What is a multitool? – The pocket tool

This is probably one of the most confusing term floating around the knife world. Multitool just describes a tool that can be used for multiple functions. It can refer to the electrically powered multitool, or the hand held multitool that resembles a pocket knife.

I don’t know much about machines, so this article will focus on the pocket multitools.

Multitool is a small handheld tool that can fit into your pockets and serve a variety of functions. They are the pocket tool that can be used for a million purposes, build a house? No problem. Hang up a painting? Easy. Cut some food? Way ahead of you.

The most famous of all multitools would probably be the Swiss army knife. Traditionally they would include a knife blade.

Multitools are irreplaceable for various outdoor adventures. However, not all multitools are created equal. They have different attachments, and even different multitools can be designed for different functions. They can be used as a general tool for hiking, camping or survival. But multitools designed for specific sports have been created as well, such as cycling or golf.

This article will act as an introduction to multitool, I will discuss their design and some common attachments. I will also go through their pros and cons and what you should look for when you are purchasing one.

  1. Pros and cons
  2. Common attachments
  3. Do I need a multitool?
  4. How do I choose a multitool?

Pros and Cons of multitools – can it replace your tool box?


Pros Cons
- Convenient, easy to carry.
- Multiple functions, one tool.
- Good for unexpected situations.
- A lot of designs available.
- Mechanically complex, potential area of issue.
- Can be difficult to clean tight areas.
- A lot of options on the market, you must choose the right one.
- A lot of fakes and knock-offs.

Pros

The most obvious advantage of multitool ownership is they are able to perform a myriad of

A multitool that is completely open with all the attachments spread.
EvaK / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)

functions, at the same time they can fit into your pocket. This one factor makes them highly valuable in unexpected situations.

Picture yourself at a party, everyone bought beers, there is a huge steak on the grill, everyone is having a goodtime. But disaster struck, you realize no one has bottle openers, no one bothered to bring a knife to cut the steak. Everyone is panicking and rushing around. But then you remembered your trusty multitool strapped to your belt. You whip it out and become the hero of the party.

Need I say more? Multitools are one of those things that you keep around, you don’t know when you’ll need it; but when you do need it, you’ll thank yourself.

On the market right now, there are thousands of different designs available as well. It is likely you’ll find one that suits your needs perfectly.

Cons

Multitools are mechanically complex. They have various attachments that could swivel out when they are needed. This introduces many weaknesses into the tool. Overtime and with use some tools may become loose and not hold up well. These attachment points are also weak spots, and may not take as much punishment as traditional tools and knives.

With all the moving parts the multitool actually has a lot of hard to reach areas. If not properly looked after these areas could develop rust; however cleaning those nooks and crannies can prove a challenge too.

Currently there are also a lot of options available, this is both a blessing and an issue. Buyer must make sure they know what they are doing and what they are buying, otherwise they may end up with a tool that doesn’t suit them.

Finally buyers need to be aware of cheap, fake, knock-offs. These tools must always be ready to perform in unexpected situations. With knock offs you just don’t know if they will be able to. The materials used could be wrong, the plastic handles could wear out prematurely. There are many things that could go wrong.

When purchasing a multitool, your safest bet is with a trusted and known reliable brand. Decrease your risk of premature failure. You don’t need that in your life.

Common attachments – one tool, multiple uses


A diagram of the various common attachments found on multitools.
gnokii at openclipart.org / CC0 (modified with numbers added)

This section is mainly aimed at beginners, but I will still try to make it interesting (I hope). I will cover the most common attachments you will find on multitools.

1. Wood saw – cuts wood…. I don’t know what you expected me to say but just leaving it here for completeness

2. Blade – cuts things that are not wood

3. Scissors – your teacher probably didn’t let you run with this in class

4. Bottle opener with a flat head screw driver – 2 birds 1 stone

5. Reamer – punches holes in leather, often has a hole at the so you can sew the leather as well (an actual useful description)

6. Corkscrew – everyone knows what this is for

7. Phillips screw driver

8. Can opener – look up a tutorial on YouTube to use it properly, you don’t want to get this one wrong.

Do I need a multitool? How do I choose one?


This is often a very loaded question. But since you’re asking this article you must have an idea of the answer already. My goal here is to walk you through a few important steps.

  1. What function would you like your multitool to perform?
  2. What attachments do you need?
  3. Looks are important, choose carefully.
  4. Get a multitool with a proven track record

While you may have already thought about owning a multitool, you may not have considered what type or design you’re interested in. So have a think about what you will need to use it for.

Are you looking for something to carry around everyday, for general use? Or are you looking at something specific, such as a bicycle multitool, or a credit card sized one to keep in your pockets?

After knowing what you would like your multitool to do, you must then decide what multitool attachments are important to you. Each person’s individual requirements are different and you must find out what you like. Some people are happy with just a few functions, while others want A red handled multitool with all of its attachments opened. their entire tool box to fit into their pockets.

Design is important. Don’t forget to choose a multitool that looks good and appeals to you. Each person’s taste is different, there’s no point in listening to reviews saying this one is good and that one is good, but you hate the look of the tool. If you buy a knife you don’t enjoy looking at, then at the end of the day you’re unlikely to carry it. Remember, design is important.

There are many things that we can’t decide about life, but at least we can choose what our tools look like.

Finally, remember to look around at the different options, try to look for a multitool that’s from a reputable brand, or is well recognized. Quality is so important in these tools and you don’t want to get it wrong.

For some inspirations and reviews about multi-tools, I will include some articles on my site in the future.

So what now?


Hopefully everyone enjoyed reading this article, now you’re equipped with some decent baseline knowledge about multitools. I hope you were able to get something out of this article.

In the future I will be adding various multitool reviews onto this website if you have trouble choosing one.

If you have any questions feel free to leave them below.

All the best,

James

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