The multitool embodies many core principles of EDC — utility, versatility, portability. For quick fixes, tinkering, and other handy work, having a toolbox’s worth of functionality in a single pocketable tool is invaluable. Common multitool functions include pliers, screwdrivers, bottle openers, scissors, and other cutting tools. Multitools can complement the functions of other essentials when weight and pocket space are a premium, so naturally they round out the second trinity of EDC.
Multi-tools come in many shapes and sizes. The two most recognizable form factors are the “Swiss Knife” style and the butterfly or clamshell style. The Swiss Knife style has tools that pivot out of a pocket knife handle, where the blade is the central function of the tool. The butterfly or clamshell style of multi-tools fold open into two handles with pliers being the usual central tool. The rest of the tool implements are tucked away into the handles of this style of multi-tool. Lastly, there are one-piece tools, which are pieces of metal designed with functional cutouts like wrench slots, or screwdrivers built into the shape of the tool itself.
What Exactly Is A Multi Tool?
Simply, a multi tool is any tool that has different utensils added onto it. Think of a Swiss Army Knife for example. Swiss army knives are valuable tools that have scissors, knives, wrench, bottle openers, and even more. Multi tools are devices that have multiple functions to be utilized at your disposal.
One benefit of multi tools is that it’s used in Everyday Carry (EDC). Multi tools are legal in most states since they are small enough to fit in your pocket. When looking for a multi tool, keep it below 2.75 inches. Any tool above that size might cause problems with your local area’s knife regulations.
Despite popular belief, multi tools have been around since the Ancient Roman Era. During 200-300 CE, the first reported multi tool was discovered around the Mediterranean region. The tool featured a knife, spoon, pick, spatula, and a fork. As far as anyone can tell, this is the very first multi-tool in existence.
While there were basic designs of multi tools throughout history, there weren’t any breakthrough developments until the 1800s. That was thanks to the manufacturer Victorinox, the inventors of the Swiss Army Knife. Also, their competitive rivals, Wegner aided in the development of multi tools.
By the mid-1800s, Karl Elsener developed the first model of a Swiss Army Knife. During this time, soldiers were given new rifles that needed to be unscrewed to be maintained. Instead of using a single bladed knife tool, the Swiss Army contacted Elsener to create a multi-tool that aided the soldiers in and out of combat. The knife became so popular that by 1891, it became a standard piece of equipment for Swiss soldiers.
Today, the multi tool market is filled with competition. Companies such as Victorinox, Wegner, and other smaller brands create high-quality multi tools for EDC. There are dozens of small organizations and independent artisans that construct and design their multi-tools. Because of this, multi tools are valuable in our society and is here to stay.
Types Of Multi Tools
There are an unlimited number of multi-tools out there. Here are some of the most popular ones.
Regular Multi Tool
As its name suggests, a regular multi tool is a small and efficient tool that has multiple features. Its main advantage is its stability. Each of the tools is designed to suit their purpose and are properly sized. While it can be hard to find the specific tool you need at times, a regular multi tool is your best asset when outdoors.
Keychain Multi Tool
These smaller, more compact multi-tools are efficient in portability. Keychain Multi Tools are easier to carry and conceal in public. But, the smaller size of the tools makes it harder to use at first. Practice using your keychain multi tool a few times before taking it out with you.
Credit Card Multi Tool
Credit Card multi tools turn your wallet into a fully functional device. But, we suggest that you don’t use this type of tool for camping or outdoors. Instead, they are used as a last ditch option that you’ll rarely forget because it’s stored in a place that you’re rarely without: your wallet.
Mainly, these tools have a sharp edge that can pass for a ruler, bottle opener blade, and some small wrenches. The idea behind credit card multi tools is for functionality that’s on the go. Most credit card multi tools have an odd shaped design and take a long time getting used to. While viewed as a novelty, some credit cards can be useful in EDC situations.
Multi Tools Vs. Single Use Tool
Sometimes it’s better to have a multi tool next to you, rather than have a bunch of different tools in large toolbox. Let’s see why:
Multi tools are great if you’re someone who has limited space. Single use tools are useful but can take up a lot of space when there’s a lot of it. Plus, you have to organize your single use tools each time for them to be used properly. Multi Tools are great because they have multiple tools in one small object.
Multi tools are great for people on a small budget. Paying for single use tools are expensive and can cost hundreds of dollars if they are of high quality. You only have to pay for one multi tool, and they are usually found at a modest price. Multi tools are great because you gain a various amount of tools for one price.
Single use tools become heavy after extended use. Each of the tools adds up in weight and eventually will become too heavy to carry around while hunting. Multi tools are ideal for hunters and campers because they don’t overload your carrying capacity. Thus, multi tools are perfect and are great for campers who travel on long trips.
Multi Tool Components
Though carrying a large toolbox is not capable for some campers, almost everyone can carry a multitool that consists of the most common tools used for everyday tasks. Getting your first multi tool can be a difficult endeavor at first. In this section, we’ll show the seven most important tools a multi tool kit can have.
Pliers are one of the most important things your multi tool can have. Pliers come in various shapes and sizes and are used for purposes such as wire cutting, twisting wires, and some have other uses such as gripping rods and pipes.
- Wire cutters
- Needle-nose end pliers
- Regular pliers
- Remove tacks and nails
- Loosen bolts
- Tighten bolts
Knives are tools with a cutting edge that’s in between the handle. While smaller than usual, multi tool knives are great for small cutting tasks. If the size of the knife is a problem, we suggest getting a larger multitool or a single knife to accommodate your needs.Straight edge knives are the most useful and serrated knives come in handy when you need to slice open food such as bread.
- Locking Mechanism
- One-Hand Knife Opening
- Cut String
- Open letters and boxes
- Loosen stuck objects
Mostly all multi-tools come with a single flat-head screwdriver. But, high-quality multi-tools will have a Phillips screwdriver as well. While you can survive with a flat-head screwdriver, a multi tool with both drivers increases your efficiency and saves less time installing and removing screws.One feature we’ve liked is the reversible screwdriver. One side has a Phillips head while the other has a regular head. By flipping the driver’s bit, you can change the screwdriver’s type instantly. Example Uses:
- Loosen up Screws
- Tighten Screws
A bottle opener is a tool used to remove the metal caps from bottles. Some multi tools come with corkscrews to help remove the plastic stoppers or corks from wine bottles. It might not be used all the time, but any multitool worth its value should have a bottle opener included in it. Example Uses:
- Removing wine corks
- Opening metal bottles
Impact drivers are tools used to create a strong downward force to loosen screws and bolts that are hard to remove. Think of drivers as a stronger, more powerful version of screw drivers. Your multi tool should have a driver that can also tighten up screws that require more torque than your average screw driver. Example Uses:
- Heavy duty screw removal/installation
This tool is perfect for cutting through smaller objects such as tree branches and basic crafting activities. While it won’t be used as much as a knife, screwdriver, or pliers, a good saw is essential to any multi tool. You can use the saw for small projects, but you’ll want to opt in for a normal saw for great and large projects. Example Uses:
- Complete small crafts
- Cutting small branches
- Emergency Survival
Some people complain that scissors are too small to do most tasks. Still, scissors are an important tool to have when outdoors.
- Clean cut
- Durable Spring
- Easy Opening
- Cut paper
- Remove string
- Trim fingernails
Why And When Do You Need A Multi Tool
Let’s face it; emergencies occur all the time. Natural disasters, intruders, and other ailments are easily fixed if you’re prepared. Having a multi tool increases the chance of you fixing the problem while reducing the risk of injury or death.We’ll show the few occasions where having a multi tool is crucial to one’s survival.
Imagine that you’re out camping outdoors. Creating a fire is a challenging task if done manually. On average, you’ll take at least 3 hours getting the wood ready to burn next to the flint. Having a multi tool reduces this time and makes it easier to cut wood with its knife and saw feature.Before you go camping, invest in a high-quality multi tool. You don’t want to be out in the middle of the woods without a tool to defend yourself. Invest in a multi tool to enhance your camping experience and increase your chances of surviving out in the wild.
Most fishers have one goal in common. They all want tools to help them reel in the largest fish available. They want a tool that helps them cut through snags and weak reels. Also, fishermen need a tool that pulls a hook from the fish’s mouth.Since you’ll be near water, look for a multitool that’s corrosion and rust resistant. Any tool that’s exposed to rust will fail at any given moment, especially if you plan on fishing out in salt water. Make sure your multi tool has a pair of pliers, knives, screwdrivers if you want to fish correctly.
There are times when you’ll face an unwanted predator out in the wild. Animals such as wolves tend to attack people at the worst time. A multi tool increases the chances of you fending off their attacks and saving your life.Also, look for an oxygen tank wrench blade. Some emergencies require you to give oxygen to yourself or someone else. You’ll need a wrench that can reach the tank’s valve and turn the oxygen on. While you can use pliers, you run the risk of ruining the valve and not the correct amount of oxygen to save your life.
- Screw Drivers
Each of these small tools will come in handy in the event you have to defend yourself. Also, don’t opt for cheap multi tools. You’ll want a tool that’s sturdy enough to protect you from attackers and keep you alive.
A multitool is perfect for your basic daily tasks. For example, a knife with a one handed opening mechanism aids you in simple cutting tasks. Plus, multi tools are small enough to be carried in your pocket for EDC.Basically, your multi tool should be personal and reliable, but most importantly, functional. It doesn’t matter if you’re a minimalist or someone that wants all of their bases covered. If your EDC multitool becomes an extension of your regular movements, you should be comfortable with it! A great EDC multitool gives the foresight to use what you need for daily usage. And it gives you the restraint to leave behind what you don’t need.
Maintenance And Cleaning
One of the most used tools is the knife. Due to their frequent usage, multi tools tend to wear within weeks. While some multi tools are made of stainless steel, they still become dull after a few weeks. Keeping your tool clean ensures that you’ll get the most out of the tool without injuring yourself.Just because you bought a multi tool, doesn’t mean you can neglect it. Some shoppers make the mistake of not cleaning their tools properly. This results in the tool components becoming dull and unable to use. Prevent this problem by reading these few tips.
There are several traditional blade sharpeners that exist. Honing steel and whetstones are the most popular and affordable choices. For at least 95% of the time, Whetstone is going to be of importance to us.
It may seem daunting at first, but whetstone sharpening takes a bit of getting used to. Don’t use your best blade if this is your first time. You’re better off using an older dull blade that’s lying around. Most whetstones have two different sides; a fine side and a coarse side.Use the coarse side to repair severely damaged blades. The fine side is used to hone and add shine to your knives. You’ll need to hold your blade at a 22° angle for it to sharpen properly. This part is difficult, so make sure that your blade is running through the whetstone in the correct position. Also, you’ll want to keep the whetstone wet. This method helps you reduce the amount of heat caused by friction. Heat warps your blade if your whetstone is not properly lubricated. Keep your Whetstone lubricated to prevent any debris from getting caught onto your multi tool’s knife.
The honing steel has similar characteristics and appearance of a whetstone. But, some people tend to misuse the honing steel by flailing it around in the air. Most professional chefs can get away with that, but the average person cannot. Why? Because you need to keep your blade at a 22° when sharpening. When the honing steel is not supported by a table/towel and a stroke is made of the steel, the angle might vary a bit. Anchor the rod to a surface/towel/table to maintain that uniform angle position needed to sharpen the blade.Honing rods come in several different types such as steel, groves, ceramic, etc. Most people notice the standard grove steel rod as a part of their kitchen. These steel rods are made to polish and true a blade, not hone it. However, higher end honing steel models help users sharpen their blades as if it was whetstone.When it comes to multi tools, we suggest using a whetstone to sharpen your blade. Whetstones make a lot more sense since honing steel rods are usually made of kitchen knives.
Electric Knife Sharpeners
Most electric blade sharpeners operate in the same condition. Place a blade through the machine and watch it hone itself automatically. While these sharpening tools are useful, you’re better off using a whetstone to cut your multi tool’s knives. When you start to add plastic and over-complicate a simple process, there are too many dangerous situations that’ll occur. Some people own a bench grinder who tend to sharpen their multi tool with it. We suggest that you don’t follow this procedure. Don’t use a grinder to help sharpen the blade. The wheels spin too fast to sharpen the blade correctly. There is a huge risk that you’ll warp the blade or ruin the angle. Keeping your multi tool’s knife sharp is the best way to keep it functioning properly. Most multi tool manufacturers will offer to help sharpen your blades free of charge or a small fee. On the other hand, using a whetstone to sharpen your blades is the easiest way to maximize your multi tool’s performance.