The Best Multitools of 2022 | GearJunkie

2022-09-10 13:58:19 By : Ms. Natalie Huang

July 7, 2022 |  By Josh Wussow

Whether in the backcountry or on the job site, there’s nothing quite like carrying an entire toolbox in your pocket.

Knives are nice, but what about a knife with pliers, scissors, bit drivers, and maybe even a nail file? If that sounds like multitasking heaven to you, you’re not alone. Multitools have become incredibly popular in the world of everyday carry, with brands like Leatherman, Gerber, and Victorinox leading the charge.

Still, this popularity comes at a cost. Cheap, poorly built multitools are everywhere, from store-brand models to souvenir garbage. Rather than sink your money into something that’ll break the first time you try to turn a screw or snip a piece of wire, you need something that’ll live up to the hardworking ethos multitools seem to project.

And while the aforementioned big three brands have a lot of quality products, there are a few stinkers even in their lineups. To help you sort the garbage from the gold, we’ve assembled a list of six multitools, balancing quality, versatility, and price point.

Check out the links to our individual picks below, or keep scrolling to find the best multitool for you. At the end of our list, be sure to check out our comprehensive buyer’s guide along with our helpful comparison chart.

When it comes to the world of multitools, the Leatherman Wave+ ($110) is the king of the hill. With 18 tools, an intuitive layout, and excellent materials, it’s like carrying a superhero’s accessory belt in your pocket.

The Wave+ packs two different blades, both accessible from a closed position. The thumb holes allow for single-hand deployment, and the integrated linerlock keeps their 420HC edges in place.

There’s also the interchangeable bit driver, which fits a wealth of options beyond the included Phillips and flathead. Add to this one of the best pairs of pliers to ever grace a multitool, and you’re equipped to handle just about anything.

And don’t forget Leatherman’s 25-year warranty. If something goes wrong with your Wave+, simply send it back, and they’ll fix or replace it. We’ve dealt with their department a few times over the years, and the experience has never been anything short of excellent.

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For years, the Style PS ($35) has been a mainstay of our EDC. Despite weighing in at just over an ounce and a half, this Leatherman packs a whopping nine tools into a compact, travel-friendly package.

Beyond the spring-action pliers and wire cutters, the multitool features a nail file, a flathead driver, fold-out scissors, and a carabiner that also serves as a bottle opener. They even managed to tuck a pair of tweezers in there.

Best of all, the lack of a knife blade makes it a perfect companion on your next cross-country flight. One reviewer has flown with a PS for several years, with little more than the occasional eyeballing from the TSA.

The Style also comes in a CS model, which swaps out the pliers for a pair of shears and the flip-out scissors for a small knife blade. It’s a neat combination, but those sharp edges will keep it from passing through airport security.

For our money, the Style PS has the perfect combination of size, capability, and go-anywhere attitude. And at just $35, it’s a great addition to your keychain.

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Think of the Skeletool CX ($90) almost like a full-size Style. Though it lacks the scissors and nail file, the CX takes the same snappy, suspension-type pliers and adds in a large-bit driver and an easy-access blade. And at just 5 ounces, the CX is a hair over half the mass of the Wave+.

This svelte nature, along with its replaceable pocket clip, allows the Skeletool to ride like a standard folding knife. But instead of just a blade in your pocket, you’ll be armed with seven tools in one.

Though a standard Skeletool costs about $10 less, the CX models upgrade the blade steel from 420HC to the superior 154CM. This makes a noticeable difference in its stainless edge retention.

While power users may prefer the all-in-one nature of the Wave+, this streamlined option is probably a better fit for casual tinkerers. If pliers, a screwdriver, and a strong edge are enough to carry you through your workday, the Skeletool CX is an absolute winner.

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Looking for something a little less pliers-centric? Gerber’s got you with one of their newer offerings, the Armbar ($37). This interesting design features eight tools, all wrapped in one unfussy rectangle. Among these are a locking knife, a pair of scissors, and a 2.5-inch driver with a double-sided bit.

If that seems like a lot of tool for less than $40, you’re not wrong. The downside here is that, unlike the Center-Drive, the Armbar sits at the lower end of Gerber’s production scale. That means sometimes good/sometimes bad construction, with materials sourced and assembled in China.

But at under $40, the Armbar is an intriguing, straightforward design that won’t break the bank. If you’re mainly looking for a cheap pocket knife with added capability, this could be the multitool for you.

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Despite being the lightest and cheapest option on our list, the Victorinox Rambler ($30) is arguably the most versatile. An improvement on the aptly named Victorinox Classic, this slightly larger model adds a bottle opener, wire stripper, and Phillips driver to the iconic blade/file/scissors trio. The tweezers and toothpick also carry over, as does the ubiquitous key ring.

At just over a single ounce, the Rambler is almost unnoticeable in the pocket. But when the need arises, you’ll be equipped with 10 of Victorinox’s smartly designed functions. The weakest among these is the wire stripper, which is too small for significant work.

But don’t gloss over that 3D Phillips head. You might be surprised at what a difference it makes on tiny screws.

All in all, this may be the best small offering from Victorinox. We reviewed one several years back, and it’s just as good now as it was then. If you’re looking for a light-duty multitool for your keyring, it’s almost impossible to go wrong with the Rambler.

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Looking for another small multitool option? The Gerber Dime ($25) has legions of devoted fans. Their build quality can be a little bit spotty, but if you find a good one, they’re not too bad. Plus, this tool is great if you are on a budget.

Similarly sized is the Leatherman Squirt PS4 ($40). While it may not boast the travel-friendly pedigree of the Style PS, the PS4 plays no games. Its nine tools come encased in a pair of solid, metallic handles, just light enough to dangle unobtrusively from your keychain. One of our editors has had hers for 5+ years and it’s still going strong.

In the market for something a little more classic? It’s hard to go wrong with the Victorinox Pioneer ($45). This ever-popular model is available in a multitude of colors and has even become somewhat collectible over the years. But its solid tools and sharp blade ensure that this is no showpiece.

Multitools have been a regular part of our kits for as long as we can remember. Beyond several lifetimes’ worth of experience at camp and on the trails, various members of the GearJunkie staff have worked everywhere from retail and the wilderness to construction and power plants.

All the while, there’s been a multitool at the ready. We’ve purchased, broken, and generally abused Leathermans, Gerbers, and many of the knockoffs in between.

That’s the thing about multitools — there’s no better way to test their do-anything ethos than to put them to work. And once you’ve broken down an electrical box or assembled a household of furniture with a Wave+, you get to know the tool inside and out.

This one should be a no-brainer. Do you spend a lot of time prying and pinching? Get the tool with the best pair of pliers. Are you more focused on snipping and cutting? Leatherman offers several models with replaceable wire cutters and multiple blades.

But sometimes, things you didn’t anticipate become the most valuable. Take the eyeglass screwdriver on the Wave+. This precision instrument has seen a ton of use, serving as the perfect complement to the rest of the kit.

You want to pick the multitool with the highest number of features that you can see yourself using. While the Wave+ will likely be the best combination for most folks, something like the Gerber Center-Drive might be better if you find yourself assembling or disassembling screwed components on a regular basis.

This isn’t as simple, as heavier equals heavy duty. On the contrary, sometimes tools with lighter materials can, in fact, be more robust. Take your average big-box store’s brand. You’re likely getting the cheapest steel possible, which results in a fairly hefty package. But the first time you try to use the built-in screwdriver, you’re as likely to strip the head as you are to complete your task.

Compare this with a lightweight item like the Leatherman Skeletool. Not only is its driver much stronger, but it’s also replaceable. And because the whole tool is easier to carry, you’re more likely to have it on you when the need arises.

This is directly related to the weight consideration. When shopping for a multitool, your objective should be to get the best components possible within your given budget. This is one of the places where Leatherman shines.

Though they do offer budget models with semi-questionable steels, the big names (Wave+, Skeletool, etc.) all feature 420HC steel or better on their blades and components. Gerber also offers 420HC on the Center-Drive.

If you can help it, don’t settle for no-name “stainless steel,” especially on cheaper multitools hailing from Amazon or the big-box stores. These start with poor materials and end with slipshod construction.

By skimping with one of these purchases, you’re asking to be let down when the need for the multitool arises. Named steels and trusted brands are your friends. The bargain bin and deal-of-the-day offerings are not.

Though often relegated to the back end of the shopping process, portability is a critical piece of your decision. If your multitool is difficult to carry, it doesn’t matter how many bells and whistles are crammed between the handles.

Belt pouches, such as those that come with the Leatherman Wave+ and Gerber Center-Drive, are great for people working in a blue-collar environment. No one at the job site or shop will look twice at that branded bit of canvas at your side.

But in an office environment? While your coworkers may love you when it comes to putting together office furniture, they might be a bit weirded out by a sheath dangling from your belt.

If you intend to carry the multitool on your person, you’d be better suited to something with a pocket clip. This is where the Skeletool really finds its place to shine. Or, if you’re looking for something even smaller, the Style PS4 is a great keychain option.

This is a vital consideration for anyone putting their multitool to its intended purpose. If you’re going to be cutting, prying, driving, and pinching with it long enough, even the best-made product can wear out. That’s where guarantees like Leatherman’s 25-year warranty come into play.

When one reviewer snapped the pliers off his first Style PS opening an electrical box (not his smartest moment), he mailed it in, and they sent a new one. The same thing happened with another reviewer’s Wave+, which eventually developed a problem with its main blade. They opened a warranty ticket through Leatherman’s website, mailed back the tool, and had a brand new one on their belt by the following week.

As much as we talk about Leatherman, they’re not the only game in town. Gerber and Victorinox each offer limited lifetime warranties. That’s not something you’re going to get from the no-name brands floating around Amazon and Harbor Freight.

Yes, absolutely. Dollar for dollar, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better bang for your buck in the world of everyday gear. While fancy pocket knives are fun, multitools offer a wealth of utility in addition to cutting power.

And if your budget allows, this is one area where you’ll be rewarded by spending a bit more. The gap in quality of materials and construction between a full-size $40 multitool and a $110 Leatherman Wave+ is vast.

That’s a tricky question. As you’ll see in the list above, the Wave+, Skeletool, and Style PS hold prominent places on our list. Their selection, quality, and warranty pretty much cement Leatherman as king.

But if you’re looking for something a little off the beaten path, both Gerber and Victorinox make some quality offerings. The Gerber Center-Drive and Victorinox Rambler are great, though they sit at opposite sides of the spectrum.

We have two on our list — the Leatherman Squirt PS4 and the Victorinox Rambler. If you’re after something that pries, pinches, and flies (i.e. no blade), the Style PS could also be the way to go. Its bladeless setup makes it acceptable to take through the airport.

But if you need something with a blade or just have a soft spot for the classics, the Rambler is a great option. It adds some great functionality to the iconic Victorinox keychain tool without much additional price or weight.

If the blade is the most-used piece on your multitool, it’s hard to go wrong with the Skeletool CX. This upgraded model offers 154CM steel, a significant upgrade from the standard 420HC. And while some folks might like the idea of a partially serrated blade, these really aren’t the best choice for serious slicing.

That’s another reason we’re fans of the CX’s plain, unbroken edge. The blade is also readily accessible, thanks to its position on the outside of the folded handles. Add in one-handed opening and a solid pocket clip, and the Skeletool is easily the best option.

But if you’re not interested in a pair of pliers, the Gerber Armbar is another interesting option. Built completely around the framelock pocket knife, this is a more budget-conscious take on a blade-forward design.

As many as you can fit! But seriously, this depends on your use case. We prefer to have a mix. That’s one of the reasons the Wave+ tops our list. Its serrated blade and saw provide a wonderful complement to the plain-edge 420HC found in its main cutting tool.

But if you mostly spend your time slicing through cardboard, the single edges of the Skeletool CX may be more your speed. Or are you one of those people who tackle a lot of cordage or rope? In that case, partial serrations such as those on the Wave+ or Center-Drive will definitely come in handy.

While the Signal is advertised as Leatherman’s “outdoors” model, it’s absent from our list. This is because some of its tools (the hammer, sharpener, and firestarter) are scaled down to the point where you’d be better off carrying a full-size version separately. And they take up valuable space that could be better used by items such as scissors and files.

So despite its heft, the Wave+ remains an attractive option. But if you’re counting ounces, look to the Skeletool CX or even something tinier like the Style PS.

Again, it’s Leatherman. The brand’s canvas sheaths have been more or less bulletproof over several years of use, without so much as a rip or frayed seam. These ride comfortably on the belt and can be purchased in a few different configurations. Some of these go so far as to include additional space for driver extensions.

There are also several aftermarket options available, including some in leather. Gerber’s sheaths are also serviceable if the Armbar is more your speed.

Josh Wussow is a writer and power sector worker based out of Wisconsin. He has degrees in English and video production, but you wouldn’t know it by his reviews and photos. Josh enjoys camping, hiking, and anything involving a campfire or grill. His work has taken him from Tennessee to New Mexico and Colorado. He misses the mountains very much.

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