12 Pocket Multitools to Tackle Any Task
There are times when you need exactly the right tools for the job—say, an axe for felling a tree or a set of socket wrenches for tuning up your car—and times when you just need a tool to get the job done.
Welcome to the wonderful world of multitools.
These handy devices pack the better part of your toolbox into pocket-sized packages that you can take anywhere and use any time. Need to saw a couple branches at your campsite, cut some rope and pop open a beer when you’re done? How about tightening your snowboard bindings and filing the edges of your board? Some multitools are so well equipped for the task at hand they take the MacGyver out of MacGyvering and are just, well, useful.
Distinct from the Swiss Army knives of yore, modern hinged multitools date back to the 1980s when Leatherman introduced its first Pocket Survival Tool (PST). Instead of the traditional folding knife with tools tucked in the handle, the PST hinged together two handles that, when unfolded, revealed pliers and a dozen other implements, including screwdrivers, can and bottle openers, and a knife.
Since then multitools have evolved into countless shapes and sizes. There are tiny tools for carrying on your keychain, sleek alternatives to the Swiss Army knife and burly beasts that are one step away from military-issue.[slideshow:778]
Leatherman still dominates the marketplace—the name “Leatherman” has become a byword for multitool—and our list reflects that. But other brands, such as Gerber, Columbia River Knife and Tool, SOG Specialty Knives and Victorinox have since carved out niches for themselves. (Try to sell a Gerber fan a Leatherman and you’ll see the kind of fervent brand loyalty multitools inspire.)
It can be tough to sort through all the high-quality multitools on the market, so we picked a solid dozen from key-sized on up. Among them, they have just about every individual hand tool you might need on the fly.
There are dozens more out there worthy of the name, so this is just a starting point. Multitools can be very specialized—there are ones for rifle maintenance, ordinance disposal and electrical work, to name a few examples—so the key is to think of what tools you actually need and go from there.