Are you tired of carrying around a hefty toolbox or rummaging through your cluttered drawer for the right tool? Look no further! Multi-tools are the perfect solution for anyone who wants to have a wide range of functions in one compact package. Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast, homeowner, commuter, or camper, a multi-tool is a must-have companion that can come in handy in unforeseen situations. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to choose the best multi-tool for your needs.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Multi-Tool
Types of Multi-Tools
When it comes to multi-tools, there are two main categories: knife-based and pliers-based. Knife-based multi-tools typically feature one or more large knife blades and may include small pliers as an afterthought. On the other hand, pliers-based multi-tools put precision-engineered pliers at the forefront and often come with additional knives. Pliers-based multi-tools are the most common types sold today.
Material and Finish
To ensure durability and longevity, it’s crucial to choose a multi-tool made from high-quality steel with engineered moving parts. Stainless steel is a popular choice due to its strength and corrosion resistance. Multi-tools come in a variety of finishes, including brushed gunmetal for a tactical look, highly polished steel, brushed nickel, satin, and black stainless steel. Some models even feature padded inserts in the handles for added comfort during use.
Size and Weight
One of the key advantages of multi-tools is their compact size and lightweight design. Most multi-tools weigh under 1 pound and measure between 4 to 7 inches in length. However, smaller models weighing just 3 to 4 ounces and measuring less than 3 inches long are also available for those who prefer pocket-sized convenience. While smaller multi-tools may have fewer unique tools, larger ones can still be compact despite offering a wide variety of functions.
The most common tools found in multi-tools are pliers and knives, as they provide the most sought-after functions. Additionally, you can expect to find a variety of screwdrivers (both flat-head and Phillips), bottle openers, files, can openers, and even scissors and tweezers depending on the model. When considering the number of functions, it’s important to prioritize quality and performance over sheer quantity. Some functions may never be used, adding unnecessary weight to the tool.
While multi-tools excel at providing mini versions of standard tools, they may not offer the same level of comfort as high-end, single-use tools. For example, a standard hammer typically comes with a padded nonslip grip to reduce hand fatigue and provide a comfortable grip. In contrast, a hammer on a multi-tool may have ergonomic indentations for fingers but lacks the same level of comfort support. Keep in mind that multi-tools are designed for quick, limited use rather than prolonged, heavy-duty tasks.
One of the greatest advantages of multi-tools is their portability. They are designed to be taken anywhere, making them ideal for use during outdoor activities or as a compact alternative to a full toolbox. Even larger multi-tools can easily fit in a car console or backpack, while smaller models can be carried on a keychain or in trouser pockets without being burdensome. Look for multi-tools with carabiner clips or cases with belt loops for added convenience.
Our Top Picks
With countless multi-tools flooding the market, it can be challenging to determine which ones truly deliver on their promises. To help you make an informed decision, we extensively tested and evaluated various multi-tools based on their quality, performance, and value. After rigorous testing, we have selected the following multi-tools as our top picks:
Best Overall: LEATHERMAN Wingman Multitool with Spring-Action
The LEATHERMAN Wingman Multitool takes the top spot as the best overall multi-tool. This tool revolves around a pair of solid steel pliers with spring-action, allowing for effortless squeezing and automatic opening. The precision fit of the pliers’ jaw tips impressed us, ensuring a firm grip on any material. In addition to the pliers, the Wingman features 13 other tool functions, including a knife, small scissors, wire cutters, screwdrivers, and a bottle opener. The polished steel construction is not only visually appealing but also provides easy access to the tools without any strain.
Best for Durability: GERBER Center-Drive Multi-Tool
If durability is your primary concern, look no further than the GERBER Center-Drive Multi-Tool. This heavy-duty tool is built to withstand the toughest tasks. The Center-Drive boasts a unique design with a full-size screwdriver that aligns with the center axis of the tool, providing maximum torque and rotation. It also features spring-loaded pliers, a knife, a saw, a file, and various other tools. The stainless steel construction and robust build make it a reliable companion for any demanding job.
Best for Outdoor Enthusiasts: VICTORINOX Swiss Army SwissChamp Pocket Knife
For outdoor adventurers and camping enthusiasts, the VICTORINOX Swiss Army SwissChamp Pocket Knife is the perfect multi-tool companion. This iconic Swiss Army knife offers a staggering 33 functions, including a large blade, a wood saw, a can opener, scissors, screwdrivers, and much more. Its compact size makes it easy to carry in your pocket or backpack, ensuring you’re always prepared for any outdoor situation. Crafted with the highest quality stainless steel and backed by the renowned VICTORINOX brand, this multi-tool is a reliable and versatile toolset.
Best Budget Option: ROXON S801S Gekko Multi-Tool Pliers
If you’re on a tight budget but still want a reliable multi-tool, the ROXON S801S Gekko Multi-Tool Pliers are an excellent choice. Despite its affordable price tag, this multi-tool doesn’t compromise on quality or functionality. The Gekko features a sturdy set of pliers, a knife, screwdrivers, a can opener, and a file. The lightweight and compact design make it easy to carry, while the stainless steel construction ensures durability. With its unbeatable affordability and reliable performance, the ROXON S801S Gekko is a budget-friendly multi-tool worth considering.
When it comes to choosing the best multi-tool, it’s important to consider factors such as the type of multi-tool, material, and finish, size and weight, functions, ergonomics, and portability. Our top picks, including the LEATHERMAN Wingman, GERBER Center-Drive, VICTORINOX Swiss Army SwissChamp, and ROXON S801S Gekko, offer a range of options to suit different needs and budgets. Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast, outdoor adventurer, or simply someone who wants a versatile toolset, a multi-tool is an essential companion that can handle a wide variety of tasks. Invest in a high-quality multi-tool, and you’ll never find yourself without the right tool again.