Reviews You Can Rely On

The 8 Best Multi-Tools of 2024

We put the best multi-tools from brands like Leatherman, Gerber, Victorinox and more through a gauntlet of real-world tests
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Best Multi-Tool Review (The multi-tool market is ever evolving and maturing, and there are some truly indispensable options available now.)
The multi-tool market is ever evolving and maturing, and there are some truly indispensable options available now.
Credit: Kyle Hameister
By Kyle Hameister, Jediah Porter, & Jeff Dobronyi  ⋅  Apr 25, 2024

The Best Multi-Tools for 2024


Our team of veteran gearheads has tested more than 40 different multi-tools over their lives, and we recently bought and tested 22 of the best models to compare side-by-side. We used each tool for months while tackling tasks around the house, workplace, and while camping. From bike repairs to light fixture installation to removing fish hooks, we assessed each model based on functions, construction, ergonomics, and portability. Our team boasts decades of combined handy-person experience and unmatched attention to detail. We tested each product for at least a few months, and in some cases, we have products in our lineup that have been actively tested for more than ten years. We've compiled this comprehensive review to help you find the best multi-tool based on your needs and budget.

Our team of experts has tons of experience with the tools you might need to help you through gear fixes, whether in the backcountry or your backyard shed. Our in-depth reviews span all sorts of markets; for example, the best pocket knives, the best camping axes for chopping wood, and the best folding saws you might need in the wilderness. Our bike experts have also tested the best bike-specific multi-tools for fixes on the road or trail.

Editors' Note: Our multi-tool review was updated on April 25, 2024, to ensure our lineup is current and that we stand by our award choices. We added additional products and offered advice on what alternative products we recommend to some of our award winners.

Top 22 Multi-Tools - Test Results

Displaying 1 - 5 of 22
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Awards Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award  Best Buy Award  
Price $230 List$189.95 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$149.95 at REI
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Check Price at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$80 List
$57.98 at Amazon
Overall Score
86
82
71
74
64
Star Rating
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Pros Impact surfaces, one-handed operation, swappable bits, fantastic knife blade steelTitanium handle, S30V steel blade, modular portability, full functionsLarge, excellent construction, full-size functions, customizableComprehensive, well-made, aftermarket accessories and carry optionsBeefy and large, great pliers leverage and blades, assisted opening and externally accessed
Cons Play in the hinges, too big for everyday carryHeavy, expensive, squashed-bit driverHeavy and large, limited portability, proprietary bit driverProprietary bit driver, no pocket clip includedHeavy to carry, accessing non-blade tools is time consuming
Bottom Line ARC is the multi-tool world's top dog. Combining premium materials and tool selection with the innovative FREE Tech system for one-handed use, the ARC is almost impossibly usefulThis exceptional product is equipped with almost every imaginable tool, organized and optimized for compact functionA large, heavy tool that does all you might need but is hard to carry aroundA full-function multi-tool from a great manufacturer at a very reasonable priceA no-holds-barred pliers-based 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 ARC Leatherman Charge+ TTi Leatherman Surge Leatherman Wave+ SOG PowerAssist
Functions (40%) Sort Icon
9.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Construction Quality (25%)
9.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
5.0
Ergonomics (20%)
9.0
7.0
6.0
7.0
8.0
Portability (15%)
6.0
6.0
3.0
5.0
5.0
Specs Leatherman ARC Leatherman Charge+ TTi Leatherman Surge Leatherman Wave+ SOG PowerAssist
Number of Functions 20 + bits 19 + bits 19 + bits 18 + bits 16
Closed Dimensions (Measured) 4.3"L x 0.7"D 4.0"L x 0.8"D 4.5"L x 0.8"D 4.0"L x 0.7"D 4.6"L x 0.8"D
Weight 8.6 oz 8.8 oz 12.2 oz
(14.3 oz w/ case)
8.5 oz
(9.5 oz w/ case)
9.3 oz
Blades and Type 1 straight drop point 1 serrated gut hook type, 1 straight drop point 1 straight, 1 serrated 1 straight, 1 serrated 1 fully serrated, 1 straight edge
Full Length w/ Primary Blade Open (Measured) 7" 7" 7.6" 6.9" 7.5"
Primary Blade Effective Edge Length (Measured) 2.5" 2.8" 3.1" 2.8" 2.7"
Pliers type Needlenose, standard with 2 replaceable wire cutters Needlenose with wire cutters, crimper Needlenose, regular, wire cutters, hard-wire cutters, crimper Needlenose, regular, wire cutters, hard-wire cutters, crimper Needlenose
Full Length w/ Pliers Open (Measured) 6.4" 6.2" 7.1" 6.3" 7.0"
Locking Tools? All but pliers All but pliers All but pliers All but pliers All but pliers
Scissors? Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Number of screwdrivers 4 1 integrated, many bits included, more available aftermarket for proprietary driver 4 included, more available aftermarket for proprietary driver 5 included/integrated, more available aftermarket for proprietary driver 4
File? Yes Yes, wood/metal & diamond-coated Yes, wood/metal & diamond-coated Yes, wood/metal & diamond-coated Yes
Saw? Yes Metal and wood Yes Yes No
Openers Can, bottle Can, bottle Can, bottle Can, bottle Can, bottle
Tools Accessible Without Deploying Pliers? All Blades, saw, file Blades, saw, file Blades, saw, file Straight blade, serrated blade
Other Important Features One-handed operation, extra included swappable bit drivers, replaceable wire cutters, impact surface Ruler, cutting hook, wire stripper Ruler, awl, wire stripper Ruler "V-notch" cord and webbing cutter
Sheath Included? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Other Carry Options Pocket clip, sheath with extra bits Pocket clip, key ring Pocket Pocket Pocket, lanyard hole


Best Overall Multi-Tool


Leatherman ARC


86
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Functions 9.0
  • Construction Quality 9.0
  • Ergonomics 9.0
  • Portability 6.0
Number of functions: 20 + bits | Weight: 8.6 oz
REASONS TO BUY
Prominent impact surface
One-hand operable
Many included accessories
Premium knife blade
REASONS TO AVOID
Some play in hinges
Cost

The Leatherman ARC is really in a league of its own. It includes some of the more innovative features and systems that Leatherman has quietly been moving from their limited edition Garage series to larger production run tools in recent years (such as the FREE P4). But the ARC further builds on the FREE platform with upgraded materials and accessories to move in line with their other high-end offerings. Make no mistake, this is now the top of Leatherman's line, so be forewarned it will cost a pretty penny to get your hands on one (though a few groups such as teachers, military vets, and students qualify for a 30% discount).

FREE tech means all tools (but the pliers) are accessible while closed, and every tool can be deployed one-handed - a stark contrast from the action of traditional multi-tools. Many of the included tools are standard fare for LM but a few are especially noteworthy. We love the prominent impact surface on one end, the full-length file has a perfect combination of cuts and grits, and the two-bit drivers both come with swappable bits. The biggest splash, however, is the knife. More specifically, with the blade steel used - MagnaCut. Straight from the mouth of its inventor, Dr. Larrin Thomas, the “hardness-corrosion resistance balance of MagnaCut is very impressive,” and the knife world is in enthusiastic agreement. Simply put, this alloy means your knife will last a very long time and hold its edge extremely well, meaning fewer sharpenings. ARC's hefty price tag is largely due to MagnaCut, so decide if a top-end knife is truly needed on your own multi-tool. For a great tool at a lower price point, you could try the Leatherman Surge or the SOG PowerAccess Deluxe.

Leatherman's excellent FREE tech in action on the knife and pliers deployment.
Credit: Kyle Hameister

Read more: Leatherman ARC review

Best Overall Multi-Tool for Everyday Carry


Leatherman Skeletool CX


75
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Functions 5.0
  • Construction Quality 9.0
  • Ergonomics 10.0
  • Portability 8.0
Number of functions: 5 + bits | Weight: 5.0 oz
REASONS TO BUY
Pocket clip carry
Low profile transport
Full-size tools
REASONS TO AVOID
Limited selection of features
Proprietary bit driver

As the ARC gracefully crams as much function as possible into its chassis, the Leatherman Skeletool CX is its antithesis. The Skeletool aims for maximum utility from fewer individual tools, making it more comfortable to carry - it is much less noticeable in your pocket or clipped to your belt as an everyday option. The couple features included with the Skeletool render it arguably more usable and cleaner than a more cluttered multi-tool, and being from Leatherman, it boasts high-quality materials and a solid build.

The few tools it includes — an upgraded steel blade, good pliers, screwdrivers, and a bottle opener — are the most often used by the average user, and this tool gets them all right. But that's it; if you're seeking all the functionality possible, you'll be let down with this stripped-down model. Our biggest complaint is, again, with the bit driver in the same squashed bit format as most of LM's offerings these days. With the Skeletool CX, Leatherman could have easily included a standard 1/4 inch bit driver. Still, we have tested this model for over four years, and it has slowly grown on us. Thus, the Skeletool is our top recommendation for a portable, daily multi-tool to leave clipped on your person at all times. With just a little higher price tag, the Leatherman Wave+ offers a bit more functionality than the Skeletool CX, or for a lower price option, you could try the modest, but functional SOG PowerAssist.

Read more: Leatherman Skeletool CX review

The Leatherman Skeletool CX's prominent clip is its defining feature. Use it to access tools lightning-quick.
Credit: Kyle Hameister

Best Bang for the Buck


Leatherman Wave+


74
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Functions 8.0
  • Construction Quality 8.0
  • Ergonomics 7.0
  • Portability 5.0
Number of functions: 17 | Weight: 8.5 oz
REASONS TO BUY
Feature-laden
Quality construction
REASONS TO AVOID
Limited stock carry options
Compromised materials

The Leatherman Wave+ brings heaps of value to the LM lineup. They take 90% of what makes other popular tools, such as the standout Charge+, so impressive, then sell it for 60% of the cost. What you get is an excellent value in a full-sized tool, which LM claims is the best-selling multi-tool on the market. We should note that the Wingman is less expensive by a significant margin but makes more feature and material compromises accordingly. For a full-featured tool, the Wave+ is still the bargain shopper's best choice.

Compared to the Charge+ (which is a better comparison to the Wave than the also excellent ARC), the Wave+ has a less sophisticated blade and frame materials (though the average user may not notice the 0.3 oz weight savings of the steel scales here, vs. titanium on the Charge). It also does not come with as many accessory bits, a pocket clip, or a lanyard loop that Leatherman includes with the Charge - though it does ship with a holster, and aftermarket options are available. Featuring the same general layout, tool selection (including replaceable wire cutter jaws), and dimensions, the Wave+ is essentially a less premium Charge+, and many users may not be able to justify the extra money the Charge+ commands. Indeed, if the referenced compromises are acceptable to you, save some dollars and choose the Wave+.

Read more: Leatherman Wave+ review

Dedicated serrated and straight blades, a saw, and combined files as seen on the Leatherman Wave+.
Credit: Kyle Hameister

Best on a Tighter Budget


Leatherman Wingman


59
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Functions 5.0
  • Construction Quality 5.0
  • Ergonomics 8.0
  • Portability 7.0
Number of functions: 10 | Weight: 6.8 oz
REASONS TO BUY
Low price
Solid quality
Excellent tool selection
REASONS TO AVOID
Hybrid blade is difficult to sharpen
Blade is also short
No accessory bit driver

The Leatherman Wingman brings the manufacturer's long pedigree, quality craftsmanship, and an excellent selection of functions to a very affordable product. Plus, the Wingman includes features virtually none of the other models do: the package opener is quirky but invaluable, the return spring in the pliers reduces hand strain and increases efficiency in certain types of extended use, and the scissors are the biggest on any multi-tool we've tested. They lock in place and have a great spring-action to them as well — they're so nice we think users won't need to seek out a stand-alone pair in most cases.

At this price point, however, there are some compromises. The lone blade features a hybrid straight and serrated edge made of mid-grade steel, which will require regular sharpening depending on your use. The straight portion is easily reconditioned, but sharpening serrations requires special techniques. Further, that blade is significantly shorter than it needs to be. There is almost a half inch of extra space in the handle that Leatherman conspicuously does not utilize. Overall, you get far more than you pay for with the Leatherman Wingman, including some truly unique features not seen in higher-end models. If you use a multi-tool for basic tasks but are prone to losing it, the Wingman won't hurt quite as much to replace. The Havalon Evolve offers just a little better function and construction if you can spend just a little more, or you could check out the Gerber Gear Armbar Drive to spend a little less for comparable performance.

Read more: Leatherman Wingman review

The spring-loaded pliers on the Leatherman Wingman are unique, and incredibly helpful for regular chores.
Credit: Kyle Hameister

Best Professional-Grade Multi-Tool


Leatherman Charge+ TTi


82
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Functions 9.0
  • Construction Quality 9.0
  • Ergonomics 7.0
  • Portability 6.0
Number of functions: 19 + bits | Weight: 8.8 oz
REASONS TO BUY
Sophisticated materials and construction
Great suite of features
Thought-out layout
Longevity
REASONS TO AVOID
Weight
Price

The Leatherman Charge+ TTi is a versatile tool absolutely packed with premium features and materials, which we feel is more suited for professionals and tradesmen. Being a traditional folder that requires two hands to fold open, it is robust in a way comparable models can't fundamentally be. The hinges here are smooth and easy to open, but without any unwanted play whatsoever; for cranking, torquing, and other heavy-duty tasks, the Charge+ beats nearly every other multi-tool we've tested.

It is a beast, though. Titanium scales help some to keep the weight manageable, but it's still an above average 8.8 oz, and thick enough that you'll probably want to carry it in the included belt holster. It has a diamond coated file, and another top-notch steel (S30V stainless) for the main knife, so the Charge+ TTi is a truly premium product. That also means it comes with a premium price tag. Still, the Charge+ TTi is a fantastic product that pulls no punches for anyone needing “the best” for frequent use. If you don't want to make quite the investment on a multi-tool, you might be better off with the Skeletool CX or the Wave+.

Read more: Leatherman Charge+ TTi review

Along with the Surge, Leatherman has upgraded their higher end models in recent years with replaceable wire cutter jaws, as seen here on the Charge+ TTi.
Credit: Kyle Hameister

Notable for Outdoor Survival


Leatherman Signal


73
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Functions 7.0
  • Construction Quality 8.0
  • Ergonomics 7.0
  • Portability 7.0
Number of functions: 17 | Weight: 7.6 oz
REASONS TO BUY
Fire starter
Blade sharpener
Whistle
Solid tool otherwise
REASONS TO AVOID
No scissors
"Squashed" bit driver

The Leatherman Signal earns mention here for its truly unique set of functions. This is arguably the most specialized tool we review here. Its feature set is, initially, familiar. It has a blade, a saw, and some openers and drivers. Looking deeper, though, it also includes a hammer surface, fire starter striker, signal whistle, and blade sharpener. To accomplish this, the Signal includes two parts that can be removed from the body/arms of the pliers. It is sold with a belt sheath and also includes the option of pocket clip or carabiner carry.

We wish the main blade were not serrated. Yes, a serrated edge cuts a few things a little better than a straight edge, but that serrated edge suffers or completely fails to cut many other things, especially when it is dulled. And once dull, a serrated edge is more difficult to sharpen, whereas the included sharpener on the Signal could be used to resurface an entirely straight-edged blade. The inclusion of a serrated portion on the blade seems like a marketing move more than a practical one. The Signal is unique in Leatherman's lineup in that it has their proprietary squashed bit driver, AND a standard 1/4 inch bit holder (though it isn't oriented in an ideal fashion). For survivalists looking for a multi-tool designed with bushcraft in mind, while also functional around the home, the Signal is a great piece of gear to add to the kit. The SOG PowerAccess is another great option for just a little less, or if you are willing to invest more in your multi-tool, the ARC is a great all-around option.

Read more: Leatherman Signal review

multi-tool - yes, this is the very start of a campfire. all that was required was...
Yes, this is the very start of a campfire. All that was required was dry grass and the parts of the Leatherman Signal. It didn't even require any special skill or patience.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Best Screwdriver Tool


Gerber Center-Drive Plus


61
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Functions 7.0
  • Construction Quality 5.0
  • Ergonomics 7.0
  • Portability 4.0
Number of functions: 16 + bits | Weight: 9.9 oz
REASONS TO BUY
Extended, centered bit driver
One-handed plier deployment
One-handed, large main blade
REASONS TO AVOID
Several tools require deploying pliers to access
Rattly construction
Main blade is partially serrated

The Gerber Center-Drive Plus takes all we liked about the original Center-Drive and adds scissors and a larger blade, which we deem significant and worthy upgrades. The screwdriver configuration has a long extension and a handle ready for more torque. This award-winning Gerber centers the bit along the handle's long axis, vastly improving ergonomics and making it feel like a true, single-purpose screwdriver. The 12 bits that come with this model fit inside the included leather sheath along with the tool.

If your multi-tool use includes a lot of driving screws, choose the Center-Drive Plus. It is the best tool we know of for that purpose. Otherwise, it's more average as a general multi-tool. The rattly construction holds up well enough but doesn't instill much initial confidence. We also noted that the pliers are more prone to pinching than more sophisticated options, and accessing tools other than the blade, pliers, and bit driver requires multiple steps. For a bit more solid construction, check out the Victori SwissTool Spirit X or the Gerber Gear Armbar Drive.

Read more: Gerber Center-Drive Plus review

multi-tool - the centering of the bit driver makes the gerber center-drive plus...
The centering of the bit driver makes the Gerber Center-Drive Plus easier to use than others.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Best One Piece Multi-Tool


Geekey


50
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Functions 5.0
  • Construction Quality 5.0
  • Ergonomics 2.0
  • Portability 9.0
Number of functions: 16 | Weight: 0.77 oz
REASONS TO BUY
Extremely portable
Smoking bowl
1/4 inch driver
REASONS TO AVOID
Many functions ineffective

The Geekey Multi-Tool is a fun little tool, densely packed with features in every nook and cranny. In the subset market of what are called one piece multi-tools, which have no moving parts, the Geekey is a standout. Small enough to find a home comfortably on a keychain, you'll mainly find yourself using this guy for lighter-duty tasks. Many features are over-engineered, ultimately resulting in many of them not quite getting the job done in the real world. But that sheer engineering focus does result in some truly useful features, too.

We particularly love the 1/4 inch driver wrenches (one open-ended, one closed), which effectively expands the feature set to include every type of screwdriver tip you can dream up. But the Geekey Multi-Tool's main focus, it seems, isn't necessarily on utilitarian tool use, but more on societies vices. The bottle opener works every time, and the most innovative hidden feature is that it doubles as a smoking pipe. The bowl will need to be cleaned between uses more often than a dedicated tool, but it gets the job done in a pinch. Another option for a one piece multi-tool is the Gerber Shard. While it is a much cheaper option, it's also not as functional. For a comparable multi-tool, you could consider the Amazon Basics 10-in-1 Stainless Steel Safety Lock.

Read more: Geekey Multi-Tool review

multi-tool - the geekey is a handy little number and performs simple tasks pretty...
The Geekey is a handy little number and performs simple tasks pretty well for a one-piece multi-tool.
Credit: Kyle Hameister

Best Keychain Multi-Tool


Gerber Dime


47
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Functions 3.0
  • Construction Quality 6.0
  • Ergonomics 3.0
  • Portability 9.0
Number of functions: 9 | Weight: 2.3 oz
REASONS TO BUY
Small
Sturdy
Always-ready bottle opener
REASONS TO AVOID
Short blade
All included functions are tiny

The Gerber Dime virtually disappears on all but the most minimalist keychains and is smaller than your typical modern car key fob. A few essential tools are packed into this dense nugget. We are confident that you will find use for one or more of these functions every day; Having it as handy as your keys will mean that you have it and will use it more than maybe other multi-tool options on this list.

We describe it as a keychain tool, but it could also be considered a keychain bottle opener that happens to do other things. The bottle opener protrusion is always available and might be all you need to justify a Dime purchase for yourself or the favorite tinkerer or beer enthusiast in your life. It is the ready bottle opener that sets the Dime apart from other tiny folding-style multi-tools. You won't turn large bolts or do extensive whittling with the Dime, but for light-duty house and travel tasks, it is just right. Another option for your keychain is the Geekey Multi-Tool or the Victorinox Classic SD.

Read more: Gerber Dime review

multi-tool - the dime pliers are great for more technical use rather than in...
The Dime pliers are great for more technical use rather than in robust applications.
Credit: Rosie De Lise

Compare Products

select up to 5 products to compare
Score Product Price
86
Leatherman ARC
Best Overall Multi-Tool
$230
Editors' Choice Award
82
Leatherman Charge+ TTi
Best Professional-Grade Multi-Tool
$200
Top Pick Award
75
Leatherman Skeletool CX
Best Overall Multi-Tool for Everyday Carry
$90
Editors' Choice Award
74
Leatherman Wave+
Best Bang for the Buck
$120
Best Buy Award
73
Leatherman Signal
Notable for Outdoor Survival
$140
Top Pick Award
73
Leatherman Free P4
$150
71
Leatherman Surge
$150
67
SOG PowerAccess Deluxe
$80
64
SOG PowerAssist
$80
63
Victorinox SwissTool Spirit X
$145
62
Havalon Evolve
$80
61
Gerber Center-Drive Plus
Best Screwdriver Tool
$155
Top Pick Award
59
Leatherman Wingman
Best on a Tighter Budget
$70
Best Buy Award
58
Gerber Gear Armbar Drive
$45
51
Victorinox Swiss Army Huntsman
$52
50
Geekey
Best One Piece Multi-Tool
$23
Top Pick Award
47
Gerber Dime
Best Keychain Multi-Tool
$29
Top Pick Award
39
Amazon Basics 10-in-1 Stainless Steel Safety Lock
$15
37
Victorinox Classic SD
$24
37
Gerber Suspension Multi-Plier
$55
34
KeySmart MultiTool 5-in-1
$10
32
Gerber Shard
$7

multi-tool - vehicle issues are stressful enough, especially in remote areas...
Vehicle issues are stressful enough, especially in remote areas. Stack the odds in your favor when any sort of mechanical breakdown is likely and consequential by carrying a multi-tool and just the most rudimentary mechanical knowledge.
Credit: Rosie De Lise

How We Test Multi-Tools


As we do with all GearLab reviews, we started by scouring the market and looking back at the list of dozens of tools we have assessed over the years. We purchase the best, and each tool gets weeks of day-to-day testing that features a battery of exercises. Sometimes, our testing period is more like months or years. With each blade, we cut things such as tomatoes, rope, and wood. We turn rusted out screws and bolts and cut and bend wire clothes hangers. We use the other functions in their intended situations and press them to be used in an improvised fashion. As with all the testing we do, the most informative results are those gleaned in “real world” use. Recent remote car and trailer repairs, for example, highlighted some genuine observations of multi-tool functionality.

Our multi-tool testing and scoring are divided into four performance metrics:
  • Functions (40% of overall score weighting)
  • Construction Quality (25% weighting)
  • Ergonomics (20% weighting)
  • Portability (15% weighting)

Why Trust GearLab


Homeowner, camper renovator, world traveler, fix-it guy, and IFMGA mountain guide Jediah Porter coordinates our multi-tool review. We employed him initially for his mountain experience, but his “side hustles” qualify him for this category. Since we've known him, Jed has dabbled in vacation rental management, completely renovating a “Four Wheel Camper”, bicycle building, kitchen installation, apartment renovation, and roadside car repair. He uses a multi-tool almost every day, much to his own chagrin. He'd much rather be out skiing huge peaks and slicing cheese for charcuterie back in the tent. With each multi-tool, Jed solicits the input and opinions of other guides, professional contractors, hunters, motorcyclists, fishing enthusiasts, and tradespeople.

Recently, fellow IFMGA mountain guide Jeff Dobronyi joined the review team. Jeff's busy outdoor lifestyle requires having the right tool for the job, whether that's repairing ski gear or mountain bike components in the field doing repairs, or slicing food at home.

Industrial designer, forever tinkerer, home renovator, and general Colorado wilderness outdoor enthusiast Kyle Hameister coordinates our multi-tool reviews. We employed him initially for his product design experience on the TechGearLab side of things and found his affinity for tools and a-fixin' things made him perfect to carry over to this category. He carries and uses a multi-tool every day, and though he's sad to see his beloved Gen 1 Juice S2 retired, now he gets to cycle through a cadre of the best multi-tools on the market through his work with OGL.

Hidden tweezers and toothpicks can be found on nearly every...
Hidden tweezers and toothpicks can be found on nearly every Victorinox tool made.
A well-chosen multi-tool brings an undeniable utility to everyday life.

Analysis and Test Results


The multi-tool market is immense. Any single product that combines more than one tool is a “multi-tool.” Our investigations include products from several sub-categories, such as the One Piece Multi-tools without moving parts. But in general, most multi-tool options out there follow a traditional folding format and include most the common tools one has come to expect: pliers, a blade, and at least one screwdriver. We further delve into the market for niche tools that are targeted for specific use cases and users, such as those most interested in outdoor pursuits, or use on the job site. We also have a long list of multi-tools suitable for day-to-day, average use. Ultimately, we score each model across the same rubric to assess them equally and share our findings below.


Value


Value in multi-tools is a function of the purchase price and how it relates to functions, materials, construction, and ergonomics. We find that the materials and construction are the primary compromises. A multi-tool inherently has multiple tools. Whether cheap or expensive, your multi-tool can add value beyond a dedicated tool. On the other side of that coin, multi-tools naturally compromise on ergonomics. A stand-alone screwdriver will be better than one built into the handle of a pair of pliers regardless of how much you pay, but said pliers can absolutely compete with some cheaper ones in your toolbox based on the heftier handle alone. Climbing up the price tiers will generally get you a more robust design, flashier materials, and tighter tolerances. We've found that ergonomics don't necessarily increase appreciably with higher price tags.

Even within the “Value” category, we give out awards for specific applications and niche uses. There is the everyday carry value of the Leatherman Skeletool CX, which provides enough functionality to satisfy the majority of small tool needs in your day-to-day life, in a frame with multiple viable carry options. The relatively affordable Leatherman Wave+ provides almost the same performance as the top-ranked options like the Charge+ TTi or ARC at a significantly lower price. Similarly, you can find value even in lower-budget versions like the Leatherman Wingman which has fantastic scissors and spring pliers. Some models, like the Amazon Basics 10-in-1, cost less than a meal at many restaurants, but generally, you get what you pay for.

The Wingman's scissors are very capable and don't seem like a design afterthought.
Credit: Kyle Hameister

Functions


In assessing a product's functions, we count the components, compare those to what most consumers find most useful, and evaluate each feature's size and utility. Besides the sheer number of tools built into a given product, the design and usability of each count for much more. A product that has ten well-designed parts is more valuable than one with 20 minutely different functions crammed into it just to bump the numbers up. A good example is a combination straight and serrated blade — it's usually better having one or the other.


Particular functions are especially critical in day-to-day use. A nice blade, tight-and-pointy pliers with wire cutters, scissors, and integrated bit drivers are most valuable. The only tools in our test that have all the features on this list in high quality are the Leathermans Surge, Charge+ TTi, ARC, Wave+, and options from Gerber like the Center-Drive Plus. Additionally, there are those out there who will surely appreciate the innovative package opener on the Wingman and the Gerber Dime.

The Leatherman ARC has an large and solid impact surface that can be used as a hammer.
Credit: Kyle Hameister

Each company counts its functions and features differently. For instance, it is claimed that the Victorinox SwissTool Spirit X has 24(!) tools, most in our tested lineup. The full-sized SOG PowerAssist has claimed 16 features, same as the diminutive Geekey Multi-Tool, and we know you can infer the overall usability of each tool between the two options here. In most cases, the included functions and tools are similar, product to product, though some will choose to forego certain mainstays (looking at you, SOG, without scissors). Certain makers will focus more on marketing a high number of functions, Victorinox one of them, while others focus on offering top-tier usability with fewer included tools, specifically the Leatherman Skeletool series.

An important thing to consider in your shopping research is which tools have sold the farm to focus usability around one or two tools, in the hopes of capturing niche markets. The bit drivers on the Gerber Center-Drive Plus and Gerber Gear Armbar Drive have the best screwdriver function of our test fleet. The ARC caters to a knife-enthusiast crowd with its best-in-class knife. Even seemingly tiny tasks can have feature focuses, such as the Gerber Dime, which has an always-out bottle opener.

multi-tool - the gerber gear armbar drive has less functions than most multitools...
The Gerber Gear Armbar Drive has less functions than most multitools on the market, but it has a good screwdriver and blade, among other functions, in a small and easy-to-carry package.
Credit: Jeff Dobronyi

The Leatherman FREE P4 and its big cousin, the ARC, are particularly useful because of the speed of access to each function, as they butterfly open smoothly with one hand. Instead of friction (as on most other products), magnets and springs hold the hinges in place. Notably, the Free P4 does not have a bit driver at all, large or small. The ARC has two. They are in the squashed bit format Leatherman loves to push these days, but still, it's our top tool recommendation for a reason.

The Skeletool CX is a nearly full-sized minimalist tool, meaning that each function of the Skeletool is likely as large as you need it to be, and each is almost perfectly optimized for function. Our initial hesitations are pretty exclusively related to the bit driver. We keep repeating this, but we wish that Leatherman tools included a standard 1/4 inch bit driver instead of their proprietary configuration.

Nearly all the tools on the ARC are one hand operable, and accessible with the tool closed.
Credit: Kyle Hameister

The only model in our entire review that features a user-replaceable main blade is the Havalon Evolve. Havalon's proprietary scalpel-style blade interchange is unique and welcome for specific applications. The interchangeable blade is scalpel thin, which allows it to be exceptionally sharp but also flexible and flimsy. We wish the Havalon also included a more traditional blade on the Evolve for more substantial use. Aside from the blade, the Havalon Evolve feature set and layout are pretty similar to the Skeletool CX.

multi-tool - the wave+ fanned and on full display.
The Wave+ fanned and on full display.
Credit: Kyle Hameister

The SOG PowerAccess Deluxe is SOG's most feature-rich multi-tool, but it still comes up short compared to other options. Notably, it doesn't have scissors, as mentioned. It does have a clever (if redundant) suite of the screw, bit, and socket driving options. The feature set of the Leatherman Signal also deserves mention. The Signal is optimized for outdoor and survival use. It has numerous attributes that appear on no other tools in our test. There is a signal whistle, fire starter, hammer surface, and blade sharpener, all relatively rare in the tool sets of its competitors.

multi-tool - we shouldn&#039;t be surprised when a multi-tool includes a multi-surface...
We shouldn't be surprised when a multi-tool includes a multi-surface blade (serrated and straight). We wish these blades were all straight, but we must be in the minority here.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Construction Quality


The quality of manufacturing varies in the products we tested, but longtime market leader Leatherman seems to consistently impress us. Locking mechanisms built into hinges reveal the attention paid to detail, and to safety. Sturdy materials, tight manufacturing tolerances, and intelligent construction stand out in a tool the end-user could handle every day for years. The Charge TTi, Skeletool CX, SOG PowerAssist, Wave+, Surge, Signal, and Victorinox Swisstool all have excellent “out of the box” sturdy construction quality feels. Some of these more traditional folders may require oiling of their joints to reduce the friction, but they do feel bomb-proof regardless. In contrast, the slight play we see in the hinges of the ARC and Free P4 may mean they shouldn't be relied on for long-term or the heaviest duty tasks, but the precision machining that goes into a tool that can be entirely operated by one hand is a quality of engineering feat worth giving praise to as well.


The Gerber Dime is small and lacks the rugged construction of the others. Other tools like the Keysmart MultiTool 5-in-1 and the Geekey Multi-Tool have no moving parts at all. To miniaturize tools like these and offer them at reduced price points, manufacturers must make compromises in the components or steels specified.

multi-tool - we recommend you don&#039;t work on the regulator of your backyard...
We recommend you don't work on the regulator of your backyard propane tank. But if you must, a handy and effective multi-tool may do the trick.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Plier hinges are generally the most vulnerable to poor construction quality and are often what puts the definitive nail in a product's coffin. The quality of engineering here has improved dramatically across the industry over the years, though. Virtually all of our tested products hold up very well in this respect these days. In terms of the “smoothness” of construction, we appreciated the Swiss precision of the Victorinox SwissTool Spirit XC.

multi-tool - we felt the blade of the wingman could have been longer, given the...
We felt the blade of the Wingman could have been longer, given the unused space in the length.
Credit: Kyle Hameister

The Gerber Suspension Multi-Plier, SOG PowerAccess Deluxe, and Gerber Center-Drive Plus are nothing special in terms of construction quality. The Gerber Suspension is a little more tightly assembled, but the pliers flex, and the components are small and get dinged up when used. The slide-to-deploy pliers of the Center-Drive require loose tolerances, resulting in rattly construction that seems to hold up but doesn't inspire confidence. Similarly, an early tested version of the Center-Drive's main blade came to us with a bead of unpolished metal burrs along the very edge. It cut adequately, but that bead indicates sloppy manufacturing. A subsequent tested version, the updated “Plus”, had all the edges better finished than the original we tested.

multi-tool - the gerber center drive is innovative but a little rough. literally...
The Gerber Center Drive is innovative but a little rough. Literally. The machine-finished edge had a visible line of burrs at initial purchase. This is easily remedied with home sharpening, but shouldn't be necessary.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Ergonomics


The ergonomic quality of a multi-tool is a function of the handle shape's comfort, plus the accessibility and utility of the various features. Excellent ergonomics stand out right away, and quality becomes more apparent with use.


Most of our test models are a set of pliers with other parts built into the handle, where the pliers themselves fold into the handles. However, some multi-tools do this more elegantly than others. For the pliers (and wire cutters) to be most functional, the handle's exposed parts must be rounded and smooth. All of these products meet this test, with the Charge+ TTi and SwissTool being the most smooth-handled products. The plier handles on the Leatherman Free P4 and ARC, with their tool set “inside out”, are not as comfortable for really squeezing. Though they win major ergonomic points because most tools are accessible while the main tool is closed and with one hand, massively increasing the usability here. The Gerber Center-Drive Plus is pretty smooth but has more plier pinch potential than others on the market. Other and older models on the market aren't as comfortable. Leatherman's Skeletool CX has smooth plier handles, but the handles are a little thinner than ideal.

multi-tool - the leatherman brand is notorious for the &quot;squashed&quot; design driver...
The Leatherman brand is notorious for the “squashed” design driver bit.
Credit: Kyle Hameister

We found with the SOG PowerAssist, the closer the pliers handles come to one another, the more likely you are to pinch your hand while using them. The Gerber Suspension is best in this respect, with the Victorinox not too far off. Both of these have handles that curve away from one another, leaving plenty of room. Though otherwise very intelligently designed, the Center-Drive Plus and SOG PowerAssist have a fair amount of pinch potential. The Leatherman Charge, Wave+, and Surge all have moderate pinch potential.

Each of the functions is compromised by the fact they are bolted to other components. We gave high marks to devices with the most commonly used functions accessible with minimal folding and unfolding moves.

multi-tool - the wave+ scissors are good for more precise jobs.
The Wave+ scissors are good for more precise jobs.
Credit: Ashley DiRuggiero

Notably, the main blades of the following tools are accessible with one thumb and without deploying any other tools: Leatherman ARC, Wave+, Skeletool, Charge+ TTi, Signal, and Free P4; the Gerber Suspension, and Center-Drive Plus; the SOG PowerAccess Deluxe and PowerAssist; and the Havalon Evolve. One-handed opening for the blade is a great trend. A blade that deploys with one hand is vital to scoring high in the ergonomic department. Special mention must be given to the innovative ergonomic features of the SOG PowerAssist. The two blades deploy from the “outside” of the stowed pliers, and each has assisted opening that we see nowhere else in our multi-tool review. The pliers include a mechanical advantage gearing system that significantly increases the holding power. The SOG PowerAccess Deluxe has the same advantaged pliers, but the knife blade is hard to open with one hand, features no assist, and is much smaller than that on the PowerAssist.

multi-tool - this photo shows the geometry of the gerber center drive bit driver...
This photo shows the geometry of the Gerber Center Drive bit driver. It is a subtle thing, but that it aligns with the center of the handle really makes it easier to use.
Credit: Jediah Porter

The smaller products in our test make inherent ergonomics compromises. The very thing that makes the Gerber Dime great in portability makes it suffer in ergonomics, as the smaller features are just harder to operate.

The bottle opener of the Gerber Dime is the one exception (unless you include the one-piece tools, like the Geekey Multi-Tool). As an extension of the handle, this can be used without deploying any of the other attributes. Compromising very little on ergonomics, the Leatherman Skeletool is a relatively compact, “full-sized” product. The limited suite of tools on the Skeletool is entirely convenient to use. The ergonomics of the Havalon Evolve are pretty similar to those of the Skeletool.

multi-tool - the leatherman surge is heavy duty and user-serviceable for extended...
The Leatherman Surge is heavy duty and user-serviceable for extended electrical work.
Credit: Rosie De Lise

Leatherman's largest multi-tool is the ultra-sized Leatherman Surge. The size passes a critical threshold, and some of the tools are harder to use than those on a smaller tool, notably the knife blades. The closed handle is bulkier than the average, so large hands can securely grasp it under a heavy load or for extended periods.

The 1/4" Driver Bit Holder on the Geekey Multi-tool is such a great feature and gives such good leverage that we prefer to use it even for simple Phillips head screws over a dedicated screwdriver.
Credit: Kyle Hameister

Portability


A tool is only as useful as it is available. You're not going to beat the smaller options of our tested set here, inherently. Pull out your keys and you'll have access to the Dime, Geekey Multi-Tool, Keysmart 5-in-1, Gerber Shard, Victorinox Swiss Army Huntsman or the Victorinox Classic SD. With the larger options though, we generally liked ones that offered a variety of carrying methods. The Leatherman Charge+ TTi, although one of the larger competitors, can be carried with a pocket clip, attached to a lanyard or keychain, and stowed in the included rugged belt pouch. With aftermarket additions, the Leatherman Surge and the Leatherman Wave+ can be configured to carry the same way.


The Havalon Evolve is one of the few mid-sized multi-tools out there. Furthermore, the interchangeable blades and blade-changing tool take up space. Havalon ships the Evolve with a zip-closed carry case that holds the tool, extra blades, and blade-changing tool. The whole package is bulkier than most.

The Gerber Armbar Drive is a screwdriver-specific tool featuring a quarter-inch bit drive and a straight blade, all in a conveniently small package, making it a great choice for those who want to carry a small screwdriver at all times.

multi-tool - our smallest tested multi-tool, the keysmart 5-in-1 can handle light...
Our smallest tested multi-tool, the KeySmart 5-in-1 can handle light tasks in a pinch (literally).
Credit: Kyle Hameister

Out of the tools that include full-size features, the Leatherman Skeletool CX is the most portable. It accomplishes this by adding fewer features and offering virtually all of the most common carry options, but also includes an integrated carabiner-style clip that sets it apart (look here if you're the type to carry your keys on your belt loop!)

multi-tool - we love pocket clipped multi tools. havalon came screaming out of...
We love pocket clipped multi tools. Havalon came screaming out of the gates with their first product, nailing many of the performance and usability attributes we like best.
Credit: Jediah Porter

All the products tested except for the Armbar, Wingman, and Dime came with sheaths made for belts or backpack webbing. The Skeletool no longer comes with a sheath, but no matter — its carabiner clip is more than capable of making up for it. The Charge TTi, Wingman, Signal, Havalon, Free P4, and Skeletool come stock with a clip that can be clipped to the edge of one's front pants pocket, which really seems like a necessary feature for full-sized tools these days. The Wave+ and Surge can be equipped with an aftermarket pocket clip. The Dime disappears on a keychain, while the Suspension and Charge+ TTi (among many others) have keyring/lanyard holes. Models like the SOG PowerAssist, Amazon 10-in-1, and the Surge are large and are therefore only really feasible to carry them on-person in their sheaths.

multi-tool - the amazon basics 10-in-1 makes an effort at portability with its...
The Amazon Basics 10-in-1 makes an effort at portability with its carabiner-like clip, but the tool is so heavy and bulky that it is best carried in its included belt sheath.
Credit: Jeff Dobronyi

Conclusion


There's a broad and ever-expanding landscape of multi-tool options out there. From the outside, it might be hard to spot some of the important differences between these tools, and we hope that our review has helped you discern which will be the best to serve your needs. There are diamond-in-the-rough finds out there, and we work hard to stay on top of the market and get our hands on the best as often as we can. We conduct thorough examinations and sort our findings to deliver you the best possible information. What we present here is intended to help you quickly and effectively make the wisest purchase for your purposes, and we hope that it helps narrow down your choices.

Kyle Hameister, Jediah Porter, & Jeff Dobronyi