There was a time when you might need to pack different kits of tools and accessories for camping, outdoor activities, DIY and survival preparation. Apart from the hassle and extra storage space required, this could be an expensive thing to do. Nowadays, however, there are so many different multi-tools available that you can carry pretty much everything you need in your pocket.
As with many modern developments, this is more of a hindrance than a help for some people. The problem is, with all these brands, styles and other options on the market, how do you go about choosing what's right for you? By following a few simple tips, you can make sure you get a multi-tool you'll be happy with for years to come.
What do you need?
Often, just thinking about the specific tools you need can really narrow down your choices and help you make a final decision.
While it can be tempting to spend as much as you can afford to get the biggest, most feature-packed multi-tool you come across, this isn't a very practical option for most people.
On most models, you can expect to find at least one knife, plus different screwdrivers and maybe a bottle opener. Beyond that, there's more variation.
Make a list of all the activities you carry out where your new multi-tool would be useful. Underneath each activity, list the different tools that you'd need. If you want it for any specialist applications, like fishing or mountaineering, you might already find that your choices are limited enough to make a decision easy.
The different types
Generally speaking, multi-tools fall into two categories: the classic Swiss army style, and the newer type that looks like a pair of pliers with tools hidden in the handle. One of the most obvious differences immediately is that the tools that look like pliers are great for that particular purpose. And some people find the Swiss army knives easier to carry. Ultimately, however, this choice should largely be made based on your preference.
Consider how you're likely to store and use the tool. If you want something for tucking in a drawer or leaving in the car, this doesn't really matter. Otherwise, some smaller tools can attach to your keys so you'll always have them with you, or be small and compact enough to slip into a pocket. If you're thinking about one of the larger models, see if it comes with a pouch for attaching to a belt, which will make it easier to keep with you.
Some tools are designed purely with their compactness in mind. It's worth looking at the grip, especially if you need tools you can hold comfortably for extended periods, or if you want a knife you can use for woodworking. Some are ergonomically designed to fit perfectly into your hand while you use them, which will make it a lot more pleasant.