Leatherman Arc Multi-Tool Review: The Ultimate Outdoor Companion

Last Updated January 7, 2024

As an avid outdoor enthusiast who enjoys hiking, camping, and RVing, I’ve always valued reliable tools that can stand the test of nature. So, when I came across the Leatherman Arc, the latest in a long line of iconic multi-tools, I knew I had to give it a try. Its promise of integrating advanced technology and user feedback into a single, robust tool was something I couldn’t overlook.

Leatherman Arc Multi-Tool

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First Impressions: Unboxing the Arc

The moment I received the Leatherman Arc, my anticipation was palpable. As an outdoor enthusiast who values high-quality gear, I was eager to see if the Arc lived up to its reputation. The packaging itself was neat and professional, typical of Leatherman’s attention to detail.

Upon opening the box, the Arc immediately commanded attention. Its construction struck a perfect balance between elegance and ruggedness, with its black and stainless steel finish giving it a sleek, modern appearance. Despite being designed for tough outdoor tasks, the tool exuded a sense of refined craftsmanship.

Holding the Arc for the first time, I noticed its substantial weight and solid feel. Weighing 8.6 ounces, it felt reassuringly sturdy in my hand, a testament to its durable construction. This isn’t a lightweight tool you’ll forget you’re carrying, but its heft speaks to its robustness and capability.

The tool’s surface, with its PVD coating, added a touch of sophistication and promised enhanced durability. The black DLC coating on the MagnaCut steel blade caught my eye, showcasing a sharp, professional look that signaled high performance.

I was particularly impressed with the thought put into the design for ease of use. The Arc’s components were all accessible from the outside, meaning I wouldn’t need to open the tool to access the individual features. This design is a significant advantage when you’re out in the field and need quick access to tools.

The inclusion of a nylon sheath and a comprehensive bit kit further elevated my initial impression. The sheath seemed durable and practical, with pockets for the multi-tool and additional bits, ensuring everything I might need was conveniently at hand.

Overall, my first impression of the Leatherman Arc was overwhelmingly positive. It exuded quality, functionality, and versatility, all packaged in a sleek, durable body. It seemed poised to handle everything from the simplest tasks to the most challenging outdoor situations, making it an exciting addition to my outdoor gear collection.

Letherman Arc Closed

The MagnaCut Blade: A Cut Above the Rest

The standout feature of the Leatherman Arc, and a major factor in my initial interest, was its MagnaCut knife blade. As someone who frequently engages in outdoor activities like hiking and camping, a reliable knife is indispensable. The Arc’s blade isn’t just any knife; it’s a game-changer in the multi-tool world.


Material and Craftsmanship: MagnaCut steel is a relatively new player in the knife industry, renowned for its exceptional balance between edge retention, toughness, and corrosion resistance. This isn’t just marketing speak; the performance of this blade material is palpable. The blade itself is a testament to Leatherman’s commitment to integrating advanced materials into their tools. The use of such high-quality steel in a multi-tool is a bold and impressive move.

Performance in Outdoor Settings: In my outings, the blade faced various tasks: slicing through tough ropes, cutting kindling for a campfire, and even prepping food. Each time, the blade performed exceptionally well, maintaining its sharpness and integrity. The edge retention is particularly noteworthy – after multiple outings and varied use, the blade required minimal maintenance. This is a significant advantage when you’re miles away from civilization and need a reliable tool.

Durability and Corrosion Resistance: The corrosion resistance of the MagnaCut blade is another standout feature. Outdoor adventures often expose tools to moisture, from morning dew to unexpected rain showers. The Arc’s blade shrugged off these conditions without any signs of rust or degradation. This durability is crucial for anyone who, like me, often finds themselves in unpredictable weather conditions.

Ease of Use and Safety: The blade’s thumb stud for easy one-handed opening is a thoughtful addition, especially when my other hand is occupied holding something in place or balancing on uneven terrain. The ease of deployment, coupled with the blade’s locking mechanism, ensures safety and efficiency – essential in high-stakes outdoor environments.

Versatility for Various Tasks: Beyond typical cutting tasks, the MagnaCut blade excelled in more delicate operations, like whittling wood or precision cutting. Its sharpness and control were evident, making it an excellent tool for intricate work. This versatility is a key factor in its value, transforming the Arc from a mere multi-tool to a crucial outdoor companion.

In summary, the MagnaCut blade in the Leatherman Arc is more than just an upgrade; it’s a revolution in multi-tool design. Its exceptional balance of durability, sharpness, and versatility makes it an invaluable asset for any outdoor adventure. Whether I’m on a challenging hike, setting up camp, or simply needing a reliable blade for everyday tasks, the MagnaCut blade has consistently proven to be a cut above the rest.

Tools Included

1 MagnaCut Knife Blade
2 Needlenose Pliers
3 Regular Pliers
4 Large Bit Driver
5 Diamond-coated File
6 Small Bit Driver
7 Wood/Metal File
8 Pry Tool
9 Premium Replaceable Wire Cutters
10 Premium Replaceable Hard-wire Cutters
11 Impact Surface
12 Large Screwdriver
13 Bottle Opener
14 Can Opener
15 Awl
16 Spring-action Scissors
17 Saw
18 Wire Stripper
19 Electrical Crimper
20 Edge File

Arc Diagram Tools

Versatile and User-Friendly

As someone who is deeply involved in outdoor activities like hiking, camping, and RVing, the versatility and user-friendliness of my equipment are critical. In these aspects, the Leatherman Arc truly shines, demonstrating why it is a standout in the multi-tool market.

A Wide Array of Tools for Every Need: The Arc is equipped with 20 different tools, each designed with precision and purpose. From the needlenose pliers for intricate repairs to the wire cutters for quick fixes, each tool has its unique place in my outdoor adventures. The inclusion of both a diamond-coated file and a wood/metal file is particularly beneficial for someone like me, who often finds himself in need of sharpening hooks or smoothing out rough edges on camping gear.

Bit Kit for Expanded Functionality: The additional bit kit, which includes various sizes of Torx, Pozi, Hex, and Robertson bits, transforms the Arc into a versatile toolkit. I found this immensely useful while working on my RV, where a range of different screws and bolts are common. The ability to switch out bits on the fly, without having to carry a separate set of screwdrivers, is a huge plus in terms of convenience and efficiency.

Arc Bit

One-Handed Operation: A Game-Changer: The one-handed operability of the Arc’s tools, a hallmark of Leatherman’s FREE® technology, is a feature that stands out, especially in situations where my other hand is occupied. Whether it’s holding a flashlight during a night repair or stabilizing a piece of equipment, being able to access and use each tool with just one hand is incredibly beneficial.

Magnetic Locking Mechanism for Easy Access and Safety: The magnetic locking mechanism of the Arc not only makes accessing the tools a breeze but also ensures safety while using them. There’s a sense of confidence that comes with knowing that the tool I’m using won’t collapse or close unintentionally, which is crucial when I’m miles away from any immediate help.

Tailored for the Outdoors: Each tool in the Arc is designed with outdoor use in mind. The saw and scissors are robust enough to handle tough materials, while the can and bottle openers are a welcome addition for those relaxed moments around the campfire. The awl, with its new eyeless design, has been a great tool for making quick repairs to gear or even piercing through tough materials when needed.

Portability and Convenience: Despite its comprehensive toolset, the Arc is surprisingly compact. It fits comfortably in my pocket, and the removable pocket clip offers additional carrying flexibility. When I’m on longer trips, I prefer to use the included nylon sheath, which conveniently stores the Arc and the bit kit, ensuring that I have everything I need at my fingertips.

In conclusion, the versatility and user-friendliness of the Leatherman Arc make it an invaluable tool for anyone who spends significant time in the outdoors. Its thoughtful design, range of tools, and one-handed operation make it not just a tool, but a reliable companion in various outdoor scenarios. Whether I’m fixing something on the go, setting up camp, or performing routine maintenance on my RV, the Arc has proven itself to be an indispensable part of my outdoor gear.

Ease of Use: A Key Factor

In the realm of outdoor activities, where conditions can be unpredictable and time is often of the essence, ease of use in tools is not just a convenience, it’s a necessity. The Leatherman Arc, in this regard, stands out as a paragon of user-friendly design, marrying functionality with simplicity.

One-Hand Operability: A Revolution in Accessibility: The Leatherman Arc’s one-hand operability is its crowning feature, especially for someone like me who often finds himself multitasking in the outdoors. Whether I’m securing a tent with one hand or holding a flashlight in a dimly lit setting, the ability to deploy and use each tool with the other hand is incredibly practical. This feature is not just about convenience; it’s about efficiency and safety, allowing for quick response in situations that require immediate attention.

Magnetic Locking Mechanism: Seamless yet Secure: The integration of Leatherman’s FREE® technology with a magnetic locking mechanism in the Arc has been a game-changer. This mechanism ensures that the tools not only deploy effortlessly but also lock firmly in place during use. There’s a reassuring ‘click’ that signals the tool is ready and secure, which adds a layer of safety and reliability that is vital during outdoor adventures.

Intuitive Design: Tailored for Real-World Use: Every aspect of the Arc has been designed with the user in mind. Tools are strategically placed for easy access, and their deployment is intuitive. Even without prior experience with a Leatherman tool, I found the learning curve to be minimal. The well-thought-out placement and design of each component meant that I could access the tool I needed without fumbling or second-guessing.

Adaptability in Various Conditions: Whether it’s under the harsh sun, in the pouring rain, or in the cold where my fingers are less nimble, the Arc has proven to be reliably accessible. The ease of opening each tool, coupled with the tactile feedback of the magnetic mechanism, ensures that I can use the Arc effectively in a wide range of environmental conditions.

Balanced and Comfortable Handling: Despite its robust array of tools, the Arc feels balanced and comfortable in hand. The ergonomic design minimizes hand fatigue, which is crucial during prolonged use or when exerting more force. This comfort in handling makes it a go-to tool for a variety of tasks, from simple fixes to more demanding outdoor chores.

Practical for Everyday Carry: The Arc’s design also takes into account the practicality of everyday carry. Its compact form factor, combined with the removable pocket clip, makes it a versatile tool that fits seamlessly into my daily life, whether I’m out in the wild or handling tasks around the house.

In summary, the ease of use of the Leatherman Arc is a standout feature that enhances its overall utility. Its one-hand operability, secure locking mechanism, intuitive design, and comfortable handling all contribute to a user experience that is both efficient and enjoyable. For anyone who values a tool that can keep up with the diverse demands of outdoor activities, the Arc is an excellent choice, offering a level of convenience and reliability that is hard to match.

Design and Durability: Built for the Outdoors

In the world of outdoor adventuring, where gear is regularly put to the test against the elements and rugged use, the design and durability of a tool can make or break its effectiveness. The Leatherman Arc is crafted with these challenges in mind, showcasing a design that’s not only visually appealing but also built to endure the harshest of environments.

Robust Construction: Engineered for Endurance: The first thing that struck me about the Arc was its solid build. Made predominantly from high-grade stainless steel, including 420HC and 440C varieties, it exudes a sense of sturdiness and quality. The weight and balance of the tool in hand give a reassuring feeling of reliability, essential for the varied demands of outdoor use. Whether I’m tackling a difficult repair on my RV or making adjustments to my hiking gear, the robust construction of the Arc instills confidence that it can withstand significant stress and usage.

Protective Coatings: Enhancing Durability: Leatherman’s decision to incorporate DLC (Diamond-Like Coating) on the Arc is a testament to their commitment to durability. This coating not only gives the tool a sleek, refined look but also adds an extra layer of protection against corrosion and wear. For an outdoor enthusiast like myself, who often encounters moisture and dirt, this feature is invaluable. It ensures that the Arc remains in top condition, even after exposure to harsh outdoor elements.

Ergonomic Design: Comfort and Efficiency in Use: Beyond its robustness, the Arc is designed with ergonomics in mind. The handles are shaped and sized to provide a comfortable grip, reducing hand strain during prolonged use. This ergonomic design is particularly beneficial when employing tools that require more force, such as the pliers or the wire cutters. Additionally, the edges and surfaces are smoothed and contoured, ensuring that there are no sharp edges to cause discomfort or catch on equipment.

Tool Accessibility: Designed for Practical Use: Each tool in the Arc is thoughtfully positioned for optimal accessibility. The external design allows for quick tool deployment without having to open up the entire multi-tool, a feature that proves its worth repeatedly in the field. This design not only saves time but also allows for more efficient tool selection, especially when I need to quickly switch between tools in challenging outdoor scenarios.

Weather-Resistant Features: Ready for Any Environment: The Arc’s weather-resistant qualities are another highlight. The combination of stainless steel construction and protective coatings makes it resistant to rust and corrosion, a necessity for any tool used in outdoor settings. Whether it’s exposed to rain, snow, or humidity, the Arc has demonstrated remarkable resilience, maintaining its functionality and appearance without issue.

Longevity and Maintenance – Built to Last: Finally, the longevity of the Arc is worth mentioning. Its design ensures that it not only survives the rigors of outdoor use but also maintains its performance over time. Maintenance is straightforward, with the tool’s construction allowing for easy cleaning and lubrication. This ease of maintenance, combined with its durable build, suggests that the Arc is a tool that will accompany me on many adventures for years to come.

In conclusion, the design and durability of the Leatherman Arc are standout features that solidify its place as an essential tool for outdoor enthusiasts. Its robust construction, protective coatings, ergonomic design, practical tool accessibility, weather resistance, and ease of maintenance all contribute to a tool that is not just designed for the outdoors but built to thrive in it. For anyone who demands reliability and durability in their outdoor gear, the Arc is an exceptional choice that promises to deliver under the most demanding conditions.

Considerations: Price and Practicality

When evaluating a tool like the Leatherman Arc, especially for someone who spends a considerable amount of time outdoors, two crucial factors come into play: price and practicality. These factors are particularly pertinent for me, as I regularly engage in hiking, camping, and RVing, where the right tool can be indispensable.

Price: A Significant Investment: The Leatherman Arc carries a price tag of $229.95, which positions it at the higher end of the multi-tool market. For many, including myself initially, this price might induce a bit of sticker shock. However, it’s important to contextualize this cost within the scope of the Arc’s features and intended use.

As someone who has gone through various multi-tools over the years, I’ve learned that quality and reliability often come at a premium. The Arc’s price reflects its advanced materials, such as the MagnaCut steel blade, the robust construction, and the extensive range of tools. For a dedicated outdoor enthusiast, this multi-tool is not just a purchase; it’s an investment in a tool that offers versatility, durability, and reliability.

Practicality: More Than Just a Multi-Tool: In terms of practicality, the Arc stands out as more than just a multi-tool; it’s a compact toolbox. Its 20 tools, combined with the additional bit kit, cover a vast range of functions that can replace several individual tools I would otherwise need to carry. This consolidation is not only convenient but also reduces the weight and space taken up in my backpack or RV.

For regular outdoor activities, the practicality of having a reliable tool like the Arc cannot be overstated. Whether I’m making quick repairs, setting up camp, or facing unexpected challenges, the Arc has proven to be an invaluable companion. Its design ensures that each tool is easy to access and use, even in demanding conditions or when wearing gloves.

Balancing Cost with Long-Term Value: Balancing the upfront cost with the long-term value is key when considering the Arc. Given its robust build and high-quality materials, this multi-tool is likely to last many years, even under frequent use. The 25-year warranty provided by Leatherman adds to this value, ensuring peace of mind and reliability. When spread over the lifespan of the tool, the cost becomes more justifiable, especially for someone like me who relies on such tools regularly.

Personal Preference and Needs: Ultimately, the decision to invest in the Leatherman Arc comes down to personal preference and specific needs. For casual users or those who only occasionally dabble in outdoor activities, the Arc might offer more functionality than necessary, and a less expensive model could suffice. However, for avid adventurers and outdoor professionals who demand the most from their gear, the Arc presents a compelling combination of features and durability that justify its price.

In conclusion, while the price of the Leatherman Arc is significant, it is justified by its superior quality, extensive functionality, and the practicality it offers to outdoor enthusiasts. It represents a long-term investment for those who need a reliable, versatile tool capable of handling a wide array of tasks in diverse environments. For avid adventurers like myself, the Arc is not just a tool but a vital part of our outdoor gear, providing unmatched practicality and reliability in the field.

Pros and Cons: Assessing Suitability for Different Users

When considering a tool as versatile and robust as the Leatherman Arc, it’s essential to weigh its advantages and limitations to determine its suitability for various users. Based on my extensive use in various outdoor settings, here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons, highlighting who the Arc is ideal for and who might consider other options.

Pros of the Leatherman Arc

  • Superior Quality and Durability: The Arc is built with high-grade materials, including MagnaCut steel, ensuring longevity and resistance to wear and tear. It’s designed to withstand the rigors of frequent, heavy use in outdoor environments.
  • Extensive Tool Range: With 20 tools plus an additional bit kit, the Arc is like a portable toolbox. It’s ideal for a wide range of tasks, from quick fixes to more complex repairs, making it incredibly versatile.
  • One-Handed Operability: The ease of use, facilitated by the FREE® technology, allows for efficient and safe operation, even when the other hand is occupied or when wearing gloves.
  • Ergonomic Design: The tool is well-balanced and comfortable to hold, reducing hand fatigue during prolonged use.
  • Weather-Resistant and Outdoor-Ready: The Arc’s construction and coatings make it suitable for use in various weather conditions, an essential feature for outdoor enthusiasts.
  • 25-Year Warranty: This long-term warranty underscores the tool’s reliability and Leatherman’s commitment to quality.

Cons of the Leatherman Arc

  • High Price Point: At $229.95, the Arc is one of the more expensive multi-tools on the market, which might be prohibitive for casual users or those on a tight budget.
  • Weight and Size: Weighing 8.6 ounces, the Arc is on the heavier side, which might be a concern for those who prefer lightweight tools or have limited carrying capacity.
  • Overwhelming for Casual Use: With its extensive range of tools and features, the Arc might be more than what a casual or infrequent user needs.

Ideal Users for the Leatherman Arc

  • Outdoor Enthusiasts and Professionals: Hikers, campers, RVers, and anyone regularly engaging in outdoor activities will find the Arc’s versatility and durability ideal for their needs.
  • DIYers and Handymen: Those who frequently tackle repair tasks and DIY projects will appreciate the wide range of functions and the tool’s robustness.
  • First Responders and Military Personnel: The reliability and one-handed operability make the Arc suitable for emergency and tactical situations.

Less Ideal Users for the Leatherman Arc

  • Casual or Infrequent Tool Users: Those who need a multi-tool for occasional, simple tasks might find the Arc’s range of features and its cost excessive.
  • Individuals Seeking Lightweight Tools: For users who prioritize minimalism and lightweight gear, especially for activities like ultralight backpacking, the Arc might be too bulky or heavy.

In essence, the Leatherman Arc is a premium tool designed for users who demand the utmost in quality, functionality, and durability. It’s an investment for those who see a multi-tool as an essential part of their regular activities or professions. However, for individuals with more basic needs or constraints in terms of budget and portability, there are other models in Leatherman’s lineup that might offer a better fit.

Leatherman Arc Multi-Tool Review: Comparison with Other Premium Multi-Tools

In the realm of premium multi-tools, there are several options each with its own set of features and strengths. Having used a variety of these tools, including the Leatherman Arc, I can provide a comparative overview to help discern how the Arc stacks up against its counterparts.

Leatherman Arc vs. Leatherman Wave+

Tool Variety: While the Wave+ is one of the most popular multi-tools globally, the Arc surpasses it in terms of tool variety, especially with its MagnaCut blade and additional bit kit.

Material Quality: The Arc takes an edge with the inclusion of MagnaCut steel, which offers superior edge retention and corrosion resistance compared to the 420HC steel commonly used in the Wave+.

Price: The Wave+ is more budget-friendly, making it a more accessible option for a wider range of users.

Leatherman Arc vs. Leatherman Charge+ TTI

Premium Feel: Both the Arc and the Charge+ TTI are at the higher end of Leatherman’s offerings. The Charge+ TTI, with its titanium handles, offers a slightly more premium feel.

Blade Quality: The Arc’s MagnaCut blade is a significant upgrade in terms of cutting performance compared to the S30V steel used in the Charge+ TTI.

Tool Accessibility: The Arc benefits from the FREE® technology, allowing for smoother and more efficient one-handed operation.

Leatherman Arc vs. Victorinox SwissTool Spirit X

Design and Aesthetics: The SwissTool Spirit X is known for its elegant design and compact form. However, the Arc matches it in terms of aesthetics and adds the advantage of outdoor-oriented ruggedness.

Functionality: While the SwissTool Spirit X has an excellent build quality, the Arc offers a wider range of tools and the innovative MagnaCut blade.

Leatherman Arc vs. Gerber Center-Drive

Bit Driver: The Center-Drive’s main selling point is its full-sized bit driver, which is unmatched in terms of length and practical use. The Arc, while offering a robust bit driver, doesn’t quite match the Center-Drive in this aspect.

General Tool Access: The Arc’s one-hand operable tools and magnetic locking system provide a more user-friendly experience compared to the traditional design of the Center-Drive.

Leatherman Arc vs. SOG PowerLock

Compound Leverage: The PowerLock is renowned for its compound leverage pliers, offering greater force for tough jobs. The Arc, while robust, doesn’t include this feature.

Overall Versatility: The Arc edges out with its broader range of tools and the addition of the MagnaCut blade, making it more versatile overall.

In the landscape of premium multi-tools, the Leatherman Arc distinguishes itself with its advanced materials, particularly the MagnaCut blade, and its broad range of functions. It stands out for users who require top-notch blade quality and a wide variety of tools in rugged outdoor conditions. However, for those who prioritize specific features like a full-sized bit driver or compound leverage pliers, other models like the Gerber Center-Drive or the SOG PowerLock might be more suitable. The choice ultimately comes down to individual preferences and the specific requirements of the user’s activities or profession.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How does the MagnaCut blade on the Leatherman Arc compare to regular stainless steel blades?

The MagnaCut blade is a significant upgrade over traditional stainless steel blades. It offers superior edge retention, meaning it stays sharp for longer periods, along with excellent toughness and enhanced corrosion resistance. This makes it ideal for a wide range of cutting tasks, especially in outdoor and harsh environments.

Is the Leatherman Arc suitable for everyday carry (EDC)?

Yes, the Arc is suitable for EDC, particularly for those who regularly find themselves in situations where a variety of tools might be needed. However, its weight (8.6 ounces) and size should be considered, as it is on the heavier side compared to some other multi-tools.

Can the Leatherman Arc be taken on airplanes in carry-on luggage?

No, like most multi-tools with a blade, the Leatherman Arc is not typically allowed in carry-on luggage due to TSA regulations. It should be packed in checked baggage when traveling by air.

Is the Leatherman Arc waterproof or rustproof?

While the Arc is not entirely waterproof, it is highly resistant to corrosion and rust, thanks to its DLC coating and the use of MagnaCut steel. This makes it more resilient in moist or wet conditions compared to standard multi-tools.

How does the price of the Leatherman Arc compare to other multi-tools in the market?

The Arc is at the higher end of the price spectrum for multi-tools, retailing at around $229.95. This is reflective of its advanced materials, extensive range of tools, and innovative design features. It’s considered a premium tool, designed for users who seek the best in quality and versatility.

Does the Leatherman Arc come with a warranty?

Yes, the Leatherman Arc comes with a 25-year warranty, which covers defects in material and workmanship. This long-term warranty is a testament to the tool’s quality and Leatherman’s commitment to customer satisfaction.

Is the Leatherman Arc easy to use for people with limited hand strength or dexterity?

The Arc is designed with ease of use in mind, featuring one-hand operable tools and a magnetic locking system. However, its size and weight might present challenges for individuals with limited hand strength or dexterity. The ergonomic design does help in reducing hand strain during use.

Can the tools on the Leatherman Arc be sharpened or replaced if they wear out?

Yes, the tools, especially the blades, can be sharpened using standard sharpening methods. Additionally, the replaceable wire cutters can be replaced if they wear out. For other tools, Leatherman’s warranty service can assist with repairs or replacements as needed.

Who is the Leatherman Arc best suited for?

The Leatherman Arc is best suited for outdoor enthusiasts, professionals who require a robust range of tools, DIYers, and anyone who appreciates high-quality craftsmanship in a multi-tool. Its range of features and durability make it ideal for a wide array of tasks in various settings.

Final Thoughts: A Reliable Outdoor Companion

In conclusion, the Leatherman Arc is more than just a multi-tool; it’s a reliable companion for any outdoor adventure. Whether I’m fixing something on my RV, setting up camp, or simply needing a reliable blade, the Arc has proven its worth. For those who, like me, spend a lot of time in the great outdoors and rely on their tools, the Leatherman Arc is an excellent choice.

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