Choosing an emergency multi tool – get the biggest bang for your buck

If somebody was to ask me to define the difference between a truly prepared person and one that just calls himself that, I would say that it’s in the way of thinking. A true prepper will know that he/she can never be completely prepared and will recognize that when SHTF it will be a lot different than we imagined it.

It will call for a lot of improvisation, creative thinking and flexibility.

So, why not start developing that mindset right now. What you can to do make that one first step is shift the way of thinking from predicting different scenarios and adding stuff to his BOB to thinking about flexible items that can cover scenarios we can never think of.

Enter multi tool.

Now, I am not here to discover warm water and tell you that a multi tool is one of your BOB essentials. I am here to offer some guidance on how to choose wisely and get the biggest bang for your buck:

Here’s what you can expect from this short guide:

  • what’s really a multi tool and what you can expect from it
  • what it isn’t
  • what to look for in one to get value for your money and get a piece that’s just right for preppers
  • just to be specific – I’ll share what I have in my 72-hour BOB
  • So, let’s dive right in.

What is it?

A multi tool is an essential prepper sidekick. In a survival situation, it can become your best friend.

Why?

Because it is so versatile and offers so much chance for improvisation. Anything from simple stuff like opening cans and bottles to more advanced jobs, like fashioning wire snares and traps.

If you’ve ever been hunting or hiking with a backpack full of blades and tools, you probably know what I’m talking about.

I know that after my first hike with a bunch of metal/tools in my backpack and after that hike ended up with me using my trusted Gerber for 70-80% of the tasks, I was able to shed some serious weight from that backpack for the next hike.

Now, I know that a hike in the Rockies is not doomsday, I am just mentioning this to get my point over.

What is it not?

A multi tool is not a piece that will ever be good enough for you to lose all the tools and blades from your BOB.

Never.

Remember, they make these things to fit 10 or 20 pieces in one tool that’s usually the size of pliers. So they make compromises.

I know this very well, because the “they” in the previous sentence used to be “us”. Yes, I worked in a multitool factory for almost a decade, and I know the industry inside out.

So, it will not replace a good long knife, solid set of scissors (there’s a catch here, I’ll share it when I get to the part where I tell you about what’s in my BOB).

Let us get to the gist – what to look for when choosing a survival multitool

  1. Versatility

    Let me ask you this: “Do you see yourself picking your teeth with a toothpick from your multitool when everybody is running for their lives?” I am guessing NO.

    My point here is that a lot of what goes into a majority of multitools out there is glitter and stars that’s there just to sell the product. For a survival situation we are looking for a heavy duty multi tool that will be free of all that fluff and will only include what we really need:

    • sturdy pliers and a wire cutter
    • two well-made blades, regular and serrated
    • a saw
    • regular and phillips in a couple of sizes
    • bottle and can opener
  2. Quality of the materials

    We want something that we can depend on. A piece that will not break or start rusting in a few days.

    Let me be specific – my ideal multitool would be a combination of 420 stainless steel, 154cm stainless steel and titanium.

    Here’s why:

    • 420 stainless steel is stronger “by size” that titanium and has very little chromium (12%) that’s just right for most tools except the blades
    • 154cm steel for the blades because this holds edge 3 times as long as regular steel
    • titanium for the rest of the tool because it’s corrosion resistant

    Looking for red flags on the label:

    If you don’t know your stuff, the weak sides of the tool can be right there, in front of your nose, presented as a good thing that sounds expensive.

    • Stay away from “dye coat stainless steel” – this is regular steel dyed to look like stainless steel but will rust before you can cay say: “Oh, look darling, a zombie…”
    • Look for “titanium coated” – this looks oh so nice and shiny, but it’s just money from your pocket if you go with it. It will peel under mechanical influence, and you’ll be left with whatever is beneath that glitter…
    • This last one is just my two cents, but I stay away from anything that’s not made in the USA
  3. Usability

    This one is really simple – just look for something that will be convenient to carry on your belt and that will deploy easily using one hand.

  4. Design and safety

    When I say design here I don’t mean something that will match your eyes or look good on your camos.

    I am talking about 2 things:

    • easy to use and deploy (this one ties into the previous entry on the list, one hand deployment of crucial pieces without cutting yourself)
    • safety locks

What I have in my BOB

You remember I mentioned that there’s a catch about the scissors.

Well, here it is – since I’m always looking for ways to shed weight and increase the flexibility of everything I have in there, my BOB includes Raptor medical tool. It’s probably the only tool out there that features scissors that are as good (if not better) than most standalones.

And my main multi tool is Charge TTi. It doesn’t meet all the criteria I listed in “my ideal multi tool” , but it’s as close I could get with the pieces on the market today.

I am not saying that these are the best multi tools, they just tie really well into how I planned my BOB.

Final thoughts

I am here as your industry insider to point out what to look for and what to avoid. But what will find it’s way into your pocket or BOB is all you. By all means, do your research, read multi tool reviews and choose the best multi tool that suit your specific needs.

If anything of what I said here sticks, neither my time writing this or your time reading it is wasted.

Stay safe and make wise choices

Morry Banes is an avid blogger in the field of multi tools and preparedness.

He is an ex multi tool factory worker and today he is a husband and a father, owns a hardware store in Tigard and he’s an editor of bestmultitoolkit.com where he writes and reviews best multi tools.

3 thoughts on “Choosing an emergency multi tool – get the biggest bang for your buck

  • September 5, 2014 at 12:41 am
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    We keep multitools aallmost everywhere… heck I even have a small one on my keychain. I also think you get what you pay for and if you get a cheap version it is going to break quickly. The Leatherman brand has been good to us, if youre needing a phillips or a straight screwdriver (small) or a bootle opener or knofe they are great and get the little things ddone. They are also specialized for certiin ttasks so there you watch what you buy and you'll get more use out of them.

    Reply
  • September 4, 2014 at 8:38 am
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    Winter comes early up here in Northern NY, a multi-tool is nice but don't forget to throw a few MREs & an Army wool blanket in the trunk of your car as well, could save your life.

    Reply
  • September 4, 2014 at 2:48 am
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    It's probably time to replace my swiss army knife

    Reply

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