When I was a kid I thought Swiss Army knives were the coolest thing ever.
One of my friends had one. It contained everything from a screwdriver to a saw to a can opener and a toothpick. All those little fold-out bits and pieces fascinated me.
As a young teenager, I owned a Chinese-made knock-off Swiss Army knife that had about a million gadgets on it, none of which worked well. It still looked cool, though, except for the magenta plastic casing.
Come to think of it, the thing looked like a piece of garbage. Which it was.
I WAS SO STUPID WHEN I WAS A TEENAGER!!! HOW COME GOD LET ME LIVE???
Where was I?
Oh, right. Swiss Army knives.
The basic concept of a knife multi-tool is a good one; however, the typical low-end Swiss Army knife fails in one regard: it’s not that great a knife. It’s also not super-tough. I still like them – in fact, I bought one for my eldest son on his birthday – but I’d rather carry a standard little pocketknife like a Schrade or a Case. I do more cutting than toothpicking.
The best multitool I’ve come across was given to me as a gift by my father-in-law at least a dozen years ago. That tool is the Leatherman Wave. So… after 12+ years… I figure it’s definitely time to post a Leatherman Wave review.
I’ve used and abused this multitool for years and it’s almost as solid as the day I got it. I managed to chip the end off the knife blade (probably when I was trying to break my way out of that prison in Bogota) and the scissors aren’t working as well as they did when I first got my Wave; however, I’ve used this tool extensively so such failings are not a flaw of the design.
Because having a tiny took kit is very, very useful in a bug-out situation as well as in day-to-day life. As much as I like carrying just a simple pocketknife, I’m also a fan of the Wave for getting me through a pinch.
A few of the tasks I’ve used it for:
Sawing through rope
Pruning small branches
Sharpening other tools
Taking plant cuttings
Screwing in curtain rods
Prying things open
Starting a hole for a screw
It’s also got a nice heft that feels good in your fist. There have been times I’ve walked through an iffy neighborhood and appreciated the extra feel of metal in my pocket that could serve as extra weight to my swing if need be.
Fortunately, the need hasn’t been there, ’cause I would probably break my knuckles cracking this thing against someone’s face, but still… it’s nice to have when you’re not carrying your piece.
The bulkiness isn’t bad when you’re wearing a pair of jeans, but it’s a little much for slacks. At church I prefer to carry a small pocketknife instead.
My Leatherman Wave includes the following tools:
4 different-sized flathead screwdrivers
1 Phillips head screwdriver
1 pair scissors
1 can/bottle opener
1 circular hanging hole/fishing line tie
1 knife blade
1 serrated knife blade
1 saw blade
1 pair of pliers with wire cutters
Personally, I think the assortment of flatheads on my model is a little much. Perhaps a corkscrew or an awl. This isn’t a froo-froo tool, however, so perhaps the lack of a corkscrew is deliberate. My bet is that folks who carry Leatherman tools are much more likely to drink beer. Or bourbon.
(Apparently, the makers agree with me on the plethora of flatheads. I just looked up the new model and they’ve taken out two of the flatheads and added a tiny eyeglassses screwdriver and an interchangeable bit type head, as well as a fixed lanyard ring.)
The metal used for the Leatherman Wave is a high-quality stainless that holds a good edge and takes a lot of wear.
As a bonus, the Leatherman company has a 25-year warranty on their tools. You can mail them your tool and they’ll fix anything that breaks on it… and trust me, it’s hard to really break these things. They’re really tough.
The downside? This tool is expensive at a price of just under $90.00.
Since it’s made in the USA and is practically indestructible, I understand why – it’s just a hard pill to swallow for those of us used to crummy and cheap Chinese products.
Welcome to the new economy.
As a long-time user of this tool, I recommend it highly as an addition to your car, bug-out bag, or as a daily carry. For tradesmen it’s a particularly useful tool.