A recurring topic in various knife and multi tool forums is What multi tool should I buy for my wife/girlfriend. Of course, any time you want to generalize about a group of people as large as 50% of the entire population, you will upset some people, but I still think the question is valid. In this article, I will discuss how to choose the best multitool for women who are not particularly interested in tools themselves. If you want to know how to choose a multi tool for your truck driver girlfriend who will use it every day on the job, you do not need advice that is tailored to women, you need advice tailored to truck drivers.
Keychain tools, swiss army knives and full size tools
If you ask on a knife-enthusiast board which multi tool you should buy for yourself, you are likely to get a plethora of answers. If you ask which multi tool you should buy for your wife, you are likely to get more than one reply that advices you to just buy a Victorinox Classic Swiss Army Knife, or a Leatherman Micra keychain tool. I agree that these are great additions to anyones purse or keychain and definitely recommend them. Leatherman's Squirt and Micra are great tools and the good scissors will appeal to many women. The Victorinox Classic is a good Swiss Army Knife that is even smaller than the keychain tools (the main difference between the Leathermans and the Victorinox is that the Leathermans include screwdrivers whereas the Victorinox includes a toothpick).
While I definitely recommend the keychain tools, I think it is strange to think that only men will appreciate and need the larger multi tools. There are many day to day uses of multi tools that apply to women just as much as to men. It is empowering to have a good multi tool. Even if they do not use a multi tool daily, many men carry a multi tool for use in emergencies. There is no reason why women should not prepare just as well for an emergency as men and a real multi tool should be part of everyones survival kit.
The best multi tool for women
Just like there is no best multi tool in general, there is no best multi tool for women. There are some considerations that I think are useful to keep in mind:
- Choose a multitool with scissors. I know multi tool diehards will say that scissors are useless because you can always use a knife, but scissors do a much better job at cutting many things.
- Weight is not the most important consideration. The tool will probably be carried in a purse, not on a tool belt, so a single ounce more or less does not matter much.
- Size is an issue. Most women will not appreciate a Leatherman Core or a regular Swiss Tool. Those who do probably already own one.
- Choose a tool with screwdrivers. Newer tools sometimes only include a bit driver. Many women will not want to carry bits with them at all times, but would like a phillips screwdriver to make simple repairs.
- Quality is important. Don't buy a 10 dollar tool from a hardware store. It will not be used, and not be carried. Good workmanship will be appreciated. It is important to be able to count on your tools and of course you do not want your wife to hurt herself with a bad quality multi tool.
How to find the best multitool for your woman
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to decide what is the best multitool for your wife or girlfriend:
- What is she going to use it for? Does she have any hobbies that require special tools? Most women never use a saw, but if your woman loves to hike, it may become one of the most used tools on her multi tool. If she likes to drink wine, do choose one that includes a corkscrew.
- Will she feel comfortable with a larger multi tool? Some people feel that a Leatherman Juice, with nice bright colors, is much less threatening than other multi tools. Remember: a tool that actually gets carried is better than a tool that sits in a drawer, even if the tool in the drawer is technically the better one.
- What are the laws where you live? It is illegal to carry locking blades or blades that are over a certain size in some places. If you want this to be an every day carry tool for her, make sure to choose one that is actually legal to carry.
With the above suggestions in mind, I recommend the following multi tools:
- Leatherman Juice S2 This tool is a little smaller than other multi tools, but it is still large enough for most uses. It comes in orange and gray and looks much friendlier than other tools. All the tools open from the outside, but they do not lock. The CS4 and XE6 are also good options, but do not offer that much more for daily use than the S2.
- Leatherman Wave (OLD STYLE) The Wave is beautiful. Most women will appreciate the rounded curves and the obvious craftsmanship. The locking blades open from the outside. The diamond file is perfect for (ahem) filing fingernails and the scissors are great. I do not recommend the new Wave. It does not include screwdrivers, and the scissors are of poor quality.
- Victorinox Swiss Tool Spirit Like the Wave, this is a very nice tool. The Spirit feels sturdier than the Leatherman tools. It has a good selection of tools, the scissors and phillips screwdriver are very well made and the fact that all the tools lock and open from the outside makes them much easier to use. It feels exceptionally well in your hands.
Don't think these are the ones? Try the multi tool comparison chart to see if there is a tool that meets all your wishes.
Introduction to Multi Tools
A multi tool is basically a pair of pliers with other useful tools that can be accessed from the handles. The concept was invented by Tim Leatherman while he was traveling through Europe. He found Swiss Army Knives lacking for his heavier duty work and developed a tool that included a good pair of pliers, as well as other things you would expect to find in a Swiss Army Knife: screwdrivers, a knife and a can opener. Other companies before him had made similar tools on a much smaller scale, but Leatherman brought multi tools to the masses. 25 years later, Leatherman is still the market leader.
Differences with Swiss Army Knives
The biggest difference between multi tools and Swiss Army Knives is still the pair of pliers. Some Swiss Army Knives have pliers, but they are only useful for small jobs. A multi tool also feels very differently: it is bigger, so you can hold it in your hand much better. The size of multi tools could also be a disadvantage: you usually get more tools per weight in a Swiss Army Knive. Many people also feel that the quality of the Swiss Army Knives is unmatched in today's multi tools, so that is a trade-off.
What to buy?
- If you need pliers, you absolutely need a multi tool.
- If you need knives, it boils down to personal preference, but realize that the knives in both multi tools and Swiss Army Knives are not as good as quality knives. People who rely on knives usually carry both a knife and a multi tool.
- If you need screwdrivers you will want to try out different models of both multi tools and swiss army knives, since manufacturer's ideas of what is a small or a phillips screwdriver vary wildly. Both Swiss Army Knives and multi tools have models with bit holders available.
- If you need a tool for tough jobs, go with a big multi tool, such as the Leatherman Core or Surge or the Victorinox Swiss Tool.
August 18, 2006