An extremely versatile model w/21 tools, including the brand's largest pliers and longest blades. Solid, reliable tools for a wide range of tasks.
The black finish is a bit oily at first, but this fades with use. It's costly, but you get a lot for the money.
A popular model w/17 versatile tools and a sleek stainless steel finish. The blades are very sharp and the pliers have a reliable grip.
It's on the higher end of the price spectrum but has fewer tools than some cheaper choices.
Leatherman's original multi-tool w/14 tools in a midsize, stainless steel unit. Comes at a mid-range price.
Feels a bit less durable than costlier models, and some of the tools (short file, flat-head screwdriver) aren't very effective.
Incredibly sharp cutting power with Leatherman's heavy-duty construction. Features 6 professional-level tools, including 3 cutting tools.
A bit bulky and difficult to remove from the holster. It's pricey, and it lacks the various tools of other Leatherman tools.
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Leatherman invented the multi-tool, and the firm has been at the forefront of the development of this invaluable gadget ever since.
The company now offers a whole array of different products. Just about every imaginable accessory is available in a variety of sizes to suit all needs. Far from resting on its laurels, however, Leatherman continues to introduce tools that provide innovative solutions, ranging from those that make life just a little easier to those that can dramatically improve user safety.
We've recommended a few of our favorites, and in this shopping guide we look at your choices in more detail. It outlines the important features you need to look for and provides answers to common questions about Leatherman’s products.
A multi-tool for every demand
Leatherman produces four sizes of what we all recognize as a multi-tool: keychain, pocket, full, and heavy-duty. Each is fitted with anywhere from 6 to 21 tools, from scissors and bottle-openers to rulers and screwdrivers, and, of course, a wide variety of blades. Some are designed as all-rounders, others for particular trades, such as cable installers. There are also ultra-light Skeletools for those who need practical accessories but want to carry as little weight as possible.
Alongside these, there are pocket knives, safety equipment, pocket tools aimed at hunters, winter sports fans, and surfers, and even wearables – multi-tools you can carry on your wrist. All of them are made from high-quality materials and components to the most exacting standards.
Somewhere in the range there's a Leatherman multi-tool to suit practically every individual. It's not difficult to find something with an accessory list that reads like it was written specifically for you. There's a Leatherman for opening boxes or bottles that also includes a wrench and a screwdriver. Another can help you fix your skateboard.
The power to tackle the toughest jobs
The Surge is one of Leatherman's largest multi-tools, and with 21 different fittings, it's also one of the most comprehensive. The blade exchanger adds even more versatility to a tool that's built to work hard day in, day out, but still have the finesse to tackle detailed jobs. Need a spare hand? All the Surge tools are designed for safe, single-handed operation. It delivers performance without compromises.
Given the variety in the Leatherman lineup, it's important to think about the tools you need and the way you'll use them. It might be tempting to go for a heavy-duty model with every conceivable gadget, but if you need the tool for backpacking, there's a good chance that it will be heavier than you want to carry and have accessories you'll never use. Maybe something smaller, with a built-in lanyard point would be better. You'll probably save money, too. On the other hand, if you want that gift for the person who has everything, there are models with titanium handles and Damascus steel blades!
Here are a few features to think about as you shop:
Secure blade-locking mechanisms mean your fingers are never in danger of getting trapped by a folding knife or saw.
Leatherman is undoubtedly the best-known name in multi-tools, and the company’s material choices and high production standards mean these tools are seldom cheap. You might be able to save money with another brand, but Leatherman remains popular because it offers unrivaled versatility, excellent performance, and tremendous durability.
Inexpensive: Pocket tools start at less than $10. Entry-level models in the keychain range, pocket knives, and the Z-Rex Firefighter tool cost a very affordable $30 and up.
Mid-range: The popular Rebar, an update on the original Leatherman, is about $70, and you have lots of choices in the $80 to $150 bracket.
Expensive: The specialized tactical MUT multi-tool is in the region of $240. At the top of the range is the amazing Tread Tempo multi-tool watch at $450.
Leatherman tool blades are made from high-carbon stainless steel. It's extremely durable and maintains its sharpness. It’s also resistant to corrosion but not completely rustproof. The occasional application of a little penetrating oil will prevent spots from developing.
Internal springs mean that Leatherman multi-tools automatically open again – convenient and fast. Geared heads magnify the pressure you apply, so less effort is needed.
An invaluable assistant
If you're looking for an affordable, high-quality, pocket-size tool with solutions for just about every task, the Sidekick is the answer. This collection of 14 superbly made accessories in a comfortably sized tool allows you to cut, grip, saw, screw, lever, and measure. Then when you're done, it can even open a bottle of your favorite beverage! As the name suggests, it's every do-it-yourselfer’s perfect Sidekick.
The standard design of the Leatherman multi-tool is very well known, so we thought we'd take a quick look at a few of their other clever solutions. It's always worth having a tool like the Leatherman Z-Rex in your vehicle. It offers a sure grip and includes a carbide glass breaker, reversible strap cutter (with replaceable blades), and a driver for hex bits. For those who like to be prepared wherever they are, there's the remarkable Leatherman Tread Tempo, a stylish watch with a precision Swiss-made movement combined with a stainless steel strap that offers 30 different tools.
Q. Can I take my Leatherman on a commercial flight?
A. It's a common question, but unfortunately the answer is not straightforward. Any kind of bladed tool, and those with sharp points, would not be allowed in a carry-on. They're perfectly OK in your checked luggage, though.
Certain Leatherman tools are currently Transportation Security Administration (TSA) compliant, such as the the Hail (popular with skiers and snowboarders) and the Piranha 2 wrench and driver. However, rules can change at any time, so it's important to check before departure. Additionally, TSA agents have the right to make individual decisions on a case-by-case basis. While the Leatherman site should have up-to-date information, if the agent says no, that's end of story.
What could add even more complications are the rules at the point of entry or exit in another country. The TSA is responsible for the United States. While most other countries have similar restrictions, each is responsible for its own jurisdiction. What does and doesn't constitute “dangerous” can differ. It's possible that you could walk through US customs just fine but be stopped on arrival somewhere else. It's easiest just to put it in your checked luggage. It's not very likely you'll be adjusting your ski bindings on the plane anyway!
Q. Do Leatherman tools carry a lifetime warranty?
A. Actually, it's 25 years, which is still impressive. It doesn't cover sheaths, which are very durable but could be subject to high wear and tear. Leather and synthetic materials aren't as tough as steel. The warranty also doesn't cover some accessories. Basically, Leatherman is confident of each tool's quality, so if it breaks, the company will replace it.
Q. Can I change or replace individual blades or other devices in a Leatherman?
A. Some parts will eventually wear out – cutter blades or saws, for example – and many of these are replaceable. They should be available where you bought your Leatherman tool. Other small items might get lost, such as pop-out tweezers, and replacements are also available for these. However, you can't individually customize a tool. If it's damaged, you can return it to Leatherman for a replacement, but you can't, for example, substitute a blade for a wrench. This is because every component of the tool is designed to work together. Changing one could compromise this functionality.
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