Rebar and Free K series Rebar and Free K series

Multitool vs Pocketknife

Multitool vs Pocketknife

We know many Leatherman fans choose to carry both a full-sized multi-tool and a dedicated pocketknife. That way they’ll be ready for anything.

But what if you are looking for a lighter everyday carry? We think there are a couple of great options if you don’t want to carry both a full-sized multi-tool and a pocketknife.

This article explores the benefits and drawbacks of multi-tools vs. pocketknives, so you can make the choice that’s right for you.

Signal on a log and disassembling a component

all things multi-tool

Tim Leatherman created the world’s first pliers-based multi-tool in 1983. Before then, existing multi-tools like scout-type knives or Swiss Army knives were very limited in function. In fact, it was a trip across Europe that inspired Tim to create the original Pocket survival Tool. Tim realized that he needed more than what was available at the time.

Since 1983, Leatherman has been innovating multi-tools for decades (40 years and counting). But almost all of our multi-tools start with a pair of pliers and include various sizes of screwdrivers, openers, and other implements. And almost all of them include at least one blade. We designed some multi-tools with specialized features for specific industries. Think First Responders and construction workers. Others multi-tools were created for specific activities. The Signal®, for example, is the perfect outdoor essential. And the MUT® is ideal for maintaining military gear.

We also offer simple multi-tools which we think of as a pocket-knife plus. The focus of these tools center on the blade, but have at least one other feature to make them more practical and useful. And in the case of the FREE® Series, they use an innovative magnetic architecture to make them move smoothly and open easily.

Not sure which one to pick? Or if you should have both? Read on to see the pros and cons of both types.

multi-tool pros

  • Full-sized multi-tools come with a wide variety of blades, including straight edges, serrated, and dedicated saws. Plus, most of them are outside accessible which means you can open and lock the knife with your thumb, similar to a standard pocketknife, to make quick cuts easy.
  • They include other crucial tools like pliers, bit drivers, and files.
  • Carry them however you want with pocket clips, sheaths, or lanyards.
  • There are a wide variety of styles, features, and price points.

multi-tool cons

  • Full-sized multitools can be a bit heavy for some people to carry around every day.
  • If it is your only cutting tool, a multi-tool might not be comfortable to hold in the hand for long periods of time for knife work.
  • Fewer steel and material options.
  • Some multi-tools have blades that are only accessible by opening the tool.

K series knife being used on paracord, crawdad wielding a skeletool kbx

all things pocketknives

Lightweight and portable, pocketknives are one of the most common everyday carry items, alongside phone, wallet, and keys. From cutting rope to slicing an apple, a pocketknife comes in handy in multiple ways every single day.

knife pros

  • Slimmer profile and lightweight for comfortable carry.
  • A variety of blade shapes to choose from.

knife cons

  • Even the best knife is still… just a knife.
  • Life presents a wide range of tasks that a knife can’t cut. Anyone who has broken their knife blade trying to pry something open or dulled their blade too quickly just opening boxes can relate.

how to choose?

We think there are a couple of great options if you don’t want to carry both a full-sized multi-tool and a pocketknife. This include choosing one Leatherman that doubles as a go-to blade, what we’re calling the Best of Both Worlds Approach.

Alternately you might pair a smaller multitool with a dedicated pocketknife.

option #1: best of both worlds approach


Skeletool on a table with blade out

A pocket-sized multitool like the Skeletool® has a slimmer profile and only the most essential tools like a 420HC combo blade, pliers, and a bit driver. With the Skeletool, you’ll have a sharp blade at the ready along with the most commonly used features on a multi-tool. The Skeletool includes a pocket clip. For some people, this minimalist multi-tool is all the EDC they’ll ever need.

If you prefer a straight blade, check out the Skeletool CX.


K4 with all tools extended

The FREE K4 is a knife-based multi-tool. The large, 3-inch 420HC steel straight blade is capable of most cutting tasks. But in the handle are 8 additional tools like a package opener, pry tool, awl, screwdrivers, and scissors. This would be a good option for those who want more capability than a pocketknife, but don’t see the need to carry a set of pliers.

option #2: pocketknife + Multi-tool

If you would prefer to carry both a multi-tool and a dedicated pocketknife, we have some options that won’t weigh you down.

A good combo would be the Rebar® and a knife like the Skeletool® KBx.

rebar in a gloved hand

The Rebar is a pliers-based multi-tool with all the essential tools for everyday fixes and problem solving in a 6.7 oz package. It does include multiple blades, but due to the design these are not outside accessible. This is less of an issue if you complement it with a lightweight, simple pocketknife like the Skeletool® KBx.

skeletool kbx in a tackle box

The Skeletool® KBx keeps things simple with a 420HC combo knife blade and a bottle opener. We think of it as a pocketknife plus. Lock the knife blade into place and unlock to fold it away for a safer way to work. Use the replaceable pocket clip to make it easier to carry, or remove it if you prefer. Great for heavy-duty work or quick, everyday uses, it’s a versatile, high-quality pocketknife.

your call, boss

Whether you opt to carry a full-sized multi-tool, pocketknife multi-tool, or both, Leatherman has you covered. Check out our everyday essentials category for more options to build out your EDC.

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