The Leatherman Wave series is the best selling multi tool in the company’s history. The Wave+ is their attempt to update its tools and design while keeping all the features that made it so beloved. In our Leatherman Wave+ review we’ll run through what’s new and what stayed the same on the Wave+ and give you our overall feel for this updated classic.
Leatherman Wave Plus Overview
The original Leatherman Wave was introduced in 1998 and quickly became the company’s best selling product. It was compact, made using high-quality components, and included a basic tool loadout that allowed handy people everywhere to complete tasks without breaking out specialized tools. The Wave was updated in 2004 and replaced entirely by the Wave+ in 2018.
Leatherman took everything they learned in the last 20 years and applied it to the Wave+. It uses exchangeable bit holders instead of traditional screwdriver attachments and has generally updated designs on all of the other tools. Leatherman advertises all the internal tools on the Wave+ as one-handed open. Technically this is true, but you’ll need to keep your tool well cleaned and oiled for this to keep working.
Leatherman Wave Plus Tools
Leatherman has always done a great job stuffing tools into a small package. The Wave+ doesn’t disappoint in this regard, with 18 tools contained in a 4 inch multi tool. There are four outside access tools: a flat blade knife, serrated knife, saw, and combination diamond and metal/wood file. You’ll also see the ruler markings all along the edge of the outer handles. Once you open it up you’ll find regular and needle nose pliers plus an interesting removable wire cutter design.
On the reverse of the plier hinge you’ll see a small wire crimper. Instead of traditional screwdrivers the Wave+ has both a small and large bit holder to increase the range of screws you can turn. Finishing off the tool list are the old standards, a can/bottle opener, wire stripper, spring action scissors, and a medium screwdriver.
Pliers, Wire Cutters and Electrical Crimper
The Leatherman Wave+ includes the standard arrangement of needlenose and regular pliers common to most multi tools. There’s also a wire crimper just below the hinge of the plier handles that allow you to quickly and fairly efficiently crimp wires.
One of the big things that differentiates the Wave+ from the Wave Original is the removable hard and soft wire cutter blades. Sharpening dulled or chipped wire cutters is extremely difficult on a traditional multi tool. One slip or badly placed cut can basically ruin them for their intended task. The removable blades from Leatherman are sharp, sturdy tools that allow you to treat your cutters as the consumable part they are.
There are two 420HC knife blades on the Wave+, both located on the outside of the handles. They’re each 2.9 inches long with one blade being a flat blade and the other serrated. A feature we love about these blades is that they’re both one handed opening and they lock open for safer use. We found them to be ample for just about any routine cutting needed and easy to sharpen and maintain.
The saw on the Wave+ is pretty standard as far as multi tool blades go. You can definitely see Leatherman’s attention to detail and high-level craftsmanship in its overall quality though. It’s placed on the outside of the handle on the same side as the serrated blade and is just as easy to open one handed.
Word of warning though, make sure you check which blade you open. It can be embarrassing (and expensive) to try and saw something with a serrated knife blade. The folding saw cuts through small bits of wood, PVC piping, and other everyday items very well. We especially enjoyed using it to saw smaller limbs when out camping.
Wood/Metal and Diamond Coated Files
Leatherman went with a dual file design on the Wave+. One side has a standard wood/metal file while the other is a diamond coated file. The traditional file does a great job taking a burr off of a ragged piece of metal or polishing off cut wood before priming. It doesn’t fill the job of a full sandpapering but it’s a great tool to have on the go.
The diamond coated file is advertised by Leatherman as a way to sharpen your blades on the go. Chisels, scythes, and axe blades will definitely benefit from a few passes and you can even use it to sharpen a knife blade in a pinch. We wouldn’t recommend doing heavy recovery sharpening with it but it will definitely touch up your blades in the field or on the jobsite.
Large Bit Holder, Can/Bottle Opener, and Wire Stripper
Most of Leatherman’s full-size multi tools are now being made with bit holders instead of dedicated screwdrivers. There are pros and cons to this but for our part we think it’s a useful feature. The only gripe we have is Leatherman’s insistence on going with proprietary sized bits instead of standard ¼ inch bits.
They claim this is due to size and space restraints. Personally, we think it would have been better to adjust the placement of other tools to allow standard bits. The holder itself works well and gives you the ability to turn a much wider variety of screws than you would with standard drivers.
The can/bottle opener and wire stripper notch are all on one tool piece. If you’ve ever used a standard can/bottle opener you know that as long as the materials are good it will work well. Leatherman has never been known to cheap out on workmanship and the bottle opener is no exception. The wire stripper notch is common on most of their multi tools but we aren’t convinced this is a good thing. It works to be sure, but we find that cutting the wire coating with the blade is just as easy and arguably faster.
Scissors, Flat Screwdriver, and Mini Screwdriver Bit Holder
The scissors on the Wave+ are spring action and cut well through plastic, paper, and cardboard. They’re slightly smaller than the ones on the Wave Original with a noticeably narrower pair of blades. Despite this, they seem to hold up well under frequent use.
The medium sized flat screwdriver is the only non bit driver on the Wave+. It works well and can be used for gentle prying without too much risk of damage.
The mini screwdriver bit holder is a very useful addition to the Wave+. Most handymen we know find themselves fiddling with a phone, laptop or pair of glasses at some point. Having the ability to turn those itty bitty screws with your multi tool is quite nice. It only comes with one reversible flat/phillips head bit out of the box.
The ruler on the Wave+ is functionally identical to the original Leatherman Wave. It runs along both handles and can be used to measure things up to 8 inches or 19 cm long by unfolding the handles together.
Leatherman Wave Plus Review
The Wave+ is an all around workhorse. It has a useful mix of quality tools in a compact and easy to carry package. It isn’t Leatherman’s flashiest or most expensive offering. That honor goes to tools like the Charge TTI and specialized tools like the MUT. What it is is nothing more or less than one of the best multi tools around.
Everything about the Wave+ speaks to Leatherman’s knowledge of multi tools and experience in manufacturing. It just feels polished, with sturdy yet attractive materials and a tool loadout that allows it to do just about anything. Are there better multi tools on the market? Sure, but most of those are at least twice as expensive as the Wave+ for only marginal improvement in utility. If you’re looking for a multi tool you can buy and carry every day for the rest of your life, the Wave+ isn’t a bad place to look.
Leatherman Wave Plus Pros – Things We Liked
- Excellent craftsmanship
- All locking tools
- One handed open main blades, saw, and file
- Replaceable wire cutters
- Rugged and compact
Leatherman Wave Plus Cons – Things We Didn’t Like
- The nylon sheath feels cheap compared to Leatherman’s past leather sheaths
- ‘One handed open internal tools’ usually require both hands
- Pocket carry options don’t come standard
- The main bit driver doesn’t use standard ¼ inch bits
Who’s The Leatherman Wave For?
The Leatherman Wave+ is a full sized multi tool that includes all the features we’ve come to expect from Leatherman. It fulfills all the standard use cases for a multi tool in a compact and attractive package.
Any EDC enthusiast, handyman, or outdoorsman would be happy to have the Wave+ on their belt.
Leatherman Wave Plus accessories and extras
The Wave+ has several useful accessories included standard. If these aren’t enough there are always options to add on more.
Engraving – One of the things that helps set Leatherman apart from competitors is their knowledge of how people use multi tools. Providing engraving services for a fair price lets you personalize your Wave+ or create a memorable gift for someone you care about.
Bit Kit and Bit Extender – With a bit holder comes the need for more bits. The Wave+ comes standard with just a single reversible bit for the large and small bit holder. The Leatherman bit kit adds an additional 21 double ended bits to your multi tool.
The real game changer is the bit extender. It adds a small amount of extra reach but also allows you to use standard ¼ bits with your Leatherman Wave+. We don’t need to tell you how much of an improvement this is.
Pocket Clip and Lanyard Ring – If you feel like a Goober carrying a multi tool in a belt pouch, a pocket clip is probably one of the first accessories you’ll buy. Leatherman provides it in a package with a lanyard ring as well. Both attach easily and really enhance your ability to EDC the Wave+.
Replacement Parts – Leatherman backs all of their products with a 25 year warranty. If your Wave+ ever fails because of a material defect, contact Leatherman immediately. They’re well known for the quality of their customer service and the proven loyalty they have for their customers.
Leatherman Wave Black – Available for the same price as the standard Leatherman, the Wave+ black has a black oxide coating instead of stainless steel. It mostly comes down to preference. Some people like the shiny stainless look, others the matte black finish.
Leatherman Wave Plus Vs Comparable tools
We’ve established that the Wave+ is an excellent multi tool. A lot of you are probably wondering how it compares to other full size tools. Keep reading to find out.
|LEATHERMAN, Wave Plus Multitool with Premium Replaceable Wire Cutters, Spring-Action Scissors and Nylon Sheath, Built in the USA, Stainless Steel||Prime||Buy on Amazon|
|LEATHERMAN, Original Wave Multitool with Scissors and Eyeglass Screwdriver Bit, Black with Leather Sheath||Prime||Buy on Amazon|
|LEATHERMAN - Surge Multitool, Stainless Steel with Nylon Sheath||Prime||Buy on Amazon|
|LEATHERMAN, Rebar Multitool with Premium Replaceable Wire Cutters and Saw, Stainless Steel with Leather Sheath||Prime||Buy on Amazon|
|LEATHERMAN, Charge Plus TTi Titanium Multitool with Scissors and Premium Replaceable Wire Cutters, Stainless Steel, Built in the USA||Prime||Buy on Amazon|
|LEATHERMAN, Wingman Multitool with Spring-Action Pliers and Scissors, Built in the USA, Stainless Steel with Nylon Sheath||Prime||Buy on Amazon|
Wave Plus Vs Wave Original
The Wave+ is basically just an updated version of the Wave Original. We’ve gone over the differences in tools and craftsmanship above. Suffice it to say that if you liked the Wave you’ll probably like the Wave+. That doesn’t mean you need to run out and upgrade today. The Wave Original was well made and included excellent tools for its day.
Wave Plus Vs Surge
The Leatherman Surge can be thought of as a heavier duty version of the Wave+. It has many of the same tools but reprioritized their importance. The scissors on the Surge are on the outside of the handle while the Wave+ puts a dedicated saw there. The Surge also doesn’t have the small bit holder. The biggest difference is the ability to swap out blades on the Surge using T-shank tools.
Overall, the Surge fulfills many of the same roles as the Wave+ and vice versa. They’re nearly the same price but the Surge is 50% heavier than the Wave+ at only half an inch longer.
Wave Plus Vs Rebar
The Rebar closely resembles Leatherman’s original PST design. It comes in well below the price of the Wave+ but doesn’t include some of its more sophisticated touches. There are no outside access tools, bit holders, or locking tools on the Rebar.
If you’re a multi tool purist who wants to carry something with classic styling, the Rebar could be for you.
Read our full Rebar review
Wave Plus Vs Charge
The Leatherman Charge is almost identical in design to the Wave+. The tool loadout is basically the same, with the addition of a cutting hook on the serrated knife the only real change. What is different is the workmanship. The Charge, and especially Leatherman’s titanium offering, the Charge TTI, are top of the line multi tools.
If you want a top of the line multi tool, go with the Charge. If you’re looking for a very good multi tool, with an excellent set of tools, our money is on the Wave+.
Wave Plus Vs Wingman
The Leatherman Wingman is the entry level full sized multi tool in Leatherman’s catalog. It has similar tools to the Wave+ but in each case they are of slightly lower quality or are less functional. The wire cutters are non removable, it doesn’t have any bit holders, and the ruler is all but useless. The Wingman also doesn’t provide a saw or diamond file.
Despite its shortcomings the Wingman provides great bang for your buck. It comes in at about half the cost of the Wave+ and arguably provides similar usability. If you want to try out a multi tool without much risk, the Wingman may be the one to go with. If, on the other hand, you’re looking for a multi tool to carry forever, go with the Wave+.
Read our full Wingman review
Conclusion – Final Thoughts On the Leatherman Wave Plus
As the successor to Leatherman’s best selling product ever, the Wave+ had some pretty big shoes to fill. From everything we’ve seen so far it’s done a great job filling them. It’s got a great tool loadout, high quality craftsmanship, and the few changes Leatherman made to the design feel like they really improved the Wave+ as a product. All of this at a price that’s attainable for just about anyone.
Rating: 4.8 Stars Out of 5.0