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.


  • Gerber Gear Center-Drive – Black

    Make & Model - Gerber Gear Center-Drive
    OAL - 6.6 inches open; 4.7 inches closed
    Materials - Blade made from 420HC steel
    Weight - 9.5 ounces
    MSRP - $146
    URL - http://www.gerbergear.com

    Like many of Gerber's offerings, this is unique.

  • Havalon Evolve

    Make & Model - Havalon Evolve
    OAL - 6.25 inches open; 4.5 inches closed
    Materials - 2Cr13 cast stainless steel pliers, 60A stainless steel replacement blades, stainless steel with scratch-resistant black Titanium Nitride coating.
    Weight - 6.4 ounces
    MSRP - $100
    URL - http://www.havalon.com

    Havalon's parent company makes scalpels for the medical industry and designed the Evolve for hunters seeking to carry its replacement blade technology.

  • Kikkerland Design Inc. Wood Axe Multi Tool

    Make & Model - Kikkerland Design Inc. Wood Axe Multi Tool
    OAL - 5.5 inches
    Materials - Beech wood and tool steel
    Weight - 9.5 ounces
    MSRP - $22
    URL - http://www.kikkerland.com

    Kikkerland Design produced this tool manufactured in China. It comes with 10 different functions sandwiched between two beech wood scales.

  • Kilimanjaro Gear Rappel II

    Make & Model - Kilimanjaro Gear Rappel II
    OAL - 6.375 open; 4.25 closed
    Materials - stainless steel
    Weight - 9.5 ounces
    MSRP - $33
    URL - http://www.kilimanjarogear.com

    Tucked within its body sits a bottle opener, can opener, three screwdrivers, a knife, two types of pliers and a file.

  • SOG Specialty Knives & Tools Baton Q2

    Make & Model - SOG Specialty Knives & Tools Baton Q2
    OAL - 6 inches open; 6.3 inches closed
    Materials - 5Cr15Mov blade and aluminum body
    Weight - 3 ounces
    MSRP - $67
    URL - http://www.sogknives.com

    Instead of folding up, SOG's Baton series stands out for, well, storing all their tools in a baton.

  • True Utility FIXR

    Make & Model - True Utility FIXR
    OAL - 3.27 inches
    Materials - 420 stainless steel
    Weight - 1.23 ounces
    MSRP - £15 (about $20)
    URL - http://www.trueutility.com

    The FIXR has a carabiner-type clasp that clips onto a set of keys, a backpack, or even a belt loop.

  • Victorinox Swiss Tool

    Make & Model - Victorinox Swiss Army Swiss Tool BS
    OAL - 6.625 inches open; 4.5 inches closed
    Materials - Black oxide steel
    Weight - 10.2 ounces
    MSRP - $185
    URL - http://www.swissarmy.com

    It's a tool made by a company that almost needs no introduction — a multi-tool manufacturer since 1897.

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