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When it comes to multi-tools, too many potential buyers get stuck on the “multi” part of the idea and not enough on the “tool.” a multi-tool with dozens of tools becomes cluttered, bulky, expensive, and downright obnoxious. There is a fine line between functionality and size, and Kilimanjaro has found it with the Ballast and Rappel II, two of its multi-tools.

Ballast

Constructed with rivets, the Ballast comes completely satin black (or silver) and displays a very rugged appearance. With 13 tools, the pliers are slightly smaller than the Rappel II and they’re not spring-loaded. Each of the tools are easy to access. It comes with two serrated blades, approximately two-inches in length, one single and the other double cut. The knife blade, though thin, is about two inches long and doesn’t physically lock.

The ancillary tools, screwdrivers, bottle/can openers, are compact but effective, although slightly difficult to extract from the body of the handle. The black satin finish offers a sleek appearance, and a few elements near the pliers lends itself to a futuristic feel. The straight design of the handles allows for a tight grip, while the handles fold down smoothly and easily.

The Ballast comes with a stiff nylon sheath with a webbing loop so it can be worn on a belt or attached to a pack. Because this multi-tool has a wide range of abilities packed into a small package (4.2 inches closed), it is a great value for those that need a variety of quality tools in one package.

Ballast Components

  • Pliers
  • Wire Cutter
  • Long Nose Pliers
  • Knife
  • Serrated Knife
  • Can Opener
  • Bottle Opener
  • Saw Blade
  • Double Cut File
  • Single Cut File
  • Phillips Screwdriver
  • Medium Flat Head Screwdriver
  • Large Flat Head Screwdriver
  • Nylon Pouch

 

Rappel II

There are two different versions of the Rappel line, and this is the full-sized one with the black anodized finish and 11 different components (compared to only eight on the Rappel — and one of those eight is a carabiner clip). Made from stainless steel, each black satin tool is tucked securely beneath the skeleton-like handles, the upper splashed with a neon green color. Top and bottom handles have jimping running its full-length, allowing for a more sure grip, especially when wet. Each tool snaps into place securely and takes quite an effort to push them back into place after being used. Both the saw and the three-inch knife blade physically lock into place.

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The two flat-head screwdrivers are well suited to the task, but the flattened Phillips screwdriver only works well on certain screws with deeper heads. A can opener is a welcomed addition. The pliers are long, quite narrow, and include wire cutters. When fully open, the 6.5-inch tool’s handles snap into place with a reassuring click.

Overall, it performs well under torque, and doesn’t look likely to break or bend if maintained properly and used safely. Carried in the car, pack, or kept at the shop, it is a great tool for the money, and will be a valuable asset for many years.

The green upper handle gives the Rappel II a fancy look that you won’t easily lose if it were to be dropped. Although it has fewer tools than the Ballast, it does have features — such as locking blades, and snap-tight handles — that set it apart as a good buy.

 

Rappel II Components

  • Pliers
  • Long Nose Pliers
  • Wire Cutter
  • Knife
  • Saw Blade
  • Bottle Opener
  • Can Opener
  • Phillips Screwdriver
  • Medium Flat Head Screwdriver
  • Large Flat Head Screwdriver
  • File

 

 

 

 

Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the July 2015 print issue of American Survival Guide.