In a product category almost completely dominated by one manufacturer, Leatherman products are largely competing against their siblings. In this way, for absolute function, the Leatherman Charge TTI is better overall, the Leatherman Wingman is a better value, and the Leatherman Squirt PS4 is far smaller. Our awards reflect this. The only non-Leatherman award winner in our review is the SOG PowerAssist Multi-tool S66. In many ways, the Rebar is comparable to the SOG. In a category of practical, working tools, they are both purpose built work horses, as compared to the competition. They have each emphasized the pliers in their design, including the other tools almost incidentally. The Rebar stands out for its user-replaceable wire cutters, while the SOG is unique for the mechanical advantage linkage in the pliers. Comparing these two directly, the SOG is marginally more functional and burlier, while the Rebar is quite a bit smaller. If you like the no holds barred design of the SOG, but want something smaller, check out the Rebar.
Leatherman Rebar Review
Cons: Deploying any of the tools requires opening the pliers entirely.
Our Analysis and Test Results
Leatherman Inc. basically invented the pliers-based multi-tool category. Since then, the company has taken their products in various directions, some similar to the original in name only. The Rebar, however, seems to be a deliberate throwback to the original.
There are three basic strata of feature sets in our comprehensive review. At the top end are tools with the full suite of possible features, including modularity and clever solutions to cram tons of features into a single tool. Our Editors Choice product, the Leatherman Charge TTI represents this "top end". The Charge is the most feature-rich product we tested, but its cost and bulk reflects that. At the other end is stripped down products like the Leatherman Skeletool CX. The Skeletool is basically pliers with a bit driver and blade. Smack in the middle are tools like the Rebar. There are notable omissions (like scissors), but otherwise a full feature set. Importantly, the Rebar includes a standard set of tools, each of which is very well made and functional. By far the most distinguishing characteristic of the Rebar is its user replaceable and resharpenable wire cutters. For frequent wire and plier work, this is an amazing attribute on a pocket tool. No other tool in our review has this attribute.
As a sort of throwback to the original Leatherman design, the Rebar makes some ergonomic trade-offs. The latest trend in pliers-based multi tools is to access some or all of the other tools without having to deploy the pliers. This is a nice feature for a variety of reasons. For deploying commonly used tools like the primary blade for instance, there are fewer steps to go through. Often overlooked is the fact that an outside-accessed blade has its sharp edge facing away from the bulk of the tool. Nonetheless, there is a case to be made for the original Leatherman construction, the same construction the Rebar uses. Most importantly, having the tools on the closed pliers' inside means that they are on the deployed pliers' outside. As long as the edges of the outside edges of the pliers handles are rounded well, this leaves a smoother, straighter profile on the inside edge of the deployed plier handles. For frequent pliers use, the user could notice and appreciate this reduced pinch potential.
The Rebar tool is as smooth and compact as any of the full-service tools in our review. Clearly, the Top Pick Leatherman Squirt PS4 is quite a bit smaller, while the Leatherman Skeletool is lighter and includes a pocket clip. Neither of these tools have nearly the feature set of the Rebar. The Rebar, in terms of portability, is best compared to the Victorinox SwissTool Spirit X. Both of these are similar in size with smooth, rounded corners and included rigid leather cases.
In years of testing multi-tools, we have never had a single problem with the durability of Leatherman products. Every product they make seems to be strong and purpose built. As a more rugged offering, the Rebar lives up to its billing. The feel and performance is confidence inspiring and encourages vigorous use. It isn't light, nor is it weak. Lighter tools carry easier, but don't inspire the same confidence. In previous reviews, we've bent lightweight pliers backwards in relatively light application. We tested the Rebar to this standard and beyond, finding absolutely zero issues with the strength. All the tools open smoothly, lock as intended, and are fully serviceable. Like with any multi-tool, the included devices are compromises on the stand-alone version. Dedicated pliers will be stronger. Stand-alone screwdrivers are easier to use. A single-blade pocket knife will be easier to cut with. However, as compromised tools go, the Rebar is an excellent choice.
We heartily recommend this tool to electricians and fencers that will predominantly use the pliers and wire cutters. Because the blades and screwdrivers require deploying the pliers to access, we recommend something like the Victorinox or Leatherman Charge to those with more all-around uses.
If you fit the above description, using your multi-tool predominantly for the pliers and wire cutters, the Rebar is an excellent choice. It will long outlast its novelty and competition. For "every day carry" in which you want more general purpose tools like scissors and will use the blade a lot, our Best Buy Leatherman Wingman is surely a better value. The Rebar is stouter, with better individual tools, while the Wingman is easier to use and far less expensive.
The original Leatherman design was a strong and innovative product. The Rebar is a testament to the original layout, with just enough sophistication to reflect the intervening decades.
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: September 20, 2016
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