Best Survival Multitool for EDC and Outdoors

Folding plier multitools have been around for over two decades at this point, and knife multitool folders for over a century. Now, they are evolving to factor in survival tools. The best survival multitool doesn’t sacrifice quality for these capabilities but builds on quality instead. This is why quality and durability are so important to test- especially if you plan to rely on the tool in an emergency.

There are only a handful of brands and types to choose from when it comes to multitools that will actually hold up for a long period. Even still, you need to know what you can rely on when you need it most. This is where we come in. We’ve researched the best survival multitools, tested each of them, and now the results are in: the overall best, an everyday carry option, and an upgrade option. If you need a multitool that is as tough as you are, one of our suggestions will keep you on top of any situation.

Leatherman has been the brand to beat for a while now with its patented folding-plier multitools they launched back in 2000. Since their patent expired, there are plenty of companies that make solid multitools, but Leatherman simply has the track record and the experience of developing quality products on their side. The Signal is a great example of this, as they found a way to bring even more value to survival-minded operators. It has 19 tools available, including pliers, wire cutters, knife, saw, hammer, bottle and can openers, a diamond-coated sharpener, a screwdriver, an emergency whistle, and even a ferro rod.

Typically, you won’t find us recommending ‘survival combo gear’ as we usually see function and quality drop quickly when tools aren’t specialized. This tool flips our argument on its head, with all of the survival components easily holding their own. Pick up a Leatherman Signal and don’t look back- this thing will have you covered when SHTF.

The competition for the smaller EDC multitools was steep, but Gerber edged out the Leatherman for the top spot. The Dime is a substantial piece of hardware for its size and offers 12 tools on the go. It’s less than three inches when folded closed and weighs less than 3 ounces. Going much smaller than this to a mini multitool or a quad-fold, you’re going to sacrifice a lot of durability and strength.

The Gerber Dime is our new favorite for EDC after comparing all of the options, and it earned its place in our loadout. Grab a Gerber Dime for your EDC kit and you won’t regret it.

What tool would you take with you on a high-stakes mission that is life and death- not just for you but for your colleagues and entire blocks of towns? The MUT EOD fits this bill and is the tool of choice for Explosive Ordinance Disposal teams around the world and especially in the military. Not only is it bombproof, but this thing is simply the best multitool you will find period. The folding action of every single tool is smooth and predictable. All 17 tools use the best materials for the job, from the stainless body and carbon scraper to the titanium pocket clip.

The Leatherman MUT EOD is the magnum opus of multitools and is worth investing in as you’ll be able to hand it down through generations with its insane quality and robust engineering.

The Multitools We Compared

Our research narrowed the field down to the several multitool brands and types that we tested: Leatherman, SOG, Gerber, Stanley, Roxon, Powerbuilt, Mayday, Smith & Wesson, and more.

You can see our full list of review criteria below in the What to Look For section, with an explanation for each.

We did not consider any specialized tools, credit card ‘multitools’, or Swiss Army Knife type multitools to keep our review focused.

We’re always looking for new and better equipment, so if you have a multitool you swear by let us know in the comments. We review most of our tested gear annually, so we can always get it in the next roundup round and see if it makes the cut and we can see if it will beat out our top picks.

What to Look For

The best multitools have several important features to look for:

  1. Value
  2. Functionality
  3. Durability
  4. Size & Weight
  5. Versatility

When you get the right blend of these, you can find a truly reliable multitool that will keep you working through any situation. Below, we break down what each of these features means for a dependable tool that you can trust with your life:

Value: Cost vs. Benefit

The amount of money you spend on something like a multitool shouldn’t blow out your entire budget. Sure, they are ridiculously versatile and useful beyond preparedness, but that is no excuse to have a top-of-the-line multitool and absolutely no food storage. Budget according to your risk and your needs rather than just spending lavishly.

On the flip side, you don’t want to go too cheap. Inexpensive multi-tools are harder to use, are less durable, and have less versatility. If you are using your multitool as a survival situation backup tool, or just using it every day- you’ll want something that is built to last and includes tools that you will actually use.

You never want to spend too much money on one resource, especially something like a multitool. It’s better to diversify your tools and preparedness gear to make sure you are covered for a wide range of scenarios. There is a sweet spot where you get high value out of the best features with not-to-high of a price, which is where our top pick sits.


One downside to combination tools is that nothing is quite as effective as it would be if you had a collection of the same tools separately. It’s the ‘jack of all trades, ace of none’ problem.

That doesn’t have to be the case, though. With a solid mechanical design, high-quality tool parts, and a view for ergonomics, a multitool can be close to as efficient as a toolbox of cheap tools.

You’ll need the knife to work well and hold an edge, all of the folding components to be lockable and swing freely when unlocked, and the pliers to be ergonomically designed. Leaf springs need to be durable, and the overall weight should not be too heavy. With attention to details like these, you can find multitools that rival their single-tool counterparts.


The durability of a multitool is related to the materials used and the design. You may want to consider that you typically encounter a wide range of environments for survival, so cheap steel is probably not the way to go. You don’t want your tool rusting out within the first week.

Besides the multitool skeleton, the tool materials themselves can be important as well. Knowing the carbon content of your knife lets you know how you should maintain it and care for it and can help you predict how well it will hold an edge.

The spring, hinge, and other moving part materials and how they are engineered are a big factor in your tool’s durability. If there is excessive metal-to-metal contact with high friction, you’ll wear out parts very quickly.

Size & Weight

Size and weight can get out of hand quickly, as improving functionality, durability, and versatility typically make a multitool bulkier and heavier unless they are engineered to use higher cost (and lighter materials).

These considerations are more important for EDC, where you plan on carrying a multitool everywhere you go, and ounces matter. Still, a heavier multitool can be felt in a bug-out bag over long distances.

Lastly, heavier weight can give you hand fatigue as you are using the tool. On the flip side, having a tool too small to use with a palm grasp (quad-fold multitools) can be hell on your fingers.


Multitools are known for their versatility since that is the point of the tool itself. The more practical tools packed into a multitool, the better its versatility. If the tool doesn’t see a whole lot of use, if it isn’t used for an important task, or if it can be used by another tool- then it may not be worth it (bottle openers << pliers). Some of the better tools to look out for:

  • Knives
  • Saws
  • Pliers
  • Picks
  • Screwdrivers
  • Wire Strippers
  • Wire Cutters

A few progressive multitools offer specialized support for survival, including ferro rods, emergency whistles, etc.

How to Use a Survival Multitool

The Romans first started using folding spoon multitools close to 2,000 years ago, so they aren’t that difficult to use. You may need to get used to the locks on various multitools to use them more quickly.

Living Survival does an excellent job breaking down our top pick, and demonstrating how to use every component:

Who Needs a Survival Multitool?

Multitools are massively useful for a huge range of survival situations and everyday projects, and anyone with a thimble of ability can use one.

This is why you’ll find it suggested for almost every kit.

Multitools are essential for:

We suggest a multitool for these kits as well:

Of course, you can always use a multitool for things beyond emergencies and survival kits too- like rugged camping and bushcraft or just jobs around the home. We actually encourage it- don’t let it sit in your bags and kits without knowing how it works or how to use it properly.

How We Review Products: We research thoroughly before selecting the best products to review. We consult experts in the field for a better understanding of what makes the gear great. Hours on end are spent field testing gear in stressful conditions. We assign performance criteria and impartially rate each tested item. You can support us through our independently chosen links, which can earn us a commission at no extra cost to you. After our review process, some of the items reviewed end up in our giveaways.

Sources and References

All of our experience and the testing we do to determine the best multitool is useless without listing our research sources and references. We leaned on these for the book knowledge that we paired with our hands-on testing and practical military and prepping experience:

McIntosh, H. (1996). US5697114A Folding Multi-Tool. US Patent Office. Assigned to Leatherman Tool Group in 2000.

Sherlock, D. (1976). Roman folding spoons. Transactions of the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society. Volume 27, Issue 62, Pages 128-129.

The Final Word

Versatile tools can save you space, money, and time and a multitool is the most versatile tool there is. It’s one tool where you can get a return on your investment, and you see huge performance differences between cheap and expensive options.

To go along with a solid multitool, you should also consider a few other survival tools:

We presented quite a lot of information, but as always: if you have any questions let us know and we would be happy to help. Our research and testing found that the Leatherman Signal is the best option given its value, functionality, durability, size & weight, and versatility. If you pick up one of our suggested multitools- make sure you get it out and get to know how to use it before an emergency. Don’t let your gear sit in your kit without becoming familiar with it- use it for your next project around the house.

Keep exploring, stay prepared, and be safe.

source : Rusty Collins

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