Best Multitool for Backpacking and Camping [2020]

Multitool Backpacking

Being an adventurer means encountering the unexpected, and being prepared for almost any situation. Enter the multitool. It’s a versatile little tool kept hidden away until you need it to save the day. With a multitool, you won’t need to carry large knives, bulky pliers, saws, or screwdrivers since these feature all of those tools and more.

And no, these aren’t your grandpa’s old Swiss Army knife. Today’s market features dozens of high quality multi tools from a number of reputable manufacturers.

We evaluated 18 multitools to bring you the 13 that are best suited for outdoor adventure as well as every day carry (EDC). Take a look below at our multitool buying guide and feature comparison. Then read on for our choices of the 13 best multitools for backpacking and camping.

Related: Best Hangboards for Climbing

Best Backpacking & Camping Multitool Roundup

 MultitoolOverall ScoreStar RatingFunctionsWeight (oz)Locking?
Best Backpacking MultitoolLeatherman Wingman944.7 out of 5 stars106.8Yes
Best Camping MultitoolLeatherman Charge+ Tti944.7 out of 5 stars198.8Yes
Best EDC MultitoolLeatherman Skeletool924.6 out of 5 stars75.0Yes
Best Value MultitoolGerber Suspension Multi-Plier904.5 out of 5 stars109.1Yes
Best Handyman MultitoolLeatherman Super Tool 300884.4 out of 5 stars199.6Yes
Best Pocket MultitoolVictorinox Swiss Army Huntsman Pocket Knife864.3 out of 5 stars153.4No
Best Survival MultitoolLeatherman Signal824.1 out of 5 stars197.5Yes
Best Ultralight MultitoolLeatherman Squirt PS4804 out of 5 stars91.9No
Best Compact MultitoolGerber Dime Multi-Tool783.9 out of 5 stars122.3No
Best Multitool ScrewdriverGerber Center-Drive743.9 out of 5 stars139.4Yes
Best Multitool for FishingVictorinox SwissTool Spirit X763.8 out of 5 stars249.8Yes
Best Multitool PliersLeatherman Crunch723.6 out of 5 stars76.8Yes
Best Wallet MultitoolSE MT908-1 Pocket Tool683.4 out of 5 stars111.6n/a

Best Multitool For Backpacking

Leatherman Wingman Review

Number of functions: 10 | Weight: 6.8 oz

Pros
+ Low price
+ Sturdy construction
+ Great feature selection
+ Works well for a wide range of users

Cons
– Small blade
– Wire cutters don’t perform well

Leatherman, as one might expect, heads up the pack. The Leatherman Wingman features an excellent assortment of functions as well as their renowned craftsmanship, all at a great price point. It’s a lightweight option at less than 7oz and is a compact size – both of which are crucial considerations for hiking and backpacking.

Our biggest complaints are about the blade and wire cutter. The steel blade could be sturdier as well as larger, and the hybrid straight/serrated edge can be difficult to sharpen. The wire cutters also underperform other tools, with the cutting edges not actually contacting each other which would make for an easy, clean cut. 

Overall this is a high quality multi tool with all the right functions at a great price. It won’t weigh you down or hold you back, making it our choice as the Best Backpacking Multi tool.

Best Value Multitool for Backpacking

Gerber Suspension Multi-Plier Review

Number of functions: 10 | Weight: 9.1 oz

Pros
+ Sturdy Construction
+ Excellent functionality
+ Low price

Cons
– Heavy
– Bulky

The Gerber Suspension Multitool is an excellent choice for those of you not looking to spend too much for a high-end option. It has all the functions you’d need from a multi tool for backpacking, hiking, camping, fishing, or EDC, and is one of the cheapest options from a reputable manufacturer. You might think that at lower price points the quality would suffer, but Gerber hit the mark with this model. 

Construction is solid, but it comes at a price: bulk and heft. At 9.1oz and 3.8” x 0.8”, it’s one of the heavier and larger tools we reviewed. If you’re going for ultralight, look elsewhere. But if you want the solid functionality and quality at a low price, the Gerber Suspension is a fantastic option and our favorite budget multitool for backpacking.

Best Survival Multitool

Leatherman Signal Review

Number of functions: 19 | Weight: 7.5 oz

Pros
+ Survival and Camping specific features
+ Carabiner clip for portability
+ Excellent variety of functions

Cons
– Lower quality construction compared to other Leatherman models
– Hammer underperforms expectations

The Leatherman Signal specializes in outdoor features. It has a fire starter, camp hammer, carabiner attachment, saw, and built-in sharpener. On a recreational camping trip these specific functions may be better served by dedicated tools, but survival is about being prepared for any situation which may not conveniently happen at a campsite. 

For all its functionality, the Leatherman Signal did cut a few corners to make it happen. The fire starter and hammer both could be higher quality, and the build as a whole is slightly less durable compared to typical Leatherman craftsmanship. However it has functions missing from almost every other model which sets it apart as the best multi-tool for survival.

Best Multitool for Camping

Leatherman Charge+ TTi Review

Number of functions: 19 | Weight: 8.8 oz

Pros
+ High quality materials and construction
+ Excellent ergonomics
+ Great variety of functions
+ Replaceable cutters

Cons
– Heavy
– Expensive
– Newer versions are lighter, but less sturdy

The Leatherman Charge+ TTi is the mac daddy of multitools. It’s one of the more expensive options and certainly not the lightest, but it has the best functionality and ergonomics we could find. Every tool is designed to be operated single-handed, which is fantastic for those camp chores or quick hiking stops. The corrosion-resistant titanium means moisture or wet chores aren’t a problem. And with a 25-year warranty, it’s a safe bet the Leatherman Charge+ TTi is up to the task and serves as the best camping multi tool.

Best Ultralight Multitool

Leatherman Squirt PS4 Review

Number of functions: 9 | Weight: 1.9 oz

Pros
+ Extremely lightweight
+ Very affordable option
+ One-handed operation

Cons
– Non-locking blade
– Craftsmanship could be better

The Leatherman Squirt PS4 is the lightest folding multitool we reviewed, clocking in at under 2oz. With a compact size and attached keyring, the Squirt PS4 can be on hand without weighing you down. The mini pliers, while small, certainly get the job done for most tasks. And the one-handed operation makes opening and using each function a breeze. 

Our biggest complaint is the non-locking blade, which we consider a critical safety feature. And at the small size, several parts are not as durable as their larger counterparts. But if you’re looking for an ultralight, compact multi tool it’s hard to beat the Squirt PS4 for its functionality, portability, and price, making it our pick as the best ultralight multitool.

Best EDC Multi Tool

Leatherman Skeletool Review

Number of functions: 7 | Weight: 5.0 oz

Pros
+ Comfortable, low profile for every day carry
+ Clip for pocket carry
+ One-handed accessibility
+ High quality craftsmanship

Cons
– Limited features for specialty uses
– No scissors

The Leatherman Skeletool is yet another fantastic multitool from Leatherman. It lacks scissors, saws, and other niche functions, but it more than makes up for it with a low profile and light weight. And since the most important functions for every day carry are on-board, this makes the perfect tool to keep with you on the go.

The construction is what we’ve come to expect from Leatherman, with high quality materials and a sturdy feel. We love the simplicity, price point, and functionality enough to consider this the best EDC multitool

Best Pocket Multitool

Victorinox Swiss Army Huntsman Pocket Knife Review

Number of functions: 15 | Weight: 3.4 oz

Pros
+ Excellent variety of functions
+ Compact and lightweight
+ Low Price
+ Lifetime warranty

Cons
– Non-locking blade

The Victorinox Swiss Army Huntsman Multi-tool is more reminiscent of older Swiss Army knives, but with modern craftsmanship and functionality it’s far from outdated. With 15 separate functions including tweezers, scissors, and a saw, the Huntsman Pocket Knife is perfect for carrying around the house or taking with you on your next backpacking, hiking, or camping trip. 

Our only complaint about this multi tool is its lack of a locking blade. However, with a bit of extra caution while using it, we’re confident you’ll love the Huntsman and feel confident recommending it as the best pocket multitool

Best Compact Multitool

Gerber Dime Multi-Tool Review

Number of functions: 12 | Weight: 2.3 oz

Pros
+ Extremely compact
+ Lightweight
+ Low Price

Cons
– Two-handed operation
– Small primary blade & pliers
– Files underperform expectations

At just 2.75” long when closed, the Gerber Dime Multitool isn’t going to draw attention. Maybe that’s a good thing. Multitools fly under the radar until they’re saving the day anyway, and the Gerber Dime is sure to be there when you need it most.  

As you might expect, there is a downside to a multitool that’s this small. The primary blade and pliers are both undersized for many uses, making it a bit more of a challenge to perform various tasks. So if you’re looking for the highest performance functions, this isn’t it. But at 2.3oz and under 3”, it’s hard to beat for convenience and cost. And that’s why we thought the Gerber Dime Multi Tool was the best compact multitool we reviewed.

Best Wallet Multitool

SE MT908-1 Pocket Tool Review

Number of functions: 11 | Weight: 1.6 oz

Pros
+ Extremely lightweight
+ Fits in a wallet
+ Low price

Cons
– Challenging ergonomics
– Missing key functions

The SE MT908-1 really surprised us for what it is. At under $10 and the size of a credit card, it’s hard to know what to expect. What we found was a sturdy, practical multi tool that works perfectly in an emergency situation. It’s small enough to forget you’re carrying it, but just handy enough when you need it. 

As you might expect, a multi tool of this design isn’t as comfortable or ergonomic as many other options. Without pliers or scissors, it’s also not as practical for many purposes. However it had overall the best functionality of any wallet multitool we reviewed with the highest quality feel, making it our pick for best wallet multitool.

Best Handyman Multitool

Leatherman Super Tool 300 Review

Number of functions: 19 | Weight: 9.6 oz

Pros
+ Excellent functionality
+ Extremely sturdy construction
+ Great ergonomics

Cons
– Two handed operation
– Heavy
– Bulky

The Leatherman Super Tool 300 isn’t quite in line with the rest of the multitools we reviewed. It’s heavier and bulkier, with an enormous selection of tools packed into an extremely durable package. With a serrated blade, straight blade, and dedicated saw, it’s the most effective cutting tool of the bunch. And the replaceable wire cutters add to the longevity of a tool that can’t otherwise be sharpened.

At almost 10oz and 4.5” closed, it’s certainly one of the bigger tools we reviewed. This makes it less than ideal for ultralight backpackers, or anyone not wanting to feel their multitool in their pocket all day. However, for around the house purposes, handyman work, or heavy duty camping tasks, it won’t be beat – so we named it our best handyman multitool.

Best Multitool Pliers

Leatherman Crunch Review

Number of functions: 15 | Weight: 6.8 oz

Pros
+ Ergonomic locking pliers
+ Excellent functionality
+ 25 year warranty

Cons
– Subpar primary blade
– Inconvenient set-screw

The Leatherman Crunch stands out visually with its fully functional locking pliers. Despite packing all of its tools into one side of the handle, it still features a respectable 15 functions. The primary blade could be made of higher quality metal, but overall it does a good enough job as long as you keep it sharpened.

One seemingly small complaint we do have is that the Crunch does not fit into its sheath with the locking pliers set-screw loosened, but it does not close with the set-screw completely tightened. This just means you’ll have to remember to adjust the set screw before storing or using the tool each time – less than ideal, but not a deal-breaker.

Best Multitool Screwdriver

Gerber Center-Drive Review

Number of functions: 16 | Weight: 9.4 oz

Pros
+ One-handed operation
+ Center-axis screwdriver
+ Includes a 12-piece bit set

Cons
– Primary blade could be higher quality
– Pliers underperform competitors

With the Center-Drive Multitool, Gerber totally re-shaped our thinking on how a multitool’s screwdriver should function. By aligning it along the center axis, sinking screws is no longer an awkward task that you just want to use a regular screwdriver for. And with a 12-piece standard bit set included, you won’t find yourself trying to stick a round peg in a square whole.

We also loved the design of the sliding pliers, so you don’t need to use two hands to open the tool and access its functions. Just a flick of the thumb and you’re off to the races. The pliers themselves, however, aren’t the best of the bunch. They struggled with some gripping tasks and the blunt tip makes fine work a challenge. Overall, we preferred other tools we reviewed for most purchases, but the Gerber Center-Drive certainly topped the chart in what it focuses on – being the best multitool screwdriver.

Best Multitool for Fishing

Victorinox SwissTool Spirit X Review

Number of functions: 24 | Weight: 9.75 oz

Pros
+ Excellent selection of functions
+ High quality craftsmanship
+ Tools accessible while closed

Cons
– Heavy
– Undersized scissors

The Victorinox SwissTool Spirit X has the most functions of any tool we reviewed, and it’s outside tool access means you can get to all of them easily. A sturdy stainless steel construction and a lifetime warranty make this a solid choice for heavy use when fishing, camping, or heavy duty work. It’s one of the heavier multi tools available, which makes sense considering the number of tools onboard. For all but ultralight or smaller EDC purposes, it’s an excellent choice.

The scissors are on the smaller side, making them less useful for cutting larger objects. However for items like fishing line or small rope they function perfectly and the small size is made up for with an array of tools. The SwissTool Spirit X is a bit of a do-everything multitool, but it really shines when it comes to fishing tasks, making it the best multitool for fishing.

How to Choose the Best Multitool for Backpacking & Camping

Multitool Purpose: EDC, Backpacking, Camping, and Other Uses

The first question to ask yourself when shopping for a new multitool is how you’ll be using it. Are you looking for an Every Day Carry Multitool? An ultralight backpacking multitool? A versatile, durable camping multitool? Or another purpose like handyman work, fishing, etc.

A heavy multitool with all the bells and whistles may be fine for around the house work or camping, but the bulk and weight can be uncomfortable in any pocket, especially when weight is a factor.

So consider whether you want one do-everything multitool, or if you may want a specific multitool for backpacking and perhaps another for heavier-duty work that doesn’t require great portability.

Leatherman Rebar vs Wave

Types of Multitools

Now that you’ve decided what uses you will need, it’s time to take a look at the different types of multitools.

Folding

One of the most versatile and popular types of multi-tools is the folding type. These are generally larger than other types and likely have the most features, including a knife, pliers, wire cutters, screwdriver, etc.

Due to their design, folding multi tools are also commonly heavy and bulky, so be sure to choose one that is light and compact enough for your purpose.

Folding vs Pocket Multitools

Pocket

A pocket multi-tool is the classic “swiss army knife” we all know. Similar to the folding multitools, pocket multitools contain most essential tools (the best pocket multitool has more features than many of the folding options).

Compared to folding multitools, these are smaller in size and fit easily in your pocket. Most do not contain pliers, a useful feature which is likely to be a deciding factor between these two types of multitools. Choose the right brand, and you’ll end up with a similarly rugged and durable tool that can last for years to come.

Keychain

The keychain multitool is exactly what it sounds like – a compact multitool with a keychain attachment. Though it’s compact and lightweight enough to fit in your pocket, it’s designed to be kept on your keychain.

These are generally more limited in features due to their size requirements, but this ultralight and compact design can be beneficial for backpackers looking to minimize weight without sacrificing utility.

One-piece

A one-piece multi-tool has no movable parts and is usually designed for a specific set of functions, making it a less-than-ideal choice for many backpacking and camping uses.

We did not include any one-piece multitools on our list as we believe there are better options available. However, these tools do fill a specific purpose and may be worth looking at depending on your needs. Check out these one-piece multitools for some of the best options on the market.

Wallet

A wallet multitool is extremely compact and lightweight. In fact, our pick for Best Wallet Multitool clocked in at under 2oz, making it a great choice for anyone prioritizing weight and size. It’s also the cheapest option on our list at just $5, but it’s limited functionality means you’re probably better off finding a more practical multitool for backpacking or camping purposes.

Folding vs Pocket Multitools

Number of Functions

When considering a multitool’s utility, we have to consider several aspects. We not only count the number of functions but we also have to consider which features are useful for different purposes. We then need to look at the ergonomics, design, and utility of each function. A well-designed set of features is far more useful than a tool with a bunch of lower quality tools weighing it down.

For EDC multitools, there are specific functions you’ll use regularly. A solid primary blade, precise pliers, and bit drivers are all critical day-to-day functions. The Leatherman Skeletool makes a great choice for this purpose, with its large primary blade and high quality pliers.

Backpackers on the other hand can get by with smaller blades and pliers, but may benefit from files and scissors. The Leatherman Wingman fits this need perfectly, trading off blade size and wire cutter performance for more beneficial features. Backpacking is also a case of less is more, where any unused tool is simply excess weight you don’t need to be lugging around. So even with the same number of functions, the right features make all the difference and should be a primary focus when choosing between multi tools.

Leatherman Signal, Wave, Rebar, and Sidekick

Value

Value is more than simply price – it’s the ratio of cost to properties like features, materials and craftsmanship, ergonomics and benefits delivered.

When looking at the available options on the market, it’s easier to find low cost products that are full-featured but made poorly than it is to find products which are high quality with minimal features. Unfortunately, the sacrifices are usually made on the quality of construction and materials rather than feature set.

Design and ergonomics can also make or break a multi tool. Research and development is not cheap, so many times a low-end option will be poorly designed to the point of ineffectiveness.

When evaluating multi tools, we look for options that will meet different budgets without sacrificing on construction quality or design.

If you have the budget, you’ll generally be happier with some of the pricier multi-tools. If you don’t have that luxury and need to get the best bang for your buck go for the multitool that wins the Best Value award: the Gerber Suspension Multi-Plier. It compromises on weight and size, but features high quality materials and craftsmanship as well as a full feature set.

Gerber Suspension vs Leatherman Skeletool

Weight

Whether you’re an ultralight backpacker or car camper, a heavier multi-tool is less comfortable to carry in your pocket or pack. However, larger tools and higher quality materials typically add weight.

The right multi tool will strike a balance between being lightweight and having a full set of high quality tools. This is why it’s important to start by considering how you’ll be using your multi-tool.

Heavy-duty handyman work or house chores will put a beating on any tool, and having something durable will be more important than lightweight. On the other hand, if you strap on a pack and head into the backcountry, and you’ll regret every ounce you could have saved.

Portability

A multitool should not only be lightweight enough to carry, but also comfortable and accessible. There are a variety of carrying methods including pocket clips, lanyards, keychains, and sheaths.

An ultra compact multitool will be easy to carry, making it a perfect choice for emergency and first aid purposes on a keychain or small kit. Full-size features are useful for frequent use though, and a slim profile helps make the most of your tool without being too bulky to carry in your pocket. 

The Leatherman Skeletool is a perfect example of a highly portable full-size multitool.

Construction Quality

Quality of materials and craftsmanship vary across brands, as well as across models of the same brand. Hinges, tool locks, blade quality, and plier precision are all good features to look for when evaluating quality.

A high quality multitool will also “feel” solid in your hand. Miniature and ultralight tools such as the Gerber Dime and Squirt PS4 are not as sturdy as their larger counterparts. The Victorinox SwissTool, Supertool 300, Charge+ TTi, Skeletool, and Wave+ are all of very high quality material, and their tight tolerances and smooth function are immediately noticeable.

Squirt PS4 vs Wave

Ergonomics

A multi-tool with poor ergonomics will be unpleasant to use as well as impractical. Good ergonomics include a comfortable handle, accessible tools, and easy-to-use functions.

One-handed opening is a highly useful feature for those times when you don’t have your other hand available. Many multitools will have one-handed access for either the pliers or all other tools, but not both. The Leatherman Wingman has one-handed opening of the primary blade and scissors on the outside, but the pliers, screwdrivers, and other tools require two hands to access. The Wave+, Skeletool, Charge+ TTi, Gerber Suspension, and Center Drive also have primary blades and/or saws accessible with one thumb.

Leatherman Charge+ One-handed Access vs SuperTool 300

Tools Locks

Many multitools have some sort of tool lock, however be wary of those that don’t because this is an important safety feature to have.

A good locking mechanism will keep the tools in place when opened or closed. Some only lock the knife blades, while many have a locking mechanism on each individual tool.

Some cheaper multi tools lack a full hard lock and instead use a pressure-type lock. Pressure locks just help hold the tools in place and don’t necessarily ensure that they’re fully locked in place, so use caution with this type.

Jaw Style

Backpackers have unique preferences when it comes to multitool jaw style. Every folding multitool is designed around the pliers and it’s important to choose the right style to get the most out of your tool.

Flat Jaw multi tools are short and stubby. These powerful jaws are great for high grip strength, but may not be so great at delicate tasks like fishing and backpacking require.

Needle Nose pliers are thin and slender, which is better at working in small areas or with delicate tasks. These are a great option for campers, backpackers, and fishermen.

Multitool Jaw Styles

Sheaths

Many multitools come with sheaths that help carry your tool comfortably or at least protect it and keep it clean. Pocket multitools do not need sheaths as long as they aren’t constantly in dirt or mud.

Depending where you store or carry your multi-tool, you may decide whether or not to use a sheath. A metal multitool tossed into a pack without a sheath may scratch other items. Belt sheaths are great for full-size multitools, and for backpacking you can simply attach them to a shoulder strap or hip belt so it’s easily accessible on the trail.

Since many multitools come with keychain rings or pocket clips, a sheath is only one option you can choose from. Decide how you want to carry your multitool, and whether a sheath may or may not work for you.

CONCLUSION

A good multitool can last you for a lifetime, so picking the right one is a big decision and one that’s unique to you. Deciding how and where you’ll be using your multitool (as well as your budget) will help ensure you choose the right one, but it’s not uncommon to own several multitools that specialize in different niches.

There are plenty of options available, whether you want a balanced do-everything multi tool or several highly specialized tools. Start with one of our recommendations above and you’re sure to enjoy your multitool for years to come. And be sure to properly maintain your multitool. Let us know your thoughts or questions in the comments below!

See you out there!

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