If there’s one piece of gear you shouldn’t hit the trail without, it’s a multi-tool. From opening bottles to chopping up kindling for your campfire, there’s nothing that a multi-purpose tool can’t do.
Despite this, finding the right model for your adventures isn’t easy. In fact, trying to compare all the various functions of different options is enough to make anyone’s head spin.
The good news is that we’re here to help.In this guide, we’ll introduce you to our 7 favorites and we’ll also discuss the ins and outs of selecting the right model so you can be prepared for any eventuality.
Table of Contents
- Editor’s Choice
- All About Multi-Tools For Backpacking
- How to Choose
- Best Backpacking Multi-Tool: Our Top 7 Picks
Leatherman Charge TTI
For situations where only the best will do, the Leatherman Charge TTI is what you need.
This multitool has a handle that’s engineered out of rugged titanium for durability and weight savings. At the same time, it provides you with access to 19 different tools, including 2 high-end stainless steel blades.
All the tools on the Leatherman Charge TTI lock, too, so you can get the peace of mind you need while solving problems around camp or on the trail.
While the Charge TTI isn’t the most affordable option in the bunch, it’s a great multi-tool for any outdoor adventure.
Bottom line: There’s no ifs, ands or buts about it: the Leatherman Charge TTI is the gold-standard in hiking multitools.
All About Multi-Tools For Backpacking
Backpacking multi-tools are feature-laden pieces of gear. So, before we dive into a discussion of what you ought to look for in your next multi-purpose tool, let’s talk a bit about what you can expect from any given model.
Types of Multi-Tools
Not all multi-tools are created equal. In fact, there are 3 primary types of backpacking tools on the market today. These include:
- Full-Size – Full-size models are by far the most popular. They are usually about 4 inches long when folded up and they sport longer blades akin to what you’d find on a standard pocket knife. Plus, they tend to have more features than other models, even if this comes at the cost of affordability and portability.
- Keychain – The smaller cousin of full-size models, keychain tools are designed to be compact and lightweight. They are usually less than 4 inches long when folded up and they are the most portable options available. However, they usually have limited functions compared to full-size models.
- Specialist – Specialist models include all of the tools and extra features that the majority of folks wouldn’t use on a regular basis. For example, a model designed for an electrician might have trade-specific functions like wire benders. These specialist models are less common, but they’re certainly useful in specific situations.
Tool Options & Functions
As their name suggests, the best multitools come with, well, multiple tools. However, finding the perfect multitool isn’t about getting a model that has a million different functions. Rather, it’s important to make sure that you get a model with the right functions for your needs.
While the functions that you’ll need in your multitool will depend on your unique needs, there are a few essential features that most people prefer to have. These include:
- Straight Blade
- Serrated Blade
- Bit Driver/Screwdriver
- Bottle Opener
- Can Opener
- Metal File
However, models that have all these features, as well as some extra functions, tend to be quite heavy. So, you may need to sacrifice a few functions, like pliers, in order to get a model that’s portable enough for your backpacking needs.
How to Choose
Finding the best multi-tools for backpacking starts with knowing what to look for in the first place. So, here are some of the most important features to keep in mind as you shop:
We’ve already discussed the many different functions that you might want to consider as you search for a multitool for backpacking. So, we won’t rehash all of those details here.
But, it is important to reiterate that the best multi-tool in the world isn’t the one that has the largest number of functions. Rather, it’s the one that’s most useful for your adventure style.
For example, if you never have a need for wire cutters, there’s no point in buying a model just because it has wire cutters. Doing so will only lighten your wallet and weigh down your pack.
Therefore, your goal when shopping for multi-tools is to find a model that has all of the functions you need. If you get other features, too, that’s nice, but don’t let yourself get overly obsessed with total function counts.
If you’d like to see some of the cool ways in which you can use your tool, check out this post from Leatherman.
Ease of Use
A multitool is no use to you if you have to spend 10 minutes trying to dig out your pliers or knife.
Therefore, it’s worth looking for models where all the various functions are easy to access. Swiss Army Knife-type models are usually the most convenient. But do bear in mind that they also don’t have pliers and other similar features.
Additionally, having a model that you can use one-handed is ideal. This is particularly true while backpacking where you might need to operate your multitool while multitasking.
If you want a multitool that you can take into the mountains, you need a model that’s relatively light and portable.
However, multitools can be surprisingly heavy, especially when they’re jam-packed with different features. Models made from full steel tend to be the heaviest while Swiss Army Knife-style models with plastic handles are usually the most portable.
Nevertheless, the key is to find the perfect balance between durability, functionality, and portability. If you’re willing to pay a bit more for quality, models made from titanium tend to have the best blend of durability and portability without sacrificing functionality.
It’s also worth mentioning that the size of the multitool that you buy also makes a difference.
While smaller models are easier to tuck into your pocket, they can be a bit more difficult to manage. In particular, folks with larger hands often struggle with keychain-style models, so keep this in mind as you shop.
Nearly every country, state, province, and county in the world has its own knife laws, so we can’t cover them all here. However, suffice it to say that there’s probably a law regulating knife blade lengths in your home region.
So, as you shop for multitools, keep local regulations in mind. Most places allow you to carry small knives, but you should always confirm this with a reputable source before you buy.
Affordability is a concern for every piece of gear and multitools are no exception.
As a general rule, you’ll find that more expensive models tend to be made from rugged titanium and have a larger number of total functions. However, if you’re on a budget, you can normally still get the different functions you need, so long as you’re willing to carry a bit more weight in your pack.
So, shopping for multitools is usually a trade-off between weight savings, function count, and affordability.
Best Backpacking Multi-Tool: Our Top 7 Picks
Victorinox Swisstool Spirit X
Best Tool Selection
If you can’t bear the thought of having to make do with anything less than the best, the Victorinox Swisstool Spirit X might be what you need.
This full-size multitool comes complete with an amazing 24 different features, including a package opener, bottle opener, and a set of wire cutters. That way, you never have to be without the tools you need on the trail.
At the same time, all tools lock into place on the Swisstool Spirit X so you can use your multitool with confidence. Plus, this model comes with both Victorinox’s lifetime warranty and a sweet leather carry pouch for extra functionality.
That being said, the Swisstool Spirit X is a bit on the heavy side for a multi-purpose tool. It also doesn’t have a knife blade that you can open with just one hand, which is a bummer for a multitool at this price point. But, for overall functionality, this model is hard to top.
- 24 different tool features
- Includes a leather sheath
- Lifetime warranty
- Locking mechanism on all tools
- Fairly heavy
- No one-handed knife blade
Bottom-Line: The Victorinox Swisstool Spirit X is a sure bet if you want access to as many tools as possible in your multi-functional pocket knife.
Huntsman Victorinox Swiss Army Knife
Best Keychain Tool
When it comes to the best multitools for lightweight backpacking, the Huntsman Victorinox Swiss Army Knife is a solid choice.
This incredible little tool tips the scales at just 3.4oz and fits comfortably in your pocket as you hike. Nevertheless, it still has space for 15 easily accessible features, including a quality 2.5-inch blade, a set of scissors, and a heavy-duty saw.
Furthermore, the Huntsman Victorinox is one of the more affordable multitools on the market. It also comes with Victorinox’s standard lifetime warranty. So, there’s no reason not to toss it in with the rest of your backpacking gear on your adventures.
However, it’s worth mentioning that none of the features on this tool have a locking mechanism. And it also doesn’t have needle-nose pliers or a serrated blade. However, if getting a high-quality and easy-to-use pocket knife is your goal, the Huntsman is a must-have.
- Small and lightweight
- Lots of features for a keychain-sized model
- All features are easy to access
- Victorinox lifetime warranty
- No needle-nose pliers
- Doesn’t have locking tools
Bottom-Line: The Huntsman Victorinox Swiss Army Knife is an ultralight option that’s ideal for backpackers and has every tool you need for quick forays into the mountains.
Leatherman Charge+ TTI
Winning gold in our match-up of the best multi tools in the industry, the Leatherman Charge+ TTI is a top-of-the-line model for folks that won’t settle for second best.
Built out of high-quality, rugged titanium, the Charge+ TTI is a reliable tool for use in remote terrain. It boasts 19 different features including a straight blade, a serrated blade, and a saw. The Charge TTI even has a removable pocket clip for added convenience.
All of the functions on this tool lock into place for enhanced safety and the knives can all be operated with one hand, too, making it very easy to use. Additionally, the Charge+ TTI includes spring-loaded pliers in its array of tools, meaning you’ll be able to tackle just about any problem that comes your way.
The downside? This Leatherman multitool isn’t cheap. It also doesn’t come with a nylon sheath for transport, which is a disappointment. That said, if you’re okay with a bit of extra weight in your pack in exchange for quality, the Charge+ TTI is well worthy of a place on your shortlist.
- All locking tools
- Multiple stainless steel knife blades
- Titanium construction
- Easy-to-use spring-loaded pliers
- Doesn’t include a sheath
Bottom-Line: If having the best possible gear is your priority, even if that means a few added ounces in packweight, then the Charge+ TTI might just be the tool for you.
Best for Expeditions
Durable, reliable, and oh-so functional, the Leatherman Rebar is an outstanding choice for expedition-style backpacking.
Crafted out of high-quality stainless steel, the Rebar comes with a full set of 8 locking tools for ease of use. It has a weight of just 6.9 oz, too, which is light for a full-size model.
As far as features go, the Rebar boasts both a straight blade, serrated blade, and saw, as well as pliers for maximum functionality. All of the functions on the Rebar are also easily accessible, too, for added convenience on the go.
The downside to the Leatherman Rebar is that it doesn’t come with scissors or a nylon sheath. However, it is fairly affordable for a full-size model and it’s light enough to carry in your pocket. So, there’s a lot to love about the Rebar if you plan on taking it on longer trips to the mountains.
- Relatively affordable for a full-size multitool
- Easily accessible functions
- Fairly lightweight for a stainless steel model
- All features lock into place
- Doesn’t have scissors
- No carry case included
Bottom-Line: If you want a full-sized multitool for expedition use that has everything you need and nothing more, the Leatherman Rebar is a great choice.
Gerber Suspension Multi-Tool
On the lookout for a multitool that doesn’t break the bank? The Gerber Suspension Multi-Tool might be what you need.
This full-size model has 12 different tools, each of which locks into place using Gerber’s SAF.T.PLUS system for extra stability. It’s made from stainless steel with a black finish for added durability and it includes a ballistic nylon sheath for transportation.
The two knife blades on this model are also made from high-carbon stainless steel for increased performance. As an added bonus, the Gerber Suspension folds down small using its butterfly design and also boasts pliers that are spring-loaded for added ease of use.
However, we should note that, while the Gerber Suspension is compact, it is quite heavy. With a total weight of over 10 oz, it’s one of the heavier models in our review. As such, it’s best for folks that value compactness over weight savings in their pocket knife.
- SAF.T.PLUS locking system on all tools
- Compact butterfly design for everyday carry
- High carbon stainless steel blades
- Spring-loaded pliers
- Heavy for a small model
Bottom-Line: The Gerber Suspension Multi-Tool is a versatile and affordable model that’s suitable for any adventure.
SOG PowerAssist Multi-Tool
Best for Durability
For backcountry adventures where durability is key, the SOG PowerAssist Multi-Tool is a great choice.
This fully stainless steel multitool is designed specifically for folks who want the highest possible quality in their gear. It has 16 tools in toal, all of which lock while in use. Furthermore, all the major features on this multitool can be operated one-handed for convenience on the trail.
In fact, the two blades of the PowerAssist are located on the outside of the one-piece frame. That way, you have quick access to your gear when you need it most.
That being said, while the PowerAssist is both light and packable for a full-size model, it is somewhat limited in functionality. It doesn’t have a set of scissors or a saw, which could make it a non-starter for some avid multitool users. Nevertheless, it is a great option for anyone that prioritizes durability above all else.
- One-handed functionality
- Has a relatively light weight
- Full locking capabilities
- Knives are easy to access
- Lacks a saw and scissors
Bottom-Line: When the durability of your gear isn’t up for debate, the SOG PowerAssist is a superb option.
Leatherman Squirt PS4
Best for Compactness
Trying to keep your pack weight at an absolute minimum? The Leatherman Squirt PS4 should be at the top of your list.
This keychain-style model is made from quality hard-anodized aluminum to cut weight on the trail. It tips the scales at just around 2 oz and it packs down to less than 2.3 inches for maximum portability.
With this awesome multitool you get 9 different tools including scissors, a knife, a bottle opener, and a screwdriver. Each feature is easy to use and access, courtesy of the Squirt PS4’s compact folding design. Plus, it’s one of the few keychain tools that comes with pliers. What’s not to love?
Despite this, we should mention that the Squirt PS4 doesn’t have a can opener, which is a bit odd for a multitool. Its small size also makes it difficult to use for people with larger hands. However, in terms of compactness, this is one great multitool.
- Super compact
- Includes a set of pliers
- Very lightweight
- Easy to access tools
- Small size isn’t great for people with larger hands
- Has a bottle opener but no can opener
Bottom-Line: If cutting grams is your MO, the Squirt PS4 is one of the best multitools in the business.