Whether you are camping, hiking, biking, fishing, hunting, or anything to do with the outdoors, a multi-tool is always going to be handy. Though a multi-tool is far from the actual instruments, it contains the basics that may be enough.
The best survival multi tool can help you when you encounter technical problems outdoors. Even if you won't use it so much, it's good to be prepared.
Best Survival Multi Tool 2019
Number of Tools
**Below, you'll see more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices and read customer's reviews on Amazon.
The Skeletool CX is easily, yet arguably, the most beautifully-designed multi-tool on our list with its stainless steel and carbon fiber ergonomic construction.
Also, at a light 5oz, it perfectly balances function with scratch-resistant coating, quick-tool-access design, and interchangeable tool bits.
In other words, even when closed, you’ll be able to use the Skeletool 420 High-Carbon (HC) stainless steel knife.
Then, you could use just the right tool bits when you need them via the universal bit drivers. This handy feature means you won’t have the extra weight of instruments bits that you don’t regularly use!
The bits included with the Skeletool are two Philips (#1 and #2) and two screwdrivers (3/16 inch and ¼ inch)
Last but not least are the durable and versatile pliers (standard and needlenose) that also feature a conventional cutter and a heavy-duty cutter.
These two kinds of cutting power mean you’ll be able to cut through both thicker material like fishhooks as well as softer materials.
With the addition of a carabiner clip and a bottle opener, all in all, the Skeletool from Leatherman will give you seven useful tools.
- Light as well as compact
- Light as well as compact
- Intuitive functions
- The carabiner allows for various attaching options.
- Markedly fewer active functions/tools than other multi-tools
- The carbon fiber design does not decrease the overall weight of the Skeletool when you compare it with the non-carbon fiber model.
You’d find the Leatherman Wave on the more expensive side of price spectrum on our list.
However, this full-size folding tool is also the most popular of Leatherman’s multi-tools and for a good reason. The Wave manages to squeeze in 17 different tools in its stainless steel body.
The functions in the Wave that you won’t find in basic multi-tools are the 420HC serrated knife, clip-point, can opener, saw, diamond-coated file, large bit driver, an 8inch ruler, and also a wire stripper!
Plus, all of the tools on the Wave except the pliers have locking features which will mean safe, secure, and efficient usage for you every time!
Although Leatherman offers higher-priced multi-tools with more functions and various designs, the much-loved Wave offers the perfect balance of all these features.
- Classic design as well as well-rounded features
- Small and large bit drivers for improved versatility
- Solid and remarkably durable design
- Premium quality knives and blades
- A 25-year warranty from Leatherman
- The best multi-tool in its price range
Leatherman is a very widely known brand for pocket tools, multi-tools, and knives. Of course, if there's a list of multi-tools, Leatherman has to be in it. One of their most popular products is the Wave Multi-Tool. As a matter of fact, it is an international best seller!
The multi-tool closes into 4 inches, weighs 241 grams and the primary blade is 2.9 inches long. It is also covered with black-oxide, which reduces glaring and reflection. The tools are grade 420 high carbon stainless steel.
This multi-tools has 17 machines: Spring-action scissors, Needlenose pliers, Hard-wire cutters, Regular pliers, Wire stripper, 420HC Serrated Knife, 420HC Knife, Saw, Ruler (8 inches/19 centimeters), Can Opener, Diamond-coated file, Small bit driver, Large bit driver, Bottle Opener, Medium Screwdriver, Wood/metal file, Wire cutters
- The molle sheath is also great.
- You can open the tools with one hand
- It’s only 4 inches when it’s closed.
- All tools and knives on the handle lock into place.
- Perfect for most outdoor activities.
- The black oxide rubs off on your hands.
- It’s sometimes difficult to open up.
Offering similar features as the Leatherman Wave but at a friendlier price is the Gerber Diesel.
This multi-tool weighs in at about 8.5oz and measuring 9.5inches long and 5.5 inches wide. It’s in this industrial-strength build that Gerber squeezes in 12 different tools. The all-important plier head in the Diesel features a needle-nose and standard plier, as well as a wire cutter.
Then, it’s versatile and sturdy body sports a unique jaw release button, a partially serrated blade, coarse and fine file, saw, can and bottle opener, scissors, Phillips screwdriver, and finally small, medium, and large flathead screwdrivers!
- Budget-friendly full-size multi-tool
- Above-average build quality
- Versatile tools
- Easy access to the tool lock and jaw release features
- Close but falls short of the build quality found in Leatherman
People often use the term “Swiss knife” to most pocket knives, even when it’s not a Swiss Army brand. This may be because the brand Swiss Army is mainly known for their pocket knives. The SwissChamp has 33 functions, yet it is still very compact and portable.
Even if you probably don't need most of the tools, you can't complain because of how compact it is.
Anyways, it's better to have extra functions than a lack in function. Since there are so many tools, I’ll just mention the ones that are not so common to the other multi-tools on the list: A magnifying glass, Chisel/Scraper, Tweezers, Reamer, Key ring, Multi-purpose Hook (Parcel Carrier), Corkscrew, Fish scaler, Pressurized ballpoint pen.
The multi-tool offers 33 functions, which is more than enough for almost any situations. You can use it at home, at work, when camping, backpacking, and just about anywhere you go.
- It’s very portable
- The appearance is fresh and sleek.
- Excellent for traveling and backpacking
- The electronic feature is interesting but not useful.
- With so many tools available, it’s sometimes hard to find just what you need.
- The blades do not lock.
The Dime from multi-tool brand Gerber is the most affordable tool on our list. Its price would mean that the build quality of the Dime may not be up to par with its pricier completion. However, it does not skimp out on features.
The primary functions of the Dime include spring-loaded needle-nose pliers, a blade, scissors, a wire cutter, packaging opener, bottle opener, tweezers, file, as well as flat and cross head screwdrivers.
In addition to its tools, the black stainless steel Dime is also remarkably light and portable owing to its tiny 2x3 inches frame. Despite its size, the Gerber Dime packs in a total of 10 functions!
- Lightweight and also small enough to attach to your key ring or chain
- Complete with the most popular tools
- Corrosion resistant
- Markedly less sturdy or solid as pricier Multi-Tools
- The dime is not ideal for heavy-duty tasks
An upgrade to the Gerber Dime in both build quality and price, yet only a tad bigger comes in the Squirt PS4 from Leatherman. This “squirt” of a multi-tool does not lack the excellent construction and sturdiness typically present in multi-tools at this size.
Despite the improved quality compared to its competition, the Squirt PS4 is still light enough to keep and forget in your pocket. Perhaps a factor in this lightweight is Squirt’s anodized aluminum handles.
Again, similar to the Dime, the Squirt has accessible tools even when closed and a key ring attachment.
The Squirt PS4 gives you a total number of 9 functions including, a spring-loaded needlenose and regular pliers, a 420HC blade, spring-loaded scissors, a combined Phillips and flathead screwdriver, a bottle opener, file, and a medium screwdriver.
- Compact, lightweight, but also well-built
- The key-ring attachment keeps the Squirt quite handy
- Includes basic tools you’d expect from a multi-tool
- A 25-year warranty from Leatherman
- Despite its solid build
Gerber is another globally known brand for knives, pocket tools, and multi-tools. One of their classics is the Suspension Multi-Plier, inspired by the bridges around Portland Oregon.
It has a butterfly design that opens up quickly, with 12 other tools for your convenience.
The twelve tools are the following: Spring-loaded needle nose plier, Tool lock, Cross driver, Small flathead, Lanyard, Regular plier, Fine-edge blade, Saw, Scissor, Wire Cutter, Large Flathead, Can opener, Serrated blade, Bottle opener.
- It closes up into a length of 3 inches.
- More than enough tools for most situations that need tools.
- The Saf.T.Plus locking system locks the individual components securely
- It’s a little heavier than I thought it would be.
- The sheath that comes with the multi-tool isn’t very sturdy and doesn’t lock very well.
- The pliers and the wire cutter feel a little flimsy
- It’s a bit tricky to fold the tools back.
The SOG PowerAssist Multi-Tool is probably one of the sturdiest ones I know. It features SOG Assisted Technology blades, allowing for the safe opening of the blades. It also prevents it from opening up accidentally.
This multi tool has a total of 16 tools, which are the following: Serrated Blade, Straight-edge blade, V-cutter, Hard wire cutter, Wire crimper, Ruler, Flat screwdriver (small, medium, and large), Philips screwdriver, Needle nose pliers, 3-sided file, Can pener, Bottle opener, Bolt grip channel.
- The pliers open very smoothly.
- You can still access the straight-edge and serrated blade even when the tool is closed.
- The tool is great for house use and camping.
- It uses a durable stainless steel material.
- It is quite heavy.
- When you take out the V-cutter out, the can open goes along with it.
- Digging the tools individually is sometimes difficult.
Multi Tool Buyer’s Guide
A Bit of Multi-Tool History
The idea of combining several tools into one device is by no means a modern innovation. In fact, the oldest discovered multi-tool dates back as early as 200 CE.
Apparently, a smart Roman wanted a tool that will carry all his eating utensils in one compound device, including a fork and spoon, knife, spatula, and pick. Thus, the multiple-tool was born.
Fast forward two thousand years and you’ll see that almost everyone you meet will refer to it as a “leatherman,” regardless if the multi-tool comes from the Leatherman brand or the other multi-tool makers such as Gerber, Victorinox, or Coleman.
The Best Handheld Toolbox
A multi-tool shouldn’t replace your fully-stocked toolbox, but it is a remarkable go-to device that is small and light enough to keep on your person.
Like your toolbox, you would ultimately determine the best multi-tool depending on your specific needs. Some Leatherman, for instance, has special tools for cyclists or electricians.
In the end, whichever category your tool requisites will fall into, consider these important factors: build quality, versatility, portability, and value.
Note that I won’t be including the multi-tools’ aesthetic design (apart from ergonomics), as this is purely a subjective feature. “One man’s treasure” and all that.
There are so many multi-tools in the market; some with just a few instruments and others with more than you need. To help you narrow down your choices, consider the following factors:
Probably the most important factor is the functionality. On the market, you can find all sorts of multi-tools that have features that may seem cool but are unnecessary. Ask yourself this: what tools do you need or which will you use?
A multitool with so many features may seem very cool, but it might just be a waste of space, money, and weight. On the other hand, it’s also easy to go the other way and lack the right tools.
Make sure you get the right multi-tool that's enough to get things done. Anyways, one way or another, finding a use for a multi-tool is easier than not having a tool at all.
To find one just for your needs, you also have to consider the situations you'll be taking out a multi-tool. For instance, if you're looking for a multi-tool for your retail job, one with a package opener and a pen might be just right.
For camping trips, cookouts, and beach trips, look for one with a bottle and can opener, and maybe even utensils.
Ease of Use
Make sure you look for a multi-tool that's easy to use and folds out easily. If you're struggling to get it out of your pocket or opening the right tool out, then it's eventually going to become irritating than handy.
You also don't want to hurt yourself trying to unfold the tool. If a survival tool is difficult to handle, it's not serving its purpose right.
Suitability is closely related to functionality. Ask yourself these questions to help you out: Are the features suitable to your needs? Is it portable enough for you?
For instance, if you want a multi-tool for backpacking, something that is heavy duty is probably the last thing you want. Here are some suggestions you can take note of:
For backpacking, a lightweight yet durable multi-tool is ideal. A multi-tool with needle-nose pliers, hard wire cutters, a blade, and scissors should be enough for the trails.
For camping, a multi-tool with more features such as a can and bottle opener, screwdrivers, and serrated knives. It'll be heavier, but at least you won't be carrying them often like you would when backpacking.
Rock Climbing, Hunting, Hiking, Fishing, etc.
Multi-tools are also handy for other outdoor activities like fishing, hunting, rock climbing, skiing, and snowboarding. Features may differ for these activities.
For instance, on the slopes, a multi tool with pliers and screwdrivers can be what you need to fix problems with your boards and skis temporarily.
For fishing, you may want something to help you cut free a hook and open cans or bottles. You may also want something that is rust resistance, especially if the tools will be exposed to saltwater.
Sturdy, durable, and robust build quality is outstanding for any device but becomes essential for one that has as much moving parts as the multi-tool.
So, before you look at a Multi-Tool's functions, inspect first examine the materials in its construction, the tight and fluid movement of the tools’ hinges, locking options, the sharpness of the cutting tools, and its resistance to corrosion as well as wear and tear.
A multi-tool with a thousand different functions will be useless if it will easily give out during daily use. So, as mentioned, take a specific gander at how all the tools move. They should rotate in and out of the handles smoothly but not loosely.
Also, a secure mechanism should keep these tools locked into place when stored, most especially the sharper instruments such as the knife or the scissors.
These build features won’t just mean a longer lasting multi-tool, but will also mean your safety during their use.
Most of the time, just holding the Leatherman in your hand, feeling its weight, ergonomics, and the way its tools move to and fro on its hinges is enough for you to tell if it’s an excellent product.
Versatility vs. Portability
Nowadays, it seems that packing in the most tools in one Leatherman is the name of the game. However, the device with the higher number of functions is not necessarily a better tool than those with less.
You might be happy and content with a multi-tool that stays light and portable with essential functions, while others may prefer one that may be heftier because of the myriad of features it sports or vice versa.
Hence it’s important to keep in mind how you’ll be using your multi-tool. For example, if you will be carrying it in your pocket or on a chain, then a small or standard multi-tool will suffice.
On the other hand, you will need a holster for heavier, more versatile multi-tools that you will attach to your belt or utility harness.
Overall, you should determine the function-to-weight ratio of the multi-tool you’d prefer.
Value is probably the most fundamental factor when purchasing any tool. For instance, some may refer to a Multi-Tool's carbon fiber handle as essential while others may say it’s extraneous and just adds to its price.
Hence, since the majority of us are on a budget, it’s also important to consider if a multi-tool is a bang for your every hard-earned buck.
Finally, with these factors in mind, let’s get to the reviews of our top 5 best Multi-Tool
Choosing a multi-tool can be frustrating when you don’t know what to look for. It depends on three factors: functionality, ease of use, and suitability. Some people buy one just in case of emergencies, while others make use of it.
However, if you’re on a very tight budget, then the Gerber Dime would be a great option with its small size and incredible portability.
If your budget is just a little bigger, then get the Leatherman Wave Multi-Tool which has the best value on our multi-tool list.
Conversely, if you’re looking for your first (and most likely, last) multi-tool, then the safest and the wisest option would be to invest in the Leatherman Wave. You can’t go wrong.