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The Best Multi-Tools for the Outdoors

Leatherman and Gerber Multi-Tools

For many generations (and for countless Boy Scouts) the Swiss Army style of pocket knife was the tried and true “multi-tool” of choice. Most designs had a main cutting blade, a smaller blade for fine detail work, a can opener for eating all those pork and beans on camping trips (which filled many a pup tent with noxious gas!) and a variety of other tools such as screwdriver blades, a bottle opener, a hole puncher, etc. As time went on, the Swiss Army style knives got bigger, fatter, and more complex, offering well over a dozen different tools in one, rather cumbersome and unwieldy pocket knife. For many still today, the good ol’ Swiss Army, Boy Scout style of knife, is still a favorite. I certainly have my collection of them, and still carry one along with me on many casual outings. Not to mention, they are a great gift for those just getting started in the outdoors, as they provide hours of hands-on fun around camp or out in the field.

Like many who got their start using the Swiss Army style pocket knives as their main multi-tool, I found much better options for compact tools as time went on and technology developed. The multi-tool revolution that transformed pocketknife designs into the pliers-based style of multi-tool that dominant the market today was begun by Tim Leatherman. Tim, a mechanical engineer, came up with his concept for a multi-tool during a tightly budgeted trip through Europe in 1974, where he realized how beneficial it would be to have a compact set of pliers, along with his trusty scout knife, to fix the many things that broke on that adventure.

Upon getting back to the USA, Tim spent three years designing and building his envisioned multi-tool, and many more years getting his idea off the ground and into stores. Finally, in 1983, the “Leatherman Multi-Tool” (as it’s known today) was introduced to the world as the “PST,” or, Pocket Survival Tool.

Like many world-class outdoor products, such as Benchmade and CRKT knives, Leatherman multi-tools are proudly made in Oregon, and in my opinion, are the standard by which all other multi-tools are judged. Leatherman products are simply the best, most dependable, and most practical multi-tools on the market. They are made from superior materials and built to last a lifetime.

A close contender to Leatherman products as the multi-tool king would be Gerber, who has been producing high-quality cutlery and tools since 1939, and, you guessed it, are also based out of based out of Oregon. What I especially like about Gerber multi-tools is their one-handed opening design, which is fantastic while fishing or working on a project alone. I never head out on a serious outdoor adventure without either my Leatherman or Gerber multi-tool, and having worked side-by-side many Alaskan guides, military personnel, construction workers, and others who depend on no-nonsense tools that simply MUST perform, I rarely see a multi-tool from any other brands than Leatherman or Gerber. Click on the photos below to learn more and order yours today through our Amazon affiliate service.