If you’re no stranger to spending time in the wilderness then you know how useful a multi-tool is to have in pretty much any situation. You can do basic fixes on car and boat engines, open up food and drinks, cut and prep dinner for the campfire, and a whole lot more.
Leatherman has dominated the multi-tool market for quite some time now but in my experience, Leatherman’s rust quickly when used on a daily basis in a saltwater environment. So, what are the best leatherman alternatives, and are they any better?
At A Glance: Our Top 3 Best Leatherman Alternatives
Join me as we take a dive and discuss so of the top multi-tools out there, that aren’t made by Leatherman.
Best Of The Best
|SEE ON AMAZON →|
Best On A Budget
|SEE ON REI →SEE ON AMAZON →|
|SEE ON AMAZON →|
|SEE ON AMAZON →|
|SEE ON AMAZON →|
|SEE ON AMAZON →|
|SEE ON REI →SEE ON AMAZON →|
|SEE ON AMAZON →|
As with all Victorinox tools, the Spirit X is made from the highest quality Swiss stainless steel which can handle the rough and tumble of the outdoors and blocks rust in saltwater environments too.
Ths Spirit X comes with 22 functions from pliers to wire strippers, blades, scissors, and screwdrivers. When closed, all the tools bar the pliers are easily accessible from the outside and firmly lock into place when opened.
The locking mechanism is tough and it holds well making it safe to use to the blades and saw with some cutting pressure.
At just 0.31 lbs it’s super light to carry and included with the Spirit X is a tough nylon sheath that you can attach to your belt and there is a lanyard hole so you can hang it around your neck too.
The one downside to the Spirit X is that you can not take it apart. This makes cleaning it a little trickier than a Leatherman. But it does come with a lifetime warranty.
Gerber has been working hard to compete with Leatherman in the multi-tool market and they’re doing a good job.
The Gerber Gear Truss Multitool is one of the best leatherman alternatives out there, especially if you’re on a budget.
The Truss is made from quality stainless steel and having carried one of these and a Leatherman in my backpack around the ocean the Gerber wins. The Gerber barely rusted and the Leatherman had to be thrown in the bin.
The Truss comes with 18 tools from pliers to blades, screwdrivers, scissors, and a lot more. Every tool, bar the pliers, is easy to access from the outside and firmly locks into place. Unlocking is easy with one hand too.
The blades are super sharp and excellent on flat surfaces but there are some complaints regarding their length, as they are a little shorter than usual.
The Truss comes in a MOLLE sheath and if you roll with a tactical backpack, then you’ll be able to attach it anywhere. It also slips onto your belt with ease.
Overall, you can beat the Truss on price and quality when it comes to Leatherman alternatives.
You might not have heard of SOG in the multi-tool world as their main focus is knives and they make great ones, but the SOG Multitool is an excellent leatherman alternative especially if you use pliers a lot.
The pliers on the SOG are incredibly easy to use, they feel like an extension of your arm. Super smooth, easy to open and close, plus they come with compound leverage so you can grip and tighten more than ever.
The further 17 tools are also fantastic and easy to access. The SOG features a power lock mechanism that holds tools in place for safe use and opens with ease for storage.
Everything on the multi-tool is made from top draw 420 stainless steel that lasts and doesn’t rust easily. The wire cutters are a little delicate though and will chip if you try to cut something that’s too thick for them.
Otherwise, this is a great all-around leatherman alternative that will last and has a lifetime warranty as long as you look after it.
The Gerber Gear 30-001194N Center-Drive Multitool is another fantastic Leatherman alternative especially if you spend a lot of time using a screwdriver.
The main feature of this Gerber is that it comes with a center-axis driver that makes it far easier to use the screw-driver than on any other multi-tool out there. Ideal if you have to fix an engine or two plus you get 12 different bits with it.
There are 9 more tools on this Gerber, all of which can be opened with one thumb for easy access and lock firmly into place for heavy use.
The one common complaint about the Gerber is that the wire cutters seem to chip easily and aren’t the sharpest.
Otherwise, like all Gerbers, it’s built of quality stainless steel that lasts and handles rust very well. You can also take it apart and clean it easily.
The next Leatherman alternative is another one from SOG. The SOG EDC Pocket Multitool’s main selling point is its lightweight design and pocket clip.
At just 4.6 ounces, it’s incredibly light and is licenses for EDC carry. It sits well with the pocket clip and is exceptionally easy to access in a time of need, plus it has 17 tools to go with it.
All the tools are what you’d expect from a multi-tool and the pliers are exceptional utilizing SOG’s compound leverage design to provide amazing grip so you can tighten and undo almost anything.
The SOG EDC Pocket Multitool is made from excellent stainless steel that lasts but being so light, the material is a little thin and a lot of users have found that it can bend quite easily under stain so be careful using it.
If this does happen, you are covered by SOG’s lifetime warranty and they will make it right.
If you’re looking for a very affordable Leatherman alternative to have on standby for emergencies then the RoverTac Multitool is a good option.
The RoverTac is made from black oxide stainless steel giving it excellent corrosion resistance and a long-lasting build, plus it comes with a lifetime warranty.
There is a total of 12 tools, a little less than some others, but all the most useful ones are included such as pliers, saw, wire cutters, and a blade of course.
Once opened, each tool locks firmly into place but accessibility is a bit of a problem. Instead of having all the tools on the outside and the pliers on the inside, they are all on the inside.
This means you’ll have to open up the multi-tool to access anything and two hands is a must.
Overall, the RoverTac suits anyone who isn’t planning on using their multi-tool every day or in a hurry. It’s perfect for keeping in your backpack for a time of need.
I’m not sure if you can call the Gerber Gear 31-003568 Armbar Drive a Leatherman alternative as it doesn’t come with pliers. But for those of you who don’t use pliers often, this is a fantastic option.
The Armbar is also about being light, compact, and having a screwdriver that gives you access to screws that are usually out of reach to a multi-tool.
The screwdriver on this works very well but you have to hold it in the right places to stop it from slipping. With a little practice, it does become second nature quite quickly.
The further 7 tools are all excellent but the scissors are a little blunt and might need sharpening on arrival.
One of the best things about the Armbar is its tool’s accessibility. All the tools can be opened with one hand and lock into place firmly, ideal when you’re holding a screw.
Overall, this is a fantastic option if you’re looking for a light, affordable, Leatherman alternative without pliers.
Our final Leatherman alternative is a great one, the Victorinox Swiss Army Swisstool.
The Swisstool is a little different from the Spirt X which featured above but still has the resounding Victorinox quality and is made from the best swiss stainless steel.
Even when put into a saltwater environment, the Swisstool doesn’t rust which is a lot more than I can say for a Leatherman.
All the tools bar the plies are on the outside for quick access and lock firmly into place. There is no wiggle when using them so you’ll be able to do heavy-duty tasks with ease.
Of the 22 tools, the ones you wouldn’t usually find on a multi-tool include a ruler, crimper, and a metal saw, while the rest of them are pretty standard.
Overall, it’s hard to beat Swiss quality but you do have to pay a little more for it compared to other multi-tool brands.
In the world of multi-tools, price is a direct reflection of the quality of the product. Since most multi-tools are made from stainless steel, which is expensive and comes in a range of qualities, manufacturers can not build a cheap leatherman alternative out of high-quality stainless steel or they would lose money.
The amount of stainless steel used can affect the price quite a lot, however. You can opt to buy a more affordable leatherman alternative with fewer tools than others for a much more affordable price than one with say 28 tools, as less stainless steel is needed to make it.
Overall, if you can afford it, don’t be shy of a higher price as it makes for a longer-lasting product. At the same time, if you’re on a budget, don’t go a cheap option with lots of tools, go for a trusted brand with fewer tools as it will last much longer.
We touched on quality a little in the price section and if you have read all the reviews above, you’ll notice that every leatherman alternative featured is made from stainless steel. Stainless steel is a great material as it’s corrosion-resistant and the best stainless steel won’t even rust when it comes into contact with saltwater.
It does come in different levels of quality though and you should be wary of this. I’ve had Leatherman’s rust to the point they can’t be used when working at sea, but my Gerber survived just fine.
If you do spend a lot of time in or on the ocean, make sure to pick a Gerber or Victorinox leatherman alternative as these brands use excellent steel that stops salt water from rusting your multi-tool.
When picking a leatherman alternative it’s not always best to pick the one with the most tools. Your best bet to make sure the multi-tool has the tools you need and would use regularly. For example, I’ve used the can opener on the Gerber once but I use the pliers every day when I’m working and I know the screwdriver with come in handy if I break down or need to fix something.
Think about what tools you need and want, then find a product that matches. Some of the multi-tools featured come without pliers and have a dedicated screwdriver instead, others focus around the pliers. There is one out there that will suit you.
One key thing every multi-tool should provide is an easy access to all the useful tools that come with them. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Now, most Leatherman alternatives come with pliers and the tools should be the outside with the pliers on the inside.
This allows you to use all the toolbar and pliers without having to open the multi-tool, making access quick and easy. You can even use one hand instead of two which is far more convenient.
What you don’t want is a multi-tool with all the tools on the inside, as you’ll have to open it every time you need to use anything.
To be able to use your multi-tool’s tools effectively, they will all need to be able to lock into place when opened and not slip. The locking mechanism is key to being able to use your tools both safely and effectively.
All the Leatherman alternatives featured have excellent locking mechanisms that hold the tools in place allowing you to use them safely and effectively. You can even open and lock the tools with just one hand making using them very easy.
Weight is a strange consideration when it comes to multi-tools. On the one hand, it’s nice to have a lightweight tool as it makes carrying it around easier, especially if you are out and about exploring the outdoors.
But when a multi-tool is lightweight, it tends to be made from thinner stainless steel. This results in tools that are susceptible to bending when doing heavy-duty tasks. You’ll be able to cut a tomato without worry but tasks like undoing a super-tight screw will possibly bend the screwdriver.
So, when picking a multi-tool on weight make sure to choose one based on your tasks. Heavier multi-tools are for heavier tasks, and lighter for easier tasks.
Almost every multi-tool out there comes with some kind of sheath usually made from nylon that you can attach to your belt with ease, and all the ones featured come with high-quality sheaths that last.
However, one comes with a pocket clip instead of a sheath as it’s made for EDC (every day carry) and has a blade to match.
The best leatherman alternative featured is the Victorinox Swiss Army Swisstool Spirit X. The Spirit X comes with a lifetime warranty, is built from the highest quality stainless steel, plus it’s safe and easy to use. Almost all the tools are accessible from the outside and firmly lock into place so you can even do heavy-duty work with them.
If you’re shopping for a Leatherman alternative on a budget then the Gerber Gear Truss Multitool is your best choice. The Truss is tough as nails, handles rust well, has all the tools you might need, is simple to use and it comes in a MOLLE sheat at a very affordable price. It’s hard not to love!
The best all-around Leatherman alternative featured is the SOG Multitool. Made from top-quality 420 stainless steel with a great locking mechanism, the tools are tough and easy to use. The pliers are particularly great with compound leverage that gives you a tight grip and the ability to tighten more than ever.