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What kind of all-in-one tool is right for you?

Swiss army knife will all attachments open

Whatever you do in life, there comes a time when you wish you had just the right tool close at hand. That’s where the all-in-one tool comes in. Although pocket knives and multitools have been around seemingly forever, there is still a perception that they are only for those who are into outdoor adventure. The truth is that with so many styles, sizes, and configurations available, there is an all-in-one tool for anyone. Coming up, we’ll review some of the best all-in-one tool brands and the functionality that they offer. But first, let’s take a look at the two basic categories: The multifunction pocket knife and the multitool.

Swiss Army knives

The original multifunction pocket knife was the Swiss Army knife. It was invented in 1886 as a standard-issue multi-blade pocket knife for Swiss soldiers. By the late 1890s, the lineup included a soldier’s knife with a single blade, reamer, screwdriver, and can opener, and an officer’s knife that also included a secondary blade and corkscrew. 

Today’s multifunction pocket knives offer dozens of individual tools that could be included on a vast array of specialized models. These tools offer endless functionality in a sleek, pocket-sized package. Some are small enough to fit on a keychain. Compared with multitools of similar size, multifunction pocket knives offer more functionality and less weight. Where a belt sheath is not desirable or practical and where weight or bulk is to be limited, a Swiss Army knife is an excellent choice.

One of the early Swiss Army knife manufacturers, Victorinox, still makes Switzerland’s military knives today, as well as dozens of civilian models bearing the iconic Swiss shield. 

Boker is a newer arrival to the multifunction pocket knife scene. This German blade manufacturer also offers high-quality tools at a variety of price points. 

multi tool in hand
Mercury Green/Shutterstock


From the time they opened up shop in 1983 through the mid-1990s, the Leatherman Tool was as synonymous with the multitool as the Swiss Army knife is with multifunction pocket knives. It was the first of its kind, with durable construction and tools intended for consistent use. In addition to many tools typically found on Swiss Army knives, the pliers’ framework was a revelation. Plus, rugged all-metal construction made the tool feel quite sturdy. 

With growing interest in multitools from a variety of sectors, including outdoor adventurers, do-it-yourself-ers, and many others, it didn’t take long for other tool makers to realize the opportunity. Soon, Gerber and other brands like SOG would expand the ranks of high-quality multitool makers.

Multitools are the tool of choice for any application that requires pliers or wire cutters. Plus, they feel more robust in hand, so those who like a sturdy tool will appreciate that tangible quality. 

Beyond the aesthetics, weight, and feel of the device, the combination of tools on the multitool or multifunction pocket knife could be the deciding factor. With so many models to choose from, it can be tough. Consider the setting and tasks for which it will be used, as well as the convenience of carrying, accessing, or packing it. Read on to have a look at some of the more popular models from each category.

Victorinox Signature Lite

Swiss Army knives come in many sizes. Weighing just .8 ounces, this one is definitely on the tiny end of the scale. It’s just the right size to keep on a keychain or in a desk drawer at the office. Sign for packages, open letters, find a keyhole in the dark, and more.


  • Lanyard
  • LED
  • Pressurized ballpoint pen
  • Scissors
  • Small blade
  • Screwdriver, 2.5mm
  • Ruler (cm)
  • Ruler (inch)
  • Key ring

Victorinox Huntsman

This is a good example of why fans of Swiss Army knives are so committed. The Huntsman weighs 3.42 ounces and offers 15 different functions. For those who want to be prepared for anything, this easy-to-carry pocket knife will tackle unanticipated tasks day in and day out.


  • Large blade
  • Small blade
  • Can opener
  • Bottle opener
  • Screwdriver, 3mm
  • Screwdriver, 6mm
  • Wire stripper
  • Reamer, punch, and sewing awl
  • Corkscrew
  • Scissors
  • Wood saw
  • Multipurpose hook
  • Toothpick
  • Tweezers
  • Key ring

Leatherman Wave

This is Leatherman’s bestselling multitool ever. In addition to the multiple plier and wire cutter capabilities, locking tools make this multitool a must-have for DIYers, tinkerers, and makers. At 8.5 ounces, it feels sturdy in hand for most any task you throw at it. Carry it on a belt sheath or keep it in the toolbox.


  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Regular pliers
  • Premium replaceable wire cutters
  • Premium replaceable hard-wire cutters
  • Electrical crimper
  • Wire stripper
  • 420 high-carbon knife
  • Serrated knife
  • Saw
  • Spring-action scissors
  • Ruler
  • Can opener
  • Bottle opener
  • Wood and metal file
  • Diamond coat file
  • Large bit driver
  • Small bit driver
  • Medium screwdriver

Gerber Multi-Plier 600

Easy access, a one-handed opening design, stainless steel construction, and a sliding lock mechanism for tools and knives make this a safe, dependable tool platform. A ballistic nylon sheath is included, it weighs in at 9 ounces, and it’s a great all-around performer, from the shop to the campsite and beyond.


  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Pinch-cut wire cutters
  • Wire crimper
  • Plain edge knife
  • Serrated knife
  • Cross-point screwdriver
  • Small flat screwdriver
  • Medium flat screwdriver
  • Large flat screwdriver
  • Lanyard ring
  • Can opener
  • Bottle opener
  • File
  • Ruler

Whether you’re camping, working in the shop, or just going about everyday life, having a few common tools ready for action lies somewhere between super convenient and indispensable. Not every all-in-one tool is right for every person or situation, though. The good news is that variety is seemingly inexhaustible in the multitool and multipurpose pocket knife market. No matter if you prioritize one-handed operation, lightweight or ergonomic design, heavy-duty construction, or the greatest possible number of applications, rest assured there is a tool that will fit your needs. Our all-in-one picks encompass some of the most popular styles that have proven their value in the real world for millions of loyal users. Chances are you’ll be happy with one of these as well.

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