Why all campers should carry a Multitool
Updated: Apr 1
Save time and effort while camping and adventuring.
As long as I can remember I have carried a Multitool on every trek, Camping trip and tour of duty but let me begin this post with a warning. Not all multitools are made equal! The first tool I bought was cheap and when I needed it most it failed me, while using the pliers function the tool just broke in two. Following this I resolved to ensure that I had a more substantial multitool in my kit from that time on.
So why carry a multitool?
The problem with carrying conventional tools when trekking and backpacking is size, weight and convenience. The seasoned backpacker and hiker knows all too well, usually from getting it wrong, that too much weight can make what should be a pleasurable activity into serious toil. Carrying a multitool such as a Gerber or Leatherman tool cuts weight while giving large amounts of functionality. Most modern multitools have as a minimum a plier tool, knife, screwdrivers, bottle openers, can openers, files and scissors. Some multitools specifically aimed at the trekking and camping user have small saws suitable for cutting small branches.
Have you ever been camping and needed a tool you didn't have?
Even the best campers occasionally forget something. Having a multi-tool is the sure fire way of making sure your camping trip runs smoothly. Let's look at some examples.
Ever been camping and been short of a tent peg or two? I certainly have, usually the ones that got stuck in the ground and just wouldn’t come out of the ground. With a multitool the fix is simple, cut off a small branch from a tree with your saw or pick one up from the ground. Whittle the end with your saw and voila you have a tent peg.
Having batteries for your torch is great but what about when your old ones run flat and you need to replace them? Did you bring a Phillips head screwdriver? Not a problem just whip out your multitool and open up the battery compartment.
I frequently use my Multi Tools scissors while camping as I just find it much easier than trying to rip open food packets which often don't treat correctly and cause precious calories to be lost.
One of the most common reasons I reach for the Leatherman is loose screws. With much of the family camping I do my furniture is almost exclusively folding. We camp very often and the constant folding and unfolding of out picnic bench, kitchen units, wardrobe and storage units inevitably cause the screws to loosen. Having the mutlitool on hand is the quickest way to tighten up before use.
I have used my multitool on many occasions for emergency tent repairs making use of the scissors to cut emergency patches to fix flysheet rips. The plier tool has often come in handy for cutting and tensioning spare pole elastic.
Not all tools are made equal!
With the use of multi tools becoming more frequent there are a lot of brands coming to market who have built tools which on paper can do a full engine change on a land rover. The reality is that they are quite often made from soft sub standard metals, have weak joints and blades that blunt very quickly. I recently came across a tool which had a socket set! Always do your research before making a purchase. You will be glad in the long run.
What to look for
Before buying a multitool consider what your potential problems are going to be and how the tool is going to help you resolve that issue. What other tools are you looking to drop from your camping kit and can the multi tool you're looking at feasibly replace them? More is not necessarily better when it comes to the many functions some of the tools offer. Ask yourself do I need a corkscrew or bottle opener? Can I get by without a socket set? What metal is the tool made from and does the company offer a guarantee. Many tools on the market are used by the military and police and have a reputation for being tough and reliable such as Gerber who offer a 25 year guarantee and Leatherman who also offer a guarantee. Consider your multitool as an investment. There is no reason that a good tool can last a lifetime if it's cared for well and used correctly.
What to avoid
The old adage if it sounds too good to be true it probably is fits perfectly here. Off brand and cheap tools from companies who don't offer a guarantee of having a good customer service reputation will often leave you high and dry when you need them most.
As I said above, consider your multitool an investment. Your tool manufacturer will have cleaning and maintenance advice on their website and in the case of Leatherman there is a cleaning kit available which contains cloths, lubricant, blade sharpeners and brushes to keep your leatherman in the best possible condition.
Carrying your tool
Although most multitools are folding and can be put in an inside pocket, stashed on the rucksack or the pocket of your hiking trousers most companies offer a carry case. I find this the ideal place to carry the tool either on my trouser belt or on the straps of my rucksack. After all, the whole reason for carrying a multi-tool is to have an easily accessible tool to cope with any unexpected situations.
Check out our guide to the Leatherman Signal Survival tool here