What is a multi-tool? Why should you always keep a multi-tool on you when out bush, hiking, camping, 4WDriving or even just pottering around the house?
If you’ve ever needed to repair something during a camping or hiking trip but didn’t pack the right tool for the job and just thought, ‘if only I had a pair of pliers or a sharp knife within easy reach’, then the answer to your problems would have been a multi-tool. If you’d had a multi-tool, you’d have quickly fixed the problem and gotten back to enjoying your holiday, agreed?
Perhaps it’s time to consider the amazing benefits a multi-tool will add to your next camping or hiking trip?
What is a multi-tool?
A multi-tool is a single piece of camping and hiking equipment that has numerous functions. It’s cleverly built around a pair of compact stainless steel pliers, with other pullout tools neatly incorporated into the design:
- The pliers are either regular pliers or needle-nose pliers that are handy for tightening or loosening bolts, pulling out small nails and bending wires. The better quality multi-tool pliers also have built-in wire cutting and wire stripping functions.
- Almost every multitool has at least one sharp knife for cutting,with a safe, foldaway blade. A second serrated knife, wood saw or metal saw are also available on selected brands.
- For the handy bushman in you, another common multi-tool component is the screwdriver. Usually you’ll have both flat and Phillips head options – an important tool for those ‘fix it’ sessions on the road.
- Some multi-tools also contain a file suitable for filing down timber or metal. Plus if you ever need to measure a short distance there’s often a ruler incorporated into the extended length of your multi-tool.
- And where would you be without scissors to cut thin twine, fishing line, fingernails, material, paper and plastic. Neatly cutting open packets of food rather than ripping them with your teeth – it’s so much easier when you’ve got your handy multi-tool.
- Importantly, camp cooking and camp entertainment always benefit from your multi-tool’s can and bottle openers, respectively.
- Some multi-tools even include an awl (or hole punch)for putting holes in tough materials like leather or thick canvas, which is useful – we just don’t know when!
How to choose your multitool
Choosing the right multi-tool is a balance between:
- Finding a tool with the functions you need
- How compact and lightweight the tool needs to be
- Durability for years of use
- How safe they are to use as part of a multi-tool and, of course…
- How much you’re willing to spend.
Multi-tools can be an expensive purchase for young campers and, unfortunately, they’re also easy to lose. Therefore you need to weigh up the return-on-investment for your multi-tool.
Before you rush out and buy a multi-tool, I recommend you write down a list of what you want your multi-tool to do. Sometimes the higher number of functions is not as important as making sure you’ve got the right tool for your intended activities.
On the flipside, you may want a multi-tool that does everything so that you’re prepared for those “just-in-case” moments. Find out exactly what you need and want before you purchase your new multi-tool.
What to look for in a Multi-Tool
If you’re going to be applying pressure when you use the individual tools, in particular the blade, look to buy a multi-tool with a tool and/or blade-only locking mechanism. This will lock the blade safely in place so it won’t close without you releasing it.
Weight and Function
Second, consider the weight of the tool and how you’ll attach it to you or your gear. Where are you going to keep your multi-tool so it’s handy to grab when you’re on the road, camping or hiking?
If it’s a small multi-tool, a simple belt clip or lanyard ring will work to attach it to you or your backpack.
However if your multi-tool is larger and heavier, then it should be sold with a protective pouch made of durable material, such as leather or nylon, to attach to your belt.
If you’re going to keep your multi-tool in the glove box and don’t require a lightweight product, you may select a heavier multi-tool with more functions and greater strength.
The weight and ‘hand feel’ of your multi-tool is also important. Sometimes the trade-off for manufacturers is decreasing the comfort of the handle. The more tools added to the design, the more likely the handle to grasp the tool is more cumbersome.
How strong is the steel?
Third, for strength and rust-resistance, the type of stainless steel used is important. A higher price tag for a multitool, in many cases, relates to the better quality stainless steel it’s made out of. High quality stainless steel is extremely strong and resistant to corrosion (rust), however some lower quality stainless steels can occasionally succumb to the effects of salt and moisture, as well as weaken in structure.
Lastly, look for components of a multi-tool that do more than one thing, for example, the bottle opener arm may also be a flat head screwdriver or the can opener may also be a twine cutter. This versatility lends itself to a more compact multi-tool design.
Heading off for a camping trip soon, then why not browse Snowys huge range of multi-tools? There’s sure to be the perfect tool for your outdoor adventure needs – or for even just around the house! And remember, be prepared – a multi-tool will have you well on the way!
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