You’re not alone if you consider your garage the best room in the house. With room for all your projects and a tool for any job, it’s a downright masterpiece of self-reliance. The thing is, it’s not very portable. You’ve probably thrown a box of hand tools or a few select power tools in the trunk to help a buddy with their weekend project, but the truth is that most tools just aren’t that useful on the go. Even if you have a trusty everyday carry knife, there are still plenty of jobs it can’t account for. That’s why you need a reliable multitool. With all the essentials neatly folded into a compact package like a contractor’s version of origami, you’ll have just what you need at a moment’s notice.
There are a few different styles to choose from, designed for everything from survival situations to international travel. Let’s see which one is right for you.
Multitools like the Leatherman Rebar are so prominent that the brand has become synonymous with the concept of multitools. Innovation spanning generations of product development results in one of the strongest, most well-designed multitools on the market. This one boasts 17 tools, including pliers, a file, saw, ruler, flathead and Phillips-head screwdrivers, bottle and can openers, multiple knives, and several tools for working with electrical wires. All these components lock into place to avoid accidents and increase strength. The whole multitool measures four inches long and weighs less than seven ounces. Stainless steel and a rugged protective coating create a tool that won’t let you down, and Leatherman stands behind this product with a 25-year warranty. This is one of the more expensive options out there, and it’s worth every penny.
When portability is your top priority, it just doesn’t get better than this multitool from Wallet Ninja. It has the same dimensions as a credit card, so you can keep it handy everywhere you go. Even at this small size, it contains 13 tools for everything from opening letters, bottles, and cans, to adjusting six sizes of bolts. This tool is made from steel that has been heat-treated four times, and is guaranteed not to rust, bend, or go dull. It’s no survival tool, but it can tighten the screws on your glasses and pair with a credit card or ID to make a stand for your phone. Best of all, this multitool adheres to TSA guidelines, so it can even accompany you on longer trips. It also comes at a price that makes adding one of these to your EDC a no-brainer.
Right away, the RoverTac multitool looks like nothing else on this list. No pliers here, but you will get a hammer and hatchet that are hard to come by in a tool of this size. The other nine components include a saw, knife, can and bottle opener, file, and several screwdrivers. All accessories lock in place for storage and use. The beefy handle provides plenty of grip, which will definitely come in handy when you’re swinging the hatchet or hammer. With the exception of the hatchet’s cutting blade, this tool uses a black protective coating to protect metal surfaces against rust and corrosion. A holster is included; as sharp as the hatchet blade is, you’ll want to use it. The overall weight of this multitool is about 13 ounces. That makes this the heaviest option on our list, but it’s weight we’d happily add to any survival kit.
Those of you looking for a tactically minded multitool will love the SOG Powerlock. This robust multitool packs 18 tools into a package the size of a pocket knife. Inside, you’ll find necessities like pliers, wire cutters and crimpers, scissors, a ruler, bottle and can opener, awl, file, two cutting blades, and several kinds of drivers. Hell, there’s even a blasting cap crimper; how metal is that? Speaking of metal, this multitool uses 100-percent metal construction and can be had with either a satin or black oxide finish. There are other innovative features, too. The pliers use a compound leverage design that doubles the input force for enhanced grip, and each half of the handle includes a hinged cover to protect tools when not in use. This is another premium option that we’re confident you’ll love.
Of course this list wouldn’t be complete without the Gerber Suspension NXT, and this multitool brings the noise with undeniable bang for the buck. You’ll get 15 of the usual suspects, like pliers, knives, screwdrivers, and (of course) a bottle opener. All tools open outboard for easy access. Locking mechanisms in each half of the handle keep tools securely tucked away or fixed in the open position. A spring assist in the pliers takes some of the strain off your hands. A built-in clip runs the full length of the handle to keep this multitool in place when you clip it to your belt, gear, or inside a pocket. Skeletonized handles help keep the weight down despite this multitool’s beefy all-metal construction.
Mossy Oak built a reputation in the great outdoors, but this multitool performs just as well in the garage as it does in the duck blind. Between the tool itself and the extra attachments in the provided case, you’ll get 21 components that can get you through just about anything your day throws at you. All the mainstays are here: a knife, saw, ruler, can opener, two kinds of pliers–you name it. Instead of just standard flathead and Phillips-head screwdrivers, this multitool has removal bits for three sizes of each, plus T10 and T15 Torx bits. Tools fold out from the handles without having to open the pliers, so they’re always accessible. Large notches and holes make components easy to open even when your hands are wet, cold, or both. Between this multitool’s versatility and build quality, it’s a strong contender for just about anyone’s gear list.
If the typical multitool is a miniature tool box that includes a knife, think of this option from Pohaku as a knife that comes with a free tool set. Its three-inch blade is definitely the star of the show. One-hand operation and partial serration make it a worthy stand-in for your EDC knife. The asymmetric handle prioritizes the blade, both in terms of space and ease of use. This multitool includes 12 other components. In addition to basics like screwdrivers, pliers, and a saw, you’ll get a hook-shaped rope cutter. Each piece is built from thick steel for durability and longevity. A locking system keeps components either retracted or extended securely. This wouldn’t be our first pick for odd jobs around the house, but we’d need to have an awfully compelling reason not to include this in our survival kit or camping bag.
Related: The best EDC knives worth relying on
Types of multitools
Multitools are as diverse as the jobs they perform. What’s best for another person might not be what you need, so compare several different styles and determine which option you prefer. Some are built for the outdoors, and you can even get a multitool with a hammer and hatchet included. Travel-oriented multitools are slim enough to tuck away in your wallet and get TSA approval to be carried on commercial flights. Most fall somewhere in between these extremes and provide essentials like knives, screwdrivers, and pliers. All make some concessions in the name of saving space, so don’t expect any component in your multitool to be quite as robust as its full-size counterpart. Still, the versatility of a quality multitool can’t be denied and we highly recommend adding one to your kit.
Key features of multitools
- Number of tools: The first differentiating factor you’ll notice when shopping for a multitool is the number of components each one provides. Do you need a pocket-sized toolbox, or will a few everyday tools suffice? Make sure to determine which tools you need most, and find a multitool that delivers.
- Materials: Most multitools are designed to withstand hard use, so you’ll primarily see heavy-duty steel alloys and weather-resistant composites. If you’re particularly hard on gear, pay special attention to things like fasteners and material thickness.
- Size: Multitools are compact by nature, but there is still room for variation. The standard size will fit in a pocket or provided MOLLE pouch. Large multitools are better suited to a camping or survival kit. The smallest options are no larger than a credit card.
- Intended use: Multitools are incredibly handy, but a wide selection of screwdrivers and hex keys probably won’t do you much good in the wilderness. On the other hand, a hatchet isn’t going to be very useful in your car or bicycle repair kit. It’s important to know why you want a multitool before you hit that “Buy Now” button.
Benefits of multitools
The main selling point of multitools is portability. A good multitool can keep you up and running at times when carrying a fully equipped tool box isn’t possible or practical. Most of us are used to carrying some form of pocket knife on a daily basis anyway, and a multitool can provide a cutting blade and so much more without adding much in terms of size. Even for quick jobs around the house, pulling out your multitool is much easier than running back to the garage because you grabbed the wrong kind of screwdriver. The bottom line is this: multitools save time. Who doesn’t need more of that?
For as much convenience as they offer, multitools are incredibly affordable. The most basic, one-piece multitools cost as little as $15. Premium options that can withstand the worst you or mother nature can throw at them are only about $70. Elsewhere on that price spectrum, you’ll find plenty of quality options that will get you through the daily grind without a hiccup. Our recommendations are big on all-metal construction. As you move up the food chain, you’ll notice more robust materials, hearty weather-resistant coatings, and finer machining on each component. Just remember that getting the right tool for the job is more important than maxing out your budget. You might be able to get everything you need without spending top dollar.
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