The nail file is very good (better than the SAK) and has a squared-off point (potential use as a screwdriver.) The scissors, tweezers, and toothpick are nearly identical to those on the SAK. The knife might be OK if it was sharpened (it won't even cut paper right out of the box), but is inferior to the SAK. The ruler is embossed on the small plastic case, and is 3 inches long. (I've never measured anything that I can remember.)The LED light might give enough light to help change batteries in your real light, but that's about it. The pen writes, but it's too short to hold conveniently in your hand.
The nail file is going into my first aid kit; the rest is going into my travel shaving kit, along with a pair of nail clippers with a built in file.
So, the more perceptive among you may ask, why are you moving away from the SAK? It's an experiment to see whether dedicated single-use items work better than the compromises inherent in mini-tools. (The LST knife is a lock-back and larger than the SAK - which folded back to cut my fingers when I was demonstrating how to make a fuzz-stick; the Fiskars scissors cut moleskin and everything else better than the SAK; etc.)
Ah, you say, but the individual items also weigh more in total than the SAK. Yes, about two ounces more. However, I also am going to use a Maglite Solitaire LED. (Hoping to avoid the 3-presses-and-hold-to-get-to-alternating-red-and-white-strobe-mode hassle. It also gives off enough light to hike at night, which I would only do in an emergency.) With it's single AAA battery, plus a spare battery, it weighs 2 ounces, which is 2 or 3 ounces less than my Petzl Zipka with its 3 AAA batteries and 3 spares. So, I save enough weight on the light to make up for the additional weight of the single-use items.
Like I say, it's an experiment. In the meantime, the Revlon kit is a great stocking stuffer for the ultralight hiker who makes your life miserable with all the "I saved another gram by weaving two strands of dental floss into a bear-bag rope" talk.
IMO it's fun to take fresh looks at "settled" gear and technique choices. Consumer options have mushroomed exponentially since I first tackled knocking back the pounds and ounces. As a random example, there are dozens of sub 2-pound tents. Who'd have guessed that, fifteen years back?
I see Leatherman still makes the Micra (1.75 oz), the multitool I've toted more than a decade. It de-emphasizes the blade and I also take a simple folder, especially for kitchen prep. The combo has not let me down over the course of many years, so I'm maybe complacent on whether it's still the best possible. I can testify the tiniest blade indeed can reassemble glasses that have the screw retaining the lens back completely out.
When I don't anticipate nighttime hiking or camp setup, I'm packing an Olight H1R (1.8 oz), which is amazingly good for such a tiny thing. No red mode and no long beam, so I'll switch to a Petzl reactive-series light for more ambitious conditions (especially short days). At a time one can buy ten-pack of LED flashlights for about ten bucks at Home Depot, it's not hard to find something light and cheap. Whether it's good remains the crux.
Same! Nor does my AT hiking buddy. On our section hikes we never build a fire. And I don't teach others how to light fires. I emphasize that it really isn't needed.
But of course, I don't prevent the newbies from making one. I don't want to spoil their fun. I hear ya about burning down forests. I make sure they are following the rules for building a fire, and they know how to fully extinguish it.
Sorry, off topic.
I have a multi-tool. Spoon, knife, fork. And it all folds up. I don't know the weight. Maybe I should weigh it.
Kind of like "multi-tasking": the ability to do several things poorly at the same time. (Although I'm hearing that the science says that people born before 1980 or so can't really multi-task successfully - but that people born after that date really can. Maybe we've seen one of those big evolutionary changes in our lifetime?)
I have never owned a Leatherman so I looked on line and found that these things go for up to $100+. They have tools which I cannot imagine using short of overhauling my car at the trailhead. What are folks doing which I am apparently missing out on?
The things I'll carry for my "experiment" are the Gerber LST Mini pocketknife, Uncle Bill's Sliver Gripper tweezers, Fiskars folding travel scissors, and a small Revlon nail file (with a blunt end that might work as a screwdriver.) I could see myself replacing the nail file with a small pair of fingernail clippers with a built-in file; depends on how well the scissors work on finger and toe nails.
The tool I use most is a nail file; I'm always breaking or snagging a nail on something, so it gets used several times on a trip. Nail clippers get used occasionally, if I forget to trim my nails before I leave. (Trimming them never seems to prevent the chipped fingernails, though.) I'm going to try a few trips without them; I'm thinking that scissors might do an adequate job.
After the nail file, it's scissors - mostly to open the freeze-dried food bags that never rip along the line they're designed to follow. After that, tweezers for the occasional splinter (mine or someone else's.)
I'll use a knife occasionally (once every few trips), but it's one of those things nothing can replace when I do need it. I've never used a screwdriver, pliers, or any of the other little things that come on the more "robust" mini-tools: bottle openers, packaging cutters, corkscrews, awl-like needles, hooks, saws, rulers, etc.
My tool kit consists of: a SAK Classic with toothpick and tweezers removed, a pair of good plastic tweezers and an Opinel #6 pocket knife with a lanyard loop added. The Classic provides me with scissors and a nail file plus a small, never-sharp back-up knife blade. I carry it in my cook kit. It weighs about 0.7 oz., it gets used every trip. The tweezers are in my med kit and are used mainly to pull those nasty little cactus glochids that are nearly invisible and seemingly unavoidable around here. The SAK tweezers never seem to hold on to them. They weigh about 0.15 oz. and get a lot of use. The Opinel #6 is my everyday pocket knife. It gets constant use from cutting sausage and cheese, opening plastic bags, digging out splinters and whittling toothpicks to cleaning fish. I keep it very sharp and it holds an edge very well. It weighs about 0.8 oz. In total they weigh about 1.65 oz. and meet my needs very well. I have gotten along with just the Classic but it does only adequately, jobs that are done superbly by the knife and tweezers. I figure the extra ounce is worth the convenience. At one time I tried (not real successfuly) to make do with a single-edge razor blade. If I need to open cans, I take along a P-38 can opener left from my Army days. I almost never take it along.
Loc: Portland, OR
I carry my SAK every day of my life and simply move it into the pocket of whatever pants I am wearing, including hiking pants. My choice of SAK is conditioned on all-around use at home, car camping and hiking, so it is not as minimalist as Pika's kit. I carry the 'Recruit' model: big blade, small blade, can opener, bottle opener, tweezers, toothpick -- 1.65 oz. I use the toothpick fairly often. The other components all get used, too, but not all of them while I'm hiking.
I carry a separate nail scissors in my FAK. I find the spring-loaded tiny scissors on various SAKs and multi-tools don't work as well for me as a stand-alone scissors. They weigh another 1 oz.
I find it interesting that us older folks seem to always carry a pocket knife. The younger generation does not seem to do so. I received my first jack knife when I was about 12 years old and have one in my pocket ever since. I carry a small "Old Timer" and it is always in my pocket as long as it is legal to have one. My knife is there whether I am dressed in my Sunday finest or my grubby work clothes. I doubt whether there is a day goes by where I do not use it for something from screw driver to letter opener.
On the trail I carry real nail clippers and a very small know. They actually live in my hip belt. In the last ten years and 2500 miles on the trail I have never used pliers, a screwdriver, scissors, toothpick or anything else on a multitool. I do carry a seeing kit...
I got my first pocketknife around 12, too. My grandfather taught me how to use it to whittle the back side of baseboard and shoe moldings to get a precise fit (nowadays, they just put caulk in the misfit joint and paint it.) I’ve always carried one - the school rules were a three-inch blade, no switchblades; we’d compare ours to the ones the teachers had.
Now that there are presents to be broken into for grandkids and grand nieces and nephews, I carry a Gerber Dime multi-tool; there’s a specific blade for cutting hard plastic shells, reinforced tape, and zip ties. The pliers and screwdrivers are handy for undoing the twist-ties and plastic fasteners that attach the toy to the inner packaging.
Until they hit age 8, they’re all inventing reasons why they need Grandpa’s/ Unc’s scissors or pliers.
Come to think of it, there may be a few fuzz sticks still to be made...
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
For years I had a SAK that had a Phillips screwdriver as well as the usual kind. The tweezers and toothpick were soon lost. I never used the Phillips in the woods, but I frequently used it at work until I retired--at least a couple of times weekly I needed to adjust the connections on my or a colleague's computer at work. Much faster than waiting around for someone from the IT Dept. to show up!
I now use a Leatherman Micra which has the tools I need. I use the pliers, scissors, nail file, tweezers (for splinters) most. The pliers make a great pot lifter. The smallest screwdriver is great for the little screws on my glasses, which I check and tighten several times weekly. The knife blade actually gets little use.
I used to carry the Micra in my purse when not hiking, until the time I forgot to check what was inside before going through airport security, , , , For those of you carrying knives in pocket or purse, I strongly recommend a thorough check before you check your luggage!
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
My tool kit consists of: a SAK Classic with toothpick and tweezers removed
That's pretty hard-core UL, Pika
It reminds me of the thread on this forum years ago, "How do you know if you're an ultralight hiker" or something like that. Everyone had funny answers. I think mine was "You know you're an ultralight hiker if...you not only cut off the handle of your toothbrush, but the bristles, too."
As for me, I take the SAK classic that I carry every day anyway, and a Gerber LST or other lightweight knife in my pack. I've never had any need for a multi-tool, although I own a small one.
I've been known to carry a pair of Slip-n-Snip folding scissors and some real tweezers in my first aid kit, but alternately weed them out and put them back.
Glenn mentioned the Maglite Solitaire. I like that one, too, and keep one in my daypack. For backpacking, though, the hands-free capability and the red light make the headlamp worthwhile for me (Black Diamond Spot Lite, 2.0oz. with batteries).
Always remember that you are absolutely unique, just like everybody else. -Margaret Mead
The tool I use most is a nail file; I'm always breaking or snagging a nail on something, so it gets used several times on a trip. Nail clippers get used occasionally, if I forget to trim my nails before I leave. (Trimming them never seems to prevent the chipped fingernails, though.)
A tip from the world of classical guitar...try a crystal (tempered glass) nail file. I keep the nails on my right hand slightly long, about 1/32" past the end of my fingertips, viewed from the palm side. I used to often break and chip them, but since I've been using the crystal file, about 7 months, I haven't broken a single one.
The theory, I guess, is that your nails are layered, and an ordinary file tears the end of the nail and encourages the layers to separate. The crystal file apparently doesn't do this.
They are breakable, though tougher than you'd imagine, so maybe not great for backpacking. They do make a small one, though. I got mine from Stringsbymail.com for about $10. It's apparently important to get the etched type, made in the Czech Republic. Also, they're said to last for years, and would make a good stocking-stuffer for a woman who keeps her nails long.
Always remember that you are absolutely unique, just like everybody else. -Margaret Mead
The pliars have most use repairing rucksacks to be honest, they grip needles very very well. They can be useful for pulling things ofr gripping other things that the fingers have trouble grasping like water filter pipes or straps through buckles, thorns in shoes etc. It is the only tooly thing i really take.
Loc: Kitsap Peninsula, WA
I have experimented with a combination of things including some of what was mentioned in the previous replies. This is what I carry now. I used to be an EMT so in the past I have been the go-to guy when there is an injury. So My First aid kit (FAK) is a little larger than most when I hike or climb with others. In my FAK I have a small folding pair of scissors, and a plastic scalpel that weighs almost nothing. I went back to carrying (clipped into the lid of my pack) an original SAK. It is like what they call the Cadet nowadays. I have built fires when hiking alone, mostly just something to do with a long evening. I always take an emery board in addition to the above mentioned scissors because I find split nails very annoying. I carry a tiny LED light that clips onto a baseball cap as backup to my Energizer Headlight. At about 3.5 ounces loaded the Energizer is a bit heavy, but it has sure been a workhorse and significantly brighter than my UL Petzl headlamp. Interesting topic. I think we all evolve over time.
Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
Originally Posted By OregonMouse
I now use a Leatherman Micra which has the tools I need. I use the pliers...
Are you sure you mean the Micra and not the Squirt or Style? I didn't think LM ever offered the Micra with pliers, but maybe I just missed it.
I like having pliers too. My go-to setup in the past has been a Style PS and a small fixed blade knife.
To me the perfect multitool would be just pliers, good scissors (à la the Micra or Style CS), and tiny scissors (à la the SAK classic or Style PS). I would carry a separate knife. I need the tiny scissors, because it's the best thing I've found for cutting out my chronically ingrown toenail. The bigger scissors, honestly I could live without, but they're a nice convenience for cutting food packaging and tape.
I just recently re-discovered my lost Squirt, so I may be using that again.
The journey is more important than the destination.
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