Nowadays, facing natural or man-made disasters has made a lot of people be more aware of their lack of proper preparation. That has lead to a sharp rise in survivalists and people trying to learn how to work with as little things possible in nature. Having the best survival multi-tool in your emergency backpack is definitely a must since these tools have all the functions you need in order to cope better with the harsh conditions in the wilderness.
Even for something so small, there are quite a few variations and a see of potential functions that different models have. That might make choosing one a bit confusing. This is why in this guide we will go through some of the top multi-tool models of all types and then discuss them in greater depths.
Leatherman Super Tool 300 Multitool
Leatherman is one of the best brands when it comes to premium multi-tools. They are also one of the pioneers and first ones to produce a multifunctional tool that has many parts similar to the swiss knife. With the years, they’ve progressed in terms of their design and have adopted their own butterfly foldable style that has many fans. Unfortunately, with the brand’s name and quality behind their products, the price tag is also pretty premium with these multi-tools being one of the most expensive out there.
While the price is high, it certainly is justified. The Super Tool 300 multi-tool from Leatherman has a stainless steel body that opens up to become almost full-sized pliers with wire cutters and an array of 19 different smaller tools. Those include knives, bottle and can openers, a saw, a file, wire stripper, a ruler (integrated in the handles), an awl, and more. In this particular model, everything is made out of stainless steel and is perfectly assembled together allowing you to seamlessly slide the different tools out. Once the tool you want to use is fully-opened, it locks in place to protect you from accidentally harming yourself.
The best part of any Leatherman product is that it comes with a full 25 years warranty which covers everything from the build quality to craftsmanship details. While the Super Tool 300 is definitely not the smallest multi-tool out there, it is well worth the money for anyone looking for a solid survivalist toolset. You can choose from three different versions of this model with a Stainless Steel/Leather Sheath combo, a Stainless Steel/Nylon Sheath one, or a Black (metal) multi-tool with MOLLE sheath.
- Excellent build quality
- Stainless steel components
- Comes with a leather sheath
- 19 different tools
- Super strong pliers
- Good for emergencies and outdoor uses
- One of the biggest and heaviest multi-tools
- Very expensive
Gerber Suspension Multi-Plier
One of the biggest competitors to Leatherman is the company called Gerber. They are well-known in the US army as they are making their multi-tools. They’ve been making blades and other various military-use tools since WW2, making them true veterans in the industry. The Gerber Suspension Multi-plier is another multi-tool centered around its butterfly design and strong pliers.
Apart from the spring-loaded pliers, you also get 11 additional tools, such as wire cutters, serrated and fine edge knives, saw, spring-loaded scissors, a crosspoint and flat blade screwdrivers, and can and bottle openers. On the handle, there is also a lanyard hole. Despite not having too many components, the Gerber multi-plier is quite heavy, weighing almost 10 oz.
The construction quality here is top-notch with stainless steel components and handle. The Saf.T.Plus locking system makes sure that your tools stay locked in place once you open them to avoid accidents. The Multi-Plier comes with a ballistic nylon sheath and a (limited) lifetime warranty which makes it one of the few products that have that. Apart from its quality and functionality, this multi-tool isn’t that expensive, which makes it really irresistible compared to other alternatives with worse build qualities. Still, the downside of not having a lot of tools remains and makes it less competitive in this price range.
- Easy-to-use butterfly opening
- Good pliers
- Stainless steel handles and components
- Limited lifetime warranty
- Locking mechanism for the different tools
- Good value for your money
- Comes from a trusted brand
- Not a lot of tools
- Fairly bulky and heavy
Victorinox SwissChamp Multi-tool Pocket Knife
Coming in third is yet again another one of the companies that re-shaped the world of multi-tools and survivalist gear. Victorinox is most famous for its SwissChamp multi-tool pocket knife. this is the pocket knife that most people think about when you tell them the word “multi-tool” and there is a good reason for that.
One of the most impressive features of the swiss army knife is that it packs the whopping 33 tools inside, including a 2.45-inch blade, a Philips screwdriver, bottle and can opener, pliers, corkscrew, spring-loaded scissors, pile, saw, and many more. These tools allow you to fix almost everything, go fishing, and work around your base camp. Despite the multitude of different tools, Victorinox has managed to keep the overall footprint of this pocket knife well… pocketable. It is only 3.6 inches long and weighs just 6.5 oz.
All the internal components here are made out of stainless steel and everything is also covered by a lifetime warranty against workmanship and material defects. Apart from the traditional red color, there are also black, ruby red, ruby blue, hardwood, and hardwood Wounded Warrior Project styles. The solid red version is the cheapest although it is still almost twice as expensive as some other pocket multi-tools.
- Comes in 6 styles
- 33 different tools
- Lifetime warranty
- Stainless steel components
- Very small and lightweight
- Very expensive
- Some people prefer the full-sized pliers of Leatherman and Greber
Bibury Multitool Pliers
The Bibury Multitool Pliers are, in my opinion, your best option if you’re looking for a full-sized pliers set that also comes at a bargain price. Before I get into all their different features, I just want to mention that they are almost 4 times cheaper than the Leatherman pliers which had the same amount of tools and were similarly sized.
From the 18 tools you get here, some of the most important ones are – the long-nose pliers combined with standard pliers and a wire cutter, the two-in-one screwdriver, the can and bottle opener, a huge 3-inch knife with a smooth and serrated part. You also have a rope cutter, safety hammer, and a few other tools. They can all be opened and locked in position with one hand.
The design here is quite unique thanks to a few of its features. First, its made from hardened stainless steel which is a step higher than normal stainless steel in terms of quality. The handles on both models are titanium-plated and are have a 3D-machined grip texture which improves grip even in wet conditions. You can also choose a Titanium model which is slightly more expensive and arguably longer-lasting in terms of material durability. For both of them, you get a nylon sheath that acts as a belt holster and a nylon sleeve wit ha belt clip.
- Excellent for camp work and fishing
- Very cheap
- Durable construction
- Stainless Steel / Titanium materials
- Easy-to-grip handles
- Comes with nylon sheath and sleeve
- A bit heavy
Leatherman Wingman Multitool
The Leatherman Wingman Multitool is yet another product from the brand that is well-known for its premium quality. The main difference between the Wingman and the Super Tool 300 is that this one here is much lighter, smaller, and has fewer tools. While that might be considered a disadvantage for some, it actually makes it much more compact and easy to carry around. Oh, and the price is much cheaper, meaning you get a premium product at a bargain price!
Instead of the 18 tools you get in the other more expensive Leatherman multi-tool, you get 14 here. These include the standard spring-action pliers, scissors, knives, piles, and a few more. Every part of the tool is precisely built with stainless steel and is covered by a 25-year warranty. Despite the rigid construction, everything is easy to open and close even with one hand. Thanks to its compact size, this can be easily be put in your pocket. The Wingman is around 3.80 inches long, and almost 7 oz heavy, bringing it closer to the swiss army knife dimensions rather than the big spring-loaded pliers multi-tools on the market.
Unfortunately, you don’t get the patented Leatherman leather snap sheath which comes standard with the more expensive models.
- One of the smallest spring-action pliers
- Premium build quality
- Everything can be used one-handed
- 25 years warranty
- You don’t get the leather sheath you get with other models from the brand
- Not a lot of tools
Pro-Master Multitool Knife
The Pro-Master Multitool Knife is one of the best budget deals currently if you’re looking for a foldable type of mutli-tool with full-sized spring pliers. There are 15 tools here, continuing the trend of it being a great value for your money. Among those, there are a saw, knife, fish scaler and hook remover, nail file, bottle and can opener, four screwdrivers, and a ruler. Those are enough to give most models a run for their money by themselves, not to mention there are a few other good things about this model.
What I am talking about is the whole design. Everything here is easily reachable and you can take out all the tools quite easily. The butterfly mechanism allows you to use the pliers as you’d use any other set of regular pliers. The tools pop out from the outer parts of the tool’s shoulders and are fairly sturdy, even though there are no locking mechanisms here which is a big downside for some people. The components are made out of 420 high-carbon stainless steel which is another thing that is highly unusual for this price point. You also get a nylon health holder. As a whole, for the money, there are almost no models that come close to the value you get out of this small multi-tool.
- 420 high-grade carbon steel
- Fairly compact and lightweight
- 15 different tools
- Comes with a nylon sheath
- Perfect for fishing and outdoor activities
- Lifetime warranty
- Excellent value for your money
- No locking mechanisms
- The Sheath that comes with it is poorly made
QuntionSt Survival Multitool
The QuntionSt Survival Multitool is a pocket-type tool which is a bit different the rest on this list due to the fact that it has a big car safety hammer and 12 more tools in its package. It is also really easy to use and comes at a bargain price compared to some of the premium models on this list, making it a good idea for a survivalist scenario or a gift for an outdoor enthusiast.
In terms of the various tools, you get a file, flathead and Philips screwdrivers, serrated and smooth knives, a saw, and a bottle opened. On the other side, you have the flathead hammer which is facing a cone hammer at the opposite side. Between those, you have your pliers with a wirecutter.
The thing I like the most here is how the pliers locking mechanism works here. It has a lever at the back of the pocket tool which you have to pull upwards. When it is open, you can use that as one of the shoulders for the pliers. The other components are locked and unlocked with a small tab at the other end of the tool. The construction of this multi-tool is made out of stainless steel which is coated with a black oxidation layer to prevent damage and rusting over time.
- Unique design
- has a cone hammer
- Packs 12 tools
- Fairly cheap
- Good build quality
- Not enough tools for some people
- A bit bulky for a pocket multi-tool
AmazonBasics 15-in-1 Multi-Tool
Lastly, I wanted to include something that has no particular brand and brings great value for the money. The multi-tool pocket knife from Amazon Basics is a well-thought-out tool that packs a good amount of tools for the price and is built surprisingly good.
For less than 10 bucks you can get 15 tools such as a fish scaler, hook remover, can and bottle opener, knife, two saws, spring scissors, screwdriver, and a few other smaller tools. All of them click nicely into place and are packed into a body that is only 3.5 inches long and weighs 5.4 oz making it the lightest pocket-sized option on this list.
All of the components here are made out of stainless steel, giving it a guarantee to stand the test of time well. You also get a nylon pouch with a belt loop. As a whole, if you looking for a budget pocket multi-tool for fishing, outdoor activities, or your emergency backpack, this is your best option.
- Very cheap
- Decent build quality
- Compact and lightweight
- Has 15 unique tools
- Stainless steel materials
- No locking mechanism
- The sheath isn’t durable
- The spring mechanism of the scissors tends to break
Survival Multi-Tools Buyer’s Guide
When it comes to being prepared, there are few things that are as functional and as compact as a multi-tool. You never know whether you’ll have to build a shelter, create a trap, fix an engine, spark a fire, or do any other type of activity which would be much easier with the help of a special tool. This is the whole reason behind the diverse nature of these tools and the race to put as many different parts as possible in a single body. Despite their uniform description, there are still a few types and variations which all serve a slightly different purpose than the rest. Let’s go through those now…
Types Of Multi-Tools
There are three main types of multi-tools out there which all have their pros and cons. These are:
- Pocket multi-tools: Those are the most common multi-tools and are awfully close to the famous swiss army knives. They are compact and try to pack as many small features into them as possible. Its biggest advantage is also its biggest disadvantage, however, with it not being able to carry some of the bigger tools that the folding multi-tools can house.
- Swiss army knives: The brand behind these well-known multi-tools is Victorinox. While there are some other models made by other brands, Victorinox remains the one with the highest quality and the most amount of functions (usually around 30). These tools come with scissors, knives, bottle openers, glass breakers, screwdrivers, and many more essential and non-essential survival tools.
- Folding multi-tools: These are gaining more and more popularity mainly due to their diversity and highly-functional nature. While they will have more functions and will be much more durable, they are also bigger and more expensive on average. The go-to brand for some of the best folding models is Leatherman, followed by brands like Gerber which also produces multi-tools for the US army. These folding tools also feature a butterfly opening style, as opposed to the all-in-one approach of most pocket and swiss multi-tools.
No matter the type, there are still mandatory and non-mandatory parts which are the essence of any multi-tool and they define its practicality and usability in a moment of need. On average, most multi-tools have around 20 functions. While some might say that anything above that is an overkill, it really isn’t if you want to have something that can solve any situation. Still, here is the list of all the functions, ranked from essential to fairly non-essential:
- Needlenose and regular pliers
- Straight and serrated knives (long or short)
- Wood and metal files
- Flat-head and Philips screwdrivers
- Can and bottle openers
- Fish scaler and hook disgorger
- Magnifying lens/fire starter
Again, depending on the situations you are preparing for, there might be different tools that you need. In general, for most survival scenarios, you need only the essentials with a good flint fire starter.
Let’s take a look at some of the most important features that you should pay attention when you’re buying your first survival multi-tool:
- Durability & Sturdiness
- Additional features and accessories
When it comes to the type, there is a very simple way to determine what you need. If cargo space isn’t an issue, I suggest always going for the foldable models. They have much stronger tools due to their two arms. Still, they are more expensive and will take more space in your backpack. For something that you can carry in your pocket at all times, opt for the pocket multi-tools or the swiss-styled ones.
The functions will vary greatly from model to model. As a whole, there are some tools that can be found on all models. Those are the essential ones needed for proper survival and camping – pliers, files, saw, knives, chisels, fire starters, and more. If you want to use your multi-tool for fishing as well, go for models that have fish scalers and hook disgorgers.
What is important to remember here is that more isn’t always better. While the swiss army styled multi-tools have more than 30 functions, that doesn’t make them more practical in a survival scenario, as most of those tools will be extremely small in order to fit the compact design of the multi-tool. Foldable models have around 20 functions but are much bigger giving their tools a better chance at being truly useful. Also, the more moving parts, the harder it will be to make a sturdy product, so look for models with around 15-20 functions at the most.
The dimensions are a direct continuation of the last topic. The more functions a multi-tool has, the bulkier and heavier it will be. For a truly pocketable experience, look for small models that are around 2-3 inches long and not more than 8-10 oz heavy. If there are no hard limitations on your carrying capacity (when having a backpack, for example), go for a bigger model, as long as your budget allows it.
Durability & Sturdiness
The durability and build quality is quite a complex topic, especially because of the fact that multi-tools have countless moving parts. The go-to choice for a structural material is stainless steel across the industry. Some brands prefer using special hardened or carbon stainless steel which really takes things a step further but also adds to the cost. Luckily, most of these tools can be maintained by tightening them up or lubricating their components.
Additional features and accessories
One of the best additional features for a foldable knife is a butterfly opening mechanism. It really does make things a bit easier, even if you’re working one-handed. The open-frame design is also something you should be looking for, as it makes the tool much lighter without sacrificing too much of the durability.
If you’re set on having a pair of scissors on your multi-tool, look for models that have spring-action mechanism for their scissors. That will make using them much easier. The accessories for these multi-tools primarily include rings for key chains and sheaths that can be made from various materials like leather, MOLLE, and Nylon.
Last but not least, you shouldn’t lose sight of the price. With premium models that have a lot of functions and are coming from well-known brands, the prices can quickly skyrocket compared to the normal competition. While brands like Leatherman and Gerber are well-worth every penny, their products still cost a bag-full of pennies, so make sure you are well within your budget when getting their multi-tools.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are you allowed to carry a multi-tool with you?
While this is a fairly large topic that varies from state to state, in general, you are allowed to carry a multi-tool knife with you in public as long as the knife’s cutting edge isn’t longer than 3 inches. It also has to be a friction blade for it to be 100% legal.
What multi-tools does our military use?
The multi-tool that the US military uses currently is a modification of the Gerber Multi-plier 600 which is built on that same multi-tool platform.
Which Leatherman model has the most tools in it?
Without a doubt, the largest model on the Leatherman line of products is the “Surge” which has large pliers, long blades, locks which are easy to use, and many more accessories and tools in it (21 to be precise).
Who makes the best multi-tools?
There are a few brands that are almost household names when it comes to multi-tools. Those are Gerber, Leatherman, and Victorinox.
Finding the best survival multi-tool will depend on your needs. Look for models that are sturdy and well-built, as well as rich on different tools in them. Trusting brands like Leatherman and Gerber is always a safe bet if you can spare a few extra bucks. If you’re on a tighter budget, look for models with fewer parts as they will be harder to break and better value for your money.