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Published Jan. 4, 2022

The best multi tools are the ones you carry and use—a lot. Every person has their own unique preferences and needs, so it’s impossible to pick one single product as the best multi tool for everyone. Even in a field of tools that are meant to “do it all,” each tool has its specialties.

There are a few leading brands that dominate the multi tool market, and they all make great products. The key is finding one that has the specialized tools you need for everyday use. Sometimes tools have features that you’ll never use, or a specific tool that you need is difficult to access or not well designed.  

I sorted through, carried, and used a variety of multi tools from several of the top brands to pick the best multi tools in several categories. Hopefully this helps you make an informed decision when buying.

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Things to Consider Before Buying a Multi Tool

How Will You Carry Your Multi Tool

The multi tool is a jack-of-all trades, and the key to its usefulness is having it with you. Some people like belt-pouch tools, some want to carry everything in their pockets. Having a multi tool with a million bells and whistles won’t do you any good if it’s so heavy that you don’t want to carry it. Usually, a multi tool is a stopgap to get the job done without having to hunt down the proper tools, which means that you need to have it with you at all times.

Tools You Need

Think about the jobs you encounter most often, then look at tools need for those jobs. Good pliers might be important to one person, but another may use a driver much more than pliers. You may need a good file or need a variety of driver bits handy. Pick a multi tool with the right combination of tools for you.

User Friendliness

The best multi tools are user friendly. The most useful features should be the easiest to access. If you’re using a driver a lot, you want it to be quickly accessible, and might want the multi tool to carry extra bits. If you use pliers often, you want them to be comfortable to use and easy to open. Your applications might demand that a tool that is easily operated with one hand. And sometimes, fewer features make a tool easier to use.

Best Full-Sized Multi Tool: Leatherman Curl

Leatherman

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Key Features

  • Material: 420 HC stainless steel
  • Weight: 7.5 ounces
  • Closed length: 4 inches

Why It Made the Cut

The Curl is our pick for the best full-sized multi tool because it’s simple to use, but also has a variety of useful features, versatile carry options, and bulletproof construction.

Pros

  • Can be carried in pouch or on pocket clip
  • Compatible with Leatherman bits and ratchet driver
  • Knife and file are accessible with tool closed
  • No complex locking mechanism for tools

Cons

  • No storage for extra bits on tool or pouch

Product Description

The Leatherman Curl is a classic-looking and feeling Leatherman that can be carried in its belt pouch but is slim and light enough to comfortably carry with the included pocket clip. Its needle-nose pliers are narrow and have perfect contact at the tips, and all tools are easy to access.

With the tool closed, you can access the pocket-knife blade and the file, which is crosscut on one side, and diamond coated on the other. It includes 15 tools in all, including a wire stripper, scissors, awl, and driver bit receiver. Tools are all easily accessible and smaller tools use a spring semi-lock with no button or switch; just press them closed to overcome the lock.

The selection of tools on the Leatherman Curl is simple, smart, and useful. It features a medium-sized flat head driver in addition to the driver bit receiver, which is compatible with the Leatherman bits and a ratcheting driver, which is very handy. The stainless-steel construction is durable and easy to maintain.

Best Mid-Sized Multi Tool: Leatherman Skeletool CX

The Skeletool CX is the best multi tool.

Key Features

  • Material: 154 CM stainless steel, DLC coating
  • Weight: 5 ounces
  • Closed length: 4 inches

Why It Made the Cut

The Leatherman Skeletool CX is the best mid-sized multi tool because it’s one of the handiest tools ever made. It carries like a pocket-knife, but has good pliers, a well-designed driver, and can carry an extra bit. It’s all utility and no fluff.

Pros

  • Carries and functions as a larger pocket-knife
  • Compatible with Leatherman bits and carries one extra on board
  • Handle is very comfortable for using both knife and pliers
  • Aftermarket accessories available

Cons

  • Pliers aren’t heavy duty
  • Limited tools on board

Product Description

The Leatherman Skeletool CX is a multi tool made for everyday carry. Its build is slender, and the pocket clip makes it feel like you’re just carrying a normal knife. In fact, at 4 inches long and just over half an inch thick, it’s about the same size as a medium-sized folding knife. It functions as such, but also offers key tools that fill the major roles of a multi tool for many users.

The driver is well designed and is located at the end of one handle. That handle can be snapped open independently for a longer functioning driver or held half open for more leverage. It uses Leatherman’s slim driver bits and carries an extra bit securely in the handle. You want to carry it with the Phillips bit installed though, as the flat head bit will dig into your hand while using the pliers.

The pliers are medium-duty but work well for finer tasks and they have pretty good wire-cutters. The handles are shaped to give a comfortable contoured grip and plenty of leverage when using the pliers. They aren’t a substitute for channel locks or a wrench, but for average use, I’ve found them to work well. The Leatherman Skeletool CX also has a carabiner/bottle opener designed into the handle.

Best Pocket Knife Multi Tool: Gerber Lockdown Drive

Gerber

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Key Features

  • Weight: 4.5 ounces
  • Length: 3.87 inches
  • Thickness: 0.5 inches

Why It Made the Cut

The Gerber Lockdown Drive is the best pocket-knife multi tool combination because of its minimalist design. It has the same fit and feel as a pocket-knife but features very useful additional tools.

Pros

  • Same profile and feel as a normal pocket knife
  • Sharp chisel tip on file
  • No. 11 Exacto-style blade is replaceable
  • Driver accepts normal quarter-inch bits

Cons

  • No pliers
The Gerber Lockdown Drive is the best multi tool.
In a pocket-knife-sized package, the Gerber Lockdown Drive offers several tools like a No. 11 blade holder and pivoting driver. Tyler Freel

Product Description

The Gerber Lockdown Drive is designed for those who need more than just a knife, but don’t want to go all-out on a multi tool. This is probably one of the best multi tools without pliers. It’s a slim-profiled tool that you’d easily mistake for a medium-sized folding knife. And it is a folding knife, but has much more under the hood. It clips and carries comfortably in your pocket just like any medium-sized folder.

This multi-tool features five main tools that are stacked inside the slim handle. A 2 ½-inch plain-edge folding knife, file, No.11 Exacto-style blade, awl, and a driver. The first four tools fold into and out of the handle like traditional pocket-knife blades, and the driver is on the opposite end of the handle.

The knife blade is a little small. The file is cross-cut on one side and single-cut on the other, with a sharp chisel tip. For finer tasks, the replaceable No. 11 blade is a great addition, and the awl is great for scoring or scraping. The driver includes a two-ended Phillips/flat bit, but can accept standard ¼-inch bits as well.

Best Keychain Tool: CRKT Knife Maintenance Tool

Key Features

  • Tungsten-carbide and ceramic sharpeners
  • Two drivers/bit holders
  • Bottle opener/flat screwdriver

Why It Made the Cut

The CRKT Knife Maintenance Tool is the best keychain multi tool because of its simple, tiny multi tool stores and its ability to touch up a knife. Plus, since it doesn’t have a blade, you can take it anywhere.

Pros

  • Stores bits and uses them to tighten screws on the go
  • Its compact size makes it convenient to keep on your keychain
  • No blade means you should be able to bring it anywhere

Cons

  • Not a wide variety of functions

Product Description

The CRKT Knife Maintenance Tool has a clear primary purpose: it’s designed to maintain your pocketknife. It features a glass-reinforced nylon handle with simple pull-through tungsten-carbide and ceramic honing sharpeners, as well as T6 and T8 ¼-inch Torx bits for keeping the small screws on your pocketknife tight. The key ring is hooked onto a steel flat head driver that doubles as a bottle opener.

There are two fold-out drivers, which function as bit holders as well. Although they come holding the two Torx bits, you can easily customize the tool for your own needs with any ¼-inch bits. In addition to magnetic retention, the closed position of the drivers keeps the bits from falling out. Both drivers also open and snap into position for parallel or perpendicular use with the handle.

Keychain tools can only do so much, and the ones that try to do everything mostly useless. Because this tool is so specific, it’s actually useful. The CRKT Knife Maintenance Tools is great for touching up or tightening screws on your knife, and with other bits it can be a handy little driver in a pinch.

Best Multi Tool Driver: Victorinox Swiss Tool Spirit X Plus with Ratchet

Victorinox

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Key Features

  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Length: 4.1 inches       
  • Weight: 7.4 ounces

Why It Made the Cut

The Victorinox Swiss Tool Spirit X is the best multi tool driver because everything about this kit is high-quality. The plier/multi tool itself is sleek, durable, and functional. The included ratchet driver system is easily the best I’ve used in a multi-tool package.

Pros

  • High-quality and precision built
  • Versatile and customizable driver set
  • Perpendicular-drive ratchet
  • Accepts ¼-inch bits

Cons

  • Belt-pouch carry only

Product Description

The Victorinox Swiss Tool Spirit X Plus with Ratchet includes the best driver system, but as a multi tool in general, it’s also one of the best I’ve used. It has all the common tools of a multi tool plier and most of them are accessible with the tool closed. It has a knife, can opener, bottle opener, fold-out Phillips and flathead drivers, wire stripper, chisel, scissors, and a nice file. The pliers are buttery-smooth, with a precise fit at the nose and well-contoured handles.

It looks classy, like something Grandpa would carry around in a worn leather pouch, rather than what a 30-something-year-old derelict like me would use to wrench on outboard motors and banging on stuff with. This would be my pick for best full-size multi tool if not for the fact that it is pretty much a belt-pouch-only setup. It could be carried loose in a pocket, but the whole package is designed to be carried on your belt.

The ratchet driver is where this package really stands out. The mini ¼-inch ratchet driver mechanism drives in a single direction, but you can install the bit from either side to drive clockwise or counter-clockwise. The pass-through bit socket features a snap-ring-style retainer to keep the bits in place. The driver is 4-inches long, and includes a 2 ¾-inch extension, which can be used to extend the ratchet handle or as a bit-holding extension. The ratchet driver snaps into a bit holder that includes six bits, with space open for four additional ¼-inch bits of your choosing. The driver doesn’t actually interface with the Spirit X tool itself, but fits neatly in the included leather pouch along with the tool.

Best Pliers: Leatherman Free P4

Key Features

  • Material: 420HC stainless steel
  • Length: 4.25 inches
  • Weight: 8.6 ounces

Why It Made the Cut

The Leatherman Free P4 is the best multi tool pliers because it’s easy to open, use, and close with one hand. Its precise, smooth pliers feature replaceable wire cutters, and have very little handle flex.

Pros

  • One of the easiest pliers to open and close
  • Smooth, precise pliers that aren’t loose or sloppy
  • Replaceable cutters
  • Tool includes wire stripper and pliers have an electrical crimper

Cons

  • Pipe-grip isn’t as big as some other pliers
  • Not compatible with replaceable driver bits
Leatherman Free P4 pliers is the best multi tool.
The pliers on the Leatherman Free P4 include replaceable cutters. Tyler Freel

Product Description

The Leatherman Free P4 can hold its own as a fantastic all-around multi tool, but most notably, it had the best pliers of all the multi tools I used. It comes with a belt pouch, but also includes a pocket clip (it’s small enough to comfortably carry in your pocket). Tools are accessible with the handles closed, and each tool locks open. The Leatherman Free P4 includes 2 knife blades, one plain-edged and the other is fully serrated. The blades lock open with the same system as the other tools. The lock is disabled by depressing the button on either side of the handle, not pressing a spring out of the way in the handle as many knife-locks operate.

The tools are a standard and useful. They include several flat drivers of varying sizes as well as a Phillips driver. It’s not compatible with removable bits. It also has an awl with a thread loop, wire stripper, a sturdy saw blade, file, as well as bottle and can openers. All the tools are easily accessed by pressing levers at the end of the handle to rotate them out for selection.

The pliers on the Free P4 are easy to open and operate. The handles are held closed by a magnet, which also aids in closing the tool quickly and easily. The handles swing loosely but are not sloppy. Upon fully opening, the handles snap into place and give you full control over the pliers. The tension in the plier is good, and even after use, it seems to maintain it well—some pliers get loose and sloppy. The needle nose is just under 1/10-inch wide with perfect contact at the end. The teeth provide a good grip but aren’t sharp or fine-edged (fine-edged plier teeth seem to be damaged more easily). It’s a strong plier as well, with very little handle-flex. A nice additional feature are the replaceable cutters for both soft and hard wire.

Best Multi Tool for Shooters: Leatherman MUT

Leatherman

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Key Features

  • Material: 420HC stainless steel, 154CM stainless steel, bronze, black oxide
  • Closed length: 5 inches
  • Weight: 11.2 ounces

Why It Made the Cut

The Leatherman MUT’s specific tools are specialized for maintaining guns and gear, and it has the most on-board driver bits of any tool I used.

Pros

  • It has several useful tools that other multi-tools don’t have
  • It comes with both long and short bits, and can store an additional Leatherman short bit
  • Features a hammer head which acts as a bolt override and pry tool
  • Equally useful as an EDC tool, not just for shooting

Cons

  • It’s big and heavy
Leatherman MUT multi tool.
The Leatherman MUT is designed for maintaining guns, but its multiple on-board bits and tools make it extremely useful. Tyler Freel

Product Description

The Leatherman Military Utility Tool, or MUT was designed specifically to aid in cleaning and maintaining guns and gear. It’s a folding plier that looks similar to many other multi tools, but with a few key differences. It includes a large half-serrated knife blade and a saw, both of which are accessible when the tool is closed.

Some of its unique features include a removable 1/8-inch punch and a bronze scraper. The punch is useful for disassembling firearms and can be removed and tapped with the hammer surface on the end of the tool. The bronze scraper is contoured to help remove carbon fouling from firearm parts without scratching or damaging the steel. Also unique to the MUT is a V-shaped cord/belt cutter in the hammer head. The pliers feature replaceable hard and soft-wire cutters, stranded wire cutters, and electrical crimpers.

This is an extremely useful tool for shooters but it’s also a useful tool in general. It’s big and heavy, but it does include a pocket clip as well as a pouch. The pouch includes a wrench that can be used to keep some scope mounts tight and features an AR front sight adjustment tool. You can order a smaller 3/32-inch punch that is useful for many pistol parts, and the multiple on-board bits are useful for many tasks. The “bolt-override” hook on the hammer head also happens to work great for things like opening paint cans.

Best Micro Multi Tool: SOG Powerlitre

Key Features

  • Materials: stainless steel, 5Cr15MoV steel blade, hard-cased black finish
  • Closed length: 3.25 inches
  • Weight: 4.6 ounces

Why It Made the Cut

The Sog PowerLitre is the best micro multi tool because it has the same tools as larger options, but in a pint-sized package. It’s unique ¼-inch bit-driver is innovative and effective.

Pros

  • Great selection of tools for its size
  • Bit driver is clever and holds bits securely
  • Micro flat bit is great for small items
  • Small pliers include wire cutters and crimper

Cons

  • Doesn’t include or store ¼-inch driver bits
  • Corkscrew is more of a hindrance than help

Product Description

The Sog PowerLitre is essentially, a scaled down plier SOG multi tool. It’s small enough, you could even carry it on a keychain with the included key ring tab. It has a pocket clip but is small enough to stash just about anywhere. The pliers are standard, just smaller. They have a needle-nose tip, pipe grip, and wire cutters, but also feature a crimper on the back side. The pliers utilize SOG’s gear-driven compound leverage design for smooth opening and closing. It’s hard to get a lot of leverage with their small construction and short handles, but that comes with the territory.

The PowerLitre has a variety of standard tools, including a knife blade, can and bottle openers, Phillips, and micro flat fold-out drivers. It also features an awl with thread loop, scissors, and a line cutter. The only tool that’s just stealing space is the corkscrew. That is, unless you’re burning through bottles of wine away from your kitchen.

The coolest feature of this multi tool is the ¼-inch driver bit holder. The back of the pliers double as the bit holder while in the closed position. You can place any ¼-inch driver bit in the holder with the handles slightly open, squeeze them closed, then lock it in place. It holds the bit securely until you unlock the handles and pull it free. It’s a clever design. On the downside, the tool also doesn’t store any ¼-inch bits, so you may just have to keep some with you.

Best Multi Tool Aftermarket Mod: Metro Grade Goods Hammer/Jammer for Leatherman Skeletool

Leatherman

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Key Features

  • Material: bronze-infused stainless steel
  • Mounts inside handle of Leatherman Skeletool
  • 3D printed

Why It Made the Cut

One of my favorite multi tools to carry is the Skeletool, and the Metro Grade Goods Hammer/Jammer aftermarket mod makes it even more effective. It gives you a hammer head, pry tool, and multiple bit drivers making it our pick for the best multi tool aftermarket mod.

Pros

  • Gives the Skeletool valuable added function
  • Affordable and easy to install
  • Strengthens frame of the Skeletool
  • Doesn’t interfere with other functions

Cons

  • Requires a small amount of filing and finish work
  • Adds length and weight to the Skeletool

Product Description

The Metro Grade Goods Hammer/Jammer is a 3D-printed steel add-on for the Skeletool, and it’s one of the most useful aftermarket mods I’ve seen. It adds valuable function to the tool without compromising what makes it so nice in the first place, which is its compact size and ease-of-carry. The hammer/jammer installs easily in the end of the skeletonized handle of the Skeletool with a simple hardware kit and some minimal fitting.

Whether they’re designed for it or not, most multi-tools I have get used to bang on stuff at some point, and rough hammering or prying can damage the ends of the handle. This piece reinforces that end of the handle and gives you two different hammering surfaces to work with. The pry bar is also very useful for any basic wedging/prying you need to do. The hammer/jammer also incorporates 3 different sized hex bit sockets from ¼-inch down, as well as a slot that accepts the proprietary Leatherman flat bits. Being 3D printed, they do require a touch of filing or Dremil work to get the bits to fit smoothly.

The same company makes several other add-ons like a pry tool, scalpel blade holders, and bit holders for the Skeletool and other popular Leatherman tools.

How I Tested the Best Multi Tools

The best multi tools are diverse, and a universal apples-to-apples comparison isn’t really a fair way to evaluate them. I carried and used about 15 different multi tools over the past few months. I cut and stripped wire, drove screws, cranked on truck battery terminals, sharpened blades, mounted scopes, took apart guns, replaced a couple doorknobs, and completed many other everyday tasks. Each tool has its own strengths and drawbacks, and sometimes one or two differences in tool options (plus how easily accessible those tools are) make all the difference. Picking the best multi tool for you is more about understanding your own needs than just grabbing what a salesman tells you to.

FAQs

Q: What is the best multi tool on the market?

There isn’t a single best multi tool on the market. As with any piece of gear, a multi tool’s usefulness is dependent upon the needs and demands of its user. There are lots of multi-tools with high-quality construction and useful tools. The best multi tool for you depends on what you need it to do and how you prefer to carry it

Q: Which is better, Leatherman or Victorinox

?

The answer to whether Leatherman or Victorinox is better isn’t black and white. Both brands make high-quality multi tools with tight tolerances. They both have good warranties and will last decades if they aren’t abused. Both brands have their strengths in specific tasks, so you have to consider the context for which you’re making the comparison. The look, feel, and specific tool selection is what will make one or the other better for you.

Q: Why is Leatherman so expensive

?

Leatherman tools are expensive because frankly, you get what you pay for. They use high-quality materials, innovative designs, and build their tools in their factory in Portland, OR. They’re built to be used hard, and if you break it, they’ll fix it. If you’re looking for a temporary or disposable tool, get something cheap. If you’re looking for something that will last for years, Leatherman is a good option.


Q: Are cheap multi tools worth it?

Cheap multi tools are worth it if you tend to lose or neglect your gear and want to buy the same tool multiple times. If you’re looking for a truly useful tool, and want to hang onto it for a while, you’re almost always going to be better off spending more for a quality multi tool. 

Final Thoughts on the Best Multi Tool

With this lineup of the best multi tools, it’s easy to get distracted by the flashiest features, and advertised number of tools, but what really is what you need to use it for, how you’re going to carry it, and how user-friendly it is for your applications.

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