Multitools comes in a vast variety of shapes and sizes and certainly have had a lot of changes to them since the first Leatherman was issued. In spite of all those changes the general look and functionality hasn't deviated much. Tools are usually clumped into two categories; Swiss Army style or plier based which is what most people associate with.
Back in the golden age of multitools; we'll say late 90s early 2000s there was a lot of manufacturers getting in on the game. Everyone from Buck to Kershaw was producing a multitool and some of the designs were very forward thinking. Schrade cutlery was one of those companies and they produced what they called the Tough tools. Both the Tough Tool and the Tough Chip did well for the company and we're proudly made in the USA.
Schrade had some financial struggles and was purchased by Taylor Brands LLC back in 2004. Taylor kept a lot of the lines alive that Schrade had such as Old Timer and Uncle Henry. Manufacturing was moved overseas and we saw quality control take a dip. Schrade continued to manufacture the Tough Tools but they don't have the durability of the once famed brand.
In the first quarter of 2016 Schrade brought some new products to the market which included some multitools. One of those new tools was the Schrade ST11. The ST11 or Schrade Tough Tool Multitool; is an interesting new take on an old design.
Today’s market is filled with off brand Multi-tools, most of them are copies, clones of Leatherman’s butterfly style pliers or Swiss Army knife style pocket knife. The Piranha Multi-tool is an exception, it has interesting design but shockingly, no one claim the credit of designing such tool.
These tools are a bit like fraternal twins, at first glance they look nearly identical however they are very capable individuals. Both tools are lower cost options in the full size category from Leatherman but don’t be misled by cost alone as they are no Ed McMahon to Johnny Carson or Ethel to Lucy. The Wingman is a trusted friend and companion and the Sidekick a competent multitool ready for a task. I feel Leatherman nailed these offerings, though not just for the budget minded consumer but for anyone looking for a tool to do exactly what it was designed to do, which is perform.
After the well received introduction of Leatherman Supertool 300 as replacement for the venerable Core, Leatherman shrunk the Supertool by half inch, and gave us the Rebar. It has since replaced the Blast family of full sized tools in Leatherman’s line up, and I would say it’s a worthy successor.
I’ve recently started getting a lot more specific about my tools and what I want them to do. My latest search has been for an outdoors focussed tool, something to reach for when things go awry whilst out hiking or camping. The first to arrive was the Bear Grylls Survival Pack which comprises a slightly modified Gerber Strata in a brand new sheath design, complete with flashlight and fire steel. Although this tool was reviewed elsewhere on the forum previously by a better photographer than me, I thought I’d share my own perspective on this rather interesting ensemble.
Plier based multitool fans should probably look away now- Gerber’s Fit multitool will probably not appeal to you at all. It is however likely to appeal to the masses of folks at big box type stores because of it’s functionality, reasonable cost and stylish aesthetics. Available in blue or orange it catches your attention the way few multitools have in the past. But, here at Multitool.org, pretty is as pretty does, so let’s get down to the nuts and bolts of this one.
Form should follow function in a tool, and yet “pretty” tools seem to sell better. Gerber took that to heart when designing the Strata- it is certainly pretty enough to sit alongside Gerbers fashion models like the Suspension and Resolve, and yet it's tough enough to have a place on any handyman's belt. Even I dismissed this one initially, as it seems a bit fancy at first look, but given how many times I've been wrong before, I decided to give this one a closer look. The folks at www.RockyNational.com were only too happy to help me out.
I was lucky enough to first see the CRKT Flux at the 2009 SHOT Show in Orlando- and in fact, I had the designer, Tom Stokes walk me through the components. I was fascinated as Tom showed me the concept of a multitool that is customizable to your intended needs, similar to the failed Coleman Pro Lock . Coleman unfortunately did not support the Pro Lock and as a result, the Pro Lock never amounted to much. Let's hope that CRKT doesn't make the same mistake with the Flux.
The Power Plier is one of those tools that seemed to disappear from the collective conscious when it was discontinued. The predecessor to both the Pocket Power Plier and the PowerLock the Power Plier is well worth tracking down. And not just for collecting purposes; but as a great EDC tool that has some advantages over the PowerLock. Don't be mistaken, it does show it's age during use; the tools clump, implement finish is slightly lower quality than current production tools and none of the blades lock. But it has the sleek simplicity of an earlier time and the rugged functionality that the industry was born of.