How to Choose a Multitool

You may have gotten by for years without taking a multitool along with you on camping trips, backpacking excursions, or any other outdoor adventures, but once you take one of these do-it-all devices with you, you won't leave home without it ever again.

As the name suggests, multitools can help you conquer just about any task at hand and take the traditional pocketknife to a whole new level, giving you access to everything from corkscrews to screwdrivers. Often, these devices are seen as pieces of CAMPING GEAR reserved for either the hard-core or overly cautious, but the truth is, with such a wide range of multitools to choose from, chances are that anyone could find a use for one.

An Outdoor Companion

The multitool has earned a reputation as an essential piece of outdoor gear that can help you do anything from starting a fire to building a raft—and for good reason. Some multitools come with 15 or more possible uses, all of which are condensed into a handheld device that can fit into your pocket or pack, or on your belt. Common tools include scissors, pliers, knives, screwdrivers, wire cutters, saws, and bottle openers.

With so many available options, choosing the right tool can be confusing. To determine which multitool is best for you, first take a look at which activities you'll be doing, and then ask yourself which functions will be most beneficial.


When you're on the trails for days on end, every ounce you can shed from your HIKING BACKPACK will make a difference. Backpacking multitools should be light but durable, and feature minimal tools. Some multitools weigh as little as five ounces, but their stainless steel and carbon fiber construction makes them resistant to bending and scratching. Pliers, hardwire cutters, needle-nose pliers, and a blade will usually do the trick when you're on the trails.


If you expect to be spending more time at the campsite than blazing trails, you may want to go for a multitool that offers additional functions, even if it weighs a little bit more. These tools typically weigh between eight and 12 ounces, but feature virtually any function you may need in the outdoors.

Often, you'll find various forms of pliers, different sizes of screwdrivers, serrated and straightedge knives, can and bottle openers, scissors, and more in them. These multitools are also typically longer than those you would take on a backpacking trip, usually measuring around four or five inches.

Ready for Action

Multitools are also ideal for outdoor action sports, not just for those looking to go deep into the wild. On the slopes, for example, tools with pliers and screwdrivers can help you temporarily fix a problematic ski or snowboard binding. They can also be included in your CLIMBING GEAR in place of a knife. Really, any sport that requires gear that may need tweaking can benefit from having a lightweight, limited-function multitool on hand.

A Full Tool Box

Aside from giving you the peace of mind of not having to take every small tool you'd possibly need on a trip, multitools have found a place in the home and at the workplace, too. Mini saws, built-in rulers, and several screwdriver heads can give you the ability to carry an entire tool box in your pocket or clipped to your belt.

By choosing the right multitool, you'll never utter the words, "If only I brought..." again, and you'll quickly find that a multitool is a must-have for just about any outdoor adventure.