best hiking multitool – 3 essential tips

guest post by Morry Banes

Morry-Knows-Multitools-Logo-copy654There is a sweet spot in packing for your hike that’s just there between having too much stuff on you and not having enough to be comfortable. Finding this sweet spot is all about getting that balance right between the weight and bulk of the stuff you need to carry and their flexibility and usability.

Today, we are going to look into choosing the best multi tool for your needs. These small sidekicks can weigh as little as one standalone tool and can include up to 20.

But how do you know which one of these babies to choose if you decide that you want it?

A smart decision will call for looking beyond the stars and sparkles. Believe me, anybody who owns a multitool will tell you that the 80-20 rule applies here as well – 80% of the time you will be using 20% of the tools included. If you do the research yourself and read some multi tool reviews, you’ll get to the same conclusion.

So, here is what we are going to do here:

•    show you how to look past the advertising tricks and know which are the pieces that you will get the most use of

•    make sure that you are getting a quality tool that you’ll likely pass on to your family
Enough small talk, let’s talk some specifics:

In a highly competitive market there’s a lot of advertising tricks that can deter your attention from what’s important. So, let me give you some tips on how to avoid that.

Tip 1.    Versatility of a multitool

It’s easy to get distracted by the shine, the toothpicks and whatnots when looking at a multitool. A year later, you’ll find yourself looking at pieces that are there but have never been used. Oh, yes, and you paid for them…so, let’s get our essentials right and let’s spare you of those mistakes.
If you are a hiker, just make a mental checklist and look for a multi tool that will include:

•    well-made sturdy pliers and solid wire cutters
•    stainless steel blades, regulars and serrated ones
•    two types of screwdrivers (regular and Philips)
•    can and bottle opener

Chances are high that you’ll be needing most of these. For everything else just ask yourself if you see them being regularly used. Like a toothpick…or that flimsy small scissors? Or the nail clipper?

Tip 2.    Quality of the materials

Ah, quality, a word that’s so easy to throw around. Of course, every company will say that their product is of “highest quality”. But this is such a vague statement and before you know it you find yourself in a clutter of products that all claim to be of “high quality”.

Let’s cut through that clutter here and really learn what’s quality when it comes to multitools – it’s not that complicated after all:

Sub-tips within the tip 2:

What’s quality when it comes to individual pieces?

•    420 stainless steel, if compared size for size, is much stronger than titanium, and it’s an alloy of steel that has very little chromium (just 12%). In plain terms – it will not break and will last much longer

•    When I said pieces in the tip above I meant everything except the blades – 420 steel is a solid choice and included in most multi tools, but there is something better when it comes to the blades and that’s the 154CM steel. This alloy of steel will hold its edge much longer without the need for sharpening.

•    Titanium, in spite of the fact that it’s not as strong as 420 steel will be better for the handles because it will not corrode or rust

So, if you are looking for a multi tool that will likely last you a lifetime, look for these materials. I hope that makes it clear what “quality” is, and you can now look through the advertising shenanigans.

Some of these shenanigans, as far as I am concerned, are terms like:

•    dye-coat steel – which is a different way of saying “it’s not really stainless steel, we just paint so it looks like it is”…

•    “titanium coated” – this one is my favorite because it looks so good and shiny and it’s very hard to resist. Titanium coating will keep the corrosion off for a while until the coating wears off, and your tool starts to rust (usually about the time you warranty expires).

Tip 3.    Safety

This one is simple, read through the reviews and look for a piece that users report can be safely deployed using one hand.

When I say “safely” I mean without cutting yourself. This is not the biggest deals because any piece that meets the criteria we have set in Tip 1 and 2 will be designed smartly so that you can have the multiple pieces open and still use the multi tool safely.

And yes, look for a multi tool that features safety locks.

Final thoughts

If you are a hiker, it’s very likely that the less-is-more rule applies when you are choosing your multitool.
Everything I said here is aimed at you getting the biggest bang for your buck. The last part of the equation are your needs.

So, by all means, do your research, read multi tool reviews, read what other people say, think about how your experiences compare to those of other consumers and then make a calm controlled decision about the best multi tool for yourself.

If anything I said here sticks and helps in the process, the time sharing my experiences could not be better spent.

Stay safe

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