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In your everyday-carry setup, or EDC, where does a good multi-tool fall on your list of priorities? My personal EDC multi-tool, a Leatherman Squirt I’ve had for about a decade, is functional but basic. Given that it’s small, I’ve always been hesitant to use it hard. SOG’s Powerlitre is similarly diminutive, so can it be used to help finish my Yamaha XS400 project in ways the Leatherman can’t?
SOG isn’t a household name such as Gerber or Leatherman, but this Lynnwood, Washington-based company has been making high-quality knives and tools for 35 years. I personally own two of SOG’s pocket knives, which is why when reviewing multi-tools for The Drive, I gravitate toward their products.
The Powerlitre was first released in 2018 and has been well reviewed by others. This older model in SOG’s lineup is actually preferred over some of the brand’s newer multi-tools. To see what everyone was on about as well as to satisfy my own curiosity, we picked one up on Amazon for about $65.
That’s not cheap for such a small EDC-type multi-tool with somewhat limited capabilities, but it’s reasonable for a quality bit of kit. Between the name and my past experience with the brand’s knives, I had high hopes for the Powerlitre. And it lived up to those expectations.
Unboxing and Initial Impressions of the SOG Powerlitre Multi-tool
The packaging is very basic, just thin cardboard and plastic holding the tool. It was unboxed and in my hand in less than five seconds. I get what SOG’s doing here. Rather than spend money on nice packaging, the company kept it simple, hopefully in order to put that money into the multi-tool.
On the back was a photo of the Powerlitre with all of its tools deployed and labeled. SOG also listed a link to a short video that walks you through the Powerlitre’s features.
The Powerlitre is 3.2 inches long while closed and 5 inches open with a weight of 4.6 ounces. I verified this with my own scale, and the SOG’s claimed weight was spot on. This particular model comes in a handsome stonewashed finish and has a feeling of quality and solid heft in hand.
The SOG Powerlitre contains 18 tools:
- Needle-nose pliers
- Wire cutters
- Inch ruler
- Bit-holder latch
- Phillips screwdriver
- Can opener
- Bottle opener
- Corkscrew and foot/lever
- Jewelry driver
- Hook cutter
- Millimeter ruler
- Straight-edge blade
- Wire crimper
- Bolt gripper
- Magnetic bit holder
Using the SOG Powerlitre Multi-tool
- Good: Build quality and features
- Bad: Can be a bit fussy to deploy some of the tools
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The first thing I noticed when opening up this multi-tool is how smoothly the main pivot moves. The entire mechanism has a high-quality feeling, almost like the action you’d expect of multi-tools in the $100-plus category.
Once open, all the tools lock into place solidly. To retract them, depress the release that doubles as part of the ruler. The knife and the hook cutter were sharp enough to cut thick zip ties, and the needle-nose pliers have a strong grip. As for the wire cutters, they easily cut through speaker wire as well as 16-gauge wire and a quarter-inch rubber vacuum line. The bit driver holder works as advertised, however, you will have to supply your own quarter-inch bits.
I was able to use the bit driver to reinstall some bolts into the side cover of my long-neglected XS400 project and use the vacuum lines I cut to run a piece from the gas tank down to the carburetors.
The pliers and the can opener allowed me to finally get the rear window struts changed out on my Honda Element. It was a simple job; the can opener was able to get under the retaining clip, and then the pliers were used to yank it off. Talk about using what you’ve got.
Over the course of my time with the SOG, I not only used it on personal projects, I also handed it off to a few friends to get their opinions. One was a plumber who has used multi-tools at nearly every price point. He came away impressed with the quality not only of the mechanism but overall quality and the SOG’s features. He actually liked it better than his personal Leatherman Surge, for which he paid more than $100.
Another person who got his hands on the Powerlitre is a knife guy. His only knock is that he would prefer a better steel than the 5Cr15MoV used here, but given the price point, he thought it was fine.
What’s Good About SOG Powerlitre Multi-tool
At 4.6 ounces, the Powerlitre isn’t too heavy to carry around as your EDC. Because of its compact size and density, however, it’s a little heavier in the pocket than its weight would suggest. You may have to rethink where you carry what or the additional weight might throw off the weight balance of what’s normally in your pockets.
The Powerlitre also comes with SOG’s lifetime guarantee, which I’ve had experience with several years back for one of its Flashback knives. The company was very easy to work with and had a quick turnaround.
At a $65 price point, you are getting real value for money here. The tool feels similar to many full-size, $100-plus multi-tools. But because of its size, you’re more likely to keep it on you. So, when the need arises to open a package, tighten a screw, or pull a difficult fuse, it’s right there.
What’s Bad About SOG Powerlitre Multi-tool
Of the tools listed, the inch and millimeter rulers are a little difficult to read. With no provision to lock the tool, precision measurement is also not likely. If you just need a quick and rough measurement, then it will do.
And calling the bit-holder latch a tool is a bit of a stretch, SOG. It’s really just a lock to hold the tool closed more than anything else. As for the protractor, the writing is in one- or two-point font and is nearly illegible. With practice and use it might have some value, but I (literally) can’t see it.
One other item to call out is the SOG’s scissors. The cut out to deploy the scissors is behind the pocket clip and low on the tool, so there’s not much leverage. You have to wedge your nail in between the pocket clip to reach the cutout for the scissors, and the deployment of this tool was rather stiff — stiff enough that it tore my thumbnail. With use over time, the deployment may loosen up enough for it to not be an issue, but I still have a broken nail from it. Those hurt.
Additionally, given the scissor’s small size, there isn’t much mechanical leverage for cutting. One sheet of 20-pound copy paper was not a problem; two sheets were OK but rough. Three sheets of stacked paper were about the limit of what these scissors could cut.
Our Verdict on the SOG Powerlitre Multi-tool
Overall, I was very impressed with the SOG Powerlitre. It’s well constructed, intuitive to use (apart from the miniscule writing), has the feel of a multi-tool with a much higher starting price, and is in that Goldilocks zone for both size and weight.
While some tools are more useful than others, much like a good pocket knife, you’ll find reasons to pull it out and use it. Because of the excellent geared opening, it can also function like a fidget spinner on one of those long boring conference calls. Opening and closing it is very calming. There are a number of other quality multi-tools at its price point from the likes of Leatherman and Gerber. However, the value between build and steel quality, use capabilities, and the Powerlitre’s overall feel is very good. It’s better, in fact, than I believe of those other brands. I highly recommend it.
FAQs About the SOG Powerlitre Multi-tool
The Drive’s editors aren’t psychic, so to answer other frequently asked questions, we scrolled through Google’s People also ask box for anything that may be lingering in your heads.
Q. Is SOG a good brand?
A. SOG produces a full line of knives and tools and is respected for high-quality and innovative design.
Q. Is the SOG Powerlitre made in the United States?
A. While many of SOG’s higher-end knives and tools are made in the U.S., the Powerlitre is designed in Washington state and built in China.
Q. Is a multi-tool worth it?
A. Because of its versatility, a multi-tool can be a handy go-to tool for many small jobs around the house or in your car, boat, or motorcycle.
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