Backpacking Essentials: Best Multi-tools and Knives


Multi-tools and knives are important elements of backpacker’s arsenal and can save the day when the time comes. While benefits of quality knives are pretty obvious, multi-tools combine little useful tools into a neatly hidden and compact housing. They allow backpackers to add less weight to their backpacks without compromising on functionality. If you want to order high-quality knives online, visit this trusted knife store. Multi-tools have their own merits, but they cannot replace dedicated tools in our daily because that’s not what they are really meant for. They are for people who want those basic functionalities without having to carry extra bulk.

Types of Multi-tools

Although multi-tools come in different form and shapes, their functionality often overlaps and a single multi-tool can serve various purposes. The price is directly proportional to the quality of the metal/materials being used, which greatly impacts the sturdiness and durability. Here are the main categories/types of multi-tools:

Folding: Bigger in size, fold open to reveal different tools, more suitable for backpackers

Pocket: Mini versions of the folding multi-tools, more portable but not suitable for tough jobs and weeks-long adventures

Keychain: Can be attached to a keychain, limited functionality

Wallet: Credit card and flat-type, can easily slip into a wallet, mostly used as bottle openers, drivers and box cutters

One-piece: No moving parts, very limited functionality, e.g. bottle openers

Specialty: Focus on a specific set of functions instead of trying to be a jack of all trades e.g. electrician’s multi-tool

Regardless of the type of multi-tool you are buying, it’s recommended not to make a purchase decision that’s only based on price. While many of us are tempted to buy multi-tools with the most functions, that might not be a great strategy if you only need a few of them. Fewer but well-made tools are far better than an all-in-one multi-tool that does not serve any purpose well. It’s recommended to pick multi-tools based on the tools you actually need the most and go for reputable brands that fit your budget.

Who Should Buy Multi-tools?

While multi-tools are relevant to almost everyone, they are especially useful for backpackers, hikers, and preppers who want maximum functionality out of the smallest package. Backpacking multi-tools are not entirely about performance as they are mainly designed to be portable while offering the basic functionality of dedicated tools.

The main purpose of multi-tools and knives for backpacking is to be ready for any situation while on the go. Since it’s not practical to always carry regular bulky tools, multi-tools strike the right balance between portability and functionality. They help save precious backpacking space and are essential for backcountry survival. Let’s get straight to some of the best multi-tools and knives for backpacking, which have been selected based on functionality and the value for money they offer.

Best Backpacking Multi-tools and Knives

Where to Buy
SwissTool Spirit X with Leather Pouch
Leatherman Rebar Multi-tool
Leatherman Tread Bracelet
Gerber Suspension Multi-Plier
Leatherman Micra
Stansport Campers Emergency Multi-Tool
Kershaw Cryo Folding Knife
Military-grade Fighting Knife

1. SwissTool Spirit X with Leather Pouch

The stainless steel 27-in-1 toolkit comes with a leather pouch and features a variety of functions, including screwdrivers, wire cutter, needle nose pliers, scissors, metal, and wood saw and wore stripper. All the tools are easily accessible from outside of the handle. Weighing under 10oz with around a 4-inch length, this multi-tool portable, yet functional toolset. While it costs quite a bit, the Swiss manufacturer provides lifetime guarantee for both materials and workmanship.

Key features and specifications

  • Weight: 9.75oz
  • Size: 4.13” L x 1.24” H
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Stainless Steel construction
  • 27 functions
  • Lightweight and built to last
  • Easily accessible tools
  • Single click folding
  • Precise locking mechanism
  • Sharp blades

2. Leatherman Rebar Multi-tool

Made out of 420HC Stainless Steel, the 17-in-1 Rebar multi-tool is an excellent option that strikes the right balance between price, functionality, and portability. It’s slim and compact design makes it an Every Day Carry multi-tools designed for optimal functionality. The 17 tools include screwdrivers, knives, wire cutters, pliers as well as a saw. Each tool gets firmly locked when the multi-tool is opened, which helps keep them securely in place when in use. Rabar is made and repaired (in case of warranty) in the US and backed by a 25-year limited warranty.

Key features and specifications

  • Weight: 6.7oz
  • Size: 4” L x 1.5” H
  • 420HC Stainless Steel
  • Removable wire cutters
  • Strength-optimized pliers
  • 17 tools
  • All-locking mechanism
  • 25-year limited warranty
  • Compact and slim

3. Leatherman Tread Bracelet

How about a wearable multi-tool? This wearable multi-tool is TSA-friendly and comfortable to wear. However, it might not be suitable for backpackers who need all the tools in a single package and looking for an inexpensive toolset. The modular design makes the bracelet fully customizable, allowing users to easily fit it on their wrists (links come in ¼ and ½ inch increments). The customizable tools include box wrenches, screwdrivers, cutting hook and bottle opener. Users can also purchase additional links if needed. Like other Leatherman products, Tread Bracelet is also backed by a 25-year warranty, which is more than enough considering the average life expectancy these days.

Key features and specifications

  • Weight: 5.9 ounces
  • Size: 3.9 x 5.9 x 9.4 (inches)
  • Fully customizable modular design
  • TSA compliant
  • Box wrenches
  • Hex drivers
  • Screwdrivers
  • Oxygen tank wrench
  • Cutting hook
  • Bottle opener
  • ¼ and ½ inch link increments

4. Gerber Suspension Multi-Plier

This multi-plier is one of the most affordable, yet feature-packed multi-tools and comes with 12 individual components. Weighing 9.6oz it’s a bit on the heavier side, but that’s not really a bad thing considering it’s made using stainless steel (handle) and comes with a component locking system. The butterfly design makes it easier to fold and unfold the tools, while users also get the choice of multiple knives, including straight and serrated blade.

Key features and specifications

  • Weight: 9.6 oz
  • Size: 3.5-inch closed length
  • 12 tools
  • Saf T.Plus Component locking mechanism
  • Open-frame SS handle
  • Ballistic nylon sheath
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Multiple blades
  • Screwdrivers
  • Wire cutter and stripper
  • Needle-nose pliers

5. Leatherman Micra

This multi-tool is a great option for backpackers looking for an affordable multi-tool with compact spring-action scissors, screwdrivers and other common tools. It also comes with some personal care tools such as nail file and tweezers. Weighing only 1.8 ounces, it’s one of the most portable multi-tools and works equally well for backpackers and hobbyists.

Key features and specs

  • Weight: 1.8 ounces
  • Size: 2.5 inches closed length
  • Spring-action scissors
  • Knife
  • Screwdrivers
  • Bottle opener
  • Tweezers
  • Nail cleaner and filer
  • Ruler
  • 25-year warranty

6. Stansport Camper’s Emergency Multi-Tool

This affordable multi-tool includes an axe, hammer, blades, knife saw and other tools that help backpackers prepare for the woods and other everyday situations. Made using heavy-duty stainless steel, this tool comes with a carry bag, belt loop, and spring-loaded safety lock.

Key features and specs

  • Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Size: 7 x 1 x 1.3 (inches)
  • Axe and hammer
  • Knife and saw
  • Multiple blades
  • Screwdrivers
  • Safety lock
  • Spring-loaded handle
  • Wire cutter
  • Can opener
  • Wrench
  • Pliers

7. Kershaw Cryo Folding Knife

The Cryo is shorter than regular knives and features an opening mechanism that allows backpackers to open the blade using one hand. At 2.75-inches the blade isn’t among the largest, but it is good enough for most situations while being very portable. It is designed to slice soft materials and can easily be sharpened when the edge wears out.

Key features and specifications

  • Weight: 4.1oz
  • Size: 2.75-inch blade
  • 8Cr13MoV Steel Blade
  • Stainless Steel Handle
  • Titanium Carbo-Nitride Coating (matte gray)
  • Deep-Carry Pocket clip (4 positions)
  • Torsion bar fast deployment
  • Secure Locking System

8. Military-grade Fighting Knife

This survival knife is an excellent option if you are looking for a full-size, fixed-blade knife for your backpacking adventures. It’s costlier than average knives, but it makes cutting synthetic and looped materials easier. The knife is made in the US using 100% synthetic materials and has a partially serrated edge. The 7-inch 1095 Cro-Van steel blade is easy to sharpen and has a 20-degree edge angle for effortless slicing.

Key features and specs

  • Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Size: 7-inches blade length, 11.87-inches total
  • 100% synthetic
  • Partially serrated edge
  • Kraton G handle
  • 1095 Cro-Van steel
  • Leather sheath