UPDATED w/new photos.
This post inspired by Ken Lane over at ‘Knuckledraggin’ My Life Away‘ by this post. Truth be told, he’s got way more multi-tools than I do (I’ve only got 5), which is testament to this small piece of equipment’s essential place with any NPT member, hunter, survivalist, hobbyist, home owner, or apartment dweller. I keep one in my car, and when I travel for business, I put one in the carry on. I never like to be without one. Ever.
An example of how handy they are: During my last hunt this year, I used my Leatherman Wave Bit Kit & Extender (makes the thing into a nice little wrench) to help two members of our party adjust and tighten up their bases & rings before they went to confirm zero at the local range. One guy had ‘star’ screws and the other standard allen wrench screws. Having the capability to take care of both was great! The only difference between mine and the one in the image is the sheath; mine is the older cordura model, which I happen to like better anyway, but everything else is the same. I’ve used the wrench feature quite a bit, in fact, much more than any other tool on it, save for the pliers, which also come in very handy, as anyone with a multi-tool can attest.
On my survival knife, I have a Leatherman Super Tool. It’s a monster, put together to withstand serious use/abuse. I’ve had it for about 6 years now, and it stays tight. I had been using the Wave on my survival knife, and was introduced to the Super Tool by reading the book, “Six Ways In, 12 Ways Out,” by George Jasper. You can see the book, here. It’s a great survival reference, and should be in your library, especially as it’s very inexpensive ($15 shipped), but I digress. The Super Tool is just a shade less versatile than the Wave (fixed bits, etc), but it is one of those things that provide peace of mind because you know it’s not going to break when you need it. The combination of a Wall Non-Standard 18 (14 Grind 7″ blade), the Leatherman, and a 6 inch ferro rod w/striker) packaged in a spec-0ps brand “Combat Master” sheath makes for a complete “worst case” package for first line gear (see pic below). The shorter Combat Master sheath works well for an Ek type knife, but if you have a 7 or 8 inch blade, you need the large one like I have. These things are a bit expensive (around $50), but are basically bomb proof, and will not require the care that a quality leather sheath would.
I’ve got two of these Spec Ops sheaths – they’re that good – the second one in OD Green carries a 1977 Camillus combat knife (a memento from the years teaching Air Base Ground Defense) and a Gerber 600. I have that in my ‘Get Home Bag’ against the need for a good fixed blade knife and a multi-tool. I also have a fire-steel set up in the sheath. You can see those, here. They’re worth the $20 you’ll pay for the item and shipping, believe me!
The other Gerber 600 is on my Randall 12-9 (14 Grind) sheath.
The sheath was made by Savage Sheaths out of Pennsylvania. Well worth the $60 I paid for the custom sheath. Here’s a pic of a similar model from Savage. Mine differs from his standard offering in that the pouch was custom fitted to my Gerber 600. And, for a leather sheath, this thing is extremely high quality. I had him send it ‘naked’ (no dyes) and then I took a heat gun and a jar of sno-seal and saturated the leather with it. It’s now a very dark brown, and I touch it up every couple years or so. I’ve had it submerged as well as just plain soaking wet in the bush, and it looks like it did the day I sno-sealed it:
As you can see, I favor the Leatherman and Gerber over other brands available. Your mileage may vary. For hardcore survival work, I prefer the Leatherman Super Tool with the Wave as a back up in my vehicle. For quick access, or field work such as executing a ‘get home’ trek, I favor the Gerber; it’s one handed opening feature comes in really handy in some circumstances. If I decide to strap on the Randall, a Gerber is nestled in its pouch.
I’m sure the other brands available are solid, but to me they seem to be out of balance when it comes to ROI (Return On Investment) for price and durability/versatility. The Leatherman and Gerber models above, at least for me, are heavy on the durability/versatility side when balanced against their price. The bottom line is that when in the field, training or not, even on a family camp out or day trip, it’s a wise move to have a good multi-tool in your bag, no matter what your choice. As in everything else, you will get what you pay for.
Might be another item to leave ‘gift idea’ hints out and about this time of year….