Leatherman Skeletool CX multi-tool review – A petite package of terrific tools!

Leatherman Skeletool CX 29

REVIEW – My pockets seldom lack my phone, wallet, flashlight, and multitool. Sometimes, bringing “the big gun” isn’t practical or necessary. For times like this, The Leatherman Skeletool CX multitool is ideal.

What is it?

The Leatherman Skeletool CX is a lightweight, stainless steel, folding multitool with needlenose pliers, wire cutters, a knife blade, a carabiner/bottle opener, and a flat-bit driver.

What’s included?

  • Leatherman Skeletool CX multi-tool
  • Two flat bits
  • Instruction manual

Tech specs

  • Weight: 5 ounces (142g)
  • Closed length: 4 in (10cm)
  • Open length: 6.0 in (15.24 cm)
  • Width: 1.24 in (3.15cm)
  • Overall thickness: .52 in (1.32cm)
  • Materials: 154CM stainless steel, DLC coating
  • Included Bits: Combination #1 and #2 Phillips,  Combination 1/4″ and 3/16” slotted
  • Extra bit storage in the handle
  • Blade hardness: 58-60 HRC
  • Colors: Onyx, Nightshade, Verdant, and Paradise

Design and features

Recently, one of my friends sent me a meme with people queued at a suburban house door with the caption, “When your neighbors discover you can fix stuff.” If you’re that person, carrying a multitool is as natural as putting on shoes, and it belongs in your wardrobe. Having such a helpful gadget ready is the difference between an easy 30-second fix, a walk home, or a disappointed friend, relative, or colleague. On many occasions, I’ve been able to perform spontaneous mechanical surgery, saving the recipient time, aggravation, and, in some cases, big money.

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you are already into the EDC (everyday Carry) lifestyle. We all know there are times when discretion, wardrobe, or circumstances warrant changes in what we carry. Not having a multitool with me, even in a three-piece suit or on the trail, makes me feel queezy. For times when a full-side tool isn’t practical, Leatherman’s Skeletool CX multitool packs frequently used tools into a compact, go-anywhere (well, almost) size.

The Skeletool CX multitool arrives boxed in Leatherman yellow and black.

Leatherman Skeletool CX 01

Behold, the Onyx version. The packaging is very secure.

Leatherman Skeletool CX 02

Leatherman Skeletool CX 19

When unfolded, the longer handle measures about six inches.

Leatherman Skeletool CX 11

My scale (not calibrated) says the Skeletool CX is 5.2 ounces.

Leatherman Skeletool CX 15

A two-ended Phillips bit resides in the bit driver.

Leatherman Skeletool CX 04

Another slotted bit nests in the handle’s spine. It’s compatible with Leatherman’s bit kit should your needs require a different one. In many years of using Leatherman bits, I have found that they often grip fasteners better than dedicated screwdrivers and are my go-to preference.

Leatherman Skeletool CX 08

Leatherman Skeletool CX 09

A small latch retains the bit in place and releases with the press of a thumb.

Leatherman Skeletool CX 12

The Skeletool CX opens smoothly to access the combination pliers. They are thinner than other Leatherman tools, so they can reach places where their bigger siblings can’t. Here are the Skeletool pliers compared with the Surge and original Wave. Please excuse the rust; that tool has been in dozens of countries with me and will come off quickly as soon as I have time to clean it!

Leatherman Skeletool CX 20

Leatherman Skeletool CX 21

And for size, here is the similarly sized Wingman.

Leatherman Skeletool CX 24

Here’s a family photo for comparison with other Leatherman tools (some have been “retired”). Clockwise from the noon position are the Skeletool, 1:00 – PST, 2:00—Flair, 3:00—Mini tool, 4:00—Pulse, 5:00—Original Wave, 6:00—Updated Wave, 7:00—Charge TTi, 8:00—Rebar, 9:00—Signal, 10:00—Surge, and 11:00—Free P4. I’ve EDCed all of these multitools at one time or another.

Leatherman Skeletool CX 23

The tips close as securely as tweezers, so I tested them by plucking individual hair strands without cutting them. Splinters and ticks don’t stand a chance.

Soft and hard wire cutters are nearest the pliers’ fulcrum. Like other Leatherman tools, they had no problem slicing through 14 and 12-gauge copper wire and heavy coat hangers.

Leatherman Skeletool CX 13

I was initially concerned about the thinness of the handles cutting into my palms during tightly gripped work, but the curves were relatively comfortable.

Leatherman Skeletool CX 03

There is some flex in the handles furthest from the fulcrum, but nothing alarming.

Leatherman Skeletool CX 31

Out of the box, the 154CM blade opens one-handed (for right-handed users), is remarkably sharp, easy to sharpen, and holds an edge well. I used it to cut through wire insulation and was thrilled with the results. It opens externally, so there is no need to open the handles to access it. Because of the blade, it is unacceptable in carry-on luggage during air travel.

Leatherman Skeletool CX 06

Leatherman Skeletool CX 05

Unlike the Wave, Charge, and Surge, the Skeletool does not have a locking feature to keep the blade retained, so use care and do not dislodge it when using the pliers. It won’t fully open, but the pointy end could bite you if you’re not careful. I had no problems or incidents while testing and using the tool, so it’s just an observation.

Leatherman Skeletool CX 14

A liner lock secures the blade, and there is no wiggle when it is engaged. I recommend pressing the lock and folding the knife as a two-handed operation, but it’s possible with some practice (and caution). Just be careful, Gadgeteers!

Leatherman Skeletool CX 07

One of the Skeletool’s most unique features is its carabiner and bottle opener combination. The snap opens with one hand and clips to the inside of a backpack, keychain, purse strap, belt loop, or lanyard.

Leatherman Skeletool CX 17

Leatherman Skeletool CX 18

It’s an underrated feature allowing for lightning-fast access and deployment. The gate snap is quite strong and does not flex more than a few millimeters from side to side. One slight engineering improvement would be to make the hole on the carabiner a 1/4-inch hex for use with the bit extender or ratchet, similar to the Signal (shown in the above “family photo at the (9:00 position).

Leatherman Skeletool CX 27

Leatherman Skeletool CX 16

A recent Multitool.org thread indicates Leatheman conducted a survey to determine how owners carry their tools. The results show that 43% use a pocket clip. I’m grateful it’s there because I’m in this group.

Leatherman Skeletool CX 25

Leatherman Skeletool CX 10

Leatherman Skeletool CX 26

What I like about the Leatherman Skeletool CX

  • Impeccable quality
  • Onboard bit storage
  • Pocket clip

What needs to be improved?

  • Change the hole at the end of the carabiner to a ¼-inch hex (not necessarily an improvement, just a product enhancement suggestion).

Leatherman Skeletool CX 28

Final thoughts

Leatherman Skeletool CX 30

In some circumstances, hefting a full-sized multitool isn’t necessary or practical. On the rare occasions I wear a suit, I don’t want my pockets to look overly laden, but I hate feeling unprepared. On hiking trips, every ounce matters, and I’m not likely to need more than the basics on the trail. In both cases, the Leatherman Skeletool CX is an ideal choice. I love being able to clip the Skeletool CX on a belt loop, backpack or tent strap, or keyring, and the sharp 154CM blade, pliers, wire cutters, and two screwdriver bits are my most frequently used tools. Thank you, Leatherman!

Price: $89.95
Where to buy: Leatherman and Amazon
Source: The sample for this review was provided by Leatherman. Leatherman did not have a final say on the review and did not preview the review before it was published.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *