Updated June 2017
For the 2017 summer season, we've updated our review to include the newest models out there. We have the pleasure of introducing new award winners, like the Leatherman Wave, Leatherman Crunch, and Gerber Dime, while the Leatherman Wingman and Leatherman Charge TTI remain tried and true award winners.
Best Overall Contender
Leatherman Charge TTI
Our Editors' Choice Award goes to the perennial favorite, the top of the line Leatherman Charge TTI
. This dense piece of versatile equipment has a magical mix of parts in a functional design and is made from impressive materials. The blades are the best in our test while the titanium frame reduces weight. The Charge, at just about half a pound, is about average in weight for a full-size tool. However, being equipped to carry in a belt sheath, on a lanyard, or clipped to a pocket, it appeals to virtually everyone. Finally, Leatherman's proprietary low-profile bit driver, and the included selection of bits, nearly double the overall number of functions as compared to the next closest competitor in our test. The Charge TTI is a top of the line product; it is Leatherman's flagship product that pulls no punches in executing the best possible entry.
Read full review: Leatherman Charge TTI
Best Bang for the Buck
Excellent tool selection
Hybrid blade is difficult to sharpen
Blade is also short
No accessory bit driver
How does Leatherman do it? It's as if Ferrari made a $18,000 commuter car. The Leatherman Wingman
brings the manufacturer's long pedigree, quality craftsmanship, and an excellent selection of functions to a rock-bottom affordable product. The Wingman includes functions virtually none of the other model's features. The return spring in the pliers reduces hand strain and increases efficiency in extended use, the integrated pocket clip keeps the device handy for those that wish to carry it this way, and the package opener is quirky but invaluable. The lone blade is made of mid-grade steel and features a hybrid straight/serrated edge, which will require regular sharpening. The straight portion is easily reconditioned, but sharpening serrations need special techniques.
Read full review: Leatherman Wingman
Best Bang for the Buck
Comprehensive feature set
Limited carry options
The Leatherman Wave
is the Charge TTI, but stripped down a little bit. Leatherman takes roughly 80% of what makes the Charge so impressive and sells it for 50% as the Wave. This is an excellent value. For a truly all-purpose, all-around multi-tool, the price tag is right; of course, the Wingman is considerably less expensive, but it has fewer features. For a full-featured utensil, the Wave is the bargain shopper's choice. Against the Charge, the Wave has a less sophisticated blade and frame materials, does not come with the accessory bits it can use, and cannot be configured with the pocket clip or lanyard loop that the Charge uses. Otherwise, the Wave and Charge are the same.
Read full review: Leatherman Wave
Top Pick for Dedicated Handy-Person Use
Must deploy pliers to get to other parts
Our Top Pick award allows us some creativity. In granting this honor, we are empowered to consider the products we reviewed, how most use them, and how the fringes use their products. Most multi-tools are purchased for "every day carry". If you keep yours with you at all times, and you use it for tasks that come up in day-to-day life, versatility and portability are paramount. Other consumers, however, may use their product in some manual labor or mechanical job or avocation. For those users, the criteria often shifts. Blue collar users require that each function is very efficient, and those users may need fewer features. For that demographic, the Leatherman Crunch
is a clear choice. The locking pliers of the Crunch are the clear highlight, as they are a definite improvement over any of the others in our review. For regular use, there is no reason not to choose pliers that have a locking capability. If you will use your multi-tool in a mechanical or construction-oriented fashion, the Crunch is the ticket. The trade off is in the selection and readiness of other attributes. In everyday use, people like their blade more easily accessed and like to have more driver and tool options. This is a specialized, truly unique product for the hardest working segment of the population.
Read full review: Leatherman Crunch
Top Pick for Keychain Carry
Good feature set
Stout construction, given size
Small tools are limited in effectiveness
At the other end of the spectrum, and also earning a Top Pick honor, is the Gerber Dime
. This is the gadget for you if weight and space are at a premium. Sporting an elegant and useful combination of components, the Dime will sit out of the way on your keychain until you need it. The blade is razor-sharp, the pliers grab with a strength that belies their tiny stature, and the bottle opener is always handy.
Read full review: Gerber Dime