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) it can be somewhat impractical — adding unnecessary weight with something you’ll rarely get full use out of during the day.
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 of us in this group, there are compact multi-tools, which provide excellent utility with significantly minimized size and weight. To that end, we’ve selected a handful of great compact multi-tools — many of which are small enough to fit on your keychain and/or carabiner — that is convenient for everyday carry.
Best OverallLeatherman FREE T4 Read More
Best Keychain Multi-ToolGerber Dime Read More
Best Swiss Army KnifeVictorinox Swiss Army MiniChamp Alox Read More
Best ScissorsLeatherman Micra Read More
Best DriverGerber Armbar Drive Read More
Leatherman Free T4
Leatherman’s Free series comes with a major upgrade: internal magnets that allow for easy one-handed use. If the novel concept is best exemplified in its full-sized P2 multi-tool, then it’s best distilled in the T4. Think of the T4 like a Swiss Army Knife; it has spring-loaded scissors and tweezers in addition to a knife, pry tool, awl, bottle opener, screwdrivers and more. They all fit into a pocketable package that weighs just 4.3 ounces.
- Number of Tools: 12
- Weight: 4.3 ounces
- Closed Length: 3.6 inches
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. Even so, it boasts an impressive array of tools, including 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. In this price range, there are bound to be a few drawbacks; the Dime’s tools don’t open as smoothly as other multi-tools, meaning you really have to dig your fingernails to access them. But the positives easily outweigh the negatives.
- Number of Tools: 12
- Weight: 2.2 ounces
- Closed Length: 2.75 inches
Victorinox Swiss Army MiniChamp Alox
You’ve seen the classic red Swiss Army knives, but Victorinox’s Alox collection is on another level. The is made of embossed aluminum, finished with a special corrosion-resistant treatment. It’s ridiculously lightweight, and the shiny silver color is an attention-grabbing feature not seen in most multi-tools. If you’re looking to adorn your keychain with a and don’t need something you’re going to use daily, this one’s for you.
- Number of Tools: 15
- Weight: 1.4 ounces
- Closed Length: 2.28 inches
In the same way that Kleenex is associated with tissues, the name Leatherman is inextricably linked with excellent multi-tools. No one makes ’em better. The Micra is arguably Leatherman’s greatest mini multi-tool. It’s no bigger than a disposable lighter yet functions (and looks) much like Leatherman’s larger multi-tools. The opening action is clean and satisfying; the scissors are sharp and spring-loaded; the nine other tools are useful for most people’s everyday needs. If we were to pick one standout feature, though, it's the Micra’s simple shape. Perfect rectangles are meant for keychains… and they’ll never go out of style.
- Number of Tools: 10
- Weight: 1.8 ounces
- Closed Length: 2.5 inches
Gerber Armbar Drive
One of Gerber’s latest multi-tools, the Armbar Drive, riffs on the typical butterfly format with a rectangular shape that, like some of the others on this list, calls to mind a Swiss Army Knife. The tool comes with a 2.5-inch blade, Phillips and flathead screwdrivers, scissors, an awl, a hammer and a bottle opener. For many, that’s more tools than necessary, but they all fit neatly into a 3.6-inch package that only weighs 3.1 ounces. (Pro tip: if you know you’re never going to use an awl, opt for the similar Armbar Cork, which includes a wine key instead.)
- Number of Tools: 7
- Weight: 3.1 ounces
- Closed Length: 3.6 inches
The James Brand Halifax
If you ever want proof that there's beauty in simplicity, turn to The James Brand's Halifax keychain multi-tool. This miniature one-piece implement is made from nigh-indestructible billet titanium, which makes it both remarkably tough and ultralight (it's actually the lightest on our list by a wide margin) — perfect for keychain carry. Yet it still comes with four (or more) functions, including working as a driver, pry bar, bottle opener and more. Plus, you can have it in silver or black — two of the most universal colorways, especially for everyday carry gear.
- Number of Tools: 4
- Weight: 0.38 ounces
- Length: 2.875 inches
The Gerber Shard has been around for more than a decade now and it still ranks amongst the best pieces of everyday carry ever conceived for numerous reasons. For starters, it is dirt-cheap — clocking in at under $10 even now. Furthermore, despite that bargain-bin price, you still get your hands on six integrated tools that include a bottle opener, a trio of drivers, a pry bar and more. And that's all in a package that's so incredibly lightweight and space-saving that it can fit on any keychain, even if you're already hauling a full load of keys and accessories. Our one complaint: the bottle opener tends to snag on things a bit, so you'll want to watch out for that.
- Number of Tools: 6
- Weight: 0.6 ounces
- Length: 2.75 inches
Leatherman Style PS
As a general rule, most multi-tools are not TSA-friendly — a side-effect of many of them coming with knife blades. But Leatherman built the Style PS specifically with the goal of making it TSA-compliant, and that gives this particular keychain multi-tool a pretty big leg-up. Along with coming in two handsome colorways, it also comes with nine integrated tools that range from pliers to a built-in carabiner for easier carrying. And like everything Leatherman makes, it has a 25-year guarantee, making this a tough one to beat.
- Number of Tools: 9
- Weight: 1.58 ounces
- Closed Length: 2.9 inches