Best Multi Tool for Backpacking

Last Updated July 12, 2024
Among the many multi tools I evaluated, the Signal by Leatherman proved to be the best multi tool for backpacking.

As an avid fan of the great outdoors, my adventures have taken me through some of the most breathtaking landscapes this planet has to offer. Whether I’m hiking through dense forests, setting up camp under the stars, or exploring the vast expanses of our national parks, one thing remains a constant companion on my journeys—the trusty multitool. In this blog post, I’ll share my insights on the best multitools for backpacking, drawing from my personal experiences and recent research to help you choose the right one for your next adventure.

Best Multi Tool for Backpacking

The Quest for the Perfect Multitool

Finding the right multitool is a balance between weight, functionality, and durability. After sifting through various options and testing a few on the trails, here are my top picks across different categories:

Leatherman Signal: The All-Rounder

Leatherman Signal

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The Leatherman Signal Multi-Tool has earned its place as an indispensable companion on my backpacking adventures, combining a robust construction with a suite of features that cater specifically to outdoor enthusiasts. With an overall score of 8.5 out of 10 from Pro Tool Reviews, it’s clear that this tool stands out for its specialized outdoor features, including emergency fire-starting, a signal whistle, and a field sharpener, making it more than just an everyday carry tool​​.

The Signal’s durability is enhanced by a diamond-like carbon coating, which prevents corrosion and abrasion, and a cerakote protective ceramic coating for additional strength and resistance to wear. Its design focuses on one-handed operation, allowing easy access and use of all 19 tools it encompasses. This design is not just about ease of use but also safety, as each tool locks into place to prevent unintended openings​​.

Among its many tools, the needle-nose pliers, standard pliers, premium replaceable wire cutters, hard-wire cutters, and a wire stripper are indispensable for making quick repairs or adjustments. The 420HC combination knife, with both serrated and straight edges, adds versatility, while the open-toothed saw and functional hammer expand its utility for outdoor activities. Not to forget, the diamond-coated sharpener keeps your blades in top condition even in the wilderness​​.

Transportation and accessibility are thoughtfully considered in the Signal’s design. An integrated carabiner and a removable pocket clip make it easy to attach to a backpack or belt loop, ensuring it’s always within reach when needed​​.

In comparing the Signal to other multi-tools, such as the Leatherman Wave and Surge, the Signal’s unique outdoor-oriented features like the safety whistle, ferrocerium rod, hammer, and awl with thread loop set it apart. While the Wave and Surge may offer more tools or a different selection, the Signal’s design is tailored for the outdoor adventurer seeking a compact, versatile tool for a wide range of scenarios​​.

My personal experience aligns with the positive aspects highlighted in these reviews. Whether it was repairing gear, starting a fire in damp conditions, or performing minor medical interventions on the trail, the Leatherman Signal has proven to be an invaluable part of my gear. Its lightweight, compact design, coupled with its rugged durability and specialized features, make it an ideal choice for anyone serious about their outdoor activities.

Victorinox Huntsman Multi-Tool

Victorinox Huntsman Multi Tool

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The Victorinox Huntsman Multi-Tool has been a steadfast companion on my numerous backpacking trips, offering a remarkable blend of functionality and convenience in a compact form factor. Let me share my personal experiences and insights on this versatile tool, highlighting why it’s an essential piece of gear for any outdoor enthusiast.

Versatile Toolset: The Huntsman is equipped with a range of tools that cater to various needs in the great outdoors. Its large and small blades are incredibly useful for cutting through materials and preparing food, while the wood saw is perfect for cutting small branches for firewood or trail maintenance. The inclusion of both Phillips and flathead screwdrivers has made gear adjustments and minor repairs hassle-free. The can and bottle openers, along with the scissors, have enhanced my camping experience, making meal prep easier and more enjoyable. The presence of tweezers, a toothpick, and a key ring adds to its everyday utility, ensuring I’m prepared for anything from personal care to quick fixes​​​​​​.

Design and Durability: One of the most striking aspects of the Huntsman is its compact size and lightweight design, making it an unobtrusive addition to my backpack. Despite its small size, it doesn’t compromise on the quality or functionality of the tools. Each tool is crafted from high-grade materials, ensuring longevity and reliability even after repeated use in various environmental conditions. The polished Cellidor handle not only adds to the aesthetic appeal of the Huntsman but also provides a comfortable grip during use​​.

Practicality for Outdoor Adventures: My adventures have taken me through dense forests, atop rugged mountains, and into remote camping sites, with the Huntsman proving its worth at every step. It’s the tool I reach for whether I need to make a quick repair, prepare a meal, or perform first aid. Its versatility makes it invaluable for backpacking, where minimizing weight and maximizing utility is crucial. Moreover, its ease of carry—fitting effortlessly into a pocket or attaching to a key ring—ensures it’s always within reach when I need it​​​​​​.

The Victorinox Huntsman Multi-Tool has earned its place as an indispensable part of my outdoor gear. Its comprehensive set of tools, combined with its durability and ease of use, makes it a reliable companion for any adventure. Whether you’re an avid hiker, camper, or just someone who appreciates the practicality of a well-designed multi-tool, the Huntsman is certainly worth considering.

Gerber Dime: Lightweight Champion

Gerber Dime Travel Keychain Multi Tools

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As an enthusiastic backpacker who thrives on exploring the great outdoors, I’ve always emphasized the importance of carrying a reliable multitool. The Gerber Dime, in particular, has proven to be an indispensable part of my gear, especially when packing light is crucial. Let me delve deeper into why the Gerber Dime is the lightweight champion among multitools for backpacking.

Compact Powerhouse: First off, the Gerber Dime’s compact size is a game-changer. Weighing in at a mere 2.2 oz and with a closed length of just 2.75 inches, it’s the epitome of portability. Despite its small stature, the Dime doesn’t compromise on functionality. With ten essential tools, including pliers, a knife, scissors, a tweezers, a file, and a bottle opener, it covers nearly all bases for trailside repairs and everyday tasks​​.

Designed for Backpackers: What sets the Gerber Dime apart as a backpacking multitool is its thoughtful design geared towards hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. Its lightweight design means it can easily be carried in a pocket or attached to a backpack without adding noticeable weight, a crucial factor when every ounce matters on the trail. Moreover, the tool selection is specifically tailored to the needs of backpackers. The pliers are sturdy enough for minor gear repairs, while the scissors and knife are sharp and reliable for opening packages or preparing food. The inclusion of a tweezers and a file adds versatility for personal care or gear maintenance, ensuring you’re prepared for a wide range of situations with just one tool.

Durability and Reliability: Despite its lightweight, the Gerber Dime doesn’t skimp on durability. Made from stainless steel, it’s built to withstand the rigors of outdoor use. I’ve personally put it through its paces on numerous hikes and camping trips, and it’s held up remarkably well. The tools open smoothly and lock securely in place, giving me confidence in their reliability when I need them most. And on the rare occasion when something does go wrong, Gerber’s repair policy offers peace of mind that I can get my Dime fixed or replaced, ensuring it remains a staple in my backpacking kit for years to come​​.

Personal Experience: On a recent backpacking trip through the Sierra Nevada, the Gerber Dime truly proved its worth. A strap on my backpack began to fray dangerously close to breaking. With the Dime’s scissors, I was able to trim the frayed edges before using the pliers to secure a temporary fix with some spare paracord. This quick repair held up for the remainder of the trip, saving me from a potentially challenging situation. Additionally, the bottle opener and knife came in handy during meal times, reinforcing the Dime’s role as a versatile and indispensable tool.

The Verdict: For those in the backpacking community looking for a multitool that balances functionality with portability, the Gerber Dime is an excellent choice. Its compact size and lightweight design make it an ideal companion for weight-conscious backpackers, while its durability and thoughtful tool selection ensure it can handle a variety of tasks on the trail. From personal experience, the Gerber Dime has earned its place in my gear list for every adventure, proving that great things indeed come in small packages.

Victorinox Swisstool Spirit X: The Feature-Rich Powerhouse

Victorinox Swiss Tool Spirit MX Clip

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On my countless adventures through the wilderness, I’ve learned the importance of having a reliable multitool by my side. The Victorinox Swisstool Spirit X has been a faithful companion, distinguishing itself as the feature-rich powerhouse among my gear. Here’s a deeper look into why this multitool is an essential piece for any backpacking enthusiast.

Unmatched Durability and Reliability: The Victorinox Swisstool Spirit X’s durability is exceptional, a testament to its high-quality stainless steel construction. I put it through rigorous tests, including exposure to harsh conditions like salt water, to mimic the challenges of coastal environments. Impressively, it showed no signs of corrosion, only minor water spots that rinsed off easily, maintaining its functionality and integrity in diverse environments​​​​.

Ergonomic Design and Functionality: Handling the Spirit X, its ergonomic design is immediately apparent. Its tools snap into place with a satisfying click, and the well-lubricated joints ensure smooth operation. Despite its compact size, akin to an old-school pocket knife, it doesn’t sacrifice capabilities expected from a multitool​​. The precision manufacturing allows for easy deployment of each tool without any clumping, a feature that speaks volumes about its quality​​.

Practicality for Outdoor Adventures: The Spirit X boasts a blend of functionality and class, with each tool designed for practical use. The pliers are robust and offer an excellent grip, though they come with non-replaceable wire cutters, which could be a limitation for some. The scissors, while sharp enough for cutting paracord and even nails, have a more robust design but don’t open very wide, which could be restrictive for thicker materials​​​​.

Aesthetic Appeal: Beyond its practicality, the Spirit X is a statement piece with its polished stainless steel body that exudes sophistication. This aesthetic appeal, combined with its sleek design, makes it not just a tool but a part of my outdoor ensemble that I’m proud to carry and use​​.

Reflections on the Spirit X: Using the Spirit X on my backpacking trips has been a pleasure. Whether tuning up a bike during a break, handling minor repairs, or simply appreciating its quality and functionality around the campfire, it’s proven to be an indispensable part of my kit. Its mix of durability, practicality, and aesthetic appeal aligns perfectly with my outdoor lifestyle. The lifetime guarantee and the tool’s performance in demanding conditions further cement its place as a top choice for backpackers seeking a reliable multitool​​​​.

Choosing the Victorinox Swisstool Spirit X for your adventures means investing in a multitool that offers a perfect balance between functionality, ease of use, and visual appeal. It’s a testament to Swiss craftsmanship, designed to meet the varied needs of the modern adventurer with elegance and reliability.

Leatherman Arc: The Premium Pick

Leatherman Arc Multi-Tool

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Exploring the great outdoors with the Leatherman Arc Multi-Tool has been an absolute game-changer for my backpacking adventures. Its blend of durability, innovative features, and ergonomic design makes it a powerhouse tool that’s essential for anyone serious about their outdoor activities.

Superior Cutting Edge with MagnaCut Blade: The Leatherman Arc sets itself apart with the inclusion of a MagnaCut blade, renowned for its toughness, superior corrosion resistance, and impressive edge retention. This blade has effortlessly handled everything I’ve thrown at it, from routine campsite tasks to more demanding challenges. Its ability to withstand misuse, coupled with minimal maintenance needs, makes the Arc’s knife a standout feature for any backpacker​​.

Intuitive and Secure Use: One of the most impressive features of the Arc is its magnetic locking mechanism, part of Leatherman’s FREE® technology, which provides a seamless yet secure tool deployment experience. The tactile feedback and easy one-handed operation have been invaluable, especially when multitasking or wearing gloves in colder conditions​​.

Ergonomic Design for Comfortable Handling: Despite its robust toolset, the Arc is remarkably balanced and comfortable to hold. The ergonomic design has significantly reduced hand fatigue during prolonged use, making it my go-to multi-tool for everything from quick fixes to more labor-intensive tasks. The thoughtful tool placement and intuitive design mean I can access exactly what I need without fumbling, enhancing my efficiency on the trail​​.

Versatile and Practical for Every Adventure: The Arc’s adaptability in various conditions and its balanced handling make it a practical choice for everyday carry, not just for backpacking. Its comprehensive driver kit, including a bit driver and an array of bits, has made the Arc incredibly versatile. Whether I’m repairing gear or adjusting my sunglasses, the Arc has a tool for the job​​​​.

Built to Last: Crafted from high-grade stainless steel and coated with DLC for added durability, the Arc is engineered to endure the harshest environments. Its robust construction and protective coatings ensure it stands up to the rigors of outdoor use, maintaining its functionality and appearance despite exposure to moisture, dirt, and wear​​.

The Leatherman Arc has proven to be an indispensable companion on my backpacking trips, offering a perfect blend of functionality, durability, and ease of use. Its standout MagnaCut blade, magnetic locking mechanism, and comprehensive toolset, combined with an ergonomic design, make it a top-tier multi-tool for outdoor enthusiasts seeking reliability and versatility in their gear.

The Budget-Friendly Gerber Suspension NXT

Gerber Suspension-NXT Multi Tool

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In my quest to find a reliable, budget-friendly multitool for my backpacking adventures, the Gerber Suspension NXT has proven to be an invaluable companion. Its blend of affordability, versatility, and practical design makes it a standout choice for those who seek quality without breaking the bank.

Unparalleled Value and Versatility: The Gerber Suspension NXT is a testament to Gerber’s commitment to providing functional, everyday carry tools. Sporting 15 versatile tools, including needle-nose pliers, a Phillips screwdriver, and a unique combination blade, it’s designed for a wide array of tasks. The inclusion of a lanyard point and a pocket clip enhances its portability, making it an excellent choice for backpacking where every ounce and inch of space counts​​​​​​.

Design and Functionality: One of the most appealing features of the Suspension NXT is its lightweight design, weighing in at just 6.7 ounces. Despite this, it doesn’t compromise on the closed length or the robustness of the tools it houses. The transition to a more user-friendly design is evident in its deep-carry pocket clip, which ensures a stealthy and secure carry. This multitool boasts spring-loaded pliers, wire cutters, and a range of secondary tools including a Phillips head screwdriver and an awl, among others, making it a comprehensive toolset for the trails​​​​.

Practical Experience: My hands-on experience with the Suspension NXT has been overwhelmingly positive. The tool’s ergonomic design and the locking feature for each tool ensure safety and ease of use in various outdoor scenarios. Whether it was making quick fixes to gear, preparing a meal, or needing a reliable tool for creating tinder, the Suspension NXT was up to the task. Its scissors, albeit small, are impressively sharp and spring-loaded, making them more user-friendly than anticipated. The cross driver and the awl have been particularly useful for more detailed tasks, embodying the multitool’s versatile nature​​​​.

The Verdict: While the Gerber Suspension NXT has its limitations, such as the non-replaceable wire cutters and a blade that could benefit from being sharper, its strengths far outweigh these drawbacks. The affordability, coupled with the thoughtful design and range of useful tools, makes it an outstanding option for backpackers looking for a reliable multitool that won’t weigh them down—both physically and financially​​​​​​.

The Gerber Suspension NXT has earned its place in my backpacking kit as a must-have item. It strikes a perfect balance between functionality, portability, and value, making it a top recommendation for any outdoor enthusiast on a budget.

Swiss Card Lite Multi-Tool

Victorinox SwissCard Lite

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Exploring the great outdoors requires not just passion but also the right tools, and the Victorinox Swiss Card Lite Multi-Tool has become an indispensable part of my backpacking gear. It’s the epitome of convenience and efficiency, encapsulating a wide array of tools in a compact, credit card-sized format that fits effortlessly into my wallet. This multi-tool is a testament to the idea that good things indeed come in small packages, allowing me to carry less while doing more.

Compactness and Versatility: The Swiss Card Lite’s design is brilliantly thought out, offering a practical solution to everyday challenges without the bulk of traditional multi-tools. With 13 different functions, including a small blade for opening packages, scissors for precision cuts, a pressurized ballpoint pen for jotting down notes, and a magnifying glass for reading fine print, it covers almost all bases​​​​.

Outdoor Readiness: On several backpacking trips, the Swiss Card Lite proved its worth beyond just being a novelty item. The LED light, though compact, provided sufficient illumination in pinch situations, such as reading maps or finding objects in my pack at night. The tweezers and pin came in handy for removing splinters, showcasing the tool’s practicality in first aid scenarios. Furthermore, its adaptability in various conditions without taking up significant space made it an excellent addition to my minimalistic packing approach​​​​.

Durability and Everyday Practicality: The Swiss Card Lite is not just about packing multiple functions into a slim profile; it’s also built to last. Its stainless steel and ABS/cellidor construction ensure durability while keeping the tool lightweight. This robust design, coupled with its array of practical tools, provides a sense of reliability and longevity, making it a valuable investment for anyone who values functionality and durability in their gear​​.

Value for Money: Considering its price point, the Swiss Card Lite offers exceptional value, especially when you factor in its build quality, brand reputation, and the sheer utility it brings to everyday and outdoor situations. It’s a testament to Victorinox’s commitment to quality and innovation, offering a tool that’s not just useful but also designed to withstand the test of time and use​​.

The Victorinox Swiss Card Lite Multi-Tool has become a non-negotiable part of my outdoor and everyday carry. Its blend of functionality, compact design, and durability makes it an excellent tool for backpackers, travelers, and anyone looking for a practical multi-tool that doesn’t compromise on quality or versatility. Whether it’s making minor repairs, performing first aid, or just needing a light in a pinch, the Swiss Card Lite has you covered, all while taking up no more space than a credit card.

SOG MacV Multi-Tool

SOG MacV Tool

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The SOG MacV Tool is an exceptional multi-tool that I’ve found indispensable on my backpacking trips. Its compact design, inspired by the original skull emblem of the MACV-SOG group, makes it not just a tool but a piece of history in your pocket. Weighing in at just 0.62 oz and measuring 2.50″ in length, its portability is unmatched, easily attaching to a keychain or slipping into a pocket without notice​​.

Among the 12 versatile components, several stand out for their utility in the great outdoors. The bottle opener has been a reliable feature for those leisure moments post-hike, opening beverages with ease. The cord cutter has proven essential, whether I’m setting up camp or needing to quickly modify gear, its sharpness and accessibility are commendable. Another unique feature is the carbide sharpener, a boon for keeping knives or other tools in top condition while on the move​​.

The inclusion of multiple wrench sizes and a hex bit driver enhances its functionality, covering a range of DIY needs without the bulk of carrying a full toolset. Its design ensures each tool is easily accessible and efficient to use, even with gloves on, which speaks volumes of its thoughtful engineering for outdoor enthusiasts​​.

While its compactness and array of tools are a significant advantage, there are areas for potential improvement. The precision of the wrenches could be enhanced for tighter bolts, and a deeper Philips head screwdriver might provide a more secure fit for larger screws. Additionally, while the pry bar is a useful inclusion, its leverage capability could be improved for more robust tasks​​.

Comparing the SOG MacV Tool to other popular keychain multi-tools, it stands out for its lightweight profile and specific tool selection designed for practical, everyday use. It lacks some tools that others may offer, like a blade or pliers, but its design focuses on portability and essential functions over comprehensive tool availability. This focus makes the MacV especially suitable for those who prioritize minimalism and efficiency in their gear​​.

The SOG MacV Tool has become a valued component of my outdoor gear, offering a blend of practicality, ease of use, and historical significance. Its design and functionality cater well to the needs of backpackers and outdoor adventurers, making it a highly recommended addition to anyone’s kit.

Personal Reflections

In my years of traversing the wild, the right multitool has often been the difference between a minor inconvenience and a major headache. I’ve used my multitool to repair gear, prepare meals, and even provide first aid in emergencies. Each of the multitools mentioned above has its place, depending on your specific needs and the nature of your adventure.

The Leatherman Wave Plus has been a personal favorite for its all-around performance. However, I’ve come to appreciate the lightweight Gerber Dime for shorter, less demanding trips. Ultimately, your choice should be informed by the balance between the weight you’re willing to carry and the functionality you require.


As you gear up for your next outdoor adventure, consider how a multitool fits into your kit. Whether you’re a weekend warrior or a seasoned thru-hiker, there’s a multitool out there that’s perfect for your needs. Remember, the best multitool is the one that addresses your needs while complementing your adventure style. Stay safe, be prepared, and happy trails!

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