Boat Safe is a community supported site. We may earn commission from links on this page, but we have confidence in all recommended products.
The best multitool for one person isn’t going to be the right fit for another. It’s as simple as that. Multitools, though practical and versatile, are divisive gadgets. For many, they’re the wrong tool for a million jobs, while for others, they’re an indispensable part of their every day carry. Of course, no multitool will ever replace a specialist, dedicated, individual tool—but that’s not the point of them.
Even if you’re not particularly impressed by the sheer practicality of a modern multitool, there are plenty of reasons to keep on nearby. They offer a lot of bang for your buck. For a reasonable price, you get access to a full-set of tools that you can clip onto your belt and retrieve in seconds.
You don’t have to be a bush mechanic or tomb raider to make a return on your investment either. If you’re a casual boater, survival enthusiast, mountain climber, amateur gardener, daring DIY-er, fully-fledged flaneur or burgeoning boulevardier, having a multitool on hand will pay off eventually. Whether you’re untying knots, cutting rope, or tuning up an engine, a multitool can be useful.
Unforunately, finding the right tool to suit your needs is a tricky task. We’ve made life a little easier by listing a few of our favorites, with a little buying guide too.
Leatherman is the go-to brand for plier-style multitools. They’re arguably the most famous brand in the segment, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to see a few of their products on this list. The first one is the Skeletool RX, a versatile multitool designed with first-responders in mind, and equipped with a wide range of practical tools.
As an emergency tool, it has everything a first responder would need. The highlights include a 154CM steel serrated blade and a carbide bit for breaking safety glass. Leatherman’s Skeletool also features needlenose and regular pliers, wire and hard-wire cutters, a large bit driver, and a carabiner-bottle opener.
It’s true that other products exist with more tools equipped. However, Leatherman decided that a less-is-more approach was better for the Skeletool. Instead, the company focused on easy ergonomics, a lightweight design, and quick accessibility. It can be opened with one hand, weighs only 5 oz, and can fit in any pocket or clip on your belt.
Like all Leatherman products, the Skeletool RX is made in the USA at the company’s factory in Portland, Oregon. Also, all Leatherman tools ship with a 25-year warranty, so you can have confidence in the quality of their products. The Skeletool is a confidence-inspiring piece of everyday carry around.
Number of tools: 7
Closed length: 4 inches
Overall weight: 5 oz
Victorinox is one of the most famous knife manufacturers in the world. It has a long and illustrious history of making cutlery and survival tools. There are many Victonrinox multitools on the market, but we rate their SwissTool Spirit X plier-style multitool the highest.
Manufactured from stainless steel, this lightweight and durable multitool has a unique design that fits comfortably in the hand. It features an ergonomic tool lock, and a slide and release mechanism. This allows users easy access to each of the included tools.
We could dedicate paragraphs to the amazing amount of functions that this multitool has to offer. Instead, we’ll just mention the greatest hits: needle-nose pliers, 4 different screwdrivers, 4 different cutting edges, 3 openers, 2 saws, and more. With so many tools, there’ll be a gadget to solve whatever problem you’re facing, that’s for sure.
For your money, you get a lot of tools. The Victorinox SwissTool Spirit X is a great option for users looking for one tool that can do almost anything. Plus, each tool comes with a lifetime guarantee too!
Number of tools: 24
Closed length: 4.12 inches
Overall weight: 5 oz
Next up, we have the Gerber Center Drive. This is the best multitool for construction workers looking for a handy tool that has a usable screwdriver function. Yes, many other tools have screwdriver bits but most of the time they’re not that fun to use.
They can be uncomfortable and strain your hands, and even then, they have a tendency to strip your screw heads too. This Gerber model is a multitool designed specifically for screwing!
The Center-Driver tool comes equipped wit ha 3.2” center-axis driver system. This opens to create a fully-functioning screwdriver with a magnetic end that can accommodate standard bits. It ships with a 12-piece bit set, but your standard bits will work just as well too.
While the screwdriver steals the show, the tool also features a number of other exciting and useful features. These include a set of pliers, a saw, a pry bar, can and bottle openers, and an impressive 420HC blade. It opens with a one handed opening action, and all the tools are easily accessible, even for clumsy fingers.
Like all Gerber products, this multitool is made in the USA at the company’s Oregon factory. This one also ships with a limited lifetime guarantee.
Number of tools: 12
Closed length: 4.7 inches
Overall weight: 9.5 oz
Not all multitools are the standard “plier-shape.” In fact, they come in a variety of shapes. This one from RoverTac looks like a standard pocket knife, but it’s more than just a handle and blade: if you look closely, you’ll notice that it’s a real multitool.
Though it’s at the cheaper end of the budget spectrum, this knife offers some excellent features. It’s made from stainless steel with black oxidation for added protection and houses some useful hardware.
The RoverTac pocket knife has 9 useful tools, including needle nose and regular priers, a wire cutter, can opener, can and bottle opener, two blade types, and two screwdriver functions. One of the latter includes a bit-adapter that can accommodate different heads. A 9-bit set comes with every purchase.
Other goodies include a trustworthy locking mechanism that prevents the blade from deploying or retracting when you don’t want it to, a durable Nylon carry pouch and a lifetime warranty.
This is a great product for those on a budget, and for those who want a multitool but don’t want the conventional plier-opening style.
Number of tools: 9
Closed length: 4.3 inches
Overall weight: 7.76 oz
Here’s another Leatherman product. This one is the Free P4. It’s one of a number of multitools in Leatherman’s Free range, but it’s the most practical in our humble opinion. It’s smart, practical, compact, and packed with features.
Made from stainless steel, the Leatherman Free P4 multitool boasts a total of 21 functions. These include pliers, wire cutters, crimpers, spring-action scissors, a saw, and an impressive pair of 420HC knife blades. Other tools include files, openers, an awl, pry tool, and screwdriver heads.
One of the best features of this tool is the use of magnetic locking. This makes the P4 incredibly fun to use. Accessing tools is easy and intuitive, reducing friction and improving feedback. Leatherman has also used new cam locks to secure tools in their open position with ease. In fact, the whole device has been designed with ergonomics in mind, allowing for ambidextrous one-hand opening.
Since it’s a Leatherman, it’s 100% made in the USA, in Portland, Oregon. Naturally, it ships with Leatherman’s usual 25-year warranty.
Number of tools: 21
Closed length: 4.25 inches
Overall weight: 8.60 oz
SOG-branded knives are a piece of American history and famed for their use during the Vietnam War era. Today, SOG manufacturers more than the famous Studies and Observation Group knife and the brand’s multitools are some of the best in the industry. For this list, we’ve chosen the enormously capable PowerLock model.
Made from GSA-approved 420 stainless steel, this sturdy tool has a practical design that makes it ideal for site workers. It’s tough, durable, and packed with plenty of useful features. These include pliers, scissors, crimping tools, a folding knife, a socket driver, and a selection of screwdrivers.
What separates the SOG from similar models on the market is its strength. Thanks to a unique gearing system, the PowerLock’s pliers are some of the strongest in the business. Not only that, the PowerLock uses a special locking system with a 1-press action to release the tools when needed.
SOG also gives customers a fairly handsome lifetime guarantee. It’s quite a broad warranty, and the brand will even repair and replace parts…providing that the owner has properly taken care of their knife. If you look after your SOG, SOG will look after you.
Number of tools: 18
Closed length: 4.60 inches
Overall weight: 9.60 oz
CRKT, Columbia River Knife & Tool, is an American knifemaking company that has been producing quality tools since it was first established in 1994. Over the years, the company has developed a reputation for making top-notch equipment, and the brand’s Bivy multitool is one of our favorites.
It doesn’t have a million functions, but instead, it has five high-quality tools in one tough and robust package. Featuring a wide blade, strong spring-assisted pliers, two screwdrivers, and a marlinspike, the Bivy is a must-have for anyone working with rope. Here at Boatsafe, we’re always tying knots, so this one is a perfect fit for us.
This cool tool was designed in collaboration with world-record breaking speed climber Hans Florine. Since it was designed with real practical use in mind, it features a smooth one handed operation, with spring-assisted tools, and an ergonomic grip.
CRKT always give their accessories a fairly decent 1-year limited warranty. This covers manufacturing defects or damages. It’s not as comprehensive as you get from other manufacturers, but the price reflects that.
Number of tools: 5
Closed length: 4.12 inches
Overall weight: 7.70 oz
Our next offering from Gerber is a little different from the others on this list. “Little” being the operative word. This is a mini-multitool rather than a full-sized one. It’s ideal EDC since it’s so small. It can fit in almost any pocket! It’s small in stature but big in features.
In fact, it packs an impressive 12 different features into a lightweight frame that weighs a mere 2.2 ounces. It’s keychain friendly, and while it’s small, it’s not delicate. It can stand up to heavy-duty use. Naturally, it can’t measure up to bigger products, but if you find yourself stranded somewhere remote, having this in your pocket will make your life much easier.
The list of tools includes standard pliers, needle nose pliers, wire cutters, tweezers, a bottle opener, a package opener, scissors, a couple of screwdrivers, files, and a sharp, fine-edged blade. It’s quite an impressive selection given the tool’s miniature stature.
Of course, this multitool has its limits, and it won’t be useful to workers who rely on a heavy-duty tool for everyday use. However, it’s a neat thing to keep on your keychain, and it’s very, very affordable too.
It’s proof that good things do come in small packages.
Number of tools: 12
Closed length: 2.75 inches
Overall weight: 2.2 oz
Though it’s more commonly known as a Swiss Army Knife, the Victorinox SwissChamp is a multitool. In fact, some might argue that it’s the original multitool. It has an impressive selection of tools, a sturdy construction, and a small and compact size that makes it easy to carry in your pocket. It doesn’t have the traditional plier-style multitool silhouette, but these Swiss Army knives are design icons in their own right.
The SwissChamp is made from stainless steel, wrapped in an ABS plastic shell. Each tool is also made from stainless steel. There are 33 different tools included in the SwissChamp, including a sturdy 2.45” blade, multiple screwdrivers, small pliers, a bottle opener, and a corkscrew. That’s not all, other gadgets include another knife blade, a pair of rulers, a toothpick, and a magnifying glass. There’s even a ballpoint pen! And so much more.
This multitool is better suited for hikers, campers, and for regular everyday carry, than for worksite or tactical applications. However, if you need a lot of features in a small, compact, and affordable product, then this is worth considering.
All Victorinox products ship with a lifetime guarantee that protects buyers against manufacturing defects.
Number of tools: 33
Closed length: 3.6 inches
Overall weight: 6.5 oz
Lastly, we’ve decided to add an unusual tool to the list. It’s not a plier-style butterfly multitool, nor is it a pocket knife-style tool. Instead, we’ve gone for something different: a small, TSA-friendly EDC pocket multitool. This is the EverRatchet from Gear Infusion: a pocket-sized device with an impressive assortment of handy tools. And no knife!
Available in stainless steel or titanium, the EverRatchet is a small bar that features a built-in ratchet, a bottle opener, box opener, fire starter, pry and score tool, scraper, screwdriver, two rules, and two protractors. If that wasn’t enough, it also has 7 wrenches included. This is the world’s first keychain tool, and it packs a powerful punch.
If you’re looking for a small and practical tool but don’t feel like walking around with a blade, then this is the answer. It’s durable, strong, and versatile, and even comes with a Flint2Go emergency fire flint too!
For the price, it’s hard to fault this tool. Just try not to compare it with larger, heavier-duty tools. It’s not going to have the prying strength of a full-size prybar, and it won’t be as tough or durable as tools that cost hundreds of dollars. As long as you have realistic expectations, this tool will continue to impress you long after you’ve purchased it.
Number of tools: 10 (not including 7 wrenches)
Total length: 2.4 inches
Overall weight: 0.4 oz (in titanium)
Buying The Best Multitool: What You Need To Know
Buying a multitool isn’t as easy as buying other tools and knives. Different users have vastly different expectations about what a multitool should be capable of.
For some, it needs to be a heavy-duty tool that can withstand intense use and abuse in tricky situations. For others, it’s a handy gadget that might come in handy one day, and will only be used rarely in very unusual circumstances. Also, there are some people who believe that a multitool is a right tool for a million jobs. And others, who believe that it’s the wrong tool for a million jobs!
Before you purchase a new tool, make sure you know what kind of multitool you need, and for what purpose you plan to use it for. After you’ve identified the what and the why you can start your search properly. Keep the following points in mind when shopping:
Modern multitools are usually defined by their plier-style shape. This is a butterfly design with fold-out handles that reveal pliers. The rest of the tools are usually tucked away in the handles. However, there’s more to the multitool scene than the plier-style tools.
More recently, prybar and credit card-style tools have become popular.
The different styles have different pros and cons, from portability and practicality to durability and strength. Identify what your needs are, and choose a tool that’s most suitable.
To Blade Or Not To Blade
One thing to look out for when buying a multitool is whether to choose one with a blade or not. The knife is one of the most used features on any multitool, however, carrying one around in public can be a problem. For EDC purposes, some users prefer to forgo the knife function in favor of something a little more airport-friendly. And that’s fine.
But if you do want a blade, it’s essential to buy a good one. There are many multitools for sale with sub-par blades. If you want a blade, check to make sure that it’s made from a quality material that can hold an edge, check that it can be replaced if necessary, and comes with the right style of blade for your needs.
Quantity Of Tools
The primary function of a multitool is to offer a wide range of tools in a small and compact package. With that in mind, it’s worth looking at the number of tools that a product has on offer. Some offer as few as five, while others have in excess of 30! If versatility is important to you, then a tool with more tools is going to be a better investment. But sometimes, less is more…
Quality Of Tools
Poor tools make for a poor experience. Before investing in a new multitool, make a list of what tools and features are most important to you. Whatever happens, make sure that your new tool of choice comes equipped with high-quality versions of those listed tools. It may be better to sacrifice the number of tools in favor of a smaller selection with higher quality.
Whatever you choose, make sure that the multitool uses tough and durable materials. Most tools from well-known manufacturers will be made of top-grade stainless steel or titanium. However, there are plenty of brands out there that use sub-standard materials, so make sure you know what you’re buying before hitting the “buy” button.
Lastly, there’s the simple matter of the price. Unfortunately, there is no uniform price for multitools. You can find them for as cheap as $10 and that price can escalate to more than $250, depending on the brand, the features, and the materials you choose.
Generally speaking, something less than $20 is probably going to be junk. However, from around $40, things begin to get very interesting. Between $40 to $100 is a good price to pay for a capable multitool that can you keep nearby for emergencies. However, if you plan to use it every day—say on a building site, a film set, or onboard a boat—then you’ll want to invest more money to ensure that you’re buying a gadget that won’t let you down.
Joe Appleton is an outdoor enthusiast who loves everything from bushcraft and hiking to wild camping and boating. If he’s not out in the woods, you’ll find him out on the water.