Created out of necessity for the ultimate in convenience, the multitool is designed to provide you with a bevy of tools and blades in one handy device. More versatile than a pocketknife, a good multitool needs to be strong, lightweight, easy to carry, and above all else, it has to have the right tools for your needs. There are dozens of styles, manufacturers, and interest-specific multitools available, but for our test we set out to pit the biggest names in the industry against each other in a general interest multitool comparison. We started our journey with $60 in our pockets, a number we felt the average reader would feel comfortable dropping for a quality tool, and then we bought a handful of multitools from various retailers and manufacturers.
Once the multitools were evaluated for design, ergonomics, value, number of tools, and ease of use, we got to work closely checking knife sharpness, plier strength, wire cutting ability, screwdriver effectiveness, saw capabilities, and safety. Safety was a key concern, because the last thing you want is to try and open the Philips bit, only to cut your finger with the knife or can opener. Trust us, we know firsthand. With the testing concluded, we had two definitive frontrunners, and we're confident both choices will provide you with years of versatility and hassle-free performance.
1. Leatherman Wingman with pocket clip
www.leatherman.com $29.97 (at www.homedepot.com)
As the originator of the multitool, it was no surprise that the Leatherman Wingman was well built, offered handy tools, and was the easiest to carry, but what did surprise us was the value. For less than $30.00, the Wingman offers precise, spring-loaded pliers, a 420HC knife blade that topped our sharpness test, and a high-quality screwdriver that finished in second place. Add to that liner locks for the knife and scissors for added safety, a compact ruler, and removable pocket clip, and you have yourself an incredible multitool you can carry every day. This tool can easily tackle most projects that arise at work, while camping, or fishing with buddies. The Leatherman is proudly made in Oregon, and proves America builds it best.
2. Gerber Suspension Multi-Plier with nylon sheath
www.gerbergear.com $41.69 (at www.target.com)
The moment we picked up the Gerber Suspension, comments were made about its solid construction, ease of use, intuitive ergonomics, and something we considered very important—everyday livability. In other words, would this tool be a practical and handy piece of hardware to carry every day? The answer was a resounding “yes.” Gerber's Suspension received high marks on knife sharpness, screwdriver performance, and safety devices, such as the tool, scissors, and blade locks. At $41.69, it was our second most-expensive multitool tested, but for the performance, ease of use, and number of tools included (11), the Suspension rightfully earned its Second Place ranking.
3. SOG PowerLock S62 with leather sheath
rel="nofollow">www.sogknives.com $59.98 (at www.lowes.com)
With compound gear leverage for ultra-strong pliers, one-handed flip opening operation, and a V-Cutter for cutting straps and cords, the SOG PowerLock is a versatile beast of a tool. With a total of 22 tools included in the PowerLock, the SOG offers unique items like the ¼-inch socket drive, three-sided file, and nylon/seatbelt cutter. No other multitools came close in plier performance and the wire cutter dominated the 10-gauge wire cutter test, but what let the PowerLock down was the everyday livability and ergonomics. The PowerLock is a genuine safety device, as it prevents items from folding inward, however it's also counterintuitive to disengage and requires using both hands. Also, when using the knife, saw, or screwdrivers, the protruding gears dug into our tester's hands and caused tremendous discomfort.
4. Kobalt 15-in-1 Multitool with nylon pouch
Available nationwide at Lowes home improvement stores, the Kobalt 15-in-1 multitool performed admirably in most of the tests, but the dull knife and weak screwdriver performance dropped it from the top three spots. What we did like was the impressive saw, wire cutter, and overall value. With a stainless steel construction for longevity and rubberized grips for comfort, the Kobalt has features found on more expensive tools. Also, Lowes has a no hassle lifetime warranty on this multitool, which adds to its desirability, however, this wasn't enough to garner a Top Three spot.
5. Husky 14-in-1 Multi-Tool with nylon sheath
If bang-for-the-buck is a big factor for your tool purchases, look no further than the Husky 14-in-1 multi-tool. For under $10.00 you get a tool with stainless steel blades, lightweight aluminum handles, and a set of pliers that performed at the top of our list. A big perk to the Husky tool is the rubberized grips on the outside of the handles—where your hand actually makes contact. Because of this, the Husky ranked at the top of our ergonomics test, and with its spring-loaded pliers, made removing nails a breeze. Areas of concern included the weak wire cutter, underwhelming screwdriver, and knife performance.
6. Craftsman evolv 11-in-1 Multitool with nylon sheath
Craftman's evolv line is designed to complement the original Craftsman line with a lower price point for someone who doesn't use their tools every day, but still wants a dependable tool when needed. The 11-in-1 multitool is the only tester with an LED flashlight, which sounds like a great idea until you see the low output of the bulb, and realize the light takes up the entire handle on one side. Because of that large chunk of real estate used up, the evolv proved to be the underdog in number of available tools. It did perform mid-pack in knife, pliers, and wire cutter performance, but the saw proved too weak compared to the others. Ergonomics was also a weak point for the evolv, as it was the largest tool in the test and the only tester without spring-loaded pliers.
7. Berkley 13-in-1 Multi-Tool with nylon sheath
www.berkly-fishing.com $16.96 (at www.walmart.com)
Thinking outside the traditional tool manufacturer box, we picked up a Berkley Fishing 13-in-1 multi-tool and quickly appreciated the lightweight aluminum frame, stainless steel blades, and spring-loaded pliers. Because of its targeted fishing demographic, several of the tools weren't applicable in our testing, such as the fish scaler, jig-eye cleaner, and crankbait tuner, but the general tools did prove safe and well designed. Plier performance was below par with its competitors, and for the price point there are better multitools available.
8. Sheffield 17-in-1 Precision Multitool with nylon pouch
www.sheffield-tools.com $14.99 (at www.autozone.com)
After taking home top honors in our utility knife test (in Issue 9), we were expecting big things from the Sheffield 17-in-1 Precision tool. Unfortunately, the Sheffield performed poorly in each of our tests, including pliers' strength, knife sharpness, wire cutting, and screwdriver performance. When folded, the multitool is a compact four inches, and features stainless attachments. However, the part of this tool that impressed us was its saw performance, which cut smoothly and evenly into a 2x4 piece of wood.