Camping Gear Essentials: Multi-tool
As I look through my camping gear, I find that there are some items that get used once in a while and others that get used all the time. I will refer to those items that are used all the time as my camping gear essentials. This series will highlight what I deem to be some of the most important gear to take camping.
We start with the smallest, yet one of the most helpful, items on my list, the multi-tool. It is hard to talk about the multi-tool in a general sense because there are so many different varieties, so I will be using my own multi-tool as a reference. When I was in college I purchased a Gerber Needlenose Multi-Plier 600 and it is the same one that I still use today.
Multi-tools, have been around for quite some time. I see them as a spin off of the Swiss Army Knives which have been around for over 100 years. The concept of a multi-tool is similar to that of the Swiss Army Knife in that they both have different tools wrapped in to one small package however, their designs are quite different. Multi-tools have taken a more compact tool shape. They are often in the form of a pliers with other tools stored in the handles.
Anytime I’m camping, hiking, paddling, or working on an outdoor project, I will have my Gerber multi-tool on my belt. It has come in handy countless times for many different uses. Let’s take a look at the tools on my particular model:
- Needlenose pliers – These can be useful to help pull out tough tent stakes among other things.
- Wire cutter – Can also be used for cutting small rope and plastic ties.
- Fine edge knife – Cutting things, opening bags, whittling, the usual knife stuff.
- Serrated knife – This is actually strong enough to make a handy saw for small branches.
- Screwdrivers – Cross point, and three different sized flat blade screwdrivers. Good for fixing electronics or prying something open.
- Lanyard ring – I’ve never used it, but if you didn’t have a sheath you could tie a string on the ring.
- Can opener – It is messier than the average can opener, but it does the job. Just don’t cut yourself on the can!
- Bottle opener – It opens bottles. What more can I say?
- File – We recently bought a carabiner that had a sharp metal point on it. The file worked really well to sand it down.
- Ruler – I’ve never used it, but it might come in handy to measure the days snow fall or a really small fish.
Buying a Multi-tool
My two main suggestions for buying a multi-tool is do your research and think about what will work for you. As I said before there a lot of different companies that make multi-tools. And there are even more different models within each company so there are plenty to choose from. Use the internet and user reviews when researching. I typically use amazon.com as a resource. If there is a common flaw with a particular model, chances are more than one person will comment about it. But don’t base your decision solely on other peoples opinions. Remember, what may work for one person may not work for you. Think about what you will be using the tool for and how often. Also, try to avoid plastic handles. If your multi-tool receives heavy usage it is possible the plastic may crack or break off. As for price, if you are in the market for a quality multi-tool, plan on spending at least $30.
As for the company to choose, I have only tried Gerber so far. Their products have been durable, reliable, and overall good quality. I would definitely recommend them. I hope to review some other products from other companies in the future. In the meantime if anyone uses a multi-tool that works well or that does not work well, post a review in the comments section.