multitools for backpacking review

Best Multitool in 2021 for backpacking, hiking and outdoor trips

There’s nothing more satisfying than having the exact tool you need for a task, right when and where you need it. Multitools turn an entire box full of big, bulky gadgets into a small, portable device that you can take on any multiday backpacking hiking our outdoor trip.

Read our detailed review of the best tools you can find on the market for 2021.

Disclaimer: This article has some referral links, but only for products we recommend. If you use our referral link to buy the product you still pay the same price, so no worries, but we earn a small commission from the seller (it’s how we pay our bills). We only use referral links for pieces of gear that we can honestly recommend!

What is most important when buying a multitool?

Price of the multitool for backpacking

Good quality is often worth paying for when it comes to a multitool that you carry all the time.

We tested a number of high-quality multitools in a variety of price ranges. Best affordable multitools: Victorinox Swiss Army Classic SD, Gerber Suspension NXT and Gerber Dime 

The Victorinox Swiss Army Huntsman has a lot of tools and good value for money.

How many functions included

It helps to ask yourself what types of tasks you’ll actually do on a regular basis, and work backwards from there. Multitools with more features: Leatherman Wave Plus, Gerber Suspension NXT and Victorinox Swiss Army HThe 

The Leatherman Raptor is our favorite professionals and first responders.

Size and Weight of the Multitool

Full size multitools tend to be more ergonomic and have better leverage for extended use. However, small, lightweight multi-tools can be a good option for everyday use because they can be conveniently stored in a pocket without looking bulky or being in the way. The best small multi-tools: Victorinox Swiss Army Classic SD, Leatherman Squirt PS4 and Gerber Dime Best Medium Multitool: Victorinox Huntsman Best Full-Size Multitool: Leatherman Wave Plus, Gerber Suspension NXT, Leatherman Skeletool CX and Leatherman Raptor.

The Gerber Suspension NXT is small and compact enough to take anywhere.

Durability and longevity

All of the multi-tools on this list are high quality and durable. That said, some of them are better suited for heavy-duty tasks. If you don’t tend to exert a lot of force on your tools, a lightweight and compact multitool may be all you need. practical, compact and weighs less than an ounce on your keychain.

Compliance with airline travel regulations and TSA

– If you’re traveling by air and don’t want to pack your tool, you’ll need one that is TSA approved. Typically, these models do not have a knife blade, and any sharp parts, such as scissors, must be under a certain length. Keep in mind that there is no guarantee that airport security will let any multitool through. Therefore, we recommend choosing an inexpensive multitool that you won’t be too reluctant to leave. The best travel multitools: Gerber Dime Travel, Victorinox Swiss Army Jetsetter, Leatherman Style PS and SOG Baton Q1.

Best multi-tools in review

Leatherman Wave Plus – BEST OVERALL TOOL

MSRP: $99.95

WEIGHT MEASUREMENT: 8.5 oz.

FUNCTIONS: pliers, wire cutter, electric pliers, wire stripper, knife, serrated knife, saw, scissors, ruler, can opener, bottle opener, file, large and small bits, medium screwdriver.

PRO: High quality, durable, tools lock in place, easy button release, tools accessible from outside, replaceable wire cutters, holster included.

CONS: Heavier than others, pliers are not spring loaded.

CONCLUSION: The Leatherman Wave Plus is one of the best-selling multi-tools in the world because it offers a superb ratio of quality and price. The Wave Plus has most of tools that do-it-yourselfers and problem-solving MacGyvers need on a regular basis, plus some handy extras to make life easier – all in a stylish package. The Wave Plus may seem a bit heavy to some, but you’ll appreciate its larger size and heavier weight if you’re one of those handy people who tend to use a number of tools every day. If you want to be ready for everything and are willing to pay a little more for a really good multitool that will last for many years, the Wave Plus is an excellent choice for you. Pick up a set of Leatherman bits to complete the package.

Can be found for $100 at Amazon.

Leatherman Squirt PS4 – BEST MINI MULTITOOL

MSRP: $39.95

WEIGHT MEASUREMENT: 2 oz.

FUNCTIONS: spring pliers, wire cutter, knife, scissors, slotted and Phillips screwdriver, bottle opener, file, medium screwdriver.

PRO: High quality, ultra lightweight, compact, convenient, tools accessible from outside.

CON: More expensive than some mini multi-tools, no tweezers.

CONCLUSION: The Leatherman Squirt PS4 is one of our favorite multitools for both everyday use and backcountry adventures. It has all the tools we use often, while being so small and lightweight that we can barely feel it in our pockets. We love Squirt’s sturdy spring-loaded pliers, small sharp scissors, and decent sized blade. In addition to the useful and elegant tools, we also appreciate the Squirt’s sleek, simple, and compact shape when closed. All in all, Squirt’s excellent quality and convenient, small size make it our first choice for everyday prep.

Can be found for $40 at Amazon.

Victorinox Swiss Army Classic SD – BEST MULTITOOL KEYCHAIN

MSRP: $16.99

WEIGHT MEASUREMENT: 0.7 oz.

FUNCTIONS: pocket knife, scissors, nail file, flat screwdriver, tweezers, toothpick.

PRO: Ultralight, very compact, very convenient, sharp scissors, available in many great colors.

CONS: Small tools are limited to light tasks, no pliers.

CONCLUSION: The Army Classic SD is one of our favorite everyday multitools for that reason. It has everything you need for simple tasks like opening packages and personal care, and it’s so small and light that it’s barely noticeable on your keychain. This is also why it’s so popular with ultralight backpackers. It’s great for bladder care and other frequent needs on the trail, but it barely adds any weight to your pack. The Classic is so practical and convenient, we think it’s a must-have for everyone, especially those looking to keep their “stuff” to a minimum.

Can be found for $17 at Amazon.

Gerber Suspension NXT – BEST INEXPENSIVE MULTITOOL

MSRP: $37

WEIGHT MEASUREMENT: 6.7 oz.

FUNCTIONS: spring pliers, wire stripper, wire cutter, knife, scissors, Phillips screwdriver, three slotted screwdrivers, can opener, awl, file, ruler.

PRO: Very economical, all tools snap into place, durable, tools accessible from the outside, spring loaded pliers.

CONS: Bulkier than some full-size multitools.

CONCLUSION: The Gerber Suspension NXT is one of the best full-size multitools on the market. Our favorite feature is the large spring loaded pliers that open wide and are easy to use with one hand. The NXT’s tool set focuses on the things people use the most to make it a little slimmer and easier to carry than previous Suspension versions. However, it’s still a bit bulky to carry in your pocket. So we recommend purchasing a holster to carry the NXT on your belt. If you need a sturdy multitool for heavy use or car emergencies, the Suspension NXT is an affordable purchase that has a lot to offer.

Can be found for $30 at Amazon.

Victorinox Swiss Army Huntsman – LIGHTWEIGHT MULTITOOL WITH A TON OF FEATURES

MSRP: $37.99

WEIGHT MEASUREMENT: 3.4 oz.

FUNCTIONS: Large and small knives, can opener, small and medium screwdrivers, bottle opener, wire stripper, sewing awl, corkscrew, scissors, wood saw, multi-purpose hook, toothpick, tweezers.

PRO: High quality, many features, inexpensive, lightweight for the number of tools it has.

CONS: Bulkier than others, no pliers, some tools may rarely be used, some tools are hard to open (nail clippers).

CONCLUSION: If you want to have all the tools at the same time, this is the one. The scissors are pretty sharp, which is no surprise since Swiss Army knives are known for their finely tuned craftsmanship and excellent fit and finish. The Huntsman has no pliers, but it’s very well equipped for a camping kitchen with several knives, a can opener, a corkscrew, and a bottle opener. If you’re looking for an inexpensive, mid-sized multitool and probably don’t need pliers, the Huntsman is a classic choice for everyday use or outdoor adventures.

Can be found for $37 at Amazon.

Gerber Dime – BEST VALUE MINI MULTITOOL

MSRP: $23

WEIGHT MEASUREMENT: 2.4 oz.

FUNCTIONS: spring loaded pliers, wire cutter, tweezers, bottle opener, knife, package opener, scissors, medium flathead and Phillips screwdriver, file

PRO: Affordable, ultralight, compact, durable, tools accessible from the outside.

CONS: Some tools are a little difficult to open, file is not large

CONCLUSION: We are really impressed with the excellent quality of the Gerber Dime Mini Multitool, especially at its affordable price. The spring-loaded pliers work well, the small scissors are strong, and the knife blade is sharp. All of the tools lock securely in place when you use them and feel super solid built.I also fits comfortably in a pocket or attaches to a belt loop or backpack strap with a small carabiner. We highly recommend the Dime to anyone looking for a small, affordable multitool for everyday or outdoor use.

Can be found for $18 at Amazon.

Leatherman Skeletool – CX SIMPLIFIED AND COMPLETE MULTITOOL

MSRP: $64.95

WEIGHT MEASUREMENT: 5 oz.

FUNCTIONS: pliers, wire cutter, knife, carabiner/bottle opener, large screwdriver.

PRO: Light weight, lockable blade, tools accessible from the outside.

CONS: Fewer features than others.

CONCLUSION: If you only need the bare essentials, the Leatherman Skeletool CX offers a refreshingly simple design that you’ll really appreciate. The Skeletool CX is a full-size multitool that has been stripped down to the tools you’ll use most often – a high-quality knife, pliers, and screwdriver. This makes the Skeletool super cool and, more importantly, keeps it lightweight, slim, and practical for everyday use. If you’re looking for a multitool that has the essential tools you need and nothing less, the Skeletool is a great slim option.

Can be found for $65 at Amazon.

Leatherman Raptor – BEST MULTITOOL FOR FIRST RESPONDERS

MSRP: $79.95

WEIGHT MEASUREMENT: 5.8 oz.

FUNCTIONS: scissors, seat belt cutter, ring cutter, glass breaker, ruler, oxygen tank wrench.

PRO: High quality, durable and sharp scissors, holster included.

CON: Clunkier than others, fewer features than others.

CONCLUSION: The Leatherman Raptor is the best multitool available for first responders or anyone who needs a high-quality pair of portable scissors. It has everything you need in a rescue situation without too many features that get in the way when you need to use it quickly. The Raptor is durable, and sharp and constructed to be reliable and efficient. Whether you’re a life-saving medical professional or an average citizen who wants to be prepared for emergencies, the Raptor is a useful multitool you’ll enjoy for years to come. The Raptor is also a great compact cutting tool for gardening, fabric cutting and more.

Can be found for $79 at Amazon.

Honorable Mentions

The following multitools didn’t make our final list, but they still have a lot of good things to offer. 

Gerber Armbar Drive and Armbar Cork – unique pocket knife shaped multitool with emphasis on a large blade and frequently used tools.

Leatherman Wingman – a medium-sized, high-quality multitool with excellent value for money

Leatherman Surge – a larger, sturdier version of the Wave Plus for the jobsite or toolbox with a large blade and full-size scissors

Victorinox Traveller Lite – a well-equipped, mid-sized multitool with extras specifically for backpackers

Victorinox Swiss Army Rambler – like the Classic SD above, but with a bottle opener

Victorinox Swiss Army Nail Clip 580, like the Classic SD above, but with a nail clipper

The Leatherman Skeletool CX is a compa streamlined multitool that focuses on essential tools.

The lightweight and compact Victorinox Swiss Army Classic SD Multitool is a great addition to your first aid kit.

Conclusion

Get the Leatherman Wave Plus, it’s our clear winner.

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