by teddy cosco
Psychologist Abraham Maslow is famously quoted as saying that “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail”; if you have a selection of tools from which to choose, there’s often a better tool for the job. Multitools are no different.
I carry a Leatherman multitool every day, but I don’t carry the same one every day. Depending on where I am and what I’m doing, I’ll select a tool that is better suited to the job. There are several factors that determine which multitool will be best suited for the day at hand: tool selection, weight, local laws, and even color!
Here I outline three multitools that I use in three different EDC (everyday carry) scenarios: camping, urban, and travelling.
camping edc: signal®
In my humble opinion, the Signal is the best camping multitool out there. It has all the usual suspects that make Leatherman tools great, i.e. 420HC combo blade, pliers, etc. but there are a few features that make it particularly well-suited to being outdoors. The most obvious addition is the ferro rod, which can be used to strike a fire. By applying some downward pressure on the rod with the backside of the knife (or the saw), you’ll shoot 2,980ºC sparks at whatever kindling you have.
Equally well suited to emergency situations is the whistle. When you need to get someone’s attention at a distance, a whistle carries a lot farther than your voice, which can be the difference between being rescued, or not.
Closer to camp, the hammer is a great implement for driving pesky tent pegs into firm ground. I’ve also used the hammer to crush pine nuts as part of a rustic backcountry pesto!
Given my propensity to lose things, I thoroughly enjoy being able to use the carabiner to attach the Signal to a belt loop, my pack, or to my life jacket if I’m out on the water.
urban edc: skeletool®
At my day job as a professor, I sit at desk in a (tweed) blazer and drink coffee. Consequently, I want a tool that is going to be as lightweight as possible, but still covers off any common tasks, e.g. trimming errant threads on a shirt, and puts me in a position that prepares me for random ones, e.g. tightening a loose screw on wobbly chair. I don’t think I’ve ever opened as many letters/packages as I did during COVID and having the Skeletool on hand was ideal.
A feature I thoroughly enjoy with the Skeletool is that there’s no need to put the multitool in a sheath. You can use the pocket clip to put it at the ready in your pocket. (I actually keep one clipped to my briefcase when I’m in the office.)
In addition to function, the Skeletool also has the fashion part in spades with a range of different colors, from Blue to Coyote Tan. As such, if you are so inclined, you can match your multitool to your wardrobe.
travel edc: style ps®
Traveling outside of your home country can be tricky when it comes to multitools. Depending on how you’re traveling and where you’re going there may be restrictions that limit what you can bring.
Airlines generally have restrictions on knives, but this can also be nuanced. For example, when I travel domestically in Canada I can bring a knife of up to 6cm in my carry-on luggage, which is my preference, but if I fly to the states you can’t bring a knife of any length. As such, my go to is the Style PS, which doesn’t have a blade, so I can carry it in my pocket on the plane.
The Style PS does have a pair of scissors, so it ticks the box for a great deal of common tasks that I use a knife for, e.g. opening packages. One of the best features for a fairly uncoordinated individual such as myself, are the tweezers. From removing cactus spines to splinters, having a pair of tweezers to hand is incredibly useful. The carabiner is also very handy for carrying your keys or clipping to your belt loop.
so many ways to edc
Whatever it is you’re doing, there’s a Leatherman multitool that fits the bill. These are my three favorites, what are yours?
Teddy Cosco is an associate professor at Simon Fraser University, a passionate outdoorsman, enthusiastic home cook, and sometimes-lucky fly fisherman. Exploring the tundra via floatplane, fishing off the coast of Alaska and camping throughout Western Canada, he grew up with the outdoors in his blood. Follow @castandiron for adventure and recipe inspiration.