Leatherman claims their Wave+ tool is their best selling product. This is with good reason. For the most part, it contains all the same features as the top-of-the-line Editors' Choice Leatherman Charge TTI at half the price. The materials are less flashy on the Wave, one of the blades is significantly different and Leatherman ships the Wave+ with minimal accessories while outfitting the Charge TTI with all the bells and whistles. Otherwise, though, the Wave+ is the same. The innovative external access to the blades and saws are the same, as is the presence of Leatherman's proprietary bit driver. The scissors of the Wave are tight and handy, and the ergonomics are on point. No tool that scores this high is as affordable. The value of the Wave+ earns it our Best Buy Award.
Leatherman Wave+ Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Comprehensive, well-made, aftermarket accessories and carry options
Cons: Proprietary bit driver, no pocket clip included
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|Pros||Comprehensive, well-made, aftermarket accessories and carry options||Sophisticated, comprehensive||Large, excellent construction, full-size functions, customizable||Compact, light, with multiple carry options, smart, effective tools||Beefy and large, great pliers leverage and blades, assisted opening and externally accessed|
|Cons||Proprietary bit driver, no pocket clip included||Heavy, expensive||Heavy and large; limited portability. Proprietary bit driver.||Few features||Heavy to carry, accessing non-blade tools is time consuming|
|Bottom Line||A full-function tool from a great manufacturer at a reasonable price.||As a top of the line product, Leatherman has equipped the Charge TTI with every imaginable tool, organized and optimized for compact function; in an extravagant move, they have wrapped it in Titanium.||A large, heavy tool that does all you might need but is hard to carry around.||A multi tool that optimizes ergonomics and portability at the expense of the feature count.||SOG has manufactured a no-holds-barred pliers-based multi tool for the hard user; it is so rugged and large that only the most committed users will justify the bulk and mass.|
|Rating Categories||Leatherman Wave+||Leatherman Charge TTI||Leatherman Surge||Leatherman Skeletool CX||SOG PowerAssist|
|Construction Quality (25%)|
|Specs||Leatherman Wave+||Leatherman Charge...||Leatherman Surge||Leatherman...||SOG PowerAssist|
|Number of Functions||18 + bits||19 + bits||21||7||16|
|Weight (ounces)||8.5 oz. 9.5 oz with case||8.8 oz||12.2 oz. 14.3 oz with case||5oz||9.25 oz|
|Locking Tools?||All but pliers||All but pliers||All but pliers||All but pliers||All but pliers|
|Pliers Type||Needlenose, regular, wire cutters, hard-wire cutters, crimper||Needlenose with wire cutters, crimper||Needlenose, regular, wire cutters, hard-wire cutters, crimper||Needlenose with 2 wire cutters||Needlenose|
|Tools Accessible Without Deploying Pliers||Blades, saw, file||Blades, saw, file||Blades, saw, file||Blade||Straight blade and serrated blade|
|Blades and Type||1 straight, 1 serrated||1 serrated gut hook type, 1 straight drop point||1 straight, 1 serrated||1 straight drop point||1 fully serrated, 1 straight edge|
|Number of screwdrivers||5 included/integrated. More available aftermarket for proprietary driver||1 integrated. Many bits included, with more available aftermarket for proprietary driver||4 included, more available aftermarket for proprietary driver||4 included, more available aftermarket for proprietary driver||4|
|File?||Yes, wood/metal and a diamond-coated file||Yes, wood/metal and a diamond-coated file||Yes, wood/metal and a diamond-coated file||No||Yes|
|Saw?||Yes||Metal and wood||Yes||No||No|
|Openers||Can and bottle||Can and bottle||Can and bottle||Bottle||Bottle and can|
|Other important Features||Ruler||Ruler, cutting hook, wire stripper||Ruler, awl, wire stripper||None||"V-notch" cord and webbing cutter|
|Other carry options||Pocket clip, key ring||Carabiner style clip, pocket clip||Pocket, lanyard hole|
|Closed dimensions (Length by thickness, in inches)||4 x 0.7||4 x 0.8||4.5 x 0.8||4.3 x 0.6||4.6 x 0.8|
|Open Length (Pliers) (inches)||6.3 in||6.2 in||7.1in||6.2 in||7 in|
|Open Overall Length (Primary blade deployed) (inches)||6.9 in||7 in||7.6 in||6.8 in||7.5 in|
|Length of Primary Blade Effective Edge (inches)||2.8in||2.8 in||3.1 in||2.6 in||2.7 in|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Leatherman makes multi-tools at many incremental steps along a long continuum. At the top of the heap is the Editors Choice Leatherman Charge TTI. The materials in the Charge are top notch while the feature set and included accessories are comprehensive. The differences are few but important. Below we'll elaborate on the differences. For now, know that the Wave does almost all that the Charge does, especially if you source some of the aftermarket accessories.
The Leatherman Wave+ is exceeded by a couple of products, but not by much. Both of the tools that score better, overall, than the Wave also cost quite a bit more.
In some ways, the Wave+ has all the features you would want. There are pliers, scissors, wire cutters, two blades, two saws, a can/bottle opener, and a plethora of screwdriver options. The wire cutters are replaceable, the blades are good, and the screwdriver set is somewhat customizable. Using Leatherman's proprietary bit driver format, one can acquire almost all the driver bits you might desire. We wish that the bit driver was more readily compatible with 1/4" standard bits, but Leatherman has chosen to save some space (and sell more of their branded accessories) with the proprietary design. By our estimation, the one fixed flat-head screwdriver built into the Wave+ could be eliminated to make room for a full-sized 1/4" bit driver. This, plus making the pliers somehow lockable, would make the Wave/Charge family of multi-tools perfect. There is no such perfect multi-tool available, so we settle for one of the many excellent next tier options. The Wave+ has most of the features you could want at a pretty affordable price.
As compared to the Editors' Choice Leatherman Charge TTI, the Wave+ is pretty similarly equipped. The Charge has better steel in its main blade, a cordage cutting hook on the back of the serrated blade, and comes with many more bits than the Wave. Otherwise, they are exactly the same. The feature set of the Best Buy Wave+ is about the same as that on the much larger Leatherman Surge.
The Wave+ strikes a balance between size, weight, portability, and ergonomics. Some of the functions would be better if they were larger, but some would actually decline in functionality with increased size. For instance, when using the knife or saw blades, we wouldn't want the handle to be any larger. The pliers could be a little larger, and the handles are prone to pinching when there is something small between the pliers' jaws.
In terms of ergonomics, the Wave+ and the Charge are exactly the same. If anything, the smooth external plates of the Wave are a little more comfortable in some conditions than the texture on the Charge. The Leatherman Surge pliers are more handy and stronger, but the knife blades suffer on the Surge; the meaty handles require large hands for maximum pressure. As compared to the Top Pick Leatherman Crunch, the Wave pliers are less useful but the Wave blade orientation is much better.
Anytime a multi-tool knife blade opens from "inside" the folded pliers handles, the working edge of the blade is in line with the center of said handle. Better ergonomics are available when the knife blades open from outside the closed pliers handles, as they do on this tool. The blade is both easier to deploy and better in use.
Leatherman ships the Wave+ with a simple nylon belt sheath. You can also purchase an aftermarket pocket clip and/or lanyard ring. At around 8 ounces, the Wave+ is pretty typical in mass for a full-function multi-tool.
Only the Charge TTI, Best Buy Leatherman Wingman, Leatherman Skeletool, and Gerber Crucial come with integrated pocket clips. Most of our test team prefers this method of multi-tool carry. That the Wave+ can be configured this way is welcome and appreciated. Those that prefer belt holstering their multi-tool will dig the simple sheath that is included. Carried loose in your pocket the Wave+ is pretty smooth but heavier than you'd wish. Of course, the Leatherman Surge is even heavier. The Surge is half again the mass of the Wave+, clocking in at over 3/4 pound!
We've had absolutely no issues with the construction quality of the Wave+. All pivots are tight, and the overall build is stiff enough for all but the most stubborn of rusted tasks. The locks work reliably and the blades stay out of the way when using the pliers. And vice versa.
The Wave+ is built similarly to the Charge and the Surge, both also from Leatherman. All are assembled with threaded fasteners (instead of rivets) and all have just the right amount of friction built into the various hinges. The Editors' Choice Charge uses better steel in its main blade, and titanium for the handle, but is otherwise the same as the Wave. The Leatherman Surge feels stronger than the Wave, if only because it is so much larger. The overall feel of the Wave is similar to that of the Victorinox SwissTool and greatly exceeds the quality of the Best Buy Stanley 12-in-1.
We can't think of who shouldn't own the Leatherman Wave+. Of course, the Charge is better, but if you can afford the Charge, why not buy a Wave also? For your car or toolbox?
We can't think of another situation in which an Editors' Choice product has a sibling that is essentially the same, but 60% of the price. Most users will not notice the trade-offs in the Wave+ as compared to the Charge TTI. But everyone will notice saving $60.
There's no mystery why Leatherman indicates that the Wave+ is its best-selling multi-tool. It is nearly perfect, and the next step up is much more expensive.
— Jediah Porter