The Best Multi-Tool

Leatherman MUT Multi-Tool

Our Top Pick for 2016: Leatherman MUT Multi-Tool
Read our full review.

See it on Amazon for $159.85*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.
Too expensive? See our budget pick.

A full sized tool is always the ideal option, but it is not practical to carry your entire toolbox on the road with you. Having a single compact tool that can be used to get you out of a bind is going to be the key on road trips, especially those that involve camping, hiking, or fishing. Multi-tools are pocket-sized devices that can have a myriad of tools on one unit, but figuring out which tool is best for your daily needs can be a tedious task. We have compiled a list or some of the features that you may want to consider as well as reviewed four picks that may be exactly what you are looking for in a multi-tool.

Table of contents

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37 Functions
16 Tools
21 Tools
Stainless-steel Body
High-Carbon Form Of 420 Stainless Steel
Heat Treated
Compact
Corrosion Resistant
Black Oxide Powder-based Metal Coating
Sturdy
Bronze Bushings
Widely Used By The Military
Made In Switzerland
Smooth Opening
One Of Leatherman’s Two Largest Multi-tools

*Price at time of publishing and may not reflect current pricing.

#1 Gold pick (Winner): Leatherman MUT Multi-Tool

Leatherman MUT Multi-Tool Gold Pick

View it on Amazon for $159.85*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-gold-winnerLeatherman has been dedicated to making high quality, hand crafted multi-tools since 1983. Today, they still strive to produce the same level of dedication with each and every tool that they produce. The MUT multi-tool is a great example of the quality craftsmanship displayed in their products, and one of the reasons it was selected as our top pick on this list.

This tool is designed for tactical personnel or someone with a military background to use. Why is this you may ask? Well, there are only a few multi-tools on the market that have a bronze carbon scrapping tool on them, and the MUT multi-tool is one of them. This tool is designed to scrape away and remove the carbon build up that can be found on hand guns and other firearms. There is also a firearm disassembly punch that is designed to make cleaning you r gun a quicker process.

This unit is also a great tool for an electrician to have, as it has a wire cutter as well as a wire crimper. Both the regular wire cutter and the hard wire cutter are replaceable. There is also a replaceable cutting hook as well for your convenience. There is also a large bit driver to tighten screws that are loose. Like most multi-tools, the MUT comes with a set of regular pliers as well as a set of needle nose pliers for when you need to work with small objects. There is also a saw and a hammer included in the tool, just in case you need to do some construction while you are away from home. A bottle opener is another feature that will come in handy.

With all of these features in this one tool, you can imagine that it is a bit heavy to carry around on a daily basis. It weighs about 11.02 ounces, which can get heavy in your pocket if you are not use to the extra weight. The entire tool is constructed from high carbon stainless steel, which is a material that is even more durable than typical stainless steel, and the best part is that since the tool is made from this material, it will be resistant to corrosion and rust.

The MUT comes with a carabiner to easily attach the multi-tool to your belt. It comes with a molle sheath that can either be black or brown, and an adjustable wrench is also included in the packaging. Leatherman is a company that truly stands behind their products, so they have included a 25 year warranty to cover the costs of any repairs or replacements that need to be done.

When it comes to reviews, 92 percent of the reviews on Amazon have been given a positive rating of four or five stars. In fact, 73 percent of them have been given a five star rating. Here is an example of one five star testimonial: “This is a very handy tool that makes cleaning my rifle fast easy and fun. The bronze scraper allows me to clean my bolt and bolt carrier thoroughly. I have never had a bolt override failure in my rifle before, but incase I ever do, I feel better now that I am more educated and have this tool to help me clear such a malfunction. Thus I have incorporated this practice in my drills.”

#2 Silver pick (Runner-up): Victorinox Swiss Army SwissTool

Victorinox Swiss Army SwissTool

View it on Amazon for $109.99*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-silver-winnerVictorinox Swiss Army has been manufacturing durable high quality hand tools since 1884. They are the originators of the multi-tool and four generations later the Elsener family is still bringing exceptional multi-tools to the market. Our silver pick, which is the Swisstool Swiss Army Knife, is a great multipurpose device that features 37 different tools.

The tool comes complete with a corkscrew that can be used to open your wine bottle. If you prefer other drinks, there is also a bottle opener and a can opener on this tool as well. It also comes with a wood saw, a metal saw, and a metal file that help you cut things down to the size that you need them to be. When the unit is laid flat, the handles double as a ruler. If you happen to need to clip coupons on the go, there is a pair of scissors in this tool as well. It also includes a chisel, a Phillips head screwdriver, a miniature screwdriver, and a spirit edge blade.

As with most multi-tools, there is a flathead screwdriver in this tool as well; this comes in four different sizes, including two millimeters, three millimeters, five millimeters, and 7.5 millimeters. In addition, there is also a wire cutter, a hard wire cutter, a wire bender, needle nose pliers, and a reamer. The last feature that you will want to be aware of is the bit wrench and the bit case, which includes these bit sizes: Hex 3, Hex 4, Phillips 0, Phillips 3, Torx 10, and Torx 15.

This multi-tool is constructed from a stainless steel material that is designed to be durable. It is 4.5 inches in length, which is slightly longer than may tools of this type, and it weighs ten ounces, which is a great weight for a pocket tool. All of the features and individual aspects of this tool lock into place when in use, which is a great way to prevent accidents from occurring. In addition, the manufacturer has taken the warranty of this tool to the next level with a full lifetime warranty, which means the company stands behind their products.

When it comes to the reviews or our silver pick, 91 percent of all of the reviews posted on Amazon have been rated with a positive rating of at least four stars. 75 percent of the reviews have actually received a five star rating. Here is what one customer had to say about his experience with the tool: “My wife got me one of these years ago and this is indispensable for anyone who does any sort of maintenance or other outdoor work. I found it equally useful as a site manager and as a field entomologist and almost always have it on my belt “just in case” even when at home or in the office. It is sturdy and well made and I would have to really try to bend/warp it as I’ve done lesser multi-tools.”

#3 Bronze pick (3rd place): Leatherman Surge Multi-Tool

Leatherman Surge Multi-Tool

View it on Amazon for $104.85*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-bronze-awardOur bronze pick is another great multi-tool that comes to us from the same manufacturer as our gold pick. The Leatherman Surge is actually designed as the second largest multi-tool in the Leatherman line of multi-tools. It is about 5.2 inches in length, and it weighs about 15.2 ounces, which means that it is a bit bulky, but it will not seem so big when it is attached to your belt. One of the reasons that it is a bit on the heavy side, is the fact that it has 21 different tools.

To start, the tool has both needle nose pliers and regular pliers to accommodate your needs. It comes with a pair of spring loaded scissors and a ruler. There are two different knives in this tool, one has a serrated edge, and the other one is straight. In addition, there is a wire cutter, a wire stripper, an electrical crimper, and a saw that can assist you with your electrical needs. There is also a diamond coated file, a bottle opener, a can opener, a bit driver, and a blade exchanger. If you need to tighten a loose screw, there are two different sizes available on this tool as well.

This Leatherman surge is a tool that is created from high carbon stainless steel that is designed to protect the exterior of the device from becoming corroded or rusty. This high carbon material is actually much stronger than traditional stainless steel, so the tool should last you for decades. The entire multi-tool is coated with a thin layer of black oxide, which is a coating that is often used on military weapons and materials to decrease the shine and reduce the glare from the sun. When you purchase this product, it comes with a molle sheath, which is quite possibly because of its extra large size. In addition, a 25 year warranty is included to cover the cost of any repairs or replacements that may be required.

When it comes to the reviews for our bronze pick, there are a little less than 200 that can be seen on Amazon at the time of this writing. 89 percent of these reviews were rated with a positive rating, and 76 percent of them were actually given a five star review. Here is an example of one five star review written by a military man that can be seen on the site: “I’m in the Navy Seabees, and when I was deployed to Iraq, I picked this multi-tool up. My main job was the maintenance and replacement of a/c’s, this tool was the best tool in my box hands down. I’ve used every accessory on it from using the leather punch to ream copper tubing to using the blades to cut insulation. I’ve put this tool to the test everyday for 6 months and not once was I disappointed.”

#4 Budget pick (Best cheap): Gerber Suspension Multi-Plier

Gerber Suspension Multi-Plier

View it on Amazon for $24.43*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-cheap-budget-pickOur final pick is the Gerber Suspension, which is manufactured from a company that has been dedicated to providing the public with quality products at a low price point since 1939. Since then, Gerber has remained one of the most trusted knife production companies across the nation. Our ballin’ on a budget option has 12 different internal components that are designed to make your life a little easier.

The multi-tool includes needle nose pliers to help you grip small items that need to be repaired. It also features a plain edged knife and a serrated knife to accommodate your needs; in fact, it you need to cut material that is a little more durable, there is even a saw and wire cutters included in this tool. If you find that you need a screwdriver, you will be prepared, as there is a Phillips heads screwdriver, a small flathead screwdriver, and a medium sized screwdriver to assist your needs. A can opener and a bottle opener are also included, which will be a great tool to have on a hunting or camping trip. There is a lanyard hole on the tool that you can use to attach the device to your belt, and it comes with a nylon sheath that serves as a place to store the tool while it is not in use.

The Gerber Suspension features a stylish open frame design that is crafted from stainless steel. Even though the frame is open, the stainless steel construction makes the entire device resistant to rust and corrosion, which means that if it happens to get wet, the blades will not be ruined. It is an extremely lightweight unit, weighing in at only 9.6 ounces. In addition it is built with a contoured handle that is designed to give you a comfortable, more ergonomic grip than some of the lower costing multi-tools on the market. To ensure your safety as you use the tool, there is a Saf. T. Plus locking system in place that ensures that the blades do not move. Gerber has created quite a durable product, so they have also included a lifetime warranty to cover the cost of any issues that may arise as time goes by.

Insofar as reviews, there are more than 1,000 on Amazon at the time of this writing, and 86 percent of them have received positive ratings of at least four stars. Here is an example of one such review: “This Gerber multi-tool is the best I have ever owned. The pliers have a great spring to them and the wire cutters comes sharp right from the factory. The scissors are much easier to get out and put away than any other brand. Also, I love the locking system. It is by far the most secure I have ever experienced… Still, my favorite part of this multi-tool is that the handle when you open up the multi-tool for use as pliers are comfortable enough to take serious use, just like a normal pair of pliers.”


Pre-purchase considerations

Specific Tool Needs

Do you often need to tighten screws on your glasses? Do you fiddle with electronics a lot? Not all multi-tools are created with the same features, so it is important to find one that fits your needs. If you cannot find one that is perfect for you, look for the features that you will use most often. Here are a few of the most common tools:

Pliers – These can be used to grip items or bend them if needed. They can be flat nosed or needle nosed, but if you tend to work with smaller items, then you may prefer to have needle nose. Some pliers have wire strippers included as well if that is a tool that you may need.

Knife – The blade that is incorporated in your multi-tool can either be a serrated blade or a plain edged knife. A straight edge is good for peeling fruit, and a serrated edge can be used to cut through items like ropes. It is good to have both types of blades on your multi-tool if you can. It is also beneficial to have a saw blade that can be used on thicker rope or to saw limbs from a tree for kindling.

Screwdriver – Most multi-tools have flat head screwdrivers, but it is also beneficial to make sure that you have a Phillips head as well.

Can opener – This is a great feature to have when you are hiking or camping in the woods for a few days. Most can openers can also be used to open bottles.

Scissors – These can be a handy tool to have in the event that you break a nail. You can easily trim the broken nail without injuring yourself further.

Size

The size of the multi-tool that you choose will greatly depend on the amount of space you have to carry it around. Some multi-tools can fit in your pocket, some can clip to your belt, and others are too large to be carried on your person, but they can easily fit in the glove box of your car. Here are a few of the size options that you can select from:

Keychain – This type of multi-tool is the smallest option available. It may not have all of the bells and whistles of a larger one, but since it is attached to your keys, it will never be left at home.

Pocket – This type is slightly larger, but it is still lightweight and easily carried in your pocket, backpack, or messenger bag.

Belt – These are typically larger and more durable than those we have already discussed. They may not offer more tools, but they do offer them in full sized varieties instead of miniature.

Ability to Adjust and Replace Parts

No matter how good the multi-tool that you choose is made, parts of it will be used more frequently, which will cause them to wear faster. If you can simply replace certain parts of the tool, then you can extend the lifespan of it. For example, maybe your blade is dull or your screwdriver is stripped, then if you can loosen the handle to remove those parts and replace them with new ones, your multi-tool will almost be as good as new. You will also want a tool that can be tightened, as the mechanics of the mechanism will loosen with use over time.

Build Quality and Warranty

How well is the multi-tool made? Some models use thin metal in their construction, while others use something a bit more durable. You want to find a tool that is built strong enough to last more than a few years. Also, make sure to consider factors like rust. Some metals rust more readily than others, and you don’t want your tool to degrade from it, so look for a strong, sturdy build material. One way to know that the tool is designed well is that the manufacturer backs it with a warranty. Some warranties are only good for a year or so while others can last for the lifetime of the tool, make sure that the multi-tool you purchase covers more than the minimum; in fact, if you can snag up a lifetime warranty, then it will be well worth the investment.

Conclusion (Wrapping it up)

You never know when you are going to need a tool, and having a multi-tool with you on a daily basis can help make your life a little bit easier. Maybe a small screw in your glasses is loose and you need a small screwdriver to tighten it, or maybe your fishing line becomes tangled amongst the rocks and a knife would come in handy. Regardless of your need, a small multi-tool that you can carry with you can be a lifesaver is certain situations. Decide what features are the most important to you, and then see if you can find a multi-tool that has those components. Maybe one of our picks is perfect for your needs, or perhaps you need to go back to the drawing board and use our pre-purchase considerations to help you select a multi-tool that will give you years of use.

Discussion and comments

We want to know what you think. Do you own any of the products we discussed? Which did you buy and how did it work out for you?

Do you know of an even better product?

Comment below and help your fellow consumers make the right choice. Over to you!

Resources

  1. Oso Grande, Leatherman MUT Multi-Tool Review | OsoGrandeKnives, YouTube, December 5, 2013
  2. Knives Town, Swiss Army – Victorinox SwissTool RS Review, YouTube, June 9, 2009
  3. SWISSTOOL CS PLUS, Victorinox Swiss Army
  4. Gear N Tools, Leatherman NEW Surge Review Another Great Leatherman Update, YouTube, November 8, 2013
  5. Nick Lefort, LEATHERMAN SURGE, Gear Institute, May 2014
  6. Nick Lefort, GERBER SUSPENSION MULTI-PLIER, Gear Institute, August 2014
  7. Live Long Gear, Gerber Suspension Multi Tool or Multi Plier Review (HD), YouTube, February 16, 2013
  8. Mark Adkins, Gerber Suspension Multi-tool Review, The Gadgeteer, May 1, 2011

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