It’s unusual to find a handyman or an outdoorsman today who doesn’t carry some sort of multi-tool, but not too many years ago the multi-tool was only an idea in Tim Leatherman’s mind. There’s plenty of competition for the best in the industry today, even if your own company made the first one. Leatherman multi-tools are still top-of-the-line, constantly offering new features and handy improvements. The older models don’t go out of style, and were built to last.
The Leatherman multi-tool concept evolved from a challenging vacation Tim Leatherman and his wife took in Europe in 1975. Armed only with a boy scout pocket knife, Tim took on an uncooperative Fiat and faulty plumbing in quaint continental hotels, coming home with a list of problems for his mechanical engineering education to tackle. With the help of family he advanced from cardboard multi-tool models to a working prototype called “Mr. Crunch,” which debuted production in 1980 and earned the praise of the New York Times. Aside from that, the new tool drew little attention. In 1983 small lots of an improved version, the “Pocket Survival Tool,” were purchased by Cabela’s and Early Winters and featured in their Christmas catalogs. Sales jumped to 30,000 pieces the next year, almost eight times the manufacturer’s best hopes. Annual sales reached a million pieces in 1993, the year a Leatherman multi-tool appeared in the “MacGyver” TV series. Leatherman tools played roles in “Speed” in 1994; in “Rush Hour” in 1998; and in “The X-Files” in 1999. By that time the Leatherman multi-tool was entrenched in pockets and attached to belts all over the U.S. Leatherman expanded the product line to folding knives, hunting knives, and flashlights after 2005 and continues to produce more and better multi-tools.
You’ll find a Leatherman multi-tool for nearly every specialty, and even the specialty multi-tools fit a variety of unexpected situations. Leatherman builds multi-tools designed for gardeners, hikers, and fishermen, as well as mechanics and carpenters. If your professional needs include Explosive Ordinance Disposal or firearms maintenance, Leatherman also makes tactical versions for police and military applications. The Leatherman Wave offers one-handed opening of the main knife blade, without unfolding the tool; and the Leatherman Squirt presents knife, scissors, pliers and essential tools in a package small enough to serve as a handy keychain. Leatherman’s folding knives don’t give up the multi-tool concept — many feature a screwdriver bit as well as a stout knife blade.