LAST UPDATED: April 1, 2021
The Best EDC Multitools (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021
Grab a multitool that covers a range of needs when you’re on the go.
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PUBLISHED ON April 1, 2021
By its very definition, an emergency occurs without warning and tends to catch most people off-guard. For the outdoorsy DIY individual, no item increases one’s preparedness to handle life’s day-to-day functions or equipment-related shortfalls than an everyday carry (EDC) multitool. With several options to choose from in terms of size, functionality, and budget, multitool gadgets are a must-have in a typical toolbox. It brings convenience within one’s hand, keychain, wallet, or any other basic storage compartment.
From simpler functions such as opening cork-sealed bottles to more complex endeavors like defending yourself from would-be threats, the variety, and ingenuity that goes into making these gadgets renders the choice of one a much more detail-oriented process than it may appear to be at first glance. We will walk you through this process.
Bringing together 10 durable tools, this multitool packs quite the punch into a compact profile, rendering it popular among anglers and campers.
- Easily fits onto key rings and belt loops
- Includes spring-assisted tools
- Easily accessible butterfly opening
- Available in a variety of colors
- Knife blade only has one sharp edge
- Tweezers and scissors are small and slightly flimsy
This multitool combines eight much-needed utilities into a minimalistic design. It’s made of durable, stainless steel components.
- Compact with fewer movable bits
- Easy to carry on a keychain
- Wear- and corrosion-resistant
- Fewer functionality options than most multitools
- Can opener needs sharpening for optimal performance
This is a large multitool that assembles a 21-tool arsenal to deliver variety and dynamism in a well-crafted, hand-held gadget.
- Incredible utility from a wide array of tools
- Replaceable tool bits
- Sturdy, stainless steel build
- Easy one-hand opening
- Comparatively bulkier than similar items
- Slight friction between contact surfaces of moveable bits
- More expensive
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All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of EDC Multitools
- Space-friendly. The essence of every EDC multitool is to combine multiple functions into one item. This helps to save on physical space in comparison to owning separate normal-sized tools.
- Convenience. EDC multi-tools bring together most of your much-needed tools in one place. It does away with the frustrating need to keep up with the storage location of separate tools.
- Cost. A vast majority of EDC multitools are much more affordable in comparison to the cumulative cost of buying a single tool for 10 to 20 different functions, as well as a toolbox or tool belt to carry them all in.
- Time-saving. The sourcing and maintenance of 20 different single tools can be time-consuming. Also, for multi-purpose operations such as disassembly of equipment (where one may need to unscrew, pry, loosen bolts, etc.), switching between tools takes much less time when using a multitool as compared to using several single tools.
- Long-term security. By design, the EDC multitool consists of a fused set of tools. This fusion makes it almost impossible to misplace one of the components, unlike the use of several single-function tools, which are much easier to misplace or lose.
Types of EDC Multitools
A full-sized multitool is usually fully-featured. It contains multitools with the widest array of instruments, giving them the highest degree of functionality among multi-tools. Full-sized multi-tools enable the outdoorsy DIY individual to do most of the things a fully-fledged toolbox facilitates, albeit at a slightly smaller scale. Most come with more than 10 tools, and usually cost and weigh more than the other two categories.
As the name suggests, this category is smaller than regular multitools. These tools usually have a single or lower double-digit number of individual tools, giving them less functionality than the regular instrument toolbox. A more compact design may translate to some compromises in the quality, but on the plus side, they are affordable and easier to carry.
Keychain multitools are the smallest of the multi-tools. These tools exhibit a highly minimalistic design and have very little functionality. Often merely functioning as pry tools or bottle openers, these multi-tools barely substitute any of the single-use tools in a regular toolkit. They are keychains with an added utility such as wire stripping, undoing small screws, or opening bottle caps.
Founded in 1975, the Leatherman Tool Group was the brainchild of Tim Leatherman, who discovered the need for multi-tools after experiencing road-side and hotel plumbing challenges. The company is currently located in Portland, Ore. Some of its top multitools include the Micra Keychain Multitool and the Surge Multitool.
Founded in 1939, Gerber Gear Company has been a trusted manufacturer of an array of tools including multi-tools and knives. Located in Tigard, Ore., the company is currently a subsidiary of Fiskars Brand Inc., a company based in Finland. Top multitools manufactured by Gerber include the Dime Mini Multitool and the Vise Pocket Tool.
Established in 1884, Victorinox began as a cutler’s workshop and produced its first installment of Swiss Army Knives in 1897. Located in Ibach-Schwyz, Switzerland, the company has now diversified into five distinct manufacturing lines, including fragrances, Swiss Army knives, watches, cutlery, and travel gear. Notable multitools from this company include the Tinker Pocket Knife and the SwissChamp Pocket Knife.
EDC Multitool Pricing
- Under $50: At less than $50, expect to find lower-budget multitools with less than 15 tools. These mostly comprise the keychain and mini multitools but may include a few lower-end full-sized multitools.
- $50-$100: This price range includes a few higher-end mini multi-tools, as well as some lower to mid-range regular multi-tools, often with 16 or more individual tools and functionalities.
- $100 and up: This price range comprises high-end, full-sized multitools with top-of-the-range functionality, build quality, and are often backed with warranties. The general rule of thumb regarding prices in this tool group is, the higher the price, the greater the functionality provided.
For something intended for everyday use and carriage to various places, size is an important aspect to consider. When going hunting or hiking, more weight (from larger multitools) is more difficult to lug around in comparison to smaller, lighter mini-tools. For tools intended for localized use at a camping site or garage, larger tools pose no such inconvenience and may be more useful for heavy-duty tasks.
Types of Tools
The type of pliers, knife, screwdriver, scissors, saw, or bottle opener built into each multi-tool makes the tool more suitable for certain tasks in comparison to others. When deciding which is the better tool to purchase, you need to consider if the tools included suit your day-to-day day functions so you can get the most out of it. Also, you must consider how well you know how to use the tools provided.
Many multi-tools are designed with specific users in mind, as evidenced by the choice of tools included. Most keychains are preferred by minimalist users, whereas more complex ones with stronger pliers and a greater variety of screwdrivers may be preferred by professional contractors. Serrated knives may be of use by campers intending to cut fruit or bread outdoors, while anglers may prefer straight knives for disembowelment of their fish, and so on.
- Frequency of Use. Consider how often you use a multitool to determine if you should seek an affordable option or splurge on a full-sized multitool. The affordable and less durable ones would be better suited for light, infrequent use. On the other hand, the more durable multitools would be recommended for the out-and-out DIY individual who virtually never turns to professional contractors for repairs.
- Warranty. Many trusted manufacturers offer different forms of assurances regarding the quality and durability of their multi-tools. For example, manufacturers such as Leatherman offer a limited warranty of up to 25 years on many of its multitools, which tells you that its products are not only well designed but also durable.
- Travel-Friendly. Airport security enforces regulations that may prohibit one from bringing many of the regular-sized multi-tools onboard flights. However, there are a few TSA-approved mini-multi tools that you can travel with so you may want to opt for these options if you are a frequent flyer.
Best EDC Multitools Reviews & Recommendations 2021
Despite the word ‘keychain’ in the name, this multi-tool is a mini-tool with the added advantage of a simple keychain attachment. It’s aptly named for its small rectangular frame that weighs 2.4 ounces while measuring 2.5 x 0.5 x 0.8 inches. The 10-tool arsenal packs quite the punch for a tool that size. In addition to the surprisingly sturdy pair of spring scissors, the Micra also comes with three screwdrivers: an extra small-size, a medium-sized, and a flat Phillips screwdriver. The rest of the tools include a lanyard attachment, tweezers, a ruler, a clip-point knife, and a bottle opener.
Unfortunately, the tweezers and scissors are a bit flimsy while the knife has only one cutting-edge. These compromises, however, have little effect on the tool’s efficiency.
The Kershaw PT-2 Compact Keychain Pry Tool is a compact multitool that slips easily into most keychains. It combines eight handy utilities in one tool. Aside from the bottle opener, this tool boasts three hex drives, one Phillips Screwdriver, a wire stripper, a flathead screwdriver, and a pry bar. It’s hands-down one of the most sturdy keychain multi-tools available on the market, weighing 0.8 ounces and measuring 3.25 x 1.5 x 0.13 inches. Its biggest perk is its reasonable price, in addition to excellent build quality utilizing carbon and stainless steel.
However, it has a relatively lower degree of functionality due to the fewer tools. Also, some of the edges expected to double-up as box cutters or can openers are blunt. The upside to this blunt design is, you are less likely to get cuts or other injuries if you carry it in your pocket.
The Leatherman Surge Multitool is a well-built power-house that brings a whopping 21 tools to its owner’s disposal. It weighs 15 ounces and the Leatherman Surge measures 4.5 x 1.75 x 0.75 inches. The tools include a needle-nose and regular pliers, three different sets of replaceable wire cutters, an electrical crimper, a wire stripper, plain and serrated edge knives, a saw, spring-action scissors, a large and small screwdriver, a ruler, a large bit driver, a can opener, a blade exchanger, a bottle opener, and a wood/metal file.
While it may offer a wide range of utilities, these functions add quite some bulk to the tool. Also, it’s more expensive than most regular multitools, but with the inclusion of one of the most robust sets of pliers in any Leatherman multi-tool production, it’s a fair trade-off.
Combining 17 individual tools, the Victorinox Swiss Army Tinker Pocket Knife has a compact build that makes it easy to carry in the pocket. The unit comes with a pair of scissors, pliers, a Phillips screwdriver, a can opener, and an assortment of single-edged blades. Each tool has small slits so you can pull them out easily with your fingernails. Also, this particular model boasts a lifetime guarantee against faults in craftsmanship and material, embodying the manufacturer’s trust in its build quality.
The comparatively higher pricing is offset by the high-quality materials (refined stainless steel) used in the constitution of the tools, rendering this multi-tool one of the most durable in the market.
Tucked away in a small nylon pouch is the RoverTac 12-in-1 multitool that has a butterfly design fitted with 12 tools. It weighs slightly under 11 ounces and measures 6.3 x 5.1 x 1.0 inches. It comes with a wider array of tools that can be used in any industry. They include spring-loaded pliers, a knife, a saw, a can opener that doubles as a bottle opener, a wire cutter, and a screwdriver. The tools are made of stainless steel while the handle is topped off with a black oxidized paint coating to resist rust. Also, RoverTac offers a lifetime warranty on this model.
However, most of the tools are sharp and pointy, which is why RoverTac provides a carrying pouch with belt loops that can be attached to your tool belt.
A sturdy compact offering from Gerber, the Dime Mini Multitool weighs only 2.08 ounces and measures 2.27 x 4 x 0.6 inches. This mini multitool boasts an array of 10 individual tools that are easily accessible from its butterfly opening. They include a pair of spring-loaded (needle-nose) pliers, a file, a wire cutter, a pair of tweezers, a fine edge blade, a bottle opener that is directly accessible (without opening or extraction), a retail package opener, both crosshead and medium flat drivers, and a pair of scissors. A clear advantage of this tool is its affordable price that doesn’t compromise on the quality of the tools. It also packs a lot of functionalities into a compact and lightweight unit.
It’s best used for small DIY projects since most of the tools are a bit small for more demanding jobs associated with professional tradesmen.
The Vise Pocket Tool is another compact multitool from Gerber that you can always have with you. It weighs less than one ounce and measures 6 x 5.5 x 0.75 inches. It comes loaded with nine tools that will help you perform basic functions such as opening boxes, bottles, or tightening bolts. It also comes with a small split ring that you can attach to your key ring, while a small swivel snap clip lets you detach the multitool from your key ring when you need to put it in action. The butterfly design makes it easy to slide out the tools, and the blades have small slits so you can also pull them out easily. It snaps in place when pulled open revealing a great set of spring-loaded pliers.
While it may offer fewer functions than most butterfly-style multitools, it still offers great value in terms of quality and durability in comparison to similar products in the same price range.
If you want a multitool that offers more but is compact at the same time, then you should consider the SOG Multitool Pliers. It packs 18 tools in a compact 5.9-ounce framework that only measures 1.3 x 5.9 x 0.65 inches. The tools available include a set of needle-nose pliers, a hex bit holder, a knife blade, a combined can and bottle opener, a ruler, wire cutters, a crimper, an awl, and a jewelry driver. With SOG’s Compound Leverage technology, the central pivot point is geared so some of the tools, including the pliers and wire cutters, deliver twice the power of regular multitools when force is applied on the stainless steel handles. Best of all, it’s backed by a lifetime warranty.
While you can work this multitool with just one hand, some of the tools such as the blade are a bit difficult to deploy since not all have nail slits.
- Be sure to use each component of the multi-tool for its intended function. Otherwise, you run the risk of damaging that component and may need a new multi-tool altogether (for non-replaceable bits).
- Use a wooden skewer or a dust blower to remove bits of dirt from the moving parts of your multitool. This helps to prevent mechanical damage and maintain smooth movement.
- Keep your multi-tool clean and dry when not in use. Consider storing it in your glove box, tool kit, or any convenient location where it can remain clean and within reach.
- Apply grease or lubricating oil to the joints of the moving parts of your multitool every once in a while. Grease also goes a long way in preventing rust.
Q: What is an EDC multitool?
It’s a type of multitool that is so compact that it can be carried around and used in everyday situations.
Q: What is the best multitool to buy?
The multitools featured in our review are some of the best you can find on the market so you won't go wrong by choosing any one of them. However, if you are looking for the overall best, you can consider the Leatherman Micra Keychain Multi-Tool.
Q: What is the best Leatherman for EDC?
We found that the Leatherman Micra Keychain Multitool is the best EDC multitool because of its quality construction and quality design that packs multiple functionalities into a lightweight profile. It also comes with all the tools you need to handle basic tasks such as repairs, maintenance, and home DIY projects. Another option you could choose if you aren’t looking to splurge on your first multitool is the Kershaw PT-2 Compact Keychain Pry Tool.