Multi Tools and Swiss Army Knives

Introduction to Multi Tools

Leatherman Juice XE6 multi tool 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

Victorinox SwissChamp Swiss Army Knive 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