You don't need to be a carpenter or a mechanical genius to warrant owning a multitool. While you might already own a full-sized tool kit for tinkering on your car or making repairs around the home, it's a good bet that you don't carry it with you everywhere you go. As they're small enough to stash in a pocket, belt pouch or purse, a multitool will always be there for you when life demands that a screw be tightened, a bolt be loosened or an orange gets cut up when you're out and about. It's possible to pick up a cheap multitool for under twenty bucks these days, but the quality and variety of tools you get when buying is lacking compared to those that cost a middling amount of money.
Having used scores of multitools over the years in my private life and work, I feel that the Leatherman New Wave is likely the best multitool for most folks. Available around $90, it costs more than you might want to spend on a piece of gear you'll use occasionally. But, I feel that the expense is warranted: when you need a tool, you need that tool to work. The Wave's got that covered. In fact, Leatherman's so sure of the quality of their multitool, they back it up with a 25-year limited warranty.
Why's it Called the New Wave?
Because there was an old Wave. Leatherman introduced it back in the late 1990s and discontinued it in 2004. You're unlikely to find the O.G. Wave in stores anymore. But if you decided to buy a used multitool secondhand, it's important to know the difference as the original Wave lacks the versatility of Leatherman's new hotness. For details on the original Wave, check this page out.
Can You Just Call it the New Wave the Wave to Make This an Easier Read?
Yes—and honestly, you should too. Leatherman's advertising and packaging doesn't differentiate between the two. If you wander into a store and ask for a New Wave, you could come away with a Flock of Seagulls CD. No one wants that kind of trouble.
Why the Wave?
A tool is only as good as the steel it's made out of. In the case of the Leatherman Wave, the 420HC steel that it's is made out is tough and rust-resistant, ensuring years of reliable service. Blades made with 420HC doesn't hold an edge as long as ones made with steel that has more carbon in it, but they're easy to sharpen. And steel with a higher amount of carbon in it tends to oxidize far easier. So, it's a fair trade-off. Yes, there are tools made with better steel out there. Some Leatherman tools are made using 440. Some companies offer multitools made with 154CM. But using these drives the price of the multitool up, as they're more difficult, if not impossible to stamp and, therefore, more expensive to mass produce.
I'm also a fan of how safe and easy the Leatherman Wave is to use. With the exception of its pliers, which demand that you flip out both sides of the multitool's body around to deploy, all of the Wave's tools lock into place while in use. This is a big deal: it means that the screwdriver bit won't suddenly jump out of alignment with what you're screwing and your knife or saw won't accidentally snap closed on your hand as you're cutting tough material. But when you're done tinkering, the push of a button on the butt of the multitool releases the lock, allowing you to fold it back up. In addition to saving your hands from peril, these locks make for a solid piece of hardware with tools that you can be certain will stay in place throughout the task you're performing. The confidence that this knowledge creates makes jobs go faster.
The Wave's easy-to-use safety locks are a serious selling point.
Some people prefer a smaller multitool for inclusion in their everyday carry. I'm not one of them. Don't get me wrong, reducing the size and weight of the items in your EDC is a win—but only when it doesn't negate your ability to use those items in an effective manner. I find that the Wave's four-inch long handles are a good size to fit most people's hands, offer enough surface area to perform tool tasks that require a goodly amount of torque to complete and are long enough to store knife and saw blades of an adequate size that cutting stuff doesn't take all day.
Of course, none of this would matter if the selection of tools that Wave owners have at their fingertips sucked. Fortunately, this multitool will spoil you for choice
Right out of its blister packaging, the Leatherman Wave comes with either a balletic nylon or leather sheath and the following built-in tools:
- Plain edge drop point knife blade
- Serrated sheepsfoot knife blade
- Metal/wood file
- Diamond file
- Metal saw
- Push/pull saw
- Lanyard ring
- Can opener
- Wire stripper
- Large flat-head screwdriver
- Small bit holder with eyeglass Phillips and flat-head
- Large bit holder with a #2 Phillips and 3/16 flat-head
Picking up a Bit Kit to use with your Wave gives you tons more tools to tinker with.
If that's not enough tools for you, Leatherman's got you covered, as the Wave can also be paired up with a $24 Bit Kit. The Bit Kit, which it designed to be stored in a compartment of the Wave's Ballistic nylon belt pouch contains the following tools:
- Eyeglass Bit (Philips/Flathead)
- Philips 2 – Philips 1
- Philips 0 – Philips 3
- Flathead 1/8 – Flathead 3/32
- Flathead 3/16" – Flathead 5/32
- Flathead ¼" – Flathead 7/32
- R2 – R1
- Torx 10 – Torx 15
- Torx 20 – Torx 25
- Torx 27 – Torx 30
- Pozi 1 – Pozi 2
- 5mm Allen – 2mm Allen
- 5mm Allen – 3mm Allen
- 4mm Allen – 5mm Allen
- 1 /4" Allen – 6mm Allen
- Torx 6 - Torx 8
- 1/16" Allen - .050 Allen
- 3/32 Allen – 5/64 Allen
- 1/8 Allen – 7/64 Allen
- 5/32 Allen – 9/64 Allen
- 7/32 Allen – 3/16 Allen
That's a lot of options. To ensure that you'll be able to use these bits, even in hard-to-reach areas, you'll want to pick up a $18 Bit Driver Extender.
Wrapping it up
While it costs more than you might want to pay for something you'll only use occasionally, when it comes to tools, even tiny ones, quality matters. With its wide range of features, excellent build quality and outstanding 25-year limited warranty, the Leatherman Wave is an excellent tool that will serve you well for years to come.
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