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During survival or extreme situations, it’s very important to carry equipment that serves more than one purpose. Few items do this better than the multi-tool.

Designed to be durable, the multi-tool can withstand a lot of punishment while providing you with dozens of practical uses when you’re out in the field. The individual functions vary from the basics, including screwdrivers, knives, tweezers, saw blades and pliers to the more exotic, including corkscrews, scissors, magnifying glasses, hammers and tape measures. Trade-specific versions are also becoming more prominent in the market, as cyclists, golfers, hunters and fisherman, for example, have models that specifically suit their particular needs.

No matter what you require, the multi-tool is a must-have for any bug-out bag, glove compartment, emergency supply kit and, most importantly, strapped to your belt for immediate use!

 

1. Gerber Steady Tool

MSRP: $64

Key Features: A traditional multi-tool with an added tripod for your camera or cell phone

Description: A rugged, 12-function multitool with an added tripod to hold either a digital camera or phone for hands-free photo taking or video recording. Features classic Gerber multi-tool functions, such as a fine-edged blade, serrated blade, three screwdrivers (micro flat, square cross and medium flat), a bottle opener, pliers and wire cutters. The Steady Tool is made with stainless steel components for maximum durability.

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Manufacturer’s Comments: “The spirit behind the Steady multi-tool, as it is with all Gerber products, is to help consumers solve issues or problems—be they small, large, everyday or even matters of survival. In the case of the Steady, we identified a hole in the marketplace … the melding of two tried and true outdoor products, the multi-tool and the tripod … and we addressed it with the Steady, a unique tool that covers an incredible spectrum of needs to getting you out of a jam to helping record important moments with family and friends.”

—Jared Schoening, Category Marketing Manager

 

2. Leatherman Freestyle

MSRP: $64

Key Features: A traditional multi-tool with an added tripod for your camera or cell phone

Description: A rugged, 12-function multitool with an added tripod to hold either a digital camera or phone for hands-free photo taking or video recording. Features classic Gerber multi-tool functions, such as a fine-edged blade, serrated blade, three screwdrivers (micro flat, square cross and medium flat), a bottle opener, pliers and wire cutters. The Steady Tool is made with stainless steel components for maximum durability.

Manufacturer’s Comments: “The spirit behind the Steady multi-tool, as it is with all Gerber products, is to help consumers solve issues or problems—be they small, large, everyday or even matters of survival. In the case of the Steady, we identified a hole in the marketplace … the melding of two tried and true outdoor products, the multi-tool and the tripod … and we addressed it with the Steady, a unique tool that covers an incredible spectrum of needs to getting you out of a jam to helping record important moments with family and friends.”

—Kitri Mcguire, Senior Marketing Communications Specialist

 

3. Victorinox SwissChamp XLT

MSRP: $99

Key Features: 33 features; compact, streamlined design; lifetime warranty

Description: The SwissChamp can be referred to as a toolbox for your pocket. Sporting a compact design, this multi-tool holds 33 diverse tools useful while camping, hiking or even for small tasks around your home. No matter what needs to be repaired, cut, clipped, snipped, measured or opened, the SwissChamp can get the job done. A lifetime warranty ensures peace of mind through the life of the tool. Made in Switzerland.

Manufacturer’s Comments: “The SwissChamp XLT Swiss Army Knife has 11 layers. It extends the popular SwissChamp to 50 functions, maintaining its 91-millimeter length but increasing in width. The XLT model adds the spatula, electrician’s blade, small pruner blade and the bit driver/bit case tools. It comes equipped with an impressive array of useful tools. With 50 functions, this knife is prepared to take on any task.”

—Christopher Costa, Director Of Product Management And Packaging

 

4. Victorinox SwissTool Spirit

MSRP: $116

Key Features: Easily accessible tools, lifetime guarantee, lightweight

Description: The SwissTool Spirit is a lightweight yet extremely versatile multi-tool with enough features to assist you in almost any situation. Weighing in at only 5 ¾ ounces, this tool fits comfortably carried in your pants or jacket pocket. The unique design of the SwissTool allows all tools to be opened from the outside without having to access the folding pliers first. Individual springs hold other tools in place, so you have the convenience of accessing one tool at a time. The SwissTool Spirit offers 27 functions within its streamlined and innovative lightweight design.

Manufacturer’s Comments: “The Victorinox SwissTool Spirit is a plier-type multi-tool with uniquely curved handles and a wide assortment of tools that all lock in the open position. All of the blades and tools fold from the outside of the handles, allowing quick and easy tool deployment without opening the pliers. This arrangement also helps make for a more comfortable feel in the hand when using the pliers. The Spirit is smaller than the earlier-released SwissTool models, but the most significant differences are the greatly reduced weight and the ergonomic shape.”

—Christopher Costa, Director Of Product Management And Packaging

 

5. Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Multi-Tool

MSRP: $58

Key Features: Ergonomic textured grip, weatherresistant components, enhanced locking mechanism

Description: A multi-tool tough enough to keep up with one of the world’s leading survivalists, Bear Grylls. Constructed of stainless steel and weather-resistant components, this multi-tool can withstand the harsh elements of nature. It features a patented Safe.T.Plus System, which locks all tools in place when in use, and its rubberized handle ensures a strong non-slip grip. Comes complete with 12 of your most-needed tools, a mildew-resistant nylon sheath and Bear Grylls’ pocket guide to survival.

Manufacturer’s Comments: “Gerber combined its 75 years of experience in crafting innovative, problem-solving gear with the acumen of Bear Grylls, one of the leading survivalists in the world, to create the Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate multi-tool, and we think its rugged construction, spring-loaded pliers, external-locking tools and an extra grip handle earn this tool its moniker.”

—Joe Mattson, Senior Brand Manager

Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the April 2014 print issue of American Survival Guide.