Want to carry an entire array of tools with you at all times, without needing
a tool box or tool belt to store them in? Multi-tools give you this ability.
This tool category features folding needle nose pliers, with an array of extra
tools, that are stored in its handles. Larger than a Swiss Army knife, but with
the same benefits, multi-tools give anyone the convenience of carrying an
assortment of tools with them, without weighing down their pockets. This review
is going to take a look at three different models of this tool genre.
When someone mentions a Leatherman tool, the image of a Swiss Army knife that
has morphed into a toolbox comes to my mind. Tim Leatherman originated the tool
category that we’ve come to know today as the multi-purpose tool. One of the top
of the line Leatherman tools, is the Wave model.
Made of 100% stainless steel, the Wave packs a lot of tools into a small
package. Here’s what you get:
Needle nose Pliers
Extra Small Screwdriver
Can / Bottle Opener
Length: 4 in. / 10 cm closed, 6.25 in. / 16 cm open
Weight: 8 ounces / 224 grams
When closed, the Wave is a compact tool that can fit in a pocket, tool box or
glove compartment. The included leather sheath protects the Wave from dirt and
scratches. Four tools are accessible when the Wave is closed. The Clip-Point
Knife, Serrated Knife, Diamond-Coated File, and Wood Saw can each open into a
locked position which allows you to use the tools safely. The lock is located at
the base of the blade and can be easily disengaged with the press of a finger.
The handles of the Wave fold open to reveal strong needle nose pliers and the
rest of the tools hidden inside the handles. Of the three multi-tool products reviewed here,
the Wave has the smoothest folding action of them all. The handles have rolled
edges which make them very comfortable to use while working.
At the base of each handle is a selection of screw driver tips, a pair of
scissors and a bottle opener. Like the folding action, accessing the screw
driver tips is easy and pretty much effortless. You don’t have to worry about
breaking a nail ;o) Each tool clicks into place when fully opened. The best and
most comfortable way to use
the individual tools, is to extend the tool,
and then fold the Wave back into the closed position.
The Wave can be ‘upgraded’ with a Tool Adapter kit which is sold separately. This kit comes with a
slide on 1/4" Hex Drive that has 3 locking positions. Included are 6 individual
bits and a compact plastic storage case that can clip to your belt. Very cool!
Like a quality tool should be, everything about the Wave feels rugged and
sturdy. The Wave even comes with a 25 year warranty! Wow! If you are in the
market for such a product, I don’t think you can go wrong with this one.
Tool adapter kit
Not all tools are available without opening the Wave
Leatherman isn’t the only company in the multi-tool genre.
Gerber carries a wide range of tools
that they call Multi-Pliers. These tools actually have a few features that are
missing in the Leatherman tools.
The MP800 has a chunky military look and feel to it. It has more curves than typical Leatherman style tools, and a gold / bronze finish instead of polished steel. The
handles also have neoprene padding that is supposed to make them more
comfortable during use. The only thing is that the padding isn’t on the edges of
the handles, but on the front and back surfaces. Surfaces, that your hands don’t
really come into much contact with…
Unlike the Wave tool reviewed above, the MP800’s tools are all accessible
while the handles are folded closed. The tools available include:
Interchangeable saw blade
Small, medium, and large screwdrivers
Length open: 6.625 inches, closed: 5.125 inches
Weight : 8.6 oz.
While the tools are relatively easy to access, they just don’t feel quite as
robust as the tools on the Wave. They also don’t lock into place with a
satisfying click like the Wave tools do. However, they do lock… To unlock
them, you have to use the pad of your thumb to pull down a spring loaded catch
which is located at the base of the extended tools.
The MP800 opens smoothly to reveal needle nose pliers. In the open position, the
outside edges of the handles are rounded and more solid, making them very comfortable to use.
Somewhat more comfortable than the Wave in my opinion. Also, the pliers have a spring
that allows them to spring open when you are not applying pressure to them. This
makes using the pliers very easy. I love this feature. It is a feature missing
on the Wave.
The jaws of the pliers have replaceable tungsten/cobalt carbide wire cutter
inserts. Tungsten/cobalt is much harder than any stainless steel. These inserts
can be rotated to a new edge with a Torx® head wrench (included), when one edge becomes
To protect the tool, a ballistic nylon belt case is also included.
The Gerber MP800 is well made, and sufficiently rugged. Although it doesn’t
have as many built-in tools as the Wave or the Swisstool X (reviewed below), the
spring loaded pliers and comfortable handles have really won me over. This might
be the set that I keep for myself.
Comfortable spring loaded handles
Replaceable wire cutter inserts
Tools accessible while device is folded closed
Not as many built-in tools
Victorinox SwissTool X
The folks who invented popular Swiss Army multi-bladed pocket knife, have
their own line of multi-tools. The SwissTool X from
Victorinox is made of 100% polished
stainless steel. It’s the longest and heaviest of the tools reviewed here. It
also has the most blades and screw driver tips.
The tips included are:
Wire cutter (for wire up to a hardness of 40 hrc)
Screwdriver (7.5 mm)
Strong crate opener
Ruler (9 inches)
Hard wire cutter
Length: 4.5 inches closed, 6.75 inches open
Weight: 280 gram, 9.9oz
What I like best about the SwissTool X is its ‘click factor’. Every blade
opens with a click and also closes with a click. Even when you fold the handles
into their closed position, they click into place. It really gives this
multi-tool a quality feeling. To close the blades/tips, you have to slide down a
spring loaded pad at the base of the handle.
All of the SwissTool X’s built-in tools look and feel very sturdy. I believe
they are the sturdiest of the multi-tools reviewed here. The only thing missing
from this particular product is the spring loaded pliers. I don’t know what it
is about this feature that makes it so important to me, but I wish the SwissTool
X also had this.
In use, the weight of this tool is evident. Although the edges of the handles
are rounded, prolonged use without gloves, made my hand a bit sore. Guys
probably won’t even notice though…
To protect the SwissTool X, a nice ballistic nylon belt case is included.
The SwissTool X is a tool that anyone would appreciate. It’s built to work
and last for a long time.
All built-in tools accessible while in the closes position
Most built-in blades and screwdriver tips
Feels stiff to open
These are all great tools. If you want the most expandable and compact tool,
go with the Leatherman Wave and the Tool Adapter kit. If you want the most
comfortable pliers, go with the Gerber. Lastly, if you want the most built-in
blades and screwdrivers, go with the SwissTool X.