Best Leatherman Tools: Do It All with One Handy Everyday Carry
Be ready to get to work with these Leatherman multitools.
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It’s a good idea to have a multitool on your side at all times. You never know when you’re going to need a set of pliers, a screwdriver, a knife, or even a bottle opener. I think we can all agree that when those situations arise, it’s far more convenient to whip the tool you need out of your pocket instead of running to the toolbox. I think we can also agree that many multitools fall short, which is why it’s a good idea to get your hands on a Leatherman.
Let’s not beat around the bush. Leatherman multitools are some of the best in the business. All your mentors keep one on them, your fellow tradesmen talk them up, and you’re ready to set yourself up with one. The catch is, there are a ton of options from this single manufacturer. We’re going to run through some of the things you need to consider to ensure you get the one you need. Those on the hunt for alternatives to Leatherman might want to review our guide to the best multitools.
Leatherman Wave Plus Multitool
- Balances ease of carrying with useful features
- Viable for use on the job
- Issues with quality control are seemingly common but are easily taken care of
Leatherman Micra Keychain Multitool
- Includes personal care tools that make it convenient as an EDC tool
- Includes spring-assisted functionality for easy one-handed operation
- Small tools can be hard to sharpen or handle
- Somewhat flimsy scissors
Leatherman Surge Heavy-Duty Multitool
- Heavy-duty construction
- Loaded with features that are useful on job sites
- One-handed operation
- Large size may not be desirable for EDC
- Premium price point
- Finish wears easily
Leatherman got its start back in 1983. Tim Leatherman, the founder, had an idea that he worked tirelessly to bring to life. That idea was the first folding plier multitool that many have since tried to emulate. Today the company operates out of Portland, Ore., and offers a wide range of tools like the Leatherman Wingman Multitool.
Everyone has handled a Leatherman multitool at some point or another. Heck, half of the newborns in the hospital will likely know the brand before they speak their first words. Still, we didn't exactly fire off the hip as we put our list together. We stuck to the professional plan and did our share of homework to hone in on the key models. What you see below is just a fraction of Leatherman's lineup, but we're sure it's got just what you need!
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Best Leatherman Tools Reviews & Recommendations 2022
The Wave Plus is Leatherman’s top-selling multitool, and it doesn’t take much research to figure out why. Starting with the basics, it has a total of 18 tools. All of those tools can be accessed and deployed with a single hand—even those on the inside. Of course, the size helps to work in its favor as well. It’s much smaller than some of Leatherman’s full-size offerings but not so small that it’s out of its element on the jobsite. It doesn’t take up much room in your pocket or tool belt, but it does come with a sheath so that you can keep it right on your belt.
There are few drawbacks to this model unless you prefer the larger or smaller models. It is worth mentioning that there are some reports of issues relating to quality control. That isn’t a real deal-breaker, though, as they aren’t very frequent, and Leatherman does a good job at remedying any issues.
Designed to fit the pocket or a belt pouch easily, the Micra Keychain Multitool combines a few simple but convenient functionalities useful for grooming, utility, and survival. Sporting a stainless steel construction with a plastic handle, this tool has an open butterfly design with spring-assisted scissors sitting atop the design. Tucked away in the handles is a nail cleaner, a nail file, tweezers, a single edge knife, a bottle opener, a ruler, and three different types of screwdrivers, including a Phillips screwdriver. This multitool weighs only 1.8 ounces and comes with a keychain ring, so you can always have it on hand.
The drawbacks are few but worth mentioning: you may find the tools too small to sharpen or handle, especially if you have large hands. Also, the scissors might be somewhat flimsy despite the spring-assisted functionality.
While all Leatherman tools are built to work, this entry takes things a step further than others. The Surge is one of Leatherman's most extensive tools and has a total of 21 functions. That alone is enough for many professionals to turn their attention to this model. Throw in the fact that it has a heavy-duty construction that'll withstand virtually anything you throw at it makes it a no-brainer for most. Another fantastic feature to complement its usefulness is the one-handed opening. Let's face it, you'll find yourself in plenty of positions where you only have a single hand free. We should also mention that this model comes with a storage sheath. This specific model comes with a MOLLE sheath, but you can opt for nylon as well.
The price is high, but it's not bad for a tool you can carry on the job every day. You might want to be aware of the black finish that scratches easily. That might sound superficial, but it is something that makes the price point a little more painful.
It’s time to look at an alternative to traditional Leatherman designs. This time around, we’re taking a look at a pocket knife that’s loaded with useful tools. Overall, this multitool has seven functions that ensure you will get plenty of use out of it. Of course, Leatherman makes sure that this tool has the same one-hand access to all devices. That might be a common feature among Leatherman tools, but with a pocket knife orientation, that’s particularly useful. To answer the obvious question, this is still a Leatherman, and it is made in the USA. It is also backed by the standard 25-year warranty to give you the ease of mind you get with any of its other tools.
Overall, this is a decent tool to spend your money on. It is more of a pocket knife than a multitool, so there is a lack of function compared to the competition.
If a tool changed the game entirely, it has to be a pretty good tool, right? If that’s the case, then the original Leatherman multitool likely doesn’t need much improvement. Well, this one is inspired by Tim Leatherman’s original PST. It’s just slightly better. This thing has way more to offer than the PST as it has a total of 17 tools, which is three more than the PST has to offer. It’s also a little beefier than the original, as Leatherman optimized the strength in this design. This entry also comes with a leather or nylon sheath to help you keep it secured to your side on the site or otherwise.
There is one weak point of this tool: it follows the traditional design of keeping the tools on the inside of the handle. This means there’s no single-hand operation like you would find in more modern Leatherman tools.
It’s tough to ignore the popularity of the Wingman. The near-perfect rating and the high number of reviews are enough to reassure anyone they’re investing in a quality piece of equipment. Still, that’s not enough detail to make you jump on it. What’s nice about this model is that it packs the quality and features of a Leatherman into a compact multitool anyone can comfortably carry in their pocket. But it’s not so small that the uses are severely limited. As for what it can do, there are 14 functions packed into this bad boy. It also offers the ease of one-handed opening for all tools, meaning it’s quick to deploy whatever you need to get the job done.
To be blunt, this isn’t the tool you’d likely want to carry on the job with you. Even if it’s a quality tool, it’s a far better option for everyday carry than keeping in your tool belt due to its size.
If you have a Leatherman, you take it camping. And if you compare a Leatherman to other camping knives, it lacks a few things. That is unless you’re talking about the Signal Camping multitool. This model has a total of 19 different tools. Most of those are similar to what you’d find on any other multitool from this brand, meaning it has plenty of potential use. However, what makes it great for camping is the firestarter, hammer, and diamond-coated sharpener. It’s also designed to be as lightweight as possible, which helps keep your loadout weight at a minimum.
The problem with this model has nothing to do with its functions. It’s the finish. This tool comes in a few vibrant finishes, but they tend to wear away quickly, which is disappointing for a device with a relatively high price.
Another compact model to consider is the Leatherman Sidekick. This model is about half the size and weight of Leatherman’s top sellers but still manages to pack 14 tools into the design. Compact tools are incredibly desirable for carrying outside of the job site as they don’t take up too much room in your pocket, nor are they unnecessarily large for the kind of jobs you’d do around the house, office, or even out fishing. The Sidekick also isn’t so tiny that it’s too fragile or limited for the more demanding tasks that may also arise.
The Sidekick’s size is partially on account of doing away with certain tools that aren't as widely used as others. That makes it ideal for a set demographic that doesn’t need all the features of a larger model. It’s not necessarily bad. You just want to make sure you’re OK with cutting off the fat before you buy.
If you’re looking to cut as much weight as possible but don’t want to lose out on the essential features of a traditional multitool, you’ll want to consider the Skeletool. This model has a total of seven tools and weighs in at just five ounces. That’s less than half the weight of most popular multitools. Weight savings like that can make a significant difference when you’re trying to find a tool you can carry comfortably wherever you go. Like most modern Leatherman tools, this model has one-handed access to all tools. That might be a standard, but it helps to compliment the low weight and compact size of this design.
As with all compact tools, size and lack of features can hold this model back. On that note, the knife is the most prominent feature. If you want a knife that’s capable of doing more than cutting, this is a fantastic option.
It is nothing but a coincidence that the tools on our list are getting smaller and smaller as we bring it to an end. That said, our final entry is one of the most compact offerings from Leatherman. The Squirt is only about the size of a typical pocket knife but is somehow jammed with nine functions. Despite being loaded, it only weighs in at 2 ounces, meaning it's not likely you'll even notice it's in your pocket. It even has a key to giving you more options for carrying it. Don't be fooled by its size though, it's as reliable as any other Leatherman tool. It's also backed by that signature 25-year warranty.
Sure, it's small, so it's not as capable as larger models, but that size does have its advantages. As an example, those pliers are narrower than most and can be preferable when dealing with particularly small items.
Several users have had issues with the scissor spring breaking. Some of the tools are also too tight and hard to open.
Again, our top pick is the Leatherman Wave Plus Multitool. We’d be lying to say popularity doesn’t sway our opinion. But it is hard to ignore a compact, high-quality, useful tool like this. Those who want to save some money can do so with the Leatherman Micra Keychain Multitool, though. That does not mean either of these is what you need. Of course, we want you to fill us in by letting us know what Leatherman tool you’ll be carrying on you every day and what features make it stand out to you.
What to Consider When Buying Leatherman Multitools
While Leatherman tools are tied to a year-make-model search, they aren't exactly universal. Each model is built with different user preferences in mind. Some are less inclusive than others, while the premier options are armed to the teeth and ready to handle anything. Which is best for you? That depends, but this buying guide is here to help you find out!
Types of Leatherman Tools
Here we have the staple of the Leatherman name. Plier, or what many call regular, multitools didn’t exist in this form until Tim Leatherman patented the design. These look much like a standard set of pliers but with extra tools built into the handles. If you need a more inclusive option, this is the type of multitool you want. Those who are just setting up their tool collection might want to consider our guide to mechanic's tools.
Pocket Knife Multitool
A step down from plier multitools are pocket knives with extra features. As the name implies, these are about the size of an ordinary pocket knife but are usually a bit wider to accommodate additional tools. It’s worth noting that the blade is the primary tool here, and there is a limit to how many functions it can feature. If you need something to carry around in casual settings but don’t want the extra bulk of a regular multitool, this is the best option.
You could probably guess that these are a multitool that’s small enough to fit on your keychain. The benefit is that they usually have a sharp edge coupled with a bottle opener, a ruler, and a screwdriver. These are perfect for someone who wants the most low-profile option possible, but they have minimal uses. Leatherman offers very few of this type of tool, to be honest, so you might want to check out our guide to keychain multitools if these pique your interest.
The most important thing to consider is what functions a multitool offers. You want to make sure it has enough to aid you in the situations you run into daily. There are always going to be incidents requiring you to run to the toolbox. You want to eliminate that as much as possible, though. That said, think about what tools you have to grab most often and make sure the multitool has those functions at the very least.
It's always a good idea to balance the tool's size with its function. While multitools are designed to be easy to carry, many are best paired with a sheath you wear around your belt. If you're in a trade or regularly need a multitool, that probably isn't an issue for you. Other folks might want something they can keep in their pocket with little discomfort. This ultimately comes down to personal preference, but it is a major factor to consider.
Most Leatherman tools come with sheaths; many also give you the option to select the type of sheath you want to go with the tool. Nylon sheaths are pretty well standard, but you may have the opportunity to go with leather or MOLLE, depending on the model. If you prefer one over the others, you’ll want to make sure to select it if you have the option. If you don’t have that option, you will need to purchase it separately.
Leatherman Tool Pricing
The $5-$10 price range is primarily occupied by keychain multitools. Again, Leatherman has very few of these offerings. For $10-$30, you’ll start finding compact Leatherman plier multitools and pocket knives. These are more convenient for carrying around, but the size can limit their potential use. The $30-$60 range includes a wide variety of offerings from Leatherman. You can expect to find basic offerings along with some ramped-up versions of the options that exist in the lower price range. As you near the $100 mark, you can expect your Leatherman multitool to include more features and special designs to appear. Bear in mind that it’s not rare for premium options to run for more than $100.
Tips and Tricks
As with something you do for decades upon decades, you pick up a few tips and tricks along the way in terms of selecting the right product, and/or using it. That’s the case with us and crate engines. To help you bridge the information gap, here’s a selection of what we’ve learned along the way.
- Keeping a Leatherman clean is key to outlasting that 25-year warranty. It’s a good idea to regularly wipe it down with light oil and make sure there’s no debris trapped in the many crevices.
- Joints are a primary area of concern when it comes to caring for a Leatherman multitool. You should apply Teflon-based lubricant every so often to the joints to keep them moving freely.
- Leatherman multitools are great, but they have their limitations. It’s always a good idea to have other tools you may need access to when you do hit a wall.
- You may not know this, but driver extenders and bit kits are available for Leatherman multitools. Investing in these will help you get far more use out of your Leatherman.
Q: Which is the best Leatherman tool to buy?
Our top pick is the Leatherman Wave Plus Multitool. It’s a great tool, but it might not be the best for you. The best Leatherman multitool that best suits your lifestyle or profession.
Q: Are Leatherman tools made in the USA?
Yes, Leatherman tools are made in the USA. Not all the components and materials are sourced from the USA, though.
Q: What are the tools on a Leatherman?
That depends on the tool of interest. Most at least have a plier, screwdriver, knife blade, and a range of other devices. Some have more than others, and that’s something to pay attention to as you shop.