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Every handyman or shade-tree mechanic has experienced the frustration of not having the right tool for the job. It may come at a time when you need to make some impromptu repairs to your car and you're miles from home … after all, a knife can't tighten bolts. Or maybe you need to saw through a small branch to build a fire. It could even be a situation where a can of food needs opening or wires need to be crimped. Ever try doing that with your bare hands?

These situations are where a multi-tool truly shines. While it doesn't replace full-sized tools, a folding tool with pliers, screwdrivers, a knife, or possibly a file and a variety of other tools tucked into one package may allow you to make these repairs. For example, a multi-tool sits in the CIA's closed-to-the-public museum. A CIA medic briefly carried it in Afghanistan and amputated three lower legs with it. In austere conditions, a little tool like this with a lot of options can go a long way.

Like most other survival tools, a multi-tool has to fit your lifestyle. It's got to be there when you reach for it in your pocket, bug-out bag, or truck console, and carried with you on a regular basis just as you would your cell phone or car keys. Think about the tasks you'd need to perform in an emergency or struggled with in the past. Base your tool selection on these criteria. There are tons of options out there and, while you might think some of the components of a multi-tool are impractical, it's often better to have it and not need it than … well, you get the picture.

To help you find the tool that best fits your needs, here's a closer look at seven versatile multi-tools on the market today.


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