The secret about multi-tools is that you will realize how useful they are only when you start using them. You will be surprised how often you need them in your day to day life. Of course, you can avoid carrying one, especially if you do not see any use of it in your lifestyle. But who knows the future? Is it not better to be prepared for the variety of little (and big) problems that life throws at you every day?
You need a multi-tool because you always want to be prepared for any situation that may need some kind of tool to be handled properly. These situations may vary from something as mild as fixing your eyeglasses, to something as severe as escaping from a burning vehicle. The very unpredictable nature of emergencies is the reason why you should be prepared beforehand and having a multi-tool with you at all times is the first step towards you being prepared to handle the situation as best as you can.
Here are 20 good reasons why you should consider getting a multi-tool. Of course, there are hundreds of other valid reasons you can think of. But these should at least give you some food for thought whether you should have one.
1. Cutting, and opening packages
How often do you need something sharp to cut anything?
From cutting open envelopes to plastic packaging like blister packs as well as gift packs, or gutting a fish or slicing an apple, we always need something sharp like a knife. A multi-tool will almost always have a knife, usually a thin and lightweight blade, perfect for such light and medium-duty work.
Some may even have a package cutter specifically built for opening packages.
In fact, if you have a multi-tool in your pocket, even if a tiny one, you will often find others borrowing your tool to get something done with the knife. My Vic Rambler that I always carry in my keychain gets borrowed at least once a week for such tasks.
It’s funny how people depend on others to get things done while thinking all the time they don’t need a pocket knife or a multi-tool themselves.
2. Loosening or Tightening Screws
The world is held together by tiny little screws!
Whether you like it or not, you cannot avoid using a screwdriver for long. Whether it is a flathead or a Philips head screw, they are everywhere in our daily life. And sooner or later, you will find yourself unscrewing them and taking them out, or tightening them.
I once managed to get out of a locked room by removing the screws from the door and taking the lock out of the door. This may be an extreme case, but just knowing that I have that option in my pocket makes me feel more confident in such situations.
Most multi-tools come with at least one flathead screwdriver. Some may have both flathead and Philips head drivers, whereas the bigger ones come with interchangeable bits.
You will never go looking for a screwdriver if you have a multi-tool in your pocket.
3. Opening a Bottle
Who doesn’t need a bottle opener?
If there is one tool that is found in almost all multi-tools of any size, it is the bottle opener. Be it a bottle of beer or soda, a bottle opener always comes in handy.
Even the simplest single piece multi-tools that are meant for keychains, like the Gerber Shard or the Nite Ize DoohicKey, has a bottle opener. The implementation may vary from one multi-tool to another, but I haven’t found one that doesn’t work.
It is one of the simplest tools to implement in a multi-tool, but immensely useful. There was a time when I could remove the metal cap with my teeth, but not anymore. I would rather save my teeth from the torture and use my multi-tool.
When you just need something to pry things apart!
I often find myself trying to pry things, take out a nail, or simply wedge things open. In the absence of a pry bar, most people resort to using a knife to pry things and damaging the knife in the process. But with a multi-tool, you can have a tiny pry bar meant exactly for the same purpose.
You will usually find that you don’t need much more than a strong hard flat piece of metal for prying. The good thing is that just like the bottle opener, even the smallest single piece multi-tools usually have a portion that can be used for prying. The bigger multi-tools will, of course, have better options.
5. Repairing a Zipper Pull
Fix that zipper pull with your multi-tool!
Almost everybody has experienced a damaged zipper, either on jackets, or a pair of jeans or in a backpack. Sometimes the zipper pull doesn’t close the zippers anymore, or the pull tab itself breaks making it difficult to open or close the zipper.
Both of these issues can be fixed with a pair of needle-nose pliers.
For malfunctioning zippers, it usually needs some adjustment of the zipper pull which can be easily done with the pliers. If the pull tab itself breaks, you can at least temporarily use your pliers to grab the zipper and pull it open or close, until you install a new pull tab.
Many multi-tools have a set of pliers to get such things done. Some plier-based multi-tools are small enough to be attached to your keychain.
6. Trim Fingernails
You do not need nail clippers, sometimes!
A pair of scissors can do an excellent job of trimming your fingernails. Of course, you will use this only when a nail clipper is not close at hand. What is more, if the scissors are good, you can even use those on your toenails. Bigger the scissors, the better is the end result.
I have used the scissors in my SAKs to cut my fingernails multiple times. Some multi-tools even have a nail file which can be used to further grind and shape the edges of your nails. This combination almost makes a nail-clippers redundant.
7. Removing Splinters
A makeshift splinter removal tool!
Splinters are easier to get, but hard to remove. Maybe when you are at home, it is not a big problem as you have your medical kit with you. But out in the open or when you are on your own, getting splinters out of your body can very difficult and painful.
Normally, you need a pair of tweezers and a needle to get a splinter out. Luckily, some multi-tools do have a pair of tweezers as one of their tools. Even if you don’t have a needle, you can use the knife in the multi-tool to cut open a part of the skin and use the tweezers to pull the splinter out.
Almost all Victorinox SAKs have tweezers. Some keychain multi-tools like the Gerber Dime also have tweezers.
8. Making Extra Holes in Your Belt
Make that belt useful again!
Is that belt in your waist squeezing you too tightly? Give yourself some extra breathing room by making that extra hole in your belt. It is easy if you have multi-tool.
There are many ways of making holes in your belt. Of course, the ideal way of doing it is to use a leather punch, but who keeps a leather punch handy always?
Luckily, you have an awl in that multi-tool in your pocket. The awl will do a rough job of making a hole quickly, but it will work and your belt will be a comfortable fit again. At least, it will not squeeze you to death, and keep pants up!
9. Emergency Seat-belt Cutter
A seat-belt cutter can save your life!
The first thing to do when caught inside a burning car is to get rid of the seat belt and free yourself, and most people fail to do so either because they panic, or they don’t have anything to cut the seatbelt off. Will a knife do it? Of course, it will, but may not be as quick as a seat-belt cutter.
During an emergency like a car accident when each second is precious, you need a dedicated tool like a seat-belt cutter that can do the job in a single swipe. Even a serrated blade will do the job much faster than a plain edge blade.
Luckily, some multi-tools do come with seat-belt cutters and/or serrated knives. Both are much more useful than a normal knife in freeing yourself from the seat-belt. The point is, will you have that multi-tool with you during such an emergency?
10. Car Window Breaker
A glass breaker in your pocket!
Breaking the car window is the next step after cutting the seat belt in the process of getting out a burning car. While there are dedicated tempered glass breakers available in the market, having something similar in your multi-tool is an added advantage.
Some multi-tools have a glass breaker inbuilt into the body of the tool. Again, some have a bit holder where you can attach a glass breaker bit.
For the bigger plier-based multi-tools, you can use the pointed end of the pliers to break the glass. It may not be an ideal solution, but it is much better than having nothing to break the car window. Having a multi-tool can very well make the difference in a life and death situation.
11. Tighten the Screws of Your Eyeglasses
Do you need an eyeglass repair kit?
I wear glasses and those tiny screws in the frame always seem to come loose once in a while. If not fixed on time, there is always the risk of the screws coming out and falling off.
A normal screwdriver will not work on such small screws. You can either use your knife to try to tighten them a bit, or you can use a screwdriver specifically meant for it. And yes, some multi-tools do come with an eyeglass screwdriver.
It may not be for everyone, but those who regularly wear prescription glasses will understand how important it is.
12. Picking Your Teeth
Yes, your multi-tool can also have a toothpick!
Having food stuck in your teeth is irritating, and not finding a toothpick at such times is even more irritating. Toothpicks are not a substitute for brushing or dental floss, but some things just cannot be done without a toothpick. And what is better than always having a toothpick in your pocket?
Most Victorinox SAKs have a toothpick neatly tucked inside the plastic scales of the tool.
The most essential camping gear!
If you carry only one tool while camping, it has to be a multi-tool. Think of any activity you will do while camping and you will find a use for some of the tools in your multi-tool.
For campfire cooking you will need to collect branches for fuel wood, a task where that wood saw and the knife in your multi-tool will come handy. In fact, the saw can be used for building an emergency shelter if you need one.
For setting up tents, you can use your big multi-tool as a hammer on the tiny stakes (yes, these are made of steel and strong enough). To pull them back, you can hook the tool under the stake and put some pressure. It will get the job done.
Don’t have anything to pick up hot pots and bills-cans from a campfire? The pliers in your multi-tool are just fit for the job. If you are carrying a SAK, you can use the multipurpose hook for the same thing.
If you do a lot of outdoor activities while camping, getting splinters in your hands is a very common thing. We already know how the tweezers can help in removing splinters.
The scissors and knife can help to cut through a sleeve in case you need a temporary bandage. Bottle and can openers also find a lot of use in opening those beer bottles and food cans.
I can go on and on, but you do get the idea, right? You can probably think of tons of other uses of a multi-tool while camping.
Note that there are multi-tools meant specifically for campers. These will have all the tools that you will find useful during camping and other outdoor activities. You can also mix and match and take more than one multi-tool as per your need while camping.
14. Opening Cans of Beans
Sometimes, you do need a can opener!
There was a time when a lot of food items were packed in cans. Nowadays, we just don’t see that many canned food any more. But every once in a while, you will come across a can of food that is just impossible to open without a dedicated tool.
Luckily, many multi-tools have been carrying a can opener since the early days, and they still haven’t got rid of this less-used tool.
Almost all medium to large-sized multi-tools, including most SAKs, have a dedicated can opener which works perfectly on all sorts of cans. While camping with friends and family, you may find yourself as the only one having a tool to open those cans of beans.
15. Opening a Can of Paint
Open that Paint Can without making a mess!
It sounds such a simple thing to do, opening the lid of a can of paint. But most people, especially those who are not professional painters, always seem to make a mess of it.
So what do you need? Nothing much, except a flathead screwdriver or a prying tool. The screwdriver in your multi-tool can do it very well, so can the pry tool.
Just put the flathead or the prying end of the tool under the edge of the lid and push down on the other end. Repeat the process at different parts of the lid around 3 to 4 times until the lid releases its airtight seal. Then the lid can be easily lifted off the paint can.
A tool for all your fishing needs!
A multi-tool can do a lot of things that a fisher wants to do during fishing, like cut through snags, weak reels, or pull the hook out of the mouth of the fish.
If your multi-tool has a knife, a pair of pliers, scissors, and screwdrivers, you have covered almost everything that you need during an occasional fishing expedition.
Fishing is such a popular outdoor activity that there are multi-tools made specifically for it. Such tools will also include a fish scaler and a hook disgorger.
17. Self-defence Weapon
Defend yourself with your multi-tool!
If you can defend yourself with a knife, you can very well do it with a multi-tool. But even if you are not a great fighter, having a multi-tool with you may just give that extra edge to hold your own and defend yourself.
It may not be the best weapon you can have, but it is something you always have with you, and if used properly it can do a lot of damage.
Even in the woods or while camping, if attacked by animals, a multi-tool will increase the chance of fending them off.
Above all, just the feeling of having a tool with you to defend yourself if required will give you a lot of confidence.
18. Survival Situation
Survive on your own with a multi-tool!
Apart from the regular tools that a normal multi-tool has, a survivalist needs some specific tools to survive in the wilderness for long periods without any contact with civilization.
A survival multi-tool may have Ferro rods for starting a fire, wood saw, safety whistle, awl, hammer, blade sharpener, and of course the regular bottle and can openers.
19. Replacement Toolbox
Ditch that toolbox!
Nothing can probably beat a toolbox, as dedicated tools are always best for the task that they are meant for. But their usage is limited to your home.
When you are traveling, hiking or camping, it is almost impossible to always carry your entire toolbox with you. The best you can do is select a few of the tools to carry with you, or, carry a multi-tool.
A good multi-tool packs so much functionality in such a limited space that you will be surprised how much you can accomplish with it.
For light to medium-duty tasks, a multi-tool beats toolbox hands down, especially if you are a minimalist packer and love to travel light.
20. Comfortable and Easy Carry
Portability cannot be ignored!
The biggest selling point of multi-tools is how portable they are. It is astonishing how you can carry so much functionality with you and also access them with ease.
Most multi-tools can be carried quite comfortably in your pocket. The smaller ones are designed to be attached to your keychain.
The bigger ones can be clipped to your pocket for easy carry. Some also come with a dedicated sheath that can be worn in your belt, or strapped to the outside of your bag.
There are so many multi-tools of different sizes and shapes that no matter how you want to carry your tool, you will probably find one that has that option.
Once you start carrying a multi-tool, you will wonder how you managed so long without one.
It is not always that you will need to use all those implements that a multi-tool gives you. But when you do need to use one, you will be glad to have it in your multi-tool. It is always better to have it and not need it, then not have it at all.
You may not get each and every functionality in one multi-tool. That is why it is important to first analyze your requirements before selecting the multi-tool.
Just like you are the best judge whether you need multi-tool or not, similarly, you are the one to determine which multi-tool you should carry. It should be something personal and reliable. But more importantly, it should be something that you are comfortable with, almost like an extension of yourself.