The Best Multi-Tool Review

We tested seven of the worlds greatest multi-tools. We cut, pried, sawed, and repaired. We carried them for day-to-day use, as well as into the backcountry. We found a wide range of quality and function. Our list represents both ends of the size spectrum, and everything in between. Read on, and find that reviewed here is a tool for everyone. We tested, at the same time, the best pocket knife. We found that most everyone could use a device from one or both of our pocket tool lists. Consult both our pocket knife buying advice article and multi-tool buying advice to help determine which could be for you.

Read the full review below >

Review by: ⋅ Review Editor, OutdoorGearLab

Top Ranked Multi-tool Knives Displaying 1 - 5 of 7 << Previous | View All | Next >>
Our Ranking #1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Product Name
Leatherman Charge TTI
Leatherman Charge TTI
Read the Review
Video video review
SOG PowerAssist S66
SOG PowerAssist S66
Read the Review
Video video review
Leatherman Wave
Leatherman Wave
Read the Review
Leatherman Squirt PS4
Leatherman Squirt PS4
Read the Review
Video video review
Leatherman Wingman
Leatherman Wingman
Read the Review
Editors' Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award    Top Pick Award  Best Buy Award 
Street Price Varies $146 - $170
Compare at 2 sellers
$59
Compare at 1 sellers
Varies $70 - $116
Compare at 5 sellers
Varies $26 - $36
Compare at 4 sellers
Varies $27 - $35
Compare at 3 sellers
Overall Score 
100
0
97
100
0
83
100
0
83
100
0
80
100
0
75
Editors' Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
User Rating Be the first to rate itBe the first to rate it
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
1 rating
Be the first to rate itBe the first to rate it
Pros Sophisticated and comprehensiveBuilt for heavy and regular usage. Leveraged pliers and assisted opening blades.Functional and well-builtSmall, well-builtInexpensive and well-made
Cons Heavy and expensiveLarge, heavy, and expensiveRelatively simple designSmallHybrid blade is also short
Best Uses Every day carry for the discerning userDaily carry around the home or farmKeep one in your car for routine repairs on the goKeychain every day carry, Backcountry usageEvery day carry. Especially for someone in a warehouse or anywhere he or she will open many packages.
Date Reviewed Sep 29, 2013Sep 29, 2013Sep 29, 2013Sep 29, 2013Sep 29, 2013
Weighted Scores Leatherman Charge TTI SOG PowerAssist S66 Leatherman Wave Leatherman Squirt PS4 Leatherman Wingman
Functions - 40%
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
7
Ergonomics - 20%
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
8
Portability - 15%
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
10
10
0
9
Construction Quality - 25%
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
7
Product Specs Leatherman Charge TTI SOG PowerAssist S66 Leatherman Wave Leatherman Squirt PS4 Leatherman Wingman
Number of Functions 19 + bits 16 17 9 14
Pliers type Needlenose with wire cutter and crimper Linkage assisted needlenose with wire cutters Needlenose with wire cutter Small Needlenose. Wirecutters Spring returned needlenose
Locking tools? all but pliers all lock open and blades also lock closed all but pliers none scissors and blade
Tools accessible without deploying pliers blades, saw, file blades blades, saw, file all blade and scissors
Blades and type 1 serrated gut hook type, 1 straight drop point 1 straight drop point, 1 serrated sheepsfoot 1 straight drop point, 1 serrated sheepsfoot 1 straight drop point. 1 hybrid serrated/straight drop point
scissors yes no yes yes yes
# of screw drivers 16 included, more available aftermarket 4 included, more avaialable aftermarket 4 included, more avaialable aftermarket 3 2
file? yes yes yes yes yes
saw? metal and wood no metal and wood no no
openers can can and bottle can bottle can and unique box opener
Other important Features "v-cut" cord cutter, Blasting cap crimper awl
Sheath Included? yes yes yes no no
Other carry options Pocket clip, key ring none none key ring pocket clip
Closed Length 4 4.7 4 2.2 3.9
Open Length (pliers) 6.2 7 6.2 4 6.2
Open Length (Primary blade) 7 7.5 7 3.8 6.4
Thickness 0.75 0.75 0.65 0.5 0.7
Weight 8.88 9.25 8.63 1.88 5.75

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review


  • Review Photos
  • Editors' Choice Winners
  • All Reviewed Products

The concept of combining multiple tools into a single device is as old as the idea of improving personal efficiency. Throughout human history, people have improvised and commercialized multi-function devices. The modern multi-tool era, however, started in 1984 when Tim Leatherman sold his ground-breaking "Pocket Survival Tool". Leatherman, and other manufacturers, have expanded on the category and continue to offer a variety of options to the discerning multi-tool aficionado. We assessed the products in four categories. We evaluated the functions provided and the ergonomics, portability, and the overall construction quality of each.
Click to enlarge
Tools vary in size and shape. From bottom to top: SOG PowerAssist Multi-Tool S66, Gerber Multi-Plier 600, Leatherman Charge TTI, Leatherman Wave, Leatherman Wingman, Gerber Bear Grylls Compact Multi-Tool, and Leatherman Squirt PS4.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Functions
The diversity of functions and devices is what absolutely defines the Multi-Tool genre. By definition, there are multiple functions in each device. Besides the shear number of tools built into a given product, the design and usability of those individual tools matter a great deal. A product with ten very well designed tools is far more valuable than one with twenty functions crammed in. Additionally, whether those ten well-designed tools are apt to be useful to most users is up for debate. Each user will have his or her own preferences. However, some functions stand out as far more useful. In day to day use, for our testing team, certain functions proved to be far more important. Our testers appreciated a nice blade, tight pliers with wire cutters, scissors, and integrated bit drivers the most. Editors' Choice winner, the Leatherman Charge TTI and the very similar Leatherman Wave are the only tools in our test that completely fulfill this abbreviated, select list of features. Everyone who chooses to carry one will appreciate well-made and general purpose tools like this list. Additionally, users in some environments will have ample opportunity to use more specialized tools. Some will need and use the blasting cap crimper of the SOG PowerAssist S66. Others will regularly use and appreciate the innovative package opener on the Best Buy award winning Leatherman Wingman.

Ergonomics
Each of the tools we tested is built on the tried-and-true plier format. Basically, each tool is a set of pliers with other tools built into the handle. In each tested product, the pliers fold into the handles as well. There are different ways of accomplishing this, but the unifying theme is that the pliers are the largest and most functional of all the tools included with any given device. Including other tools into the handles of the pliers will inherently reduce the ergonomic and function of the pliers. However, some multi-tools do this more elegantly than others. In order for the pliers (and wire cutters) to be most functional, the exposed parts of the handles must be rounded and smooth. All of our tested products are serviceable in this regard. Other and older models on the market aren't as comfortable as our tested tools. Just like the pliers, each of the other functions are compromised in usability, simply by virtue of the fact that they are bolted to other tools. A dedicated knife will be more usable than the blade on a multi-tool. Same with a screwdriver, scissors, saw, file, etc. We accept these compromises in the interest of versatility. And we appreciate models with intelligent and convenient integration of the selected functions. We gave high marks to devices that leave the most commonly used functions accessible with a minimal of folding and unfolding moves. We gave high marks to intuitive and effective locking mechanisms. Special mention must be made of the innovative ergonomic features of Top Pick award winner SOG Power Assist. This tool is made for heavy and regular use. The two blades deploy from the "outside" of the stowed pliers. Each locks closed, thumbs open easily and locks for usage. The pliers include a mechanical-advantage gearing system that significantly increases the holding power.

Portability
A tool is only as useful as it is available. Will it be there for you when you need it? How is the tool intended to be carried? How big is it? Small tools shuffling around in a glove box or crowded pants pocket will be too time consuming to dig out. Really large and heavy tools are pretty much limited to belt and sheath carry. We liked tools that offered a variety of carry methods. Editors Choice winner Leatherman Charge TTI, although one of the larger tools in our test, can be configured to carry with a pocket clip, attached to a lanyard or key chain, as well as stowed securely in the included and rugged belt pouch. Additionally the belt pouch with the Charge tool can also hold the included selection of driver bits. At the other end of the size and versatility spectrum, but winning our Top Pick award for its diminutive-yet-tough design, the Leatherman Squirt PS4 virtually disappears on a keychain. This tiny Leatherman is smaller even than many of the far-less versatile tools in our Pocket Knife Review.

Construction Quality
In the products we tested, quality of manufacturing varied. Hinges and locking mechanisms reveal the attention paid to detail. Sturdy materials, tight manufacturing tolerances, and intelligent construction really stand out in a tool the end user could handle and use every day. In our testing, high quality construction stood out virtually right away, and only increased in value as time and usage wore on. Our evaluation of these tools' construction quality was initially subjective. Does it "feel" sturdy and confidence inspiring. When this almost-aesthetic assessment came up short for a given contender, it inevitably followed that some aspect of the mechanical function of the knife would act finicky. Plier hinges are the most vulnerable to construction quality. Virtually all of our tested products held up very well through testing. However, it should be noted that, almost immediately upon removing from the package, we broke the handle of the Gerber Bear Grylls Compact Multi-Tool. One tester was cutting a piece of wire clothes hanger for an improvised repair to a tool box. (Ironic, right? Using a tool to repair a device intended to hold multiple tools) The hinges in the handle of the small Gerber tool couldn't handle the leverage. Other users of this same tool have reported no problems like this. Cutting coat hanger could be considered a heavy task. However, coat hangers are a common source of improvised repair material. And the even smaller and lighter Leatherman Squirt PS4 cuts coat hanger just fine.

Editors Choice: Leatherman Charge TTI
Click to enlarge
Our Editors Choice winner, the Leatherman Charge TTI, comes with all the bells and whistles.
Credit: Jediah Porter
Our Editors Choice Award goes to the Leatherman Charge TTI. This dense piece of versatile equipment has a magical mix of tools, optimized in a functional design and made of impressive materials. The blades are the best in our test while the titanium frame reduces weight. The Charge, at just about half a pound, is about average in weight for a full-size tool. However, being equipped to carry in a belt sheath, on a lanyard, or clipped to a pocket, it appeals to virtually everyone. Finally, Leatherman's proprietary low-profile bit driver, and the included selection of bits virtually doubles the overall number of functions as compared to the next closest competitor in our test.

Top Pick Winner for a Heavy-Duty Tool: SOG PowerAssist S66
The balisong, or butterfly, style opening of a modern multi tool. In t...
The balisong, or butterfly, style opening of a modern multi tool. In this case, pictured here is our Top Pick SOG PowerAssist.
Credit: Jediah Porter
Our Top Pick award generally goes to a product that is unique in the field. We select a product that will excel for a specific application. During our testing, two stand out this way. The SOG Power Assist S66 is the heaviest in our test, and the most useful to the hard-working, regular user. The geared, mechanically enhanced pliers have considerably more holding power than all the others in our test. The assisted-opening blades wait right at your fingertips. The full-size phillips screwdriver bit is made of durable and hard tool steel, made for regular and extended use. Many of the individual blades and tools on the PowerAssist tool can be individually replaced.

Top Pick Winner for a Versatile Keychain Tool: Leatherman Squirt PS4
Click to enlarge
Our lead tool tester Jediah Porter on a backcountry deer hunt in 2012. Circumstances required that he basically dress this entire deer with the puny blade of the Leatherman Squirt.
Credit: Jediah Porter
At the other end of the spectrum, and also earning Top Pick honors, is the Leatherman Squirt PS4. This is the tool for you if weight and space are at a premium. Sporting an elegant and useful combination of tools, the Squirt will sit out of the way on your keychain until you need it. The blade is razor-sharp, the pliers grab with a strength that belies their tiny stature, and the file dresses nails just as well as it removes the burrs from a fork that got caught in your garbage disposal.

Best Buy Winner: Leatherman Wingman
Click to enlarge
The scissors on the Wingman are the largest in our test. And they can be deployed from the outside of the tool. Only our Top Pick winning Leatherman Squirt PS4 is similarly equipped. But those are much smaller.
Credit: Megan Seel
How does Leatherman do it? It's as if Ferrari made a $16,000 commuter car. The Leatherman Wingman brings the manufacturer's long pedigree, quality craftsmanship, and excellent selection of functions to a rock-bottom affordable tool. In addition to being an excellent value, the Wingman includes functions virtually none of the other tools feature. The return spring in the pliers reduces hand strain and increases efficiency in extended use. The integrated pocket clip keeps the device handy for those that wish to carry it this way. The package opener is quirky, but invaluable for the busy OGL tester receiving new products every week. Leatherman does make a mysterious compromise in leaving out wire cutters. Intuitively anyway, it seems that integrating wire cutters into the pliers would add virtually zero cost. Also, the lone blade is made of mid-grade steel and features a hybrid straight/serrated edge. A blade like this will require regular sharpening. The straight portion is easily reconditioned, but sharpening serrations requires special techniques and tools. Our advice: be careful with use. Use the straight portion whenever possible, saving the serrations for tough tasks like cutting thick rope. Sharpen the straight portion periodically, and once a year employ an inexpensive professional service to resurface the entire blade, serrations and all.

Jediah Porter
Buying Advice
How we Test
Helpful Buying Tips
Get More OutdoorGearLab
Follow us on Twitter, be a fan on Facebook!
Subscribe to our Newsletter
Recent Editor's Award Winners