13 Reasons To Carry A Multi-Tool for Survival

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By Bryan Lynch •  7 min read

First things first, the term multi-tool can be a general term. For the purposes of this article I am going to be speaking in terms of the two main kinds of multi-tools I use. Plier based multi-tools like the Leatherman SuperTool 300, Gerber Suspension, or the SOG Powerlock Series. And a Swiss Army Knife like the Swiss Champ.

As with many types of gear, multi-tools certainly have their avid followers as well as those that downright do not care for them. I for one have always loved this piece of gear and encourage others to try them out.

To that end I wanted to put together a list of my 13 reasons for carrying a multitool.

1. Versatility

Let’s go ahead and get the most obvious reason out of the way. Having one tool that is really 5, 10, 15 tools in one is pretty darn versatile. Yes, it is true that the attachments are not as strong as full-size tools. However, that is not why I use a multi-tool. I use it because it is a jack of all trades for light to medium-duty tasks. I mean, how much more versatile can it get?

2. Convenience

Alright, here is another obvious one. But the convenience of multitools really cannot be beat. Working in the maintenance field for years I was not always near my main toolbox. When something needed to be cut, tightened, loosened, or grabbed this tool was invaluable for quick fixes.

In certain situations, this tool can be a lifesaver in creating a temporary fix. This can give extra time to limp the broken object along until it can be properly fixed.

3. Price and Quality

One opinion that I hear often is that multitools are expensive. While a named brand, a quality multitool can be pricey, some can still be cheaper than buying quality full-sized tools for the same loadout. Additionally, many name brand multi-tools have become more affordable over the years.

4. More Acceptable to Carry

Leatherman surge can carve wood
The Leatherman Surge

There are many places where I would normally not carry full sized tools because, well, it would just be weird. I would feel more comfortable pulling out a multitool in the middle of a restaurant than wearing a fully stocked tool belt to dinner.

I know that example may sound a bit silly but in my experience it holds true. I have been to many formal and informal events where a quick fix was needed. Luckily, I was able to pull out my handy dandy multi-tool and save the day. Whereas I probably would have been denied access to the premises if I tried walking in with a utility belt around my waist.

5. Gear Repair

I have known more than a few outdoors people who are adamant in that they only need a good fixed blade or pocketknife while out in nature. When I was younger, I too believed in this way of thinking.

Do not get me wrong, knives are extremely versatile, and they are probably one of my favorite items to use and talk about. And while knives can certainly be used for repairing gear, a multi-tool able to accomplish more.

A few examples include

Using the best tool available for gear repair will better protect the tool and the item being worked on.

6. Storage

Sometimes I desire the access to certain tools but simply do not have the storage for them. Whether that be on my person, at work, in a vehicle or at home. Everyone’s storage availability is different. What takes up less space, a multitool in a belt pouch or 15 full sized tools?

7. For Travel

Nowadays, about the only form of travel where it would be acceptable to carry full sized tools is in a personal vehicle. Many people tend to travel by plane, train, boat, or bus.

I have used some of these modes of transportation and never once did I pack full size screwdrivers, saws, pliers, knives awls, can openers, bottles openers, files, or rulers into my luggage.

Having a multitool during a trip or while on vacation is mighty handy when the rest of your tools are hundreds or thousands of miles away.

8. A Safer Option

Some individuals just do not feel comfortable using full sized tools. Comfort is everything in accurately and safely using a tool.

One opinion I have heard over and over about multi-tools is that the user likes how the tools lock into place. This makes them more comfortable knowing that they can handle the tool more securely. If it can be fixed with a multi-tool, it just may be a safer option for the user.  

9. Easy to care for

I am a huge advocate for taking care of tools. That includes using them correctly, cleaning them, maintaining them, and proper storage.   In this respect, a multi-tool is simpler to care of. As my dad used to say, “Take care of your tools and they will take care of you.”

10. Ideal for Emergency Preparedness

I cannot be prepared for everything all the time; it is just not possible. However, as it pertains to tools, carrying a multi-tool allows me to be as prepared as possible almost anywhere I go.

This is particularly true when I am busily living life away from my main source of tools. Going to work, picking up milk at the grocery store or hanging out with friends and family during a weekend camping trip.

I have always lived by the mindset of “hope for the best but prepare for the worst.” Carrying a multi-tool on my belt gives me the opportunity to always be prepared, which offers me piece of mind.

11. Great Gear for Non-Tool People

This might seem counter intuitive, but I have met plenty of people that are just not into tools. Nor do they feel the need in having them stashed away in their vehicle or home because they “will never need them.”

Due to some of the reasons on this list, when I have offered a multi-tool as another option, individuals were more open to them. I think, primarily it had to do with its compact size.

You can almost forget about this tool when it is tucked away in a glove compartment, purse, backpack, or a kitchen drawer. This gives non-tool people the opportunity to help themselves during just in case scenarios.

12. A Great Companion to a Survival Knife

There are many ways in which survival knives are used that they probably shouldn’t be. When a knife is the only tool available and in survival situations, I can understand using a knife in this manner.

However, this risks the knife’s integrity and usability. Save your knife by adding a multitool to your loadout. A good multi-tool and knife create  what I would call the ultimate combination that can tackle any situation.  

13. Just For fun

Lastly, I find multi-tools enjoyable and almost fun to use. They are enjoyable because I do not always to stop what I am doing to walk out to the garage, or back to the truck to retrieve a tool.  

They are fun because I sometimes feel like a little kid. Looking around myself and wondering what I could take apart, fix, or modify with the assortment of tools on my belt.  Plus, they make for a good talking piece among friends, especially among those who enjoy one-upping one another.

Which Multitool?

There are a ton of multitools in the market. I covered my top picks in this article. Overall, Leatherman makes in my opinion the best products. Check out the Leatherman Surge and Wingman.

Calling it a Day

So, there you have it. My list of 13 reasons to carry a multitool. Feel free to sound off in the comment section below and share your reasons or favorite uses when it comes to carrying a multitool.

Bryan Lynch

Bryan grew up in the Midwest and spent every waking moment outdoors. Learning how to hunt, fish, read the land, and be self-reliant was part of everyday life. Eventually, he combined his passions for the outdoors, emergency preparedness, and writing. His goal was to spread positive information about this field. In 2019, Bryan authored the book Swiss Army Knife Camping and Outdoor Survival Guide. His second book, Paracord Projects For Camping and Outdoor Survival, is scheduled to be released on March 2, 2021.