Modern knives are light, razor sharp and often come with multiple tools to help you out of a pickle.
A handle should provide a sure and comfortable grip – often achieved through an ergonomic design to naturally fit your hand. When using the knife or multi-tool, the tools not in use should not protrude into the hand. Some handles also offer a textured surface for non-slip grip.
Most multi-tools allow access to the blades without having to open the tool. One-handed opening is common, where you use your thumb to slide the blade out of the handle.
Serrated versus plain blades
Straight edges are good for accurate and clean cuts – perfect for those cheese and salami lunch breaks. Serrated blades are designed for more vigorous cutting and for tackling tougher materials, sometimes even wood. A single blade that combines a plain and serrated edge provides the best of both worlds.
This is an important safety feature that prevents the blade from accidentally closing when pressure is applied in the wrong direction. This is easy to operate with your thumb when the tool is held in a natural grip.
The more tools your chosen model has, the heavier it will be. If you’re buying for your tramping trips, choose a model that has fewer functions. If you want a multi-tool to complement your tool box, then it’s a case of the more the merrier.
Leatherman Wingman $119.99
14 tools including spring-action regular and needlenose pliers, screwdrivers, wood/metal file, bottle opener, can opener, one handed deployment of outside-accessible locking 420HC combo knife blade and scissors, belt clip. Made in the USA, 25-year warranty. 198g. www.tightlines.co.nz
Leatherman Skeletool $189.99
Clip-on multi-tool with pliers, locking combo knife, wire cutters, carabiner clip/bottle opener, large bit driver for included screwdriver and other bits. Stainless steel with 6061-T6 aluminium handle insert. Made in the USA, 25-year warranty. 142g. www.tightlines.co.nz
SOG PowerLock EOD $171
420 stainless steel, needle nose pliers, hard wire cutter, bottle and can opener, half serrated blade, wood saw, three-sided file, awl, wire crimper, slotted screwdrivers, phillips screwdriver, scissors and ruler, nylon pouch included. 272g. www.nzammo.co.nz
Victorinox Soldier $99.99
Standard-issue knife to many armed forces around the world, 10 functions including 111mm one-handed opening blade, bottle opener, 5mm and 3mm screwdrivers, wire stripper, wood saw, Phillips screwdriver and can opener, grippy two-component scales. 131g. Free pouch this summer. www.ampro.co.nz
SOG Sync II $131
Wear as a belt buckle or clipped to a pack, 12 functions including pliers, crimpers, scissors, file, ruler, wire cutter, straight blade, screwdrivers, bottle opener. 142g. www.nzammo.co.nz
Leatherman Wave Plus $269.99
18 tools including replaceable wire cutters, four outside-accessible locking blades with one-handed deployment, pliers, scissors, large bit driver for switching bits. Stainless steel, made in the USA, 25-year warranty. 241g. www.tightlines.co.nz