Always Carry a Leatherman
I don’t have very many hard-and-fast rules that I really stick to. I generally feel like rules get in the way of being able to go with the flow and take things as they come; an important principle for anyone seeking an adventure-based lifestyle. One of the rules that sticks with me though, is Always Carry a Leatherman.
In principle, the item in question does not need to be a Leatherman brand multi-tool, it just has to be a durable, useful, well-thought-out, multi-tool that can save my bacon no matter what situation I get myself into. I have tried the knock-offs and wanna-be-replacements, and I always come back to this trusty tool.
So, in practice, I always carry a Leatherman. The model I have was discontinued a number of years ago. It’s the Leatherman Flair. My dad bought it for me when I turned 15, and I have carried it almost every day in the last decade. Without fail, every time I don’t have it on me, I wish that I did. Most days I have it, I end up using it at least once. That isn’t necessarily for lack of access to “real” tools, like a pair of pliers, knife, scissors, bottle opener, screwdriver. It’s because my Leatherman is always on my hip, which is almost always closer than my toolbox.
Curiously enough, that’s exactly what you need to replace the average Leatherman tool. A freakin’ toolbox. My specific tool was aimed at the camping market, so it’s got a few items from the kitchen as well.
My original thought for this post was to provide a list of all the great things I do with a leatherman… but that list is long and I’m honestly not creative enough to showcase the true potential of all the things you can use one for. Suffice it to say that I use mine every day, and I’m always finding fun new things I can do with it.
The one problem I experience is that you generally* can’t fly with a multi-tool that has a knife. Which means the one that you carry everyday has to stay at home while you fly off to exotic and adventurous destinations. To get around this, Leatherman have released a set of TSA-friendly** tools, which generally include everything you are used to having, except the knife. Or, you can put it in your checked bag. I never check bags on planes, so that isn’t an option for me.
I recently purchased a Leatherman STYLE, which is a great little tool I keep on a keychain or a length of paracord. It lives in my travel backpack, so I don’t have to worry about forgetting it at home, and it is TSA-approved.**
As soon as the new TREAD bracelet comes out, I’ll be buying one of those, too.
Some people like to gripe about the price of Leatherman tools, Swiss Army tools, etc. To those people, I ask the following question: What item have you had for 10+ years, used daily, and not had it break?
My leatherman is the only thing I have had that long and not had to repair, replace, return or recycle. And even if I had managed to damage it, break it, ding it, Leatherman has a 25 year free repair/replacement warrantee. If they can’t repair your item, they will upgrade you to a similar tool of equal or greater value. That’s standing behind your product and that’s a company I will do business with.
In a nutshell, I highly recommend you carry a multi-tool that works for you, your needs and your budget. For me, that’s a Leatherman, but I won’t take it personally if yours is a different brand. Do what works for you.
* I’ve actually flown with my Flair tool for years, both international and domestic travel, and never had a problem. BUT past performance is no guarantee of future results.
** Individual TSA agents can still ask you to mail it home if they deem it as a threat. Don’t be stupid about flying with your tools and they won’t get confiscated. Duh.