Pocket size multitools give the best combination of function and convenience. Usually 4-1/4 in or shorter and weighing under 8 oz, these compact multi tools are perfect for EDC and packed with the features we use most. Slim and lightweight, pocket multi tools are designed to be comfortable in your pocket or with a pocket clip. Replace your EDC pocket knife with one of these multitools and be ready for everything.
- Best Overall and Best One-Hand Tool: Leatherman FREE P2 jump to section
- Best Pliers and Best Budget Option: SOG PowerAccess jump to section
- Best Knife, Best Screwdrivers, and Best Corrosion Resistance: Leatherman Skeletool CX jump to section
Best Overall and Best One-Hand Tool: Leatherman FREE P2
The Leatherman FREE P2 (Buy on Amazon) became my EDC multi tool because of the convenience of its one-hand operation.
Even though it is slightly larger and heavier than other minimalist multi tools, the FREE P2 packs additional functions that make the trade-off worthwhile. True one-handed pliers are the killer feature that sets the FREE P2 apart, until you experience it you won’t really know how handy it will be.
Leatherman’s new elastomer springs and magnetic latching make the FREE series fun to use and capable of serious work. I also like the decision to go with a drop point blade instead of the traditional Leatherman clip point. The knife blade performs well and is long enough to replace a dedicated folding knife while gaining all the benefits of carrying a multi tool.
Best Pliers and Best Budget Option: SOG PowerAccess
There is no denying that SOG has the best pliers available on a multi tool. Their Compound Leverage system doubles the output from your grip strength compared to normal pliers on other multi tools. Having mechanical advantage means less hand fatigue which is important when you work in the trades and use your tools all day every day.
The SOG PowerAccess (Buy on Amazon) wins this category because SOG uses higher quality 5CR15MOV stainless steel on the PowerAccess series instead of their basic 420 stainless. At 4.1 in long and 5.9 oz the PowerAccess is easy to carry with a pocket clip and brings an impressive 18 functions. The same Compound Leverage system that gives you more force with the pliers also lets you cut wires that are nearly impossible with other multi tools. SOG packs all of this into the PowerAccess for less than half the price of other category winners.
There are drawbacks to the PowerAccess. The same Compound Leverage system that gives you great leverage also means the handles have to travel twice the distance to move the jaws. When you are working with the tool in your hand the pliers jaws do not open as wide. The other tools on the SOG PowerAccess are serviceable but not as good as our overall top pick the FREE P2. It is important to note that SOG does not have replaceable wire cutters on any of their tools so if you damage the jaws you can’t just swap them out.
Best Knife, Best Screwdrivers, and Best Corrosion Resistance: Leatherman Skeletool CX
The Leatherman Skeletool CX (Buy on Amazon) has been the flagship EDC multi tool since it launched in 2007. When other multi tool manufacturers were competing with each other to include the highest number of tools possible on their designs, Leatherman recognized that many users wanted a minimalist tool that didn’t weigh down their pockets.
To cut weight, Leatherman removed all the tools that only get occasional use. The Skeletool has just seven essential tools and packages them in a 4.2 inch, 5 ounce frame that is easy to carry with the pocket clip.
The knife blade is the highlight of the Skeletool CX. The clip-point blade has a partial flat grind, a full length straight edge, and Leatherman made the knife from 154CM blade steel. Even though 154CM is not on par with the top blade steel used in standalone knives, it is a significant upgrade from 420HC or 5CR15MOV with better edge retention, more durable blade, and better corrosion resistance.
The Skeletool CX also uses a DLC (diamond-like coating) on the handles for a premium appearance and better corrosion resistance overall. Unique among pocket multi tools, the Skeletool series from Leatherman are the only tool that include a bit driver instead of standard screwdriver tools. Because the bit driver is compatible with the bit driver extender it adds a lot of capability to the Skeletool CX.
Pocket Size Multi Tools Explained
In our experience, we want our EDC multitool or knife to be less than 8 oz and 4.25 inches or shorter. At these dimensions it will fit comfortably in the corner of our front pocket with the pocket clip and not weigh us down too much. Put a heavier multi tool like the Wave+ in your pocket and it seems ok at first, then as you are out moving around all day it bounces around and feels like you are carrying an anchor by quitting time.
Pocket Size Multitool Styles
In the drive to make their multitools more convenient to pocket carry, manufacturers have gone down different paths. They all look similar at first glance, but there are four distinct multitool styles.
Butterfly Opening Pocket Multitools
The primary category are butterfly folding multitools like the Skeletool where you unfold the handles to access the pliers.
Butterfly Opening Pocket Size Multitools – Product List
- Leatherman Freestyle, Juice, Leap, Skeletool
- SOG PowerAccess, PowerLitre, PowerPint
Button Release Spring-Assisted ‘Switchblade’ Pliers Pocket Multitools
The SOG Switchplier and the Bivy tool from CRKT make up the second category where the pliers and handle unfold from the multitool body.
Integrated Pliers Pocket Multitools
A third design that sees some use is where the plier jaws are always present and locked closed until the handle is released. This design is currently used in the Micro Toolclip tool from SOG.
Sliding Jaw Design Pliers Pocket Multitools
Gerber dominates the sliding jaw design category for full-size multitools and also has the Multi-Plier 400 Compact Sport in the pocket size category.