Emergencies can come up unexpectedly. Whether you’re driving to work, cycling to exercise, out in the woods, or living your everyday life, problems can be fixed if you’re prepared and have the right tools on hand.
Multi-tools are known for their efficiency, convenience, versatility, and overall function to solve daily life problems. And today, there are so many types of multi-tools available that can help you with tasks that you encounter most often. However, if you don’t do your research properly, you may end up buying the wrong type of tool. So what multi-tool will best suit your needs?
When choosing a multi-tool, know your purpose first. Then, check the different types— from regular, to folding, one-piece, credit card, down, or keychain multi-tools. It’s also vital to ensure that it has knives, screwdrivers, pliers, scissors, and wrenches, especially if it is your first tool.
In this article, we will discuss the different types of multi-tools and their components. We have also included some advantages of multi-tools over single-use items for you to know when looking for a tool.’
Are you looking for a multi-tool that can fit your needs? Check out our article “Best Camping Multi-Tools,” in which we have summarized and reviewed the top-performing brands —Leatherman, Victorinox, and SOG— and their products.
6 Types of Multi-Tools
Multi-tools carry multiple features. Apart from convenience and efficiency in fixing unexpected problems, they are the right tools to replace your set of traditional (single) tools. The different types of multi-tools are keychain, regular, folding, credit card, EDC, and one-piece. Let’s check them one by one.
But before we discuss them, let’s summarize what a multi-tool is.
A multi-tool is the right replacement for a set of traditional tools. They are devices that provide multiple functions. They are composed of different parts, such as scissors, knives, wrenches, can openers, and more. Additionally, they enable you to carry more items without adding much weight.
- Keychain multi-tool
If you want to carry lightweight and handy tools with you, a keychain multi-tool is a great option since it’s efficient in portability. This small multi-tool is easier to carry and hide in public.
Also, it can conveniently fit inside your pocket and doesn’t take extra room in your backpack because it’s designed to be attached, which is highly favorable for hikers or campers who are always in need of a lightweight multi-tool device on hand.
Although, make sure to practice using your keychain tool a few times before taking it with you on an adventure since smaller tools aren’t easy to use at first.
- Regular multi-tool
A regular multi-tool is a small yet efficient tool that comprises multiple features. Each tool is properly sized and designed to suit its purpose. At times, it’s hard to find the specific tool for your need, so a regular multi-tool is your best asset, particularly outdoors. Plus, a regular multi-tool typically features a foldable design that makes it possible to fit it inside your rucksack.
Hence, regular multi-tools benefit campers, hikers, and hunters who are always on the go and need to be ready for unexpected situations. Additionally, a multi-tool is a great purchase for folks who don’t want to buy separate tools for each task.
- Folding multi-tool
Adjustable or folding multi-tools are probably some of the most popular tools on the market. Although folding multi-tools covers many options, their best feature is that they can be folded due to collapsible pliers when using the handles.
These multi-tools can be swiveled up together to take up minimum space when not in use. These are perfect for everyday carry, no matter what you are doing or where you are headed.
This type of multi-tool consists of multiple sturdy built-in tools, including large scissors, wrenches, and handy pliers. Most folding tools also include a locking mechanism to avoid accidents since these accessories have to be folded in place when not in use.
- Credit card multi-tool
Some tools are bulky and you might not always have room to carry them all the time. However, a credit card multi-tools will get the job done. With these, turn your wallet into a fully functional device. These tools include a saw, knife, ruler, bottle opener blade, small wrenches, and much more in a conveniently-sized package that perfectly fits in your wallet.
Since you can tuck the multi-tool inside your wallet, you’ll be able to retrieve it in a matter of seconds in a difficult situation. But, we recommend not to use this type of tool for camping or outdoors.
Most credit card multi-tools have an odd-shaped design and take a long time to get used to. But, these credit cards can be useful in EDC situations.
- EDC multi-tool
EDC (everyday carry) tools come in a variety of shapes. These tools can be customized or made to match a credit card. Thus, you have different tools sliding in and out of their compartments.
Among the different types of EDC cards, you can find survival cards, which normally are made of strong metals. They can fit in any wallet or pocket, just like a credit card tool. However, survival cards are specifically designed for certain situations. Thus, these tools won’t offer multiple utilities other than what they are made for.
- One-piece multi-tool
This product is probably the most lightweight and least complex multi-tool option out there. This simple accessory consists of nothing more than a small piece of steel that has been shaped to combine several common tools in one cohesive form.
This type of tool commonly features components that you can use for prying or opening bottles.
You can check out some high-quality multi-tools from these popular manufacturers:
- SOG specialty knives
The moment you decide to buy a multi-tool, you need to figure out what multi-tool is best going to fulfill your needs. Consider one that can serve your daily requirements or that you can perhaps carry along on a camping trip. In addition to these, there are 15 more factors to consider when buying a multi-tool that you need to know.
With so many manufacturers and styles, you can’t easily decide. But when it comes to buying your first tool, remember its purpose and where you’re going to use it.
Also, make sure that your tool kit has the following essential components:
- A knife
Your multi-tool must include at least one knife. While a straight-edge knife is the most versatile, you may also benefit from a serrated design. A knife is an important tool that you can use in expected situations and for several tasks such as cutting ropes, loosening stuck objects, opening boxes, or cooking, to name a few.
Another important component when looking for a multi-tool is pliers, which you can use for removing tacks and nails, bending wires, and holding objects firmly. A set of pliers is as important as carrying a knife.
- A screwdriver
All multi-tools on the market include at least one screwdriver. A flat-head screwdriver is enough for most tasks, but you can also benefit from other types.
Screwdrivers come in handy for loosening and tightening screws. We suggest not to use them for any other purpose.
Despite the fact that scissors are too small to do most tasks, they are an important tool to have when outdoors. It can cut and tear paper, remove strings, and trim fingernails.
- Bottle opener
A bottle opener is a tool used to remove metal caps from bottles; just like other multi-tools come with corkscrews to remove plastic stoppers or corks from wine bottles. Any multi-tool worth its value should have a bottle opener.
Five advantages of choosing a multi-tool over single-use tools
- Carrying capacity
A major advantage of a multi-tool is that it carries more than one tool and fits in your pocket or backpack. On the other hand, single-use tools become heavy after extended use. Each tool adds up in weight and it will eventually be too heavy to carry them around while you’re hunting or out in the woods. For that, multi-tools are ideal for hunters and campers because they don’t overload your carrying capacity. They are also great for those who go on long trips.
Multi-tools are known for their efficiency. They allow you to carry multiple tools conveniently. With such, they enable users to come up with a quick solution to their problem, securing their safety outdoors.
One should emphasize the importance of being prepared and having the right tools on hand.
If you’re a backpacker who wants to carry a lightweight tool, then multi-tools could be your best bet. Single-use tools are useful but can take up a lot of space in your backpack when you go on a trip. Besides, it will take a lot of time to organize your single-use tools. Hence, multi-tools are great because they offer multiple functions in one small object.
Paying for single-use tools is expensive as all tools combined can add up to hundreds of dollars if they’re of high quality. Hence, multi-tools are great for people on a budget. You only have to pay for one multi-tool, and they are usually available at a modest price. Considering that you get multiple tools in just one object, they’re a great value.
- Save time
A multi-tool is an effective solution to all of your daily life problems. On the contrary, carrying around a full toolbox is not practical if you’re traveling, camping, or hunting. A multi-tool is indeed easy to access and is a relatively quick way to take care of emergency situations.
Just like any other camping equipment, you need to properly maintain your multi-tool if you want it to last. To help you with this task, follow our guides on how to clean a multi-tool and how to oil a multi-tool.
Tons of multi-tools are available on the market today. However, when looking for a multi-tool, it is important to know what you’re looking for and align it based on the type of work you need it for— whether it be for outdoor activities, survival scenarios, maintenance, or personal reasons. Hence, choose the one that works best for you.