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Hands-on Gear Review

Leatherman Wave Review


Multi-tool Knife

  • Currently 4.4/5
Overall avg rating 4.4 of 5 based on 2 reviews. Most recent review: March 18, 2014
Price:   $92 List | Varies from $90 - $91 online
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Pros:  Functional and well-built
Cons:  Relatively simple design
Manufacturer:   Leatherman
Review by: Jediah Porter ⋅ Review Editor, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ September 29, 2013  
Our testers enjoyed the practical and well thought-out design of the Leatherman Wave. This is a tool intended for use by the masses. Each of the modest selection of tools is functional and sturdy. Leatherman Inc. has been in the multi tool business for many years, and that experience shows in the Wave. Just like our Editors' Choice winner Leatherman Charge TTI the Wave has the most commonly-used tools on the "outside" and readily accessible. This also means that these handiest blades and saws are larger than those on other tools. As compared to the Gerber Multi Plier 600, (otherwise similar in overall size and weight) both main blades are over a half inch longer on the Wave.

RELATED: Our complete review of multi-tool knives

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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

The Leatherman Wave sits smack in the middle of a practical and well-built spectrum of tools from this venerable manufacturer. While it didn't win any of our awards, it is entirely possible this may be the tool for you.

Performance Comparison

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A bristle of tools on the rock-solid Leatherman Wave.
Credit: Jediah Porter


The Leatherman Wave doesn't have the most functions in our test, nor are any of the functions particularly unique. However, it does have the combination that our testers have deemed to be essential on a multi-tool. And then some, of course. Only our Editors' Choice winner had the same magic combination of a nice blade, tight pliers with wire cutters, scissors, and integrated bit drivers. The Leatherman Charge TTI comes with a full selection of bits for their proprietary driver while the Wave simply comes with a single, dual-purpose bit. Of course, additional bits can be purchased for any Leatherman tool equipped with the driver, the Wave included.


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The Wave's serrated blade (and straight blade, and wood saw, and metal saw) open from the "outside". In other words, one need not deploy the pliers in order to engage any of these tools.
Credit: Jediah Porter
The Leatherman Wave is a fistful of easy-to-use functionality. As noted in our Multi-Tool Buying Advice, no multi-tool will be perfectly functional in all its applications. However, the Wave comes close. Both blades can be opened with one hand, and securely lock open. In pliers mode the handles are smooth and allow the user to apply significant leverage. All locking mechanisms and tool deployments are intuitive and clear. If you choose to equip the Wave with the optional pocket clip (see "Other Versions and Accessories", below) the tool sits on the edge of a right-hand pants pocket in an orientation such that the user can pull the tool out and deploy the main blade in a single motion.


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The thick and durable leather holster for the Wave holds it securely, and readily lets it out for usage.
Credit: Jediah Porter
As shipped, the Leatherman Wave is relegated to loose pocket carry or belt-mounted holster transport. The included black leather holster is sturdy and simple. With the addition of an after-market pocket clip, the Wave can be upgraded to OutdoorGearLab's preferred carry method. The Wave weighs virtually the same as our Editors' Choice Winner, and slightly more than the average in the test.

Construction Quality

This is a clean, sturdy tool. The materials aren't the flashiest, but they'll get most jobs done. The main blade is constructed less expensively than the main blades on the Charge TTI and Top Pick winner SOG PowerAssist.


With construction that will last a lifetime and a price that won't break the bank, the Wave is a great value in our book. We had to give our Best Buy award to the Wave's cousin Leatherman Wingman on account of the Wingman's almost outrageously low price and similar construction quality. As compared to the Wingman, the extra cost of the Wave gets you better ergonomics, far more features, two larger blades, and is customizable with aftermarket products.


While the Leatherman Wave doesn't have flashy exotic materials in its construction, or super-compact portability, or advanced mechanical advantage, it is an excellent work-horse tool in a category where work-horse status is exactly what the user may be looking for. The Wave has many of the advantages of our Editors' Choice winner, without the astronomical cost.

Other Versions and Accessories

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Leatherman Wingman
  • Best Buy Award Winner!
  • Well-made with 14 different tools
  • Simple, useful tool design
  • $39

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Leatherman Charge TTI
  • Editors' Choice Award Winner!
  • Top of the line tool
  • All the classic accessories plus changeable bit screwdriver
  • $171

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Leatherman Squirt PS4
  • Top Pick Award Winner!
  • Small sized, highly functional Leatherman tool
  • Super sharp knife
  • $36

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Bit Assortment Kit
  • 42 different bits
  • compatible fit with most Leatherman's
  • $24

Jediah Porter

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews

Most recent review: March 18, 2014
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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Average Customer Rating:   
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100% of 1 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
3 Total Ratings
5 star: 67%  (2)
4 star: 33%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
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   Mar 18, 2014 - 12:39am
Nico · Hiker · Taupo, New Zealand
I would agree with everything already said in the review. There is, however, a very important bit of info about Leatherman products that is missing here: their 25 year warranty. In short, should you have any problem with your Leatherman (including broken bits), you can send it back and, in most cases, will either get it fixed or receive a new one for free. This, to me, and quite apart from the great quality products, is a massive plus for Leatherman. Perhaps it would be worth adding this info to the overall review?

But back to the Wave…

I have owned the first Wave's version for 12 years, broke it a couple of years ago, sent it back to Leartherman and received a brand new version of the Wave. What follows is therefore a long-term review of the Wave, with well over a decade of use and abuse. Both old and new versions are excellent. The new version brought some welcome additions (better / more comfortable design, locks on all bits and blades, removable Philips, better blades, plier and scissor). Here are my main uses:
  • on the job (volcanologist): it is always with me when going to fix or install monitoring instruments. Of course, it does not replace a sturdy professional toolbox. But it will allow 90% of the fixes I need to make (cut wires, lock/unlock bolts, screw/unscrew things). In other words, it prevents me from having to get the pro toolbox in the vast majority of the jobs I have to carry, which is absolutely brilliant.
  • in the wild: the main tools I use are the blade, saw (in the woods), plier (for big splinters), can opener, scissors and file (for first aid, manicure and… pedicure while climbing, hiking or trail running). Although I hardly have to screw anything while out there, the thin screwdriver for glasses comes VERY handy to fix a loose screw. The blade is sharp. It is a bit more difficult to clean than a normal knife after chopping some cheese, should you chose to do so. But this is a very minor annoyance, and common to eating with a multi-tool (i.e., not a problem particular to the Wave). The saw is a wee-bit flexible, as with most multi-tools, yet very sharp and surprisingly resilient. I easily cut heavy-duty walking sticks used for river crossing with it.
  • at home: how often do you need to do a quick fix, yet don't have the tools handy and procrastinate indefinitely until "tomorrow"? If you're anything like me: all the time. Having the Wave with me and/or on sight allows me to fix 99% of the minor household quirks: loose screw in cupboard, window sill, pan handle. The fact that you can open - with one hand - the knife's blade without opening the whole tool is a massive advantage. It is therefore a perfect replacement for a normal pocket knife, and just as easily usable.

Summary: great versatile product. Excellent quality. Has anything you need for a trip (even long). Should you just need a small beefed up pocket knife without scissors, saw, etc, I would also recommend the Leatherman Skeletool CX (not reviewed here). It is a lightweight, more minimalist multi-tool that is lighter in the pocket than the Wave (or the Charge). That being said, for extended trips, I will stick to the Wave.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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Leatherman Wave
Credit: Leatherman
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