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Looking for the best multi tool

Oct 12, 1998
I am lookong for a new multi tool and I would like to hear your opinions. What do you consider to be the best multi tool around? Considering selection of tools, workmanship, carry comfort, handling comfort, materials, everything. From what I've read, the Leatherman Wave seems pretty good, but are those linerlocks any good?
I am looking forward to your suggestions.
Mr Blonde:

My current favorite is the Victorinox SwissTool. I have posted my opinions on this tool before. If you use the "Search" feature at the top of the page, you can search for the word SwissTool, with my name (David Rock) in the user field, and you'll get my views on the subject. Also, the most comprehensive reviews of the major contenders in the multi-tool field can be found at www.equipped.com

That's a good start. You should definitely look at the equipped.com reviews before you make up your mind. Compelling reading.

David Rock
The Leatherman super tool is great. It is much more comfortable to use than the original. If you add the tool adapter you can customize your kit by adding any type bit you want. The adapter also works at 45 and 90 degrees as well as straight. Leatherman makes a special nylon combo pouch that holds both tool and adapter. The only drawback is that it is HEAVY. You may consider the adapter kit that looks like a pager so you don't have to carry them together. The WAVE looks good but nothing I've seen indicates that it will work with the adapter. Since I carry several blades in addition to the tool, I plan to stick with the Supertool combination since I don't really need one hand access to the tool blades.
I have all of them and I must say I like the Leatherman Wave most of all. I like the very comfortable handles, very rounded off!

Another nice feature are the one hand opening of the cutting blades. If you have the proper tools, you can adjust the tension of the tools the handle supports if needed and replacing a blade if you should ever happen to bust one can be made without sending the whole tool back for repairs.

The Leatherman Super Tool would be my 2nd choice. I carried the SuperTool for a long time before the Wave came out.

The Victorinox Swiss Tool is nice but the drawback which I don't like at all is the blades are all rivoted on. If you bust a tool or blade, you have to send the whole dog gone thing back and you will be without.

At least with the Wave or SuperTool you only need send back the broken tool or blade and you are still left with the rest of the tool to use until the replacement comes in.

As far as looks goes, I like the Wave in this aspect as well. Very stylish and smooth. The Swiss Tool looks nice and is smooth, too, but again, I hate rivots on multi-tools!

That's my preference!


Dear Blonde,

I have only had extensive personal experience with four models of multi-tools, but Ill go ahead and tell you about them.

First is the gerber multi-plier. I personally would stay away from this one. My roommate has one and I have used and handled it quite a lot and don't like it. Because of the novel and unusual way the pliers open on the tool, it requires more moving parts and springs than other more conventional multi-tools. To me more moving parts always leaves more room for failure. The Gerber is also too big and bulky for what it is because it doesn't "fold down" very much. The gerber also seems to be made of inferior materials, though I dont know exactly what kind of steel it is made of. The Gerber does have locking blades, but it is also overly complicated, requiring several other moving parts including a small spring.

Now for the good stuff...
I proudly own one of the original Leatherman Tools. My father gave it to me when he returned home from active duty during Desert Storm, so I guess that would make the tool around 8 years old. In my opinion the Leatherman is much better than the Gerber. It folds into a much smaller and more compact package. It appears to be made from better materials( I gather this from the fact that my roommate has had his gerber for only a year and rarely uses it, yet his phillips head screwdriver for example is extremely damaged and marred. My phillips head screwdriver on my Leatherman has only a few small scratches after 8 years of heavy use and abuse). The leatherman is much simpler and conventional in its opening and closing, so it has no moving parts besides the tools themselves. And I can open my Leatherman just as fast and easily as I can the Gerber. This tool is definately tough to have survived 8 years of use by me and the people who borrow it from me all the time! The only small gripes I have about the leatherman is the fact that the blades dont lock and the exposed handles can be uncomfortable when you really try to clamp down hard on something. These things really arent much of a problem at all though if you use the tool with care and common sense.

If the non-locking blades of the standard Leatherman really bother you, then go for the Leatherman Supertool because all of its blades lock in a very simple and efficient manner. It also has more neat tools. My father has one and I am just as impressed with it as I am my standard model. The only reason I dont have one myself is because of its size. I dont usually wear a belt so I dont like to use a sheath; I carry my Leatherman in the "watch pocket" of my blue jeans, where it fits perfectly and keeps me from having to use the sheath. The Supertool is just a little big for that, but if you wear a belt anyway, its not a problem at all.

I also own a Leatherman Micra and love it too.I keep it on my key chain. Though I dont have to use it that much because I always have my standard leatherman. The really handy thing about it is the scissors it has instead of the pliers. I use it to cut everything from fishing line to stray threads.

As for the leatherman wave, I have never personally used one, but it sounds and looks good. One problem it does solve is the sligtly uncomfortable handles of the standard leatherman. If the Wave is anything like the other Leatherman Tools, then it has to be a good one!

Well, hope this helps!
My current favourite is the Wave, though not for the reasons you would probably expect. I am not all that "wow"-ed with the one-handed feature of the blades, though I am very impressed and satisfied with their overall quality and the fact that they lock. (I have given all the locking blades the AT Barr spine whack and pressure tests with no faliures, btw)

*The true needlenose pliers win me over from daily use of the Swisstool or Multi-Lock. As a paid geek by day, this is important to me.

*The handles are more comfortable than any tool I have handled (this puts the Wave head and shoulders above the older Leatherman offerings, IMHO).

*Lastly, I like the tool quality better of the Wave's over the Swisstool. The Wave's screwdrivers are better (no rounded), the file is sturdier, the saw is more aggressive, and the knife blades are of highr quality. 2 things I really like about the Swisstool are the can opener (better than Leatherman's by a long shot) and the chisel (I found this surprisingly useful) The scissors on the Wave are very high quality but I rarely use them since I always have my Micra handy.

If you want a seriously overbuilt tool, the Swisstool is it. But for me for everyday usage, the Wave is my tool of choice.

This is all IMHO, of course. I do hope they have a tool adapter for the Wave soon...

Clay Fleischer

"10,000 Lemmings Can't Be Wrong!"

[This message has been edited by CD Fleischer (edited 16 February 1999).]
Clay -- From your last remark, am I correct in assuming that the current tool adapter doesn't fit the Wave?

Get the Wave. It was one of the best purchases I ever made. The Wave replace my original Leatherman. It is even more comfortable to carry than the original because it rides lower on the belt. Truly a work of art.

That is correct. I have yet to hear whether or not they are going to develop one. I certainly hope they do...

This weekend, my girlfriend got me a Gerber Multi-Lite for Valentine's Day. This is a decent tool. It has all the tools of the Multi-Lock (which are quite good) but in an easier-to-use package. Kinda like a SAK with better, locking tools, though it is bulkier. Anyhoo, it takes Gerber's hex-bit adapter so it may be my Wave's companion for a while.

Clay Fleischer

"10,000 Lemmings Can't Be Wrong!"
Hello, I don't have a wave. Don't like things hangin off my belt. I have handled it and it is awesome! But.. I carry the lightweight Leatherman sideclip. It is so handy and once broken in you can actually FLLIICCKK it!(like a butterfly) Wish they would put a clip on the WAVE !! now that would be a tool.. The swiss tool is really great but, too heavy for me, like the locks... My $2 worth.
Do yourself a favor....Get the Swisstool ! I have the Wave also,and I do like it...But For overall ease of use go swiss. Or like me, when I couldnt make the choice...Buy them both !

I have owned a Super Tool and Micra for some time now. When I went shopping for a new tool I tried out the Wave and SwissTool. I now carry the SwissTool and haven't looked back.

Swisstool for me, I like the bombproof construction. There is the obvious compromise you have to make with any multi-tool, but for me this one is it. The Wave is a lot lighter, so if that's a concern for you, don't go with the Swisstool. The problem I've had with Gerber's tool is that the handles will pinch you when using in pliers mode if you slip off the bolt or whatever. The swisstool's locking buttons are very positive and easy to release too. The SOG Paratool I have is ok for light duty but in a survival situation I'll deal with the extra weight of the Victorinox.
I own both the WAVE and the SwissTool. Both have their own good features, but the overall strength and solidity of the SwissTool is far and above the WAVE. I also like the fact that all tools are accessible without opening the pliers, and that they all lock! The only drawback is the weight. I solved this by sewing a cordura horizontal belt loop onto the standard sheath. Works like a charm.

I like my leatherman super tool. I have played with the WAVE, but I would only carry it if my work demanded only one knife/tool for some reason. I have never been happy with any gerber multi tool offering, the steel used in the pliers is soft, and I have seen several Gerbers that would not close fully (the jaws would not touch when the handles were squeezed) because of bending of the pliers. Not to mention, all of the screwdriver bits come pre-rounded from the factory. I had a SOG Paratool once (crap), it broke afteronly a month or two.

My Super has loosened enough to open like a butterfly knife, and it is pretty fast to open, and sounds cool too...My only gripe is that the screwdriver bits, and the rest of the tools, are pretty soft, not as bad as other tools, but not as good as actual screwdrivers or awls.



"No, it's a Vaquero Grande in my pocket, but I am happy to see you!"
MegaFolderians Unite!!

I'd go for the Leatherman WAVE.

One point which most folks seem to miss is that the cutting blades of the WAVE open out into a more favourable position, with the bulk of the handle "above" the cutting edge line. In previous models (and those of the competitors) the blade edge, when opened, ran through the upper half of the handle. This, coupled with your fingers wrapped around the handle meant that one could not cut on flat surfaces. The WAVE is a far superior cutting design.

P.S. Don't underestimate the little MICRA. It is a brilliant package and because of its light weight and compact size will invariably be the model which you can always have with you.

Regards, HILTON

Good point. The Swisstool shares this feature, however.

I would be more impressed with the locking screwdivers and outside access on the Swisstool if the screwdrivers themselves were of better quality.

I had one and when I got the Wave, I kept it. After not using it for several months, I passed it on to a friend of mine as a gift. Still, I didn't do that lightly and I feel that the Swisstool is a serious tool. Definitely a tough tool (not the ToughTool, which is Schrade's offering...


Clay Fleischer

"10,000 Lemmings Can't Be Wrong!"
My vote goes to either the Leatherman SuperTool or the Leatherman Wave. Hard to beat the quality & utility of either tool.
I will say that the Gerber I have has been very consistant in pinching my damn hands and creating blood blisters.
Thank you for all your replies, they have been very helpful. From your replies I gather that both the Swisstool and the Wave are the most popular tools. If the Wave comes with a decent sheath that will carry the tool comfortably, I'll go for the Wave.
Well, it's off to the knifeshop for me