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Beloved by handymen, tradesmen, travelers, and survivalists alike, there’s no doubt that multi-tools are some of the most versatile and useful hand tools ever created. Imagine having almost every tool you need right in the palm of your hand while you’re traveling, camping, hiking, or biking. Plus, thanks to the creation of multi-tools, you don’t have to carry your heavy toolbox or tool bag to do some minor maintenance work around your house or vehicle. It is even a great tool to have during basement or kitchen remodeling projects.     

It might seem that multi-tools are fairly modern innovations, but history shows that it has been around since about AD 200-300. The oldest known multi-tool is this ‘Swiss Army’ knife carried around (and presumably lost) by a Roman traveler.

The tool, which is now housed in the Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge, is made of silver and iron. The utensils included are very basic. It has a spoon, knife, and fork. It also has a spatula, a spike, and a pick (historians reckon that it might have been used as a toothpick). 

1.
LEATHERMAN, Skeletool Lightweight Multitool with Combo Knife and Bottle Opener, Blue
  • EVERYTHING YOU NEED: A compact 5-ounce multitool with a combo knife, bit driver, pliers and more; Light enough to use as your everyday carry, strong enough to tackle tough jobs
  • 7 TOOLS IN 1: Includes a knife, pliers, a large exchangeable bit driver, wire-cutters and a carabiner/bottle opener; Includes an extra bit stored right in the handle
  • OUR GUARANTEE: We’re proud to stand behind every product that leaves our factory in Portland, Oregon; That’s why we offer our 25-year warranty, so you can be confident your Leatherman lasts a lifetime
  • ONE-HAND ACCESS. Skeletool only requires one hand to open and use all the tools, even the ones that aren't accessible from the outside; And with a locking blade, you can cut with confidence
  • ALWAYS ON HAND: The Skeletool weighs just 5 ounces and is equipped with a removable pocket clip so it's always within reach and ready to work
2.
LEATHERMAN, Surge Heavy Duty Multitool with Premium Replaceable Wire Cutters and Spring-Action Scissors, Limited Edition Black/Silver with Premium Nylon Sheath
  • A MULTITOOL POWERHOUSE: The Surge is one of our largest multitools for heavy-duty use, built with our largest pliers, longest multitool blades and easy-to-use locks
  • 21 TOOLS IN 1 HAND: Features a unique blade exchanger, replaceable premium wire cutters and four outside-opening blades give you quick access to any of its 21 premium tools
  • OUR GUARANTEE: We’re proud to stand behind every product that leaves our factory in Portland, Oregon; That’s why we offer our 25-year warranty, so you can be confident your Leatherman lasts a lifetime
  • ONE-HAND OPENING: Open and use all tools with one hand, even the ones that aren't accessible from the outside; All-locking features mean you can use it with confidence
  • ALWAYS ON HAND: With its heavy-duty yet portable size and lanyard ring, your Surge is always within reach and ready to work
3.
Sale
Gerber Gear 22-01471N Suspension Needle Nose Pliers Multitool Multi-Plier with Nylon Sheath, Gray
  • Gerber multitool features 12 integrated tools with a butterfly design for easy everyday carry
  • Lightweight, open frame makes multi tool great for carrying on tool belt or in your pocket
  • Easy accessible opening makes tool kit convenient for accessing needle nose pliers, knife, and more
  • Included with the multitool is a ballistic nylon sheath for easy transport and secure storage
  • Saf.T.Plus locking system is designed to keep the knife edges and tools securely locked in place
4.
Victorinox Swiss Army Swiss Champ Pocket Knife (Black), 91mm
  • A CUT ABOVE THE REST: Compact, agile and ready to face any adventure head-on. Our range of Swiss Army Knives have been established since 1897 and continue to be an icon of utility and smart design.
  • DURABLE CONSTRUCTION: Swiss made stainless steel construction encased in our popular scales offers a slimmer profile and is extremely resistant.
  • COMPACT CARRY: Bring this knife with you on your daily adventures without sacrificing space. It makes a great gift for any occasion or stocking stuffer for Christmas.
  • FIT FOR ALL TASKS: At their heart, all our pocket knives are a survival tool; multitaskers that deliver in any situation. At their most evolved they have surpassed basic function to pioneer space travel and restart engines.
  • TRUSTED QUALITY: Made in Switzerland; Victorinox provides a lifetime guarantee against defects in material and workmanship. Making a lifetime commitment has never been so easy. No assembly required, money back guarantee.
5.
SOG Multitool Pliers Pocket Tool – PowerAccess Deluxe Utility Tool and Multi Tool Knife w/ 21 Multi Tools, Hex Bit Set, Multitool Sheath (PA2001-CP)
  • 21 STAINLESS STEEL MULTITOOLS: This large multi-purpose tool and pocket knife is ready for anything; includes pliers, scissors, 2 knives, a 1/4-inch hex bit driver and 12 hex bits and a wood saw
  • 2X PLIERS POWER W/ PATENTED COMPOUND LEVERAGE: A tough indoor and outdoor multi tool with a small hex bit set; this tool with tools uses compound leverage to cut, crimp and tighten twice as easy
  • 12-PC. HEX BIT KIT W/ TWO 2. 75-INCH BLADES: Comes with a hex bit set and magnetic holder unique to this multipurpose tool; blades featured are serrated and straight-edge
  • EDC MULTITOOL SHEATH IN BALLISTIC NYLON: Make your survival an everyday carry; handles tasks for outdoor survival tools with a screwdriver and knife
  • SOG MULTITOOL FOR LIFE: Take care of your and we’ll take care of you; we consider repairs and replacements for properly maintained SOG multi tool knife and survival tools
6.
Sale
DEWALT 3581855 Mt16 Multi-Tool
  • Includes full manufacturer warranty
7.
Sale
WETOLS Multitool, 21-in-1 Hard Stainless Steel Multitool, Foldable & Self-Locking, Multi-pliers Used as Knife, Bottle Opener, Screwdriver, Sickle etc, Gifts for Men WE-182
  • 【Multifunctional】A practical foldable 21-in-1 multi-tool: Needle-nose plier, Combination pliers, End cutting pliers, Blade, Hexagon sleeve, Scale, Sickle, Rope-cutting knife, Bottle opener, Slotted screwdriver, Hole puncher, Can opener, Mini slotted screwdriver; 4x bits x2 functions.
  • 【Safe And Portable】Self-locking device: all tools will be automatically locked after opening, thus preventing the tools from accidentally closing during operation and avoiding hurting hands. Compact and lightweight, comes with a durable nylon bag, can be put into pocket or hung on belt.
  • 【Visible High-Quality】Real shots without beautification: multi-pliers are made of hardened stainless steel. The surface is sandblasted, which makes the multifunctional pliers resistant to oxidation and corrosion in humid and harsh environments. You can enjoy its quality and durability.
  • 【Subverting-Traditional Design】Touchable conscience design: Comfortable 3D machined handle texture avoids slipping. Pliers are worth every penny. Suitable for outdoor survival or indoor activities (such as garden care, DIY and daily maintenance), camping, hunting or traveling etc.
  • 【Worry-Free Purchase】The package contains: 1x multi-function pliers, 4x bits set, 1x nylon bag, 1x carton. If you have any questions about the product, please contact us. (You never know when you will need one of these tools urgently. It's always right to be prepared.)

Multi-Tools In The Modern Era

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NY Times

It was not until the late 19th century that multi-tools appeared as we now know it. The modern ‘Swiss Army’ knife was pioneered by a Swiss cutler named Karl Elsener. Production of the first Swiss army knives began in 1891 in Ibach, Switzerland after the Swiss Army asked Elsener to invent something that would integrate standard army tools, such as a knife, a reamer, a screwdriver, and a can opener.  

The rest, as they say, is history. The popularity of the Swiss army knife and Elsener’s business grew until it eventually evolved into the company that we now know as Victorinox. (The company was named after Carl’s mother Victoria. Her name was combined with ‘Inox‘ or stainless steel.) 

But it was not the only company that produced the ‘Swiss Army’ knife in Switzerland. It was followed by Paul Boechat & Cie in 1893, a company that would eventually be known as Wenger.  

The two companies dominated the multi-tool market and settled in a comfortable rivalry for the next century. It was not until 1983 when an Oregon-based company called Leatherman upended the domination of Victorinox and Wenger in the multi-tool arena.

The first multi-tool that was not produced by either Victorinox or Wenger was Leatherman’s Pocket Survival Tool (PST). It was a departure from the regular Swiss army knife design thanks to the inclusion of pliers and wire cutters. Instead of the compact single casing which the Swiss army knife was known for, the Leatherman multi-tool has a butterfly casing that resembles a balisong

Parts Of A Basic Multi-Tool

best-multi-tools-sebring-design-build

NY Times

Multi-tools have come a long way since the inception of the Swiss Army knife, and modern designers have added new tools into the mix. Basic tools, however, remain at the core of multi-tools. So, what are these basic tools?

Knife – the blade of multi-tools can come smooth or serrated. Some multi-tools, like this DeWalt multi-tool, has a combination of the plain-edged and serrated blade. You can cut a lot of things with multi-tool knives, including food, rope, fabric, paper, wood, and more.

Pliers – this includes regular and needle-nose pliers. Regular and hard-wire cutters are also included.

Screwdrivers – a lot of multi-tools have small, medium, and large screwdrivers. Phillips screwdrivers are also mandatory.

Saw – many multi-tools are equipped with saws. The serrated blade is ideal for cutting thin tree branches, plywood, plastic pipes, and more.

Awl – this is a pointed tool used to punch holes into plastic, wood, or leather.

Can and Bottle Openers – the lifesaver for many mountaineers, hikers, campers, recreational fishers, and even ordinary homeowners. What better way to cap an adventure or the end of a project than opening a bottle of beer with your handy multi-tool’s bottle opener?

Optional Tools:

Some of the tools you’ll find in other models include:

  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Fish scaler
  • Nail/wood/metal file
  • Corkscrew
  • Keyring
  • Toothpick
  • Hook
  • Chisel
  • Magnifying lens
  • Mini-screwdriver
  • Sewing eye

Check out this page for more exciting and helpful articles to read.

Conclusion:

There you have it. Our rundown of the 7 best multi-tools available online. But of course, this review is incomplete without giving you my favorite multi-tool on the list.

In my opinion, the best multi-tool right now is the Leatherman Skeletool Lightweight Multitool. Other tools on the list have 16, 21, and even 33 tools. This particular multi-tool only has seven, including the basic knife, large bit driver, wire cutters, pliers, and carabiner/bottle opener. But that doesn’t mean that this Leatherman multi-tool can’t stand up against its rivals when it comes to performance and durability.

This multi-tool is made of long-wearing stainless steel that can withstand regular use. It is designed to be compact and has a butterfly design that neatly encases all the tools inside when they are not in use. You’ll barely feel this lightweight multi-tool even when you slip it inside the pocket of your jeans or cargo pants.

The quality and performance of this Leatherman multi-tool are superb and impressive, but it has an affordable price tag. This is an ideal gift for yourself or somebody else.

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