When I was a kid I was fascinated by Swiss Army knives with all of their built-in tools. Years later the Leatherman Super Tool included some very serious tools and took the idea of a Swiss Army Knife to the next level. Multi-tools are innovative and useful tools that pack a lot of features into a very compact package. Most multi-tools are based on foldable pliers or scissors with tools in the handles. Common in multi-tool features include:
- Pliers or scissors (some have both)
- One or more knives: often a straight edge and serrated knife
- Can and bottle openers
- Wood saw
- Sewing awl
- Wire cutters
Every vehicle kit, hiking kit, and Bugout Bag should include a multi-tool. My first aid kits also include a very small Leatherman Micra. A multi-tool should be in addition to a solid bushcraft knife and should NEVER replace that knife. There is a vast variety of multi-tools so do your research and choose the tool that best fits your needs. When shopping for a multi-tool note that some have pliers that are naturally open and others that stay closed.
There are many manufactures and models of multi-tools. For a larger multi-tool I prefer one that include a wood saw. I also have a small Leatherman Micra with my first aid kit since it includes scissors, fine tweezers, and a variety of other small tools. I personally prefer the Leatherman brand since they pioneered the multi-tool, have an outstanding warranty, and they produce a very high-quality product. Spend the extra money and get a premium, high quality multi-tool. Expect to spend at least $50 for a multi-tool and do not rely on an inexpensive and lower quality tool.
A Large Multi Tool should be rugged, relatively lightweight, and constructed from premium steel or titanium. I recommend a multi tool with pliers, one or more knives, screwdrivers, wood saw, can opener, and file.
A Small Multi Tool should be very lightweight, constructed from premium steel, and have finer tools that may not be present on the large multi tool. Use the small multi tool for removing splinters, cutting tape or bandages using the knife or scissors, etc. I recommend a multi tool with scissors, nail file, tweezers, and screwdrivers.