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Leatherman Multitool Review For Hikers & Campers

By Diane Spicer

Do you need a Leatherman multitool in your backpack? Find out in this Hiking For Her gear review. #campgear #leatherman #hiking #tenessentials #backpackinggear #outdoorgear

This Leatherman multitool review focuses on the full size Leatherman Knifeless Rebar model.

Does a hiker need one of these?

Is this the best multitool for car campers?

Let's find out.

But not until we do this.

Disclosures in this
Leatherman multitool review

Hiking For Her was contacted about the possibility of testing a Leatherman multitool on the trail, and then writing a review.

As you'll read in a moment, HFH had several motives for agreeing to try out a multitool.

But what you really need to know in this part of the review:

  • Hiking For Her received the Leatherman free of charge.
  • No money was paid for the words, opinions and photos in this Leatherman multitool review.
  • Hiking For Her is not an affiliate for the company.

In other words, you're getting it straight from the horse's hiker's mouth, with no sugar coating, in this Leatherman multitool review.

  • Just like any other review that Hiking For Her does for you!

First thoughts

Here's the truth: In the past, I have been intimidated by the plethora of options any Leatherman offers.

When examining all of the craftily engineered tools, I get a little queasy.

  • What if I need to use all of that stuff for gear repairs or emergencies on my next hiking trip?

In other words, sometimes ignorance (of what could go wrong) is bliss.

But that doesn't seem like a sensible reason to askew a multitool, am I right?

Here's another motive for this Leatherman multitool review:

I've seen bush pilots, mechanics, and other hikers with these tools on their belts, and because I have the highest respect for these folks, it made me curious about carrying one myself.

Other first thoughts

The lack of a knife on this gadget gave me pause, because a knife is considered one of the hiking Ten Essentials.

I also wondered about the universality of this multitool - does one size fit all?

Let's get to answering those questions in this Leatherman multitool review!

Leatherman multitool resting on hiking backpack

Knifeless Rebar

Made in Oregon (USA), you can find a Leatherman in multiple size ranges:

  • Heavy duty
  • Full size
  • Pocket size
  • Keychain

The Knifeless Rebar is listed as a full size device, with these specs:

  • Weight: 6.7 ounces (189.94 g) without a case
  • Closed length: 4 inches (10.16 cm)

This is a sturdy, well built metal multitool that shouts quality when you handle it.

  • And the workmanship is guaranteed for 25 years.

It won't corrode or rust with regular outdoor usage in all weather conditions.

  • Apply your usual dose of common sense about keeping it clean and dry.

What all is on this thing?

Just for fun (and amazement), let's list the 15 tools it contains in that four inch footprint:

  • Phillips screwdriver
  • large screwdriver
  • small screwdriver
  • needlenose pliers
  • regular pliers
  • wire cutters (replaceable)
  • hard-wire cutters (replaceable)
  • wire stripper
  • saw
  • spring-action scissors
  • awl (with thread loop)
  • ruler (8 inch/19 cm)
  • can opener
  • bottle opener
  • wood/metal file

Looks like plenty of repair options, no?


Leatherman diagram of tools

Leatherman gives you an exploded, labeled diagram in their bright yellow boxes.

As a biologist, I have to say I love this!

  • Everything right there, in one glance, to make your learning curve quite simple.
  • Use this to compare and contrast all of the tools in your size range, all on one page.

Leatherman multitool review:
upsides of carrying one

Okay, let's start this Leatherman multitool review with the obvious upside of having the right tool for the job when something goes wrong with your stove, tent or other critical piece of hiking gear.

Let me state for the record that a Leatherman multitool has come along on every car camping trip I have taken in the past 2 decades (although it wasn't mine).

It's been used for:

  • screwing the handle back on a metal coffee cup
  • crimping a wind block into the right shape for the stove
  • hacking up small branches into firestarter
  • removing cactus spines from boot soles
  • and a lot more.

So I was already a big fan of this multitool for car camping.

And now I have my own Leatherman! (evil laugh)

But as a backpacker and day hiker...

This particular full size multitool at first glance seemed a bit too big for regular use.

Except for these 2 facts:

  • Although I buy top notch gear, I push it hard.
  • Some of my critical gear (tent, stove, water purification) is aging, which increases the likelihood that I'll need to make field repairs.

What a Leatherman multitool
really gives you

Which brings up the most important thing I see you, a backpacker, receiving from carrying a Leatherman:

peace of mind

Personally, I'm willing to leave behind something in order to make room for this mobile tool kit.

And I can't think of the last time I took a multi-day hiking trip and something did NOT break :(

Look at both sides of this approach:

  • If nothing goes wrong, you've carried around 7 ounces of metal and are now a bit stronger.
  • If something goes wrong, you've got the ability to deal with it.

What's that worth to you?

Perhaps a lot more than the ~$69 (U.S.) this multitool costs.

It's an investment of sorts in your future peace of mind, and the further you stray from an easy rescue, the more priceless it becomes.

Open Leatherman multitool on yellow box

Leatherman multitool review:
what you might not need

A person who enjoys a lot of camping will have multiple opportunities to use the bottle opener, the can opener, the saw, the pliers, and possibly the wire stripper on every trip.

  • And stuff always needs unexpected tightening, hacking up, and pulling apart (speaking strictly for the way I car camp, of course).


  • Not as much opportunity, as we hike with lightweight gear, don't make camp fires, and use minimalist shelter.

The small saw could come in handy, but 2 types of wire cutters? I can't think of a time when I needed that in the backcountry.

Don't fret! Leatherman is already one step ahead of us.

They provide a lot of options for choosing the right combo of tools for the jobs you do routinely on the trail, or around the campfire.

  • If this full size version is too much for you, opt for a pocket size Leatherman.

Quality user experience tip

Regardless of which size you go for, take at least five minutes to play around with opening, closing and using the plethora of tools - before you head out to the trail.

  • The brand new metal feels stiff and might be a bit unwieldy to open up at first, so take your time.
  • Saves you time when you actually need one of the many tools in a hurry, right?

Not just for the outdoors!

I'm guessing you already realize that you can use a multitool at home:

  • minor mechanical repairs
  • hobbies or crafts that require pinching, pullling, crimping, or manipulating small parts

And you know those times when something falls apart but you feel too lazy to rifle through the garage or junk drawer for a full sized tool?

The Leatherman on your belt will come in handy.

  • Unless you keep it in the junk drawer.
  • Then you're on your own.

No knife??

This made me think hard, until I sat down and counted the times in the past five years that I needed a knife on a hiking trip.

  • Just a handful of times, all involving a block of cheese someone else brought for lunch, and the urgency of hunger pangs

And yet, I carry a Swiss army knife in my survival kit on hike after hike after hike.

You know, "just in case".

Where did I get this training?

My Girl Scout leaders.

Forty five years ago.

Throwing my usual abundance of caution to the wind, I declare that it's possible the time has come to upgrade to a versatile multitool.

  • This is one of the best personal realizations in this Leatherman multitool review, and if you've been in this hiking things for awhile, maybe it's time for you to upgrade, too.

Tip for hiking with kids

Handing this bladeless multitool to a youngster can be done without the worry of a knife being used inappropriately.

  • Such an easy way to instill important hiker values, like self reliance and pride in gear hacking.


And due to the quality workmanship and long guarantee, tell your kid that someday, this Leatherman will ride along in her pack as a family hiking heirloom.

  • You can't say that about your boots, can you?

What's up with that
(possibly sexist) name?

LeatherMAN on Hiking For HER?

For real?

Let's not be hasty.

Leatherman was the real life last name of the person who invented this multitool, who also happened to be male: Tim Leatherman.

  • A fact that should surprise no one: he was a mechanical engineer.

And the original version was marketed as a Pocket Survival Tool, a name which appeals to male and female hikers alike.

  • So feel free to call it a PST as you embrace the multitool-on-your-belt lifestyle :)

Proceed with caution

Carrying a Leatherman multitool might make you prone to hoping things break, just so you can grab this little beauty off your belt and look like a bad*ss hiker.

And to go full on geek, you can get it engraved!!

But beware of an unintended side effect of Leatherman usage:

  • You will begin to pick up every mechanical device you encounter and probe it for loose screws or weaknesses.
  • Just so you can fix it. Or "improve" it.

In Hiking For Her's humble opinion, "Tinkerer tendencies might ensue" should be disclosed on that user guide!

So if you decide you're adding one of these to your gear list (or want to gift one to someone you love), don't say I didn't warn you.

Leatherman multitool review

With every gear review I write, I invite you to send me your questions. It's my intention to give you all the facts you need before you purchase an item for your gear locker.

Here's a fact I forgot to mention: If you have arthritic finger joints, you might need a bit of help pulling the small tools out from the metal housing.

See? As much as I wrack my brain trying to cover all the angles which might interest you, I might overlook something that's really important to you.

  • So contact me, and we'll get your questions squared away (small Leatherman pun, since it includes a ruler).

You might also like to pull together a simple gear repair kit to give yourself more options with your Leatherman.

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Leatherman Multitool Review