade is deployed in order to prevent accident or injury.
Are Multi Tool Blades Universal?
Not all blades can be swapped between different makes of multi tool. However, when you’re talking different models of multi tool made by the same manufacturer (say, Leatherman for instance) swapping out multi tool blades is a relatively easy thing to do. You need to be careful, however, because if you make any physical changes to your Leatherman multi tool you may well void the excellent 25 year guarantee.
In the case of the Leatherman you’ll need a Torx #10 security bit or equivalent screwdriver.
- Remove the pin at the heel of the multi tool that extends through the blade and holds it in place. Take your time removing this pin so that you don’t strip it.
- Remove your old multi tool
- Check to make sure the brass bushings are still in place.
- Place the new blade.
- Replace the pin and tighten.
The process is essentially the same for every manufacturer though you may need a different type of security bit or screwdriver.
Things to Consider When Buying a Multi Tool
There are many dozens of different multi tools on the market today and all of them will be of service to someone. But which one is right for you?
- Pliers or Scissors – Most every multi tool will come with either pliers/wire cutters or scissors in its business end. Which one you choose will depend on your particular needs. If you plan to use your multi tool for wiring projects or HVAC work you’ll likely want pliers. If you plan to use your multi to manipulate cuttable materials like paper, cardboard and plastic sheets, you’ll want to go with the scissors.
- A Quality Knife Blade – The one thing almost everyone uses on the multi tool is the knife. Whether you’re a camper or electrician it’s important to have a high quality knife blade at your disposal for any one of a hundred different jobs. If the knife blade is important to you make sure the multi tool you buy has a quality blade that is easily accessed and can be replaced if necessary.
- The Number of Tools – As you can see from the details above the number of tools varies greatly from multi tool to multi tool. Some have as few as 6 while others like the Victorinox have 27. The number and type of individual implements you need will be up to you but if you use your multi tool for a variety of functions you’ll want something with plenty of options. In any case make sure you get the tools you use most often. The rest is gravy.
- The Quality of the Tools – If you use your multi tool often and to do precision work you’ll want to make sure the various implements are of the highest possible quality. This will ensure they do a good job and that they can stand up to the strain of regular use. Most multi tool attachments today are made of one type of high quality stainless steel or another but there are a few low quality exceptions. So you’ll need to keep your eyes open.
- The Price – The price range on multi tools can be huge; from under $20 to $100 or more. How much you spend will depend on how often you feel you’ll use your multi purpose tool and what type of jobs you’ll use it for. Certainly if you just want to have it around in case of emergency you may not need to buy a high end model. On the other hand if you’re a journeyman electrician who’s always reaching for his or her multi tool you’ll want one with all the bells and whistles.
The multi tool has come a long way in the past 20 years. Today they’re high tech gear engineered to incredibly precise tolerances and built using space age materials. There’s a reason why a company like Leatherman is able to offer a 25 year warranty on materials and workmanship and it’s because today’s multi tool is built to last.
The best multi tool for you is not necessarily the best multitool for someone else. We hope this buying guide helps you to make an informed decision about which multi tool is right for you and your situation. And be sure to stop by regularly for more product reviews and buying guides from our staff of dedicated product professionals.