Carrying a full-sized multi-tool every day might work if you’re a forest ranger, a tradesman or a full-time fly fisherman, but for the rest of us who have to get at least a little gussied up for work, it’s just impractical — adding unnecessary weight with something you’ll rarely get full use out of during the workday. That said, you don’t want to be completely unprepared for the unexpected inconvenience or repair that requires a bit more than good intentions.
For those people, there are compact multi-tools, which provide excellent utility with significantly minimized size. We’ve selected a handful of great compact multi-tools that are actually convenient for everyday carry.
Best for Cracking Cold Ones: The Dime measures in at a mere 2.75 inches fully closed, which means you can attach it to your keychain or throw it in your pocket without worry. For something this small and light, it boasts an array of tools that includes real pliers, spring-loaded scissors, screwdrivers and a nifty blade that’s designed to slice open plastic clamshell packaging as smoothly as a chef’s knife on tuna. Best of all is the bottle opener that’s at the ready without opening the tool at all. That makes us very thirsty, indeed.
Number of Tools: 10
Materials: 3Cr13 Stainless Steel
Weight: 2.2 ounces
Leatherman Style PS
Best for Easy Carry: The Style PS weighs in under two ounces and measures under three inches. It boasts daily-use tools like spring action standard and needle-nose pliers in one unit, along with scissors, wire cutters, tweezers and the brilliantly practical carabiner attachment that clips to keys, belt loops and bags with equal ease. Leatherman has also given it knife-grip properties with glass-filled nylon handles, and since there’s no blade to worry about, it’s TSA compliant. Just don’t try to cut fruit with the scissors like some meticulous fool.
Number of Tools: 8
Materials: Stainless Steel with Glass-Filled Nylon Handles
Weight: 1.58 ounces
Best for Max Leverage: The Crosscut is designed to be small, light and precise, but it’s no wimp. Its closed length is 2.5 inches, but inside it harbors a brilliant Compound Leverage that uses multiple pivots for maximum leverage, so you don’t have to brutalize your fingers to make stuff happen. It comes with tools like spring-loaded scissors, a knife blade, screwdrivers, tweezers with nail file and cleaner, pick and a convenient ruler.
Number of Tools: 9
Materials: 420 Stainless Steel
Attachment: Lanyard Hole, Keychain
Weight: 1.7 ounces
Best Featherweight: Gerber’s second tool in this list is minimalist but useful. The Curve is a small titan, and within its small and super-light housing are four locking tools that include a sharp plain edge blade, two screwdrivers and a file. It’s also a complete steal at under $10. The fact that its built-in carabiner clip can also be used as a bottle opener is all the more reason you’ll be loved at happy hour — coupled with your great personality, of course.
Number of Tools: 5
Materials: Stainless Steel
Weight: 0.8 ounces
Best for Versatility: The Micro-Max has more tools than any sub-two-inch multi-tool has a right to (19). A hand drill and hex wrenches? Yes, and yes. It also comes with pliers, a bottle opener, rulers, wire stripper and crimper and six screw drivers — all with quick-release and self-locking features. It’s so versatile, you’ll find yourself looking for problems to fix.
Number of Tools: 19
Materials: Stainless Steel
Weight: 3.02 ounces
Leatherman Squirt PS4
Best Luxury Option: Sure, it might be on the pricey side for a small tool, but the fact that the PS4 is one of the most revered small multitools on the market today means it’s well worth the money. Built like a tiny tank, the 2.25-inch (closed) PS4 has spring-action pliers and scissors, as well as a plain-edge blade that nearly negates the need for an EDC knife. It also has aero-space grade aluminum handles that reduce weight to a convenient 2 ounces.
Number of Tools: 9
Materials: 420 HC Stainless Steel, 6061-T6 Hard-Anodized Aluminum
Weight: 2 ounces
Best for the K.I.S.S. Enthusiast: If a good blade and simple utility is what you’re looking for, then the Clipitool is an ideal choice. It has a larger, 2-inch plain edge blade — way bigger than most mini multi-tool knives. On the opposite side of the business end is a combination bottle opener and flat-blade screwdriver. There’s nothing complicated about it, but it can get you both out and into trouble when those bottles you keep opening start making choices for you.
Number of Tools: 3
Materials: Stainless Steel Handle, 8Cr13MoV Stainless Steel Blade
Weight: 1.9 ounces