The 6 Best Multi-Tools of 2023, Tested and Reviewed
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Our top pick is the Leatherman Free P4 Multi-Tool for its polished look and impressive versatility.
If you’re looking for a way to have all the tools you need without having to haul a toolbox around, investing in a multi-tool could be a suitable option. These tools, as expected by the name, combine multiple tools into one compact unit, so you don’t have to buy individual tools for every job. They are also small enough to fit into your pocket or bag, meaning they can be adapted to a variety of tasks such as DIY jobs at home, repairing skateboards, or taking on camping trips.
To find the best multi-tools, we tested 30 different multi-tools in our Lab and assessed them on type, weight, ease of use, and included tools. We also spoke to Nate Claire, a home renovator and co-owner of Buying Jax Homes, and Chris Alexakis, founder of CabinetSelect, on what makes a great multi-tool.
“Multi-tools can provide great value for money as they are an incredibly versatile and convenient tool that replaces the need to carry around multiple bulky tools,” says Alexakis. “They are also relatively inexpensive compared to buying each individual tool separately, making them a great investment for anyone who needs a reliable tool to tackle any job.”
Our top pick is the Leatherman Free P4 Multi-Tool for its polished look and comfortable grip, which lets you firmly hold and use the tool simultaneously. We love the fact that it comes with a range of tools which makes it great for tackling a lot of different jobs—from small tasks like opening a package to more complex electrical work.
Leatherman Free P4 Multi-Tool
Best Overall Multi-Tool
Who it’s for: People who want a robust and sleek-looking multi-tool that has lots of functions.
Who it isn’t for: People who want a less expensive multi-tool.
The Leatherman Free P4 earned the best overall spot on our list because it’s a jack-of-all-trades tool that can be used for home repairs, camping trips, or even fixing your kid’s bike. Think Swiss Army knife, but bigger and more sophisticated. Plus, it can fit comfortably in your pocket, which isn’t necessarily true for all multi-tools, even ones that claim to be pocket-sized. “It fits easily in my front pant pocket,” says our tester, who also describes it as “not too heavy or light—it feels sturdy.”
The Leatherman comes with 21 tools including wire cutters, pliers, blades, and a can opener. It also features a magnetic locking system which makes accessing the tools easy, so you don’t have to hurt your fingers to pry them open. All things considered, you can use this tool for a variety of tasks. “I could see myself using this for carpentry, electrical, painting, or general DIY projects,” says our tester.
Overall, our tester declared that they “would not change anything” about the Free P4. “It offers an excellent selection of tools that could make this multi-tool a convenient solution for any home improvement project.” There are some restrictions, such as the fact that you need to use two hands to open and close the tools completely, but our tester says that “once you learn how to open and close a few times it gets much easier to move through the many functions.”
Price at time of publish: $150
Number of Tools: 21
Number of Blades: 2
Weight: 8.6 ounces
Dimensions: 5.38 x 7 x 1.25 inches
Wetols 21-in-1 Multi-Tool
Best Budget Multi-Tool
Who it’s for: People who want an affordable multi-tool to take on camping trips.
Who it isn’t for: People who want one-handed convenience to operate it.
If you are hiking or camping, the Wetols 21-in-1 Multi-Tool is a good tool to keep nearby. This multi-tool has a variety of tools, including pliers, screwdrivers, and knife blades. Plus, it's textured for a comfortable grip.
During testing, we deliberately dropped this budget multi-tool to the ground to determine its durability. According to our tester, “I dropped the multi-tool twice from waist-level and did not see any damage. All the tools unfolded, locked, and unlocked without any issues.”
However, they noted that you can’t just use one hand to unlock and use the tools, which potentially could be a hassle. “It definitely took two hands to open each tool and to put it back in its holding position,” our tester said.
Still, you’ll love that it has three blades: a blade, a rope-cutting knife, and a saw, which is beneficial if you spend a lot of time outdoors, pruning or removing branches. The 3-inch saw in particular performed well during testing and was able to “cut through a wood clock easily,” according to our tester.
Due to its limited functions, our tester concluded that the Wetol multi-tool is probably better suited “for camping than building or DIY.” They also found it to be bulky and had trouble getting it in and out of their pocket, but at least it comes with its own pouch. Still, if budget is your primary concern then this multi-tool is a fantastic choice.
Price at time of publish: $30
Number of Tools: 21
Number of Blades: 3
Weight: 11.8 ounces
Dimensions: 4.8 x 2.44 x 1.73 inches
Gerber Gear Dime
Best Lightweight Multi-Tool
Who it’s for: People who want to hang their multi-tool on their key ring.
Who it isn’t for: People who need a multi-tool for electrical or plumbing work.
When it comes to tool use, the Gerber Gear Dime Multi-Tool is not intended to be a full-fledged replacement for traditional tools. It is small and lightweight and probably more suited as a handy gadget you use when you don’t feel like reaching for your toolbox, rather than a tool you would use for everyday tasks.
It’s actually designed as a keychain multi-tool and features a keychain loop for you to hang. It comes with 12 tools, which is fewer than some fancier options but still contains useful features like a boxcutter you can use to open packages, and a slotted screwdriver. Our tester commented that it has no Phillips screwdriver which is a bummer if you need tight-fitting screws. Also, our tester said that “it has no locking mechanism,” so you’ll end up needing two hands to use it.
Our tester describes the Gerber as “very small and lightweight,” which is very good for portability but “a little small to hold comfortably.” Still, it’s not so small that you cannot use all of the tools. The only tool that they had trouble with was the pliers, which are so tiny that it “would be difficult to get much leverage.” They also noticed that the blades were not very sharp, so it is likely that you would have to confine this multi-tool to minor cutting jobs.
Price at time of publish: $29
Number of Tools: 12
Number of Blades: 1
Weight: 2.24 ounces
Dimensions: 2.75 x 4 x 0.6 inches
Leatherman Squirt PS4
Best Keychain Multi-Tool
Who it’s for: People who want something for quick repairs that’s easily handy in case of a DIY emergency.
Who it isn’t for: People who prefer a heavy-duty multi-tool.
Though you may not expect much from a keychain multi-tool, our tester was rather surprised by the performance of the Leatherman Squirt PS4 in tests. It might be small and light, but this multi-tool proved to be extremely efficient, with a sharp blade that could be used for a variety of household jobs and a keyring loop to attach to your belt or key ring.
We love that its tools are outside accessible, so you can still open the tools even if the tool is folded or closed. However, after testing, our tester cautioned that pulling the tools is challenging. “The slots to put your fingernail in to pull them out are very small,” they say.
Although it comes with most of the necessary tools, it is missing a bottle opener or any other tool that could be used to open bottles—something we think should have been included. One nice thing about the PS4 Squirt is that it comes in three shades—black, blue, or red. It also has a sheath to protect it, although it must be bought separately.
Price at time of publish: $40
Number of Tools: 9
Number of Blades: 1
Weight: 2 ounces
Dimensions: 2.25 x 0.78 x 0.5 inches
Topeak Mini 18+ Multi-Tool
Best Multi-Tool for Bikes
Who it’s for: People who love to cycle and enjoy being able to repair their own bikes.
Who it isn’t for: People looking for a multi-tool that has more uses beyond bike repairs.
For bike enthusiasts, this multi-tool has everything you need to repair or adjust your bike while on the road. It’s slightly different from other multi-tools as there are no screwdrivers and pliers. Instead, it comes with hex metric wrenches, chain repair tools, and a tire lever, so you can be prepared for any unexpected situations while biking.
At 3 inches long and 1.5 inches wide, it’s small and comfortable to carry, with no sharp edges, making it convenient to store in your pocket. We also like the fact that it comes with lots of hex wrenches—our tester says that it’s a great tool to have “if you ride a lot of miles and you need to make a lot of adjustments to your derailleur or repair flats.”
This tool comes with a manual which our tester found extremely user-friendly and easy to follow, especially for inexperienced riders. Overall, our tester was pleased with this tool because of its “compact status” and “diverse tool mix,” and would have no issues recommending this multi-tool to others.
Price at time of publish: $43
Number of Tools: 20
Number of Blades: 0
Weight: 6.4 ounces
Dimensions: 3.2 x 1.7 x 0.8 inches
Victorinox Fieldmaster Pocket Knife
Best Pocket Knife Multi-Tool
Who it’s for: People who need a pocket knife that is small and equipped to handle outdoor and camping activities.
Who it isn’t for: People who want a true multi-tool, not a pocket knife.
Originally created in 1897 as a pocket knife for soldiers, this Victorinox pocket knife, or Swiss Army Knife (as it’s commonly known) is for all practical purposes—a true multi-tool. It stands out due to its comfortable size, and the fact that it doesn’t feel bulky. And although it’s small, it has a surprising number of tools. “I like the fact that all of these tools are delivered in the form of a pocket knife versus the pliers-like design of most of the other multi-tools,” says our tester. However, none of the tools have locking mechanisms, which made our tester hesitant to use too much force during testing.
The sides are made from plastic, which on one hand makes cleaning easy, but at the same time makes it more likely to show signs of wear and tear. After performing durability tests, our tester found that it didn't break, but some of the "sides of the tool were already showing scratches."
This pocket knife lacks gripping tools such as pliers or wire cutters, so it isn’t the best choice if you are doing DIY electrical work. And while the knife comes with a bottle and can opener, it has no corkscrew, so wine lovers are out of luck.
Price at time of publish: $52
Number of Tools: 15
Number of Blades: 2
Weight: 3.5 ounces
Dimensions: 3.6 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
The Leatherman Free P4 Multi-Tool is our top pick because of its superior quality and versatility. It’s a classic option that comes with 21 different tools, so it can do just about everything you may need it for. It’s expensive though, so for a more affordable option, we like the Wetols 21-in-1 Multi-Tool because it offers just as many tools, and is a good choice for outdoor enthusiasts due to its sharp blades and variety of practical tools that you can use while camping or hiking.
Our Testing Process
We acquired 30 popular multi-tools and put them to the test in our Lab. First, we examined each multi-tool, opening and closing each tool a few times to get a feel for it. We also checked the locking mechanism (if there was one) and placement of each tool/blade to determine each multi-tool’s safety features.
Next, we considered size. If a multi-tool was advertised as pocket-sized, we placed it in our testers’ pockets to see how well it fit. For multi-tools that were not pocket-sized, we evaluated what the best storage solution would be, like a keychain, tool belt, etc.
We then tested for functionality by performing a variety of tasks: using the screwdriver to tighten a screw into a piece of wood, using pliers to cut a piece of wire, using the knife or blade to cut a piece of rope, and using a bottle opener to open a bottle. We evaluated whether each tool could effectively complete the tasks, and whether there were any difficulties. We also took note if the multi-tool was missing any common tools.
Our last test was focused on durability. We dropped each tool from hip height, and checked to see if there were any breaks, cracks, scratches, or other malfunctions after the fall. Finally, we had testers view the price of each multi-tool to determine overall value. We took all these insights into consideration to determine the best multi-tools.
How to Shop for Multi-Tools Like a Pro
If you are on the hunt for the perfect multi-tool for everyday tasks and outdoor activities, it’s safe to say that you have plenty of options. Claire separates them into different categories, such as pliers-based, knife-based, keychain multi-tools, electrician multi-tools, and multi-tool watches.
According to him, pliers-based tools have pliers as the main tool, but will have other tools built-in such as knife blades, screwdrivers, and can openers. Knife-based tools feature a folding knife as the primary tool but will also include other tools such as a saw, bottle opener, and screwdriver.
Keychain multi-tools are great if you need something small and lightweight that can fit on your key ring. They come with many of the same tools that larger multi-tools have, such as knife blades, bottle openers, and screwdrivers. There are even watch-style multi-tools that are popular with adventurers and offer all the functions you need right on your wrist. And finally, there are multi-tools designed specifically for electricians and feature tools such as wire cutters, voltage testers, and wire crimpers.
The type of tools included with multi-tools can vary depending on what they are used for. Many multi-tools will have at least one blade, though this isn't always the case. For instance, tools used for bike maintenance typically do not come with blades. Other tools you can find on multi-tools include screwdrivers, pliers, wire cutters, and saws. Additionally, they also have other features that could come in handy in a pinch at home or outside like bottle openers, can openers files, corkscrews, or tweezers.
When selecting a multi-tool, it is important to take into account its weight. According to Claire: “The weight of a multi-tool can matter depending on how you plan to use it. A heavy multi-tool may be more durable and offer more tools, but it may be less convenient to carry around, while a lightweight multi-tool may be more portable but may not be as durable or have as many tools.” In the end, the best multi-tool for you depends on your specific needs and preferences.
Ease of Use
Claire believes that multi-tools are a great choice for anyone who needs tools as they offer a variety of tools in a compact package—which can make your work and life a lot easier. Even though he insists that they are easy to use, he also advises buyers that “it may take some time to become familiar with all the tools and how to access them.”
Multi-tools have developed as the years have gone by, and now many of them come with sophisticated features such as safety locks, one-handed operation, or quick-release mechanisms that let tools open in a flash. They are also small enough to fit in your pocket or purse, so you can have easy access whenever you need them.
More Multi-Tools to Consider
Leatherman Skeletool: This multi-tool from Leatherman is what you need when you want something lightweight and simple to tackle everyday tasks. Our tester found it to be effective, but may not be the one for you if you are looking for a more powerful multi-tool or the convenience of having a larger range of tools at your fingertips.
Gerber Gear Truss Multi-Tool: This multi-tool performed well during testing, but the thumb cushion was found to be quite uncomfortable if you had to cut for a prolonged period. Even though it had all the necessary tools for a multi-tool, it lacked a corkscrew, which would have made it more useful.
Questions You Might Ask
What's the difference between a multi-tool and a pocket knife?
According to Alexakis, the most obvious difference between a multi-tool and a pocket knife is the number of tools it contains. “While pocket knives usually just have one or two blades, multi-tools can contain up to 30 different components such as pliers, screwdrivers, saws, and more,” he says.
How many tools does a typical multi-tool have?
The number of tools on a multi-tool can vary depending on the model. Some may have as few as three or four tools, while others may have up to 20 or even 30 different tools. It can be tempting to pick a multi-tool with a lot of functions, but more doesn't always mean better performance. That’s why it's important to know exactly what you’re going to be using it for before making a purchase.
Who should use a multi-tool?
Because multi-tools are pocket-sized, they are helpful for anyone who requires multiple tools for a broad range of tasks. And according to Claire, they are especially useful for people who need a variety of tools on the go, such as “campers, hikers, DIY enthusiasts, and tradespeople.”
Take Our Word for It
This article was written by Nor’adila Hepburn, a contributing writer for Real Simple, with two years of experience writing product reviews and home and lifestyle content. To put together this list, she spent hours researching multi-tools, considering factors such as type, tools included, weight, and ease of use. She also spoke to a number of experts including Nate Claire, a home renovator and co-owner of Buying Jax Homes, and Chris Alexakis, founder of CabinetSelect.
What Is Real Simple Selects
Next to each product on this list, you may have noticed a Real Simple Selects seal of approval. Any product appearing alongside that seal has been vetted by our team—put through tests and graded on its performance to earn a spot on our list. Although we buy most of the products we test, sometimes we do get samples from companies if purchasing a product ourselves isn’t an option. All products go through the same rigorous process, whether they are purchased or sent by the company.
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