Keychain multitools are designed to be carried on your key ring and they can provide a lot of capability for their small size. Because they stay on your keychain, they are the very definition of EDC tools and should simply disappear in your pocket…until you need them.
Small and powerful, don’t underestimate the value of having one of these tools in your pocket all the time. Due to their small size some people look down on them and there is a lot of low quality junk. Our hands-on testing separates the toys from the tools that are worth your time.
Keychain multi tools come in two categories: pry bar style tools and miniature folding multi tools.
Pry Bar ‘Key’ Style Multitools
Pry bar multitools bring big capability is a minimalist package. About the size of a key, pry bar multitools hang out on your keychain until you need them. Also known as one piece, solid state, or key style multitools they all fit into the category of pry bar style tools.
Pry bar style multitools are also carried on your keyring like butterfly opening keychain multitools, but prybar multitools don’t have moving parts. Leatherman calls them PocketTools, Gerber lumps them into their compact category, CRKT has a few, but SOG and Victorinox ignore this category completely. Beyond the major brands there are also excellent tools from lesser known manufacturers like Nite Ize, Gear Infusion, and others.
Despite their seeming simplicity a lot of engineering is used to produce these tools. Gear Infusion even built a 1/4 inch bit driver ratchet mechanism into their one-piece multitool. While they have the general size and shape of a key, one piece key style multitools are usually thicker and longer than most keys. The Gerber Shard is an excellent example, it is made from stout metal and despite its small size weighs a solid 1 oz.
Drawbacks of Pry Bar Style Multitools
Counterfeits and Knockoffs: Pry bar or key style multitools suffer from the problem as one piece wallet multitools – CNC advances and the low cost of entry make it easy to produce knockoff designs. A quick scan of user reviews on major Amazon and eBay show that fake products are commonly sold as the real deal. Read our guide for how to avoid counterfeit products.
Misleading Marketing: One-piece key-style tools pack a large number of tools into a pocket sized package. Unfortunately the marketing teams went overboard in the race to advertise the most tools possible and it is just spammy.
We applaud multi-purpose features that can be used to accomplish different tasks. A large flat screwdriver tip is also billed as a scraper and prybar. Give it a sharp corner and it also become a box opener and scorer, put a notch in the center and now it is also a nail puller. Manufacturers always seem to think more is better, but you can just look at the tool and see right through their games.
Pry Bar Multitools – Product List
- Leatherman 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10, Brewzer, Cam, Croc, Grind, Hail, Jam, Pump, Rail, Rime, Shooter, Thruster
- Gerber Gear Gutsy, Mullet, Shard
- CRKT Eat’n Tool, Get-A-Way Driver, K.E.R.T (Keyring. Emergency. Rescue. Tool), Micro Tool & Keychain Sharpener, Pryma
- Nite Ize Key Style Multitools: Ahhh… Bottle Opener, KeyRack S-Biner, DoohicKey Key Tool, DoohicKey ClipKey, DoohicKey QuicKey & SkullKey, DoohicKey FishKey
- Swiss+Tech 6-in-1 Utilikey, Micro-Slim Flat Wrench
- Gear Infusion Brew Soldier, EverRatchet, KT5 & KT10 Key Titan Carabiner and WedgieMT
- Keyport MOCA
- MecArmy EH3
- Titaner Multi Function Pry Bar and Titanium Multi Tool
- Griffin Pocket Tool Original, Mini, and XL
- Boker Plus Access and Toucan
- Schrade Keychain Pry Tool
Folding Keychain Multitools
Folding keychain multitools follow the same typical design as full-size multitools in a miniaturized package. We always recommend hands-on time with a multitool before purchasing. This is especially important with keychain size tools because they are small! Looking at photos online doesn’t give the right perspective – they are not much larger than an 9V battery.
Misleading Marketing: Manufacturers play the same game with folding multi tools to inflate the number of functions. Pliers and wire cutters turn into 5 or more separate tools due to marketing magic. (regular pliers, needle nose pliers, wire cutters, hard wire cutters, pipe wrench, wire strippers, etc…).
Folding Keychain Multitools – Product List
- Leatherman Folding Keychain Multitools: Micra, Squirt, Style
- Gerber Folding Keychain Multitools: Curve, Dime, Splice, Vise
- SOG Folding Keychain Multitools: Key Knife, Keytron
- Victorinox: Classic, Executive, Manager, Midnite Manager, Jetsetter, Ambassador, MiniChamp, Midnite MiniChamp, Nailclip 850, Swiss Lite, Rambler, Signature, Signature Lite, Rally, Wenger, Escort
- Swiss+Tech: Micro-Tech 6-in-1, Micro-Plus EX 9-in-1, and Micro-Max 19-in-1 Pocket Tools