A reliable multitool is a must for your everyday carry kit.
Whether you’re using them for heavy-duty jobs or all-around household tasks, multitools can help you in a lot of ways. They’re like a toolbox you can carry in your pocket, without the added weight and clunkiness.
Then again, not all multitools are created equal.
Due to their popularity, a lot of subpar multitools and other gadgets have sprouted left and right. How do you know which ones are the best and which ones are simply not worth your time and money?
We want to help you separate the chaff from the grain, so naturally, we dove into a comprehensive review to find the best multitools for everyday carry. We scoured high and low, found ourselves neck-deep into online forums and testimonials before selecting the top 7 multitools for your EDC kit. Once we had them on hand, we subjected these tools to some grueling tests.
The results of our testing and review are pretty interesting, so read on to find out which multitool ultimately deserves a spot in your EDC kit.
Types of Multitools
We mentioned it earlier: multitools come in various shapes and sizes. All of the tools on this list belong to the folding multitool variety. Still, it’s always good to know the other types of multitools in the market. Here’s a quick look at how multitools are generally classified:
You can consider pocket knives to be the original multitools. Made in the late 1800s, pocket knives were mostly used by European soldiers until they were made popular to civilians by Victorinox when the company came up with the Swiss Army Knife (SAK).
People who want something lighter and easier to carry prefer this type of multitool. A pocket knife can have a lot of practical tools without being too heavy, so it’s good for outdoorsmen and backpackers.
Sure, it doesn’t have pliers like your regular folding multitool, but it will save you a lot of space and weight.
It might come as a surprise to some, but butterfly-style folding multitools weren’t around until Tim Leatherman invented them back in the 80s. We know—it seems like they’ve been part of our lives for much longer than that.
What sets these multitools apart from pocket knives is their pliers. This function makes them popular among handymen, mechanics, and the like. Because of their unique and versatile attributes, they’re great for both heavy-duty tasks and quick fixes. One can further classify multitools into the following categories:
- Keychain tools – as the name suggests, these tools are tiny and are meant to be carried around on keychains and fobs. Although solid and compact, they’re relatively light compared to their full-sized counterparts and are ideal for small tasks.
- Full-sized tools– these are the usual suspects when you look for multitools in general. These bad boys can range from lightweight ones that are more at home in your pocket or belt (like the Skeletool) to bulky, heavy-duty ones that can take on more complicated jobs (like the 12.5 oz Leatherman Surge, which didn’t make our EDC shortlist).
Still, there are others who stray from the usual multitool design, like the following:
- Credit card tools – like their namesake, these tools are flat and are roughly the same size as a credit card, so you can put them comfortably in your wallet. Some are made from stainless steel and are outfitted with tools like can openers, screwdrivers, and rulers. Other credit card tools are made of plastic and act as compartments for tools like pins, small scissors, and tweezers. You can’t expect to do a lot of heavy lifting with these, but they’re pretty handy when you need to do small repairs.
- Wearables – yup, it’s a multitool that you can actually wear. These usually come in the form of bracelets, belt buckles, and sometimes, even hair accessories and rings.
What Makes a Multitool Great for Everyday Carry?
Before we dive into the reviews, it’s important to set some criteria for judging to make sure that these tools fit the bill. In looking for the best multitool for EDC, we considered the following:
Weight and portability
An EDC multitool is something that you’re going to have to carry all day long, so it has to have a comfortable weight. You don’t want something too heavy on your belt or in your pocket, but it shouldn’t be too flimsy either. For this review, we narrowed the selection down to multitools no heavier than 11 ounces. We ended up with 5 mid to full-sized tools and two keychain multitools.
Aside from having a comfortable weight, the ideal EDC multitool must feel great in the hand as well. It should have an easy grip and be easy to use, preferably with reliable locking mechanisms, one-hand operations, and outside-accessible tools. Some people love the comfort of spring-loaded pliers, while some insist on having the versatility of standard pliers, so we tested both varieties.
Tool selection and overall functionality
The ideal multitool should have a great selection of tools. That being said, we’re not looking for a multitool with the most bells and whistles. Instead, we’re looking for one that has a sensible arsenal; something that has the right combination of tools that will allow you to work easier and faster. It’s all about the quality, not the quantity. We want the tool to deliver and perform well in as many aspects as possible.
Like every EDC tool out there, the multitool should be able to withstand daily use and abuse. Whether you’re using it for big projects or small jobs, it shouldn’t let you down.
You don’t want a multitool that would burn a hole in your pocket. That being said, we’re looking for multitools with great price-performance ratios and warranty. Anything above $120 was automatically ruled out.
How We Did Our Review
After selecting the top 7 multitools for EDC, we subjected them to grueling performance and endurance tests. Like our previous flashlight and water filter reviews, we spared no effort in testing these multitools.
Here’s a little glimpse of how we did our testing and review:
Our testing team used the scissors and blades to cut through different materials like paper, cloth, nylon cords, zip ties, ropes, and the like. We used the blades to cut and slice through various materials and used them to whittle and saw through wood. The wire cutters, strippers, and crimpers faced a variety of wires with different thicknesses and materials (some were corded copper wires, others galvanized iron). The rest of the tools, such as the bit drivers, screwdrivers, and pliers were tested according to their respective functionalities.
Once we were done with the everyday-use tests we then took the multitools for a short camping trip, just to see how they would fare in an outdoor environment. We also subjected them to the required drop test (because who wouldn’t?) to see who would survive. Thankfully, all of them did.
Note that all of the tools performed well. Some just did better than the others. Here’s our review of the top 7 multitools for everyday carry: