June 09, 2013 at 08:30PM
If you carry around a multitool in your bag or pocket for quick fixes, repair work, or just in case you need a sharp edge, a screwdriver, or pair of scissors, you're in good company. Many of you do, and this week we wanted to take a look at some of the best available—the ones that pack useful tools, are still portable, and offer great bang for the buck. Here are five of the best, based on your nominations.
Special Note: The Hive Five is based on reader nominations
This week, your top nominations from our call for contenders thread were overwhelmingly for the same brand: Leatherman. In fact, Leatherman multitool models weren't just the top five, they were the top six, and if we extended down to the top 20, they'd be 11 of the top 20 multitools you nominated.
So here's what we're going to do: We'll highlight the five most popular Leatherman models you mentioned, and include a sixth category here for some of the other models that fell short. Then, we'll expand the poll out to the top 10 models so everyone's not just voting for the top five Leatherman models and "Other," but so there's some real competition in there. Let's get started.
The Wave is probably Leatherman's most popular tool. It packs 17 different tools in one body, two different screw bits (Phillips #1-2 and Screwdriver 3/16", Phillips Eyeglass Screwdriver and Flat Tip), a stainless steel body, and every one of the Wave's 14 tools can lock in place firmly for comfortable use. Among its myriad tools are a a knife, a serrated knife, a pair of pliers, a saw, scissors, a bottle opener, a can opener, a wire stripper, and many more. It's large enough to be used comfortably with one hand, but small enough to be portable, either in your pocket or in a laptop or carry-all bag. If you're interested, they retail for $93, but you can pick one up for about $55 at Amazon.
The Skeletool and Skeletool CX are smaller, lighter Leatherman multitools that feature fewer specific tools, but are lighter, more portable, and small enough to go on a keychain or keep in your pocket. The Skeletool and the CX both sport seven tools, including both needlenose and standard pliers, two sets of wire cutters, a knife, a screwdriver with a single bit, and a combination carabiner clip and bottle opener. The CX features the same tools, but the blade uses a different type of steel and is completely smooth (compared to the multi-knife on the standard Skeletool with a serrated edge near the bottom of the blade), and the handle features a black carbon fiber insert. The Skeletool retails for $72, but you can grab one at Amazon for $40. The Skeletool CX retails for $96, but they're $59 at Amazon.
If you want a true pocket-tool, that is, small enough to go into your pocket without you noticing it at all, the Leatherman Squirt—as the name implies—is incredibly tiny, but still packs a good number of tools to make repairs around the house or on the go really easy. The Squirt comes in two flavors, the ES4 and the PS4. The ES4 is a slightly larger, 13 tool model that features spring-action needlenose pliers, wire strippers, and wire cutters. You also get a knife, a pair of scissors, a screwdriver, a file, and a bottle opener. It's seriously tiny, only about 2.25 inches when closed, and it sports a ring so you can keep it with the rest of your keys. The ES4 brings the number of tools down to 9 by removing the multi-gauge wire strippers. Otherwise, they're the same, and available in multiple colors. Both models retail for $42, but the ES4 is available at Amazon for $22, and the PS4 is $23, for some reason.
The Leatherman Charge TTi is another one of Leatherman's full-sized tools, so it's definitely more suited to a bag over a pocket, but if you had to keep it in your pocket it wouldn't be too bad. The Charge TTi features 19 tools, including a wood and metal file, a diamond-coated file, needlenose and standard pliers, two different types of wire cutters, a knife and another serrated knife, a saw, a cutting hook, a bottle opener, a can opener, and more, including 8 different screwdriver bits (Phillips #1-2, Screwdriver 3/16", Screwdriver 1/8" and Torx #15, Hex 5/32" and 9/64", Hex 1/8" and 7/64", Hex 3/32" and 5/64", Hex 1/6" and .050", Square Drive #1 and #2, and Eyeglass Screwdriver). The body is stainless steel, features a lanyard ring and a quick-release ring, and all of the tools and blades lock for one-handed use. It's a seriously powerful tool. If you want one, they retail for $155, but they're available for $130 at Amazon.
The Micra is one of Leatherman's smallest available multitools, and it still manages to pack in 10 different tools in a tiny package. It's only 2.5 inches closed, available in different colors, and packs Leatherman's best spring-action scissors available. Beyond that, the Micra also packs a ton of personal care tools, like a nail file, nail clippers, tweezers, a knife, three screwdrivers, a ruler, and a bottle opener. It's stainless steel, pocket-sized, and Leatherman says it's extremely popular as a gift and among anglers and fishermen who need those scissors in a small, portable tool. The Micra retails for $30, but it's available at Amazon for $20.
Alternatives: Swiss+Tech Multitools, Victorinox SwissTool/CyberTool, SOG PowerAssist/PowerLock, Gerber Diesel
Since the top five was absolutely dominated by Leatherman models, we wanted to devote some space to some of the other great multitools available, like the various multitools by Swiss+Tech, like the 19-in-1 Micro-Max, and the one that earned a number of your nominations, the 6-in-1 Utili-Key and the 8-in-1 Utili-Key. All of their models are small enough to go right on your keyring, and while they can be a pain to get off of the keyring and use one-handed without cutting into your fingers or palm, they're imminently useful in a pinch, especially if you don't carry another type of tool.
We also wanted to mention Victorinox's SwissTool (from the makers of the famous Swiss Army Knife) and CyberTool, which many of you nominated because of Victorinox's reputation and history for well crafted, well built products. Both the CyberTool and SwissTool are product lines, so you can pick the multitool that has the number of individual tools and the form factor that you're looking for and works in your budget. The SwissTool is generally regarded as a more all-purpose, multi-purpose tool, while the CyberTool has features that are more geared towards someone who'll need to do repairs around the office or with technology—like the inside of your home-built PC.
Another tool that got a number of mentions was the SOG PowerAssist, a good-looking multi-tool that makes extending the blades and one-handed operation super-easy. Start to open any of the tools and the device takes over, extending them for you and locking them in place for safe operation. The PowerAssist is a full-sized tool with well over a dozen different tools on board, including a three sized file, a screwdriver, two different blades, a V-cutter, wire crimper, and many many more. It even comes in different finishes and metal types so you can pick one that works for you. Those of you who didn't menton the PowerAssist called out the PowerLock as your fave, and at least one of you made point to note that any mention of SOG is incomplete without noting its swappable tools and components.
Finally, we should mention the Gerber Diesel, an affordable and flexible multitool that's from the manufacturers of our much-loved Gerber Shard. The Diesel packs needlenose and standard pliers, a wire cutter, a partially serrated blade, screwdrivers, a can opener, bottle opener, and more, all in a slim package that slides into a pocket or easily into a bag. It's worth a look.
Now that you've seen the most popular contenders, let's put them head to head so you can vote for your pick:
Since this week is a special case (see the top of the post) we're going to eschew honorable mentions, especially since you have so many options here to vote for. If you hate Leatherman and want to rage about how popular it is, let's hear it in the discussions. If you're a Leatherman fan and think this looks just right to you, we want to hear that too. Just keep it civil, and remember the rule of the Hive: if yours didn't make the cut, make sure to nominate it next time. Sometimes what makes the top five and what misses is a matter of one or two voices.
Have something to say about one of the contenders? Want to make the case for your personal favorite, even if it wasn't included in the list? Remember, the top five are based on your most popular nominations from the call for contenders thread from earlier in the week. Don't just complain about the top five, let us know what your preferred alternative is—and make your case for it—in the discussions below.
The Hive Five is based on reader nominations. As with most Hive Five posts, if your favorite was left out, it's not because we hate it—it's because it didn't get the nominations required in the call for contenders post to make the top five. We understand it's a bit of a popularity contest, but if you have a favorite, we want to hear about it. Have a suggestion for the Hive Five? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Photo by Mark Tighe.
from Lifehacker http://lifehacker.com/five-best-multitools-512033104