When looking for a multi-tool to add to your EDC, pay close attention to the unit’s primary tools, secondary features, as well as intended purpose. While most multi-tools are designed to fulfill a variety of roles, some are made for distinct purposes and include specific tools for specialized jobs. There are muti-tools that are focused on jobs for electricians, bicyclists, firearms, and even dealing with explosives. Let’s look at some of the primary tools that are common sights on multi-tools.
You can thank the plier as the reason that the modern multi-tool exists. Mr. Leatherman saw a need for a portable tool that included pliers, and this idea gave birth to the genre. Pliers themselves are great all-around tools that allow the user to grip, bend, and compress. There are blunt and needle-nose models and even ones that can strip wire. Choose one that fits your needs best.
You may carry a dedicated knife on you already, but having a cutting blade in your multi-tool is also a good idea. When selecting a tool, be aware of the length of the blade and what kind of edge it has. Plain and serrated edges are both useful in their own ways. Plain edges are sharper but can dull easier than serrated blades. Serrated blades are great for textured materials such as rope or leather but do not usually leave a clean cut.
Flathead screwdrivers can be found on just about all multi-tools. They can drive not only flathead screws, but also Phillips-head screws if the size happens to be right. We do prefer actual Phillips-head screwdrivers on the multi-tools that we carry, however. Using the right tool for the right job makes things faster and easier, all without risk of stripping a screw head.
A saw, especially one small enough to fit in a multi-tool, may seem like an unusual choice to become one of the mainstays found in multi-tools, but they are commonly included for a reason. You may not think you need it, but when you do, you’ll be glad you have it. Saws are great for gathering firewood, and for cutting through thick rope and webbing.
As mentioned earlier, many multi-tools have unique tools that aren’t found on all tools. We especially like spring-loaded scissors, rulers, and hex-bit sockets. Looking beyond the standard tool complement for these special accessory tools can often point you in the right direction for just which multi-tool you’ll find the most use out of.
Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared in the Winter 2019 print issue of EDC Magazine.