You can get a good multi tool for under $30, even a full size tool. But there is also a lot of junk in this category. We’ve done the research so you know what tools are worth your money and which ones to avoid.
Here are the best multi tools under $30 in each category:
|Category||Model||Tool Count||Best Feature||Length||Weight||Price*|
|Full Size||Gerber |
|15||2.25 in knife||4.25 in||6.7 oz||$29.95|
|9||2.0 in knife||3.9 in||3.3 oz||$19.97|
|10||package opener||2.75 in||2.2 oz||$15.95|
|Pry Bar||Gear Infusion |
|6||1/4 in bit ratchet||2.4 in||0.7 oz||$27.50|
|13||Quattro screwdrivers||3.2 in||0.9 oz||$29.75|
|Swiss Army Knife||Victorinox |
|14||SAK quality||3.6 in||3.0 oz||$27.50|
*Prices subject to change, last updated March 2020.
Best Full Size Multi Tool Under $30: Gerber Suspension-NXT
Not many full size multi tools are available for under $30. The options are the Gerber Suspension-NXT, its predecessor the Suspension, and a number of knockoff imitation tools from China – including AmazonBasics multi tools since January 2020. The Gerber Suspension was a strong performer when it launched in 2005, and the Suspension-NXT refines the design to be lighter and more compact while keeping the best characteristics intact. For $30 you get a solid performing tool that is an excellent value.
All tools are outside accessible and lock in place with Gerber’s Saf.T.Plus system. The pliers are spring loaded and operate smoothly. The best part of the redesign is how they slimmed down the handles. The original Suspension was large and clunky and really needed to use the belt sheath. The Suspension NXT is still a full size tool but also gives the option for pocket carry.
If you can’t find the Suspension-NXT the original Suspension is still a good purchase but the improvements from the redesign are really worth hunting down the NXT.
Full Size Multi Tools to Avoid
The drop-off from the Suspension-NXT and Suspension multi tools to the other options is significant. For many items we are big fans of AmazonBasics, but their line of multi tools is mediocre. They are correctly priced around $10 because you get about 1/3 the capability of the Gerber tools but at least Amazon should stand behind their product.
Best Pocket Size Multi Tool Under $30: SOG Micro ToolClip
SOG is the primary multi tool supplier to the US military and it all started with the ToolClip and Micro ToolClip in 1991, the first multi tools to have the SOG name. SOG updated the Micro ToolClip to Gen II in in 2010 and to Gen III in 2016, a venerable pedigree.
The pliers release with button on the handle and are spring loaded. The always-available design of the pliers does limit the jaw opening to 9/16 inch. Other drawbacks are the pliers release button is too close to the pocket clip, we constantly have problems with our jeans releasing the button when sliding it onto our pocket. It is great to have a round Phillips screwdriver head rather than the flat versions found on most multi tools, even if the main handle gets in the way for some screws.
We like the Micro ToolClip for what it is, but it does have significant limitations. For under $30 you can find our favorite EDC multi tool on eBay used – the Leatherman Skeletool.
Pocket Size Multi Tools to Avoid
Sheffield has a line of multi tools that are primarily pocket sized. Overall, they don’t match up to the quality and functionality you get from the big brands (Leatherman, Gerber, SOG).
Best Keychain Size Multi Tool Under $30: Gerber Dime
The Gerber Dime is one of our favorite keychain multi tools at any price so it was a no brainer for this list. High quality pliers that align and close tightly, a sheepsfoot knife blade, scissors, screwdrivers, and a bottle opener that is always available.
We think the best tool is the package opener, no more dulling your knife blade to open that Amazon package. We’ve had some near misses opening plastic clamshell packaging in the past and appreciate the safety improvement of the package opener. Even when we opened the knife blade first, we always found ourselves closing it and using the package opener instead.
Read our in-depth hands-on evaluation of the Gerber Dime here.
Inherent to all keychain tools are the short handles and correspondingly short screwdrivers with limited reach. The big drawback for the Gerber Dime is the useless file, if you need a file on your keychain then look at the Leatherman Style PS.
For a keychain multi tool built around scissors instead of pliers, our top pick is the Leatherman Style CS although the Leatherman Micra is also excellent (stay away from the SOG Cross Cut).
Keychain Size Multi Tools to Avoid
Gerber has many solid multi tools but the Vise and the Splice are not their best products. The Vise and the Splice are the same except for the main tool – the Vise has pliers and the Splice has scissors. The Bear Grylls Compact Multi-Tool shares design elements with the Vise and should also be avoided.
Swiss+Tech has some products that surprised us and we recommend, like the ST50022 Micro Pocket but the ST35000 Pocket Multitool is terrible. The handles are weak, bulky and full of corners that are uncomfortable in our pocket. The blade steel is low quality and does not hold an edge. Just avoid this tool.
Best Pry Bar Multi Tool Under $30: Gear Infusion EverRatchet
Less than $30 is the sweet spot for pry bar multi tools, in fact there are only a handful that exceed that level. Our choice for the best is the Gear Infusion EverRatchet because of the unique capability that it brings. Nearly all pry bar tools have a flat scraper head, a box opener, bottle opener, wrenches, and a short ruler but only the EverRatchet has a ratchet that works with standard 1/4 inch bits. It comes with a standard #2 Phillips bit and a fire flint but you can substitute in others if you have additional needs.
Admittedly, nearly $30 is steep for a pry bar multi tool so if you do not need the ratcheting screwdriver another one of our favorites is the CRKT Pryma. The Pryma comes in at 3.24 inches, 0.9 oz and 9 tools for under $10.
There are a number of other quality pry bar multi tools that we recommend: Nite Ize DoohiKey, Gerber Shard and Mullet, Leatherman Brewzer, and Griffin Pocket Tool.
Best Wallet Multi Tool Under $30: Victorinox SwissCard Lite
Wallet multi tools have many drawbacks but we recognize that some users have a need for this form factor they can carry in their wallet or purse when pocket carry is not an option. We give the edge to the Victorinox SwissCard Lite over its primary competitor, the ToolLogic Credit Card Companion. The SwissCard Lite has a pen, knife, scissors, light, pin, tweezers, magnifying glass, and the surprisingly capable Quattro tool with four screwdriver heads.
The other category of wallet multi tools are the one-piece metal cards like the Wallet Ninja or the Lever Gear ToolCard Pro. These are fun gadgets but most users are better served by the SwissCard unless you have a specific need.
Best Swiss Army Knife Under $30: Victorinox Super Tinker
If you need a budget multi tool, don’t overlook the good old Swiss Army Knife. They have always been dependable and provide a great combination of function and value. Our favorite SAK under $30 is the Victorinox Super Tinker. Two knife blades, scissors, can and bottle openers, an awl, flathead screwdrivers and Phillips screwdriver – the Super Tinker has all of the most used tools (as long as you don’t need pliers).
We’ve never had a ‘bad’ SAK, it is just a matter of matching the tools to what you need. Other SAK models to consider are the Tinker, Spartan, Army Climber, Camper, and Evolution 11.
Multi Tools Under $30 to Avoid In General
Search Amazon and you’ll find no end to the Chinese-made knockoff tools that mimic designs from Leatherman, Gerber, and others. You might think it is a good deal to pick one up for around $10-15 but they are low quality and cheaply put together. The pliers are made from brittle metal and the tools are made from soft, thin steel. They just do not perform and will let you down when you need them.
Some brands like RoverTac, Jakemy, WETOLS, POHAKU, and others are a step above the rest of the pack but don’t get suckered by the 4+ star reviews, they are still not worth your money.