Which Leatherman Multitool should I buy?
June 12, 2013 6:01 AM   Subscribe

Please help me decide which Leatherman Multitool would be most useful for my (left-handed) boyfriend. Details inside.

This is a gift for a physicist/mechanical engineer, who will soon have more free time for both tinkering and outdoor activities. He already owns two good sets of tools, so I would like to give him something that is useful for small jobs and/or on trips. He likes to mountain-climb, go camping etc. and will go on a longer hiking-trip later this year.

Added caveats: he's left-handed and regularly gets annoyed by tools geared towards right handers, so I'd like to avoid that! :) Also, I can't afford to spend more than 80-100€.

Any tips/ideas are welcome! Thanks!
posted by apolune to Shopping (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If you're going to go with a Leatherman, my two favorites are the Juice XE6 (thick and weighty, maximalist, but still pocket-sized, like a fat Swiss Army Knife) and the Skeletool CX (sleek and minimal (by pocket-tool standards), with just a knife and pliers and a few other things).

Would he prefer something small, medium or large? Are there particular tools that you'd like to make sure are included? (If you're looking for something for trips, btw, note that there may be complications related to taking a knife on a plane.)
posted by box at 6:11 AM on June 12, 2013

The good news is that most Leatherman-style multi-tools have the tools stick out the bottom - handedness isn't likely an issue - unless you get one with a knifeblade that opens one-handed from the tool-closed position. Those are meant for right-handers.

I like the Gerber Multi-Plier 400 - the pliers flick out one-handed (using either hand, they slide out the top of the tool) and the scissors come in useful a lot more often than you'd think.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:16 AM on June 12, 2013

I carry a Skeletool (same as the CX, but different materials so mine's heavier) and knife opens under my right thumb, so as much as I'd recommend this took, it probably wouldn't be as good for a lefty.

Here's a similar AskMeFi thread.
posted by Sunburnt at 6:30 AM on June 12, 2013

All of the leatherman type tools I've used have had tabs so they can be opened with either hand.

Some allow you to open certain tools one handed - I've never seen one like that for lefties. But you can still open the tool two handed.

My leatherman wave has taken a heck of a beating over two years as my main knife and tools in the army and still holds an edge. It was less than $50. My friend swears by his SOG, which has geared pliers but was more expensive and I dont care for the blade.

Leatherman has a good reputation for a reason. Well made and a great warrantee.
posted by jrsnr at 6:50 AM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

I love, love, love my skeletool. I am right handed, and I guess I could open the blade with my fingers, rather than thumb. But seriously, I wear my skeletool every day.
posted by Classic Diner at 7:32 AM on June 12, 2013

Another Mechanical Engineer vouching for the Skeletool, which pretty much never leaves my pocket. I just tried opening it left-handed, and did so without any problem (using my index fingertip) despite the fact that my left hand is fine-motor-skills challenged.

(Note: According to Leatherman's own specs, the CX in fact weighs 142g, the same as the normal all-metal Skeletool, which would seem to undermine much of the point of the carbon fiber construction of the CX, and makes their "lightweight" marketing doubly odd.)
posted by jeffjon at 7:57 AM on June 12, 2013

Seconding the knife vs plane comment -- lost my Juice S2 that way lately. Which did make for an excellent occasion to get a CS4, which I am happy with. I use it mainly as a superpowered pocket knife, and so it needs a corkscrew.
The main deal of an XE6 over CS4 is the diamond file, which apparently is very very good. I decided the extra heft was not worth it, however.
posted by gijsvs at 8:11 AM on June 12, 2013

Get the Wave if he's the kind that wants just the right tool for the job and needs to be always prepared.

Get the CX if he values portability and lightweight gear. Perhaps consider the even lighter Freestyle, which is more like carrying a folding knife than a bulky multi-tool. I prefer the CX though, as it has a handy carabiner-style gate clip.

The CX is my favourite for hiking. It's also very comfortable in the hand. I find the Wave a bit less ergonomic.
posted by bonehead at 8:47 AM on June 12, 2013

Lifehacker just did a review of multitools. The Leatherman Wave seems to be their pick.
posted by forkisbetter at 11:52 AM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have two Leatherman tools, a Freestyle CX and a Squirt PS4. The Freestyle just has a hefty pair of pliers and a good blade but it's lightweight compact enough to fit in the watch pocket of my jeans.
The Squirt lives on my keychain and has a number of handy tools for small fixes.
I'd highly recommend either or, ideally, both of them.
posted by islander at 12:16 PM on June 12, 2013

I love my squirt E4 and keep it on my keychain constantly. It has everything for computers, wire up to 12 gauge, and tiny screwdrivers. On top of that the file and knife make it great for sudden metal or wood projects.
posted by nickggully at 5:20 PM on June 12, 2013

Okay, so I just learned something about Skeletools. Back when I got my Skeletool CX, the appeal of the CX was that the blade was partially-serrated and made of better steel. Now, though, the CX has a blade made of better steel, but the regular Skeletool has the serrations. So now I kinda recommend each of them equally, depending on how you expect to use the blade.
posted by box at 7:45 PM on June 12, 2013

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