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#174422 - 01/29/13 03:15 PM Multitool vs. Knife?
4evrplan Offline
member

Registered: 01/16/13
Posts: 627
Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
In everyday life, I've got a multitool on my belt (a Leatherman Wave) anytime I leave the house and often at home as well. It's super useful, but there's a few drawbacks for hiking. 1) It's relatively heavy at 8.5 oz. 2) The handle has sharp edges and is a bit uncomfortable when using the blade. 3) Some people highly recommend a fixed blade for outdoor use, especially in an emergency situation, though I've never had any "survival" experience so I don't know if that's good advice or not. I was thinking about getting a Mora Craftline Allround and carrying that instead. It's less than half the weight, including the sheath, but I'm afraid I'd miss the Wave, especially the pliers (for bending, quickly snapping sticks to length, picking up hot stuff, etc.) and maybe the saw and the scissors too, or even the flat head screwdriver for prying stuff.

Does anyone carry a multitool with pliers while backpacking? If so, how often do you use the pliers on the trail? Do you also carry a fixed blade knife, and how often do you pick it over the multitool? If the Wave was about half the weight, it'd make the decision easy; I'd live with it's drawbacks and just carry it. There probably are ultralight multitools with similar functionality, but I'm sure they're out of my budget. The Mora is inexpensive.

On a related note, has anyone used one of those camping saws that's just two small handles on either end of an abrasive wire? How well did it work for you?

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#174424 - 01/29/13 03:39 PM Re: Multitool vs. Knife? [Re: 4evrplan]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
I carry a Swiss Army knife (SAK to many people) that I've had for years. Mine has a couple of screwdrivers, scissors, two blades (one big, one small), corkscrew and awl. Never needed much else. I now have a tiny multitool I got as a trade show freebie and might carry that. When I had my skis, I carried a tool for them. I now have snowshoes, so the multitool will come with me, just in case.
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#174425 - 01/29/13 03:40 PM Re: Multitool vs. Knife? [Re: 4evrplan]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2835
Loc: Portland, OR
The usefulness of a knife depends mostly on your style of backpacking. I carry a modest-sized Swiss Army knife (the 'Recruit' model) both at home and on the trail. I rarely use it while hiking, unless I use the toothpick. There just isn't anything I need to cut on an uneventful hike.

The only other similar tool I carry is a small scissors of the 'manicure' variety that has a slightly curved pair of blades. I use these for trimming fingernails and toenails, and for cutting moleskin, tape or gauze. These see very light duty or none at all on a typical hike.

I never feel the lack of a pliers. To be honest, I could probably do without the knife and scissors, too, but I feel better prepared with them available.

I've never used the "two finger-rings and a toothed wire" type of saw. I suspect it would absolutely kill my fingers if I tried to. The best lightweight saws I know of are folding pruning saws, or else homemade saws that incorporate a hacksaw blade. These work. The toothed-wire saws look unusable to me.

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#174426 - 01/29/13 03:57 PM Re: Multitool vs. Knife? [Re: aimless]
ETSU Pride Offline
member

Registered: 10/25/10
Posts: 931
Loc: Knoxville, TN
Dad and I talked about this a lot. I had a small multi-tool in my pack when I first started backpacking. I never used it, not once. I have nothing in my pack where a Philip or flat head screwdrivers would/could have been useful. I couldn't find or think of anything for Allen wrenches. I couldn't think of anything I would use pliers for except pulling stakes out of ground, but I used that tube that came with Big Agnes Seedhouse tent to pull my stakes out. (Maybe you guys could give me other uses for pliers!) I originally asked for a fixed blade knife, but instead my mawmaw got me a folding knife for Christmas that is pretty darn cool. So, now I just carry a folding knife with 4-6 inch blade. (I forgot the exact inches.)



Edited by ETSU Pride (01/29/13 04:06 PM)
Edit Reason: Sometimes I say the sentence in my head, and leave the word out when typing...
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#174427 - 01/29/13 04:02 PM Re: Multitool vs. Knife? [Re: 4evrplan]
Glenn Roberts Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1338
Loc: Southwest Ohio
I recently started carrying a Leatherman Juice S2, which has pliers. I've never actually used them - but what made me start carrying it was that someone in a group needed pliers to use as a potlifter because they forgot theirs, and someone else need a phillips head screwdriver to tighten the flick-lock on their hiking pole.

I've gone back and forth between multitools (Leatherman Micra and now the Juice, or a Swiss Army knife, years ago) and carrying specific tools (small Gerber locking knife, folding scissors, offset screwdriver with a slotted blade on one end and a phillips on the other, and a small pair of pliers.) I'm not sure I really have a strong preference.

I've really never used anything but the knife and scissors, and not really either of them very often. It's just reassuring to carry them, I guess.

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#174429 - 01/29/13 04:19 PM Re: Multitool vs. Knife? [Re: 4evrplan]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3865
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
I got a chance to try one of the "wire saws" on a recent trip, it worked pretty good, but was slow cutting through a 5 inch log. I don't know what brand it was, but I've seen others fall apart pretty fast.
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#174430 - 01/29/13 05:24 PM Re: Multitool vs. Knife? [Re: billstephenson]
rockchucker22 Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/12
Posts: 749
Loc: Eastern Sierras
I carry a leartherman skeletool. It is pretty light and very usefull. I use the pliers all the time, picking up a hot pot, hook out of a fish, pulling tent steaks, fixxing zippers..... On and on. Would leave the house without it. I also carry buck tops neck knife fixxed blade. Light weight yet plenty strong for more serious chores. Again I always carry this knife, every day.
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#174431 - 01/29/13 05:26 PM Re: Multitool vs. Knife? [Re: 4evrplan]
4evrplan Offline
member

Registered: 01/16/13
Posts: 627
Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
From everyone's comments, it sounds like a light fixed blade and a sub 2oz keychain type multitool would be the perfect combination. Perhaps the 1.58oz Style PS; it comes with pliers, everything you'd need for nail care, and basic gear field repair (except duct tape) without the redundant blade. And, it's small enough to clip to your pack and forget it. That combo. would still be lighter than the tool I carry now.

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#174432 - 01/29/13 06:03 PM Re: Multitool vs. Knife? [Re: 4evrplan]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1718
Loc: Napa, CA
I'll file a minority report. I never carry a multi-tool because it is too heavy, and doesn't have anything I need. I take a light knife and sewing kit. Because the stuff I take might rip, but there are no metal parts to fix.

Why carry a screwdriver or pliers?


Edited by balzaccom (01/29/13 06:09 PM)
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#174433 - 01/29/13 06:52 PM Re: Multitool vs. Knife? [Re: balzaccom]
Glenn Roberts Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1338
Loc: Southwest Ohio
Even though, as I said above, I carry a multi-tool, I'm constantly asking myself the same question.

Maybe I'll stick the multitool in the glove compartment, where it's available at the trailhead, but only carry scissors and a knife on the trail. We'll see.

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#174435 - 01/29/13 07:38 PM Re: Multitool vs. Knife? [Re: Glenn Roberts]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6371
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
This question comes up in every knife thread, of which there are many on this forum.

I use a small multitool (Leatherman Micra, 1.9 oz.). I need the pliers to compensate for lack of gripping power in my fingertips. More than once I've had to thread a strap through a buckle and can't grasp enough of it to pull through without those pliers. I also use the pliers as a pot lifter. The tiny screwdriver tightens the screws on my glasses (which I have to do every few days). The regular screwdriver is for pushing and prying. There's a small file which is great for finger and toenails (my nails split and break easily--they always have). The item I use the least is the blade!
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#174436 - 01/29/13 07:47 PM Re: Multitool vs. Knife? [Re: OregonMouse]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
I carry sewing scissors about 3 inches long. I can't think of a time I would need a knife.

Scissors are much better for cutting cloth for emergency bandages. They are much better for cutting something to make an ankle wrap. They are better for cutting something to make a sling.

The one thing scissors are not good for is accidentally cutting myself. I appreciate that.
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#174439 - 01/29/13 08:27 PM Re: Multitool vs. Knife? [Re: balzaccom]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2835
Loc: Portland, OR
I cast another vote for a small sewing kit as being highly valuable for small repairs. When I've needed mine, I've been very happy I carried it. My basic kit is just about 3-4 feet of thread wrapped around a small piece of cardboard, with a middling-sized needle inserted into the cardboard, too. Weighs maybe 3 grams total.

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#174441 - 01/29/13 08:53 PM Re: Multitool vs. Knife? [Re: balzaccom]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3865
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Originally Posted By balzaccom
I'll file a minority report. I never carry a multi-tool because it is too heavy, and doesn't have anything I need. I take a light knife and sewing kit. Because the stuff I take might rip, but there are no metal parts to fix.


Same with me. I also bring some duct tape and nylon repair patch.

My backpacking knife of choice for the past few years has been a 4" Rapala wood handle fillet knife. For about 25 years before that I used the same style knife with a 9" blade.

I started bringing the 4" blade after arriving here and learning about how to think about lighting up. I have years of experience with those knives so I'm sure I'm bias, but I can recommend them with no qualms.

I'd say the benefits of that particular fixed 4" blade knife for backpacking are the thin flexible blade, the bigger and more comfortable handle, it holds an edge, it's tough (on my last trip I opened a big can of beans with it), it only weighs 1-1/4 ounces, and they cost under $20.00.

I also believe a fixed blade knife is safer. This one has a deep notch in the handle that adds to that safety margin.

They're a quality product, the 9" blade I have is 28 years old. I've had the 4" blade for probably about 10-12 years, and both have seen a lot of rough use.

After losing the one that came with the 4" blade, I stitched up a new sheath with a belt loop from 1-1/2 inch nylon webbing and lined it with milk carton plastic. It's pretty much bomb proof and also pretty light at 18 grams, so altogether the 4" blade I carry is just under 2 ounces with the sheath.

Even if you don't make it your goto backpacking knife, these are worth having. I carve our holiday turkeys and hams with mine laugh

Here's a photo of the RAPALA 4-inch Fish 'n Fillet Knife.





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#174442 - 01/29/13 10:10 PM Re: Multitool vs. Knife? [Re: billstephenson]
rockchucker22 Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/12
Posts: 749
Loc: Eastern Sierras
Funny how one person can use pliers every day while others never use them. I guess being from construction back ground leads me to more tool use than others of differnt vocation use other items to do the same. Pretty cool how differnt but the same we all are!
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The wind wont howl if the wind don't break.

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#174443 - 01/29/13 10:31 PM Re: Multitool vs. Knife? [Re: rockchucker22]
rockchucker22 Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/12
Posts: 749
Loc: Eastern Sierras
I should also reinerate that I NEVER leave the house w/o a knife. I don't feel comfortable with a puny blade. I want a blade that can work. Not serated but streight, sharpen able blade. Something I can skin a deer or carve a tent pole, chop wood, make a spear, gut a fish, pick a splinter out! I can't see ever being without a knife. But I also spend 75% of my time outside, far from home. They talk about the ten items to always carry for me it's two, fire starter and a knife. All else is extra.
_________________________
The wind wont howl if the wind don't break.

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#174444 - 01/29/13 10:42 PM Re: Multitool vs. Knife? [Re: billstephenson]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6371
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Bill, that knife is truly beautiful!

As for sewing, if you use dental floss for thread, both needle and thread are multiple use--the first for removing slivers and the second for cleaning teeth! Just be sure the needle has a big enough hole for the floss. Of course, if your closeup vision, like mine, is poor, you need to take a needle threader, which is not multiple use....


Edited by OregonMouse (01/29/13 10:48 PM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#174447 - 01/29/13 11:05 PM Re: Multitool vs. Knife? [Re: OregonMouse]
jbylake Offline
member

Registered: 09/15/12
Posts: 202
Loc: Northern KY USA
Coming full circle, I carry a Leatherman Wave, as the OP. I can truly say that I've used it more helping out others, than I have myself (while hiking). It is a bit heavy, but if I'm doing any thing more than a short loop, it goes with me. Definetly on out and camp hikes. Some people think that they're overkill, but I don't want the only time I need it is to be when I don't have it. Also, I'm not as hard core UL as a lot of folks here, but I have been replacing gear with lighter and lighter gear, and getting "smarter" about what I carry and the logic behind it, a great deal of that knowledge coming from people on this forum.

As far as a knife is concerned, if I'm not carrying the multi-tool, I've grown fond of carrying a S.E.A.L. Pup. It's actually a copy of the NAVY SEAL's survival knife, only a minature copy, and I find it works great for just about everything I've used it for. Weighs half of what the multi-tool weighs. The downside is, that it has an alloy blade that is harder than heck to resharpen. mad

J.

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#174448 - 01/29/13 11:46 PM Re: Multitool vs. Knife? [Re: jbylake]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
I really like to carry a Wave and I find the pliers quite useful - best way to unjam a locking carabiner,which is probably a fairly specialized SAR application. The pliers also work well for extracting cactus spines.If weight is critical, I could certainly do OK with a SAK, which I carried for years before I got my first Leatherman. I could also do fine, and save weight, if I packed my Squirt PS4, which could handle most tasks. It really comes down to the nature of the rest of your equipment and whether it contains anything that might need the capabilities of some sort of multi tool. This obviously varies a lot, depending upon circumstances.

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#174450 - 01/30/13 09:00 AM Multitool vs. Knife? [Re: oldranger]
mike Offline
member

Registered: 01/07/02
Posts: 211
Loc: Ohio
The super ultra lighters will tell you that you can get by with a razor blade or a small pair of scissors.... It works for their style. Having grown up in the middle of nowhere with a knife in my pocket all the time, I don't think I could dispense with the utility of a decent sized knife.

On the other side, I just don't see the need for batoning wood. I have an ESEE Izula, which is a very nice fixed blade knife. But I can always find dead wood lying about, even around heavily used campsites. Even if it has been raining for extended periods, a decent folding knife can skin off wet bark or make fuzz sticks. Yeah, a small folder isn't your best bet for building shelters and all that stuff, but it is a far sight better than a razor blade.

For backpacking, I tend to carry a Victorinox Bantam. It has a single 3-1/4" blade, a combo bottle opener/can opener/screwdriver, tweezers and toothpick. It weighs in at 1 oz.



Edited by billstephenson (01/30/13 11:40 AM)
Edit Reason: fixed link for photo

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#174451 - 01/30/13 09:33 AM Re: Multitool vs. Knife? [Re: billstephenson]
4evrplan Offline
member

Registered: 01/16/13
Posts: 627
Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
Well, I bit the bullet and ordered a Leatherman Style PS; I'm going to try it.

@billstephenson
That is a good looking knife, and 2 oz. is great too! That's half the weight of the Mora. But, can it be used with a baton, or is the blade too thin and flexy for that?

In any case, I got a crazy idea. I've got this small handled kitchen knife someone gave me for free. Before I buy another fixed blade knife, I think I'll try cutting down the blade of the free knife with a dremel and see how it turns out.

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#174472 - 01/30/13 05:45 PM Re: Multitool vs. Knife? [Re: 4evrplan]
4evrplan Offline
member

Registered: 01/16/13
Posts: 627
Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
That free knife I was talking about, I think is this one. My question is, exactly what parts of the blade should I cut off, and what shape should I make it? Obviously, I've got to cut down the length, but I also want to make it less wide. If I cut from the side with the sharp edge (and grind a new edge onto it) it'll be stronger, but if I cut off from the thicker side, it'll be lighter and I won't have to grind a new edge. I know virtually nothing about knife craft or how any of this would affect feel, utility, safety or any other feature, so any input is appreciated.

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#174475 - 01/30/13 06:58 PM Re: Multitool vs. Knife? [Re: 4evrplan]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3865
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
I suspect you could split wood that way with the fillet knife. The Mora is a better option because it is a thicker blade, but I think the Rapala would hold up to that. I guess I'll have to give it a try and see laugh

As far as cutting down the blade on your other knife, a Dremal tool isn't a bad option. A bench grinder with a fine wheel is good, and so is a belt sander. I have a lot of experience shaping steel, although none making knives, but I'd grind the bottom to shape it, saving as much of the factory hollow grind as possible, then work on the edge.
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#174476 - 01/30/13 07:14 PM Re: Multitool vs. Knife? [Re: billstephenson]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
At some point in threads like this, the discussion of batoning inevitably arises. This puzzles me greatly. I agree completely with Mike on this. I have built quite a few fires and I have never even thought of batoning;some of these fires have been built in fairly adverse circumstances.

Without the need to carve up trees,you can get by with a surprisingly small blade. Rambo, eat your heart out.....

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#174479 - 01/30/13 07:28 PM Re: Multitool vs. Knife? [Re: oldranger]
rockchucker22 Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/12
Posts: 749
Loc: Eastern Sierras
Originally Posted By oldranger
At some point in threads like this, the discussion of batoning inevitably arises. This puzzles me greatly. I agree completely with Mike on this. I have built quite a few fires and I have never even thought of batoning;some of these fires have been built in fairly adverse circumstances.

Without the need to carve up trees,you can get by with a surprisingly small blade. Rambo, eat your heart out.....
I too agree about batoning. Worst case you can always use a large rock to bust up wood. I think batoning and axe work come from back east in thick woods.
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