Should Preppers Carry a Multi-Tool?

A multitool and a fly fishing rod and reel
Multi-tools can be useful, but are they the best tool for the job?

I often see pocket dumps and EDC reports that include multi-tools. Maybe it’s the “cool” factor, because there are certainly some clever multi-tools out there, but I don’t carry one myself. I did years ago, but I found I didn’t use it often enough to warrant carrying it daily.

I own the original Leatherman, and I keep it in my truck. Admittedly, there have been times when I have gone to my truck to get it, but these are few and far between. I also own Gerber and SOG tools, but I couldn’t even tell you where they are. Probably in a bugout bag or get-home bag.

If you carry a multi-tool, how often do you use it? Leave a comment below.

Why No Multi-Tool?

To me, a multi-tool is a compromise. Although the pliers are usually effective, the other implements are simply substitutes for better tools. For example, my Fiskars folding saw is going to be far better than the tiny saw blade on a multi-tool. Likewise, my pocket knife or a small fixed blade knife is sturdier and more ergonomic than the knife blade on a multi-tool.

If you want a can opener, a screwdriver, or a tiny pair of scissors, you can get a small Swiss army knife for less and it is much lighter and more compact. Even then, you’d be better off with a full-size screwdriver, scissor, or can opener. So for me, a multi-tool is a last-ditch device, something to use when you have nothing else.

I carry a folding knife every day and have been known to carry a box cutter or a fixed blade, depending on what I expect to do that day. With proper planning, I rarely need the extra accessories on a multi-tool.

Last-ditch items are better than nothing, and there may come a time when you have to rely on them, but I’d rather use the full-size tool designed for the job.

Untraditional Multi-tools

That said, I think there are some specialty multi-tools that can be useful. For example, the military issues a specialized version of the Gerber 600 that includes a tool to adjust the front sight on an AR-15 and a carbide wire cutter. Gerber also makes the Effect tool, which is a multi-tool designed for maintaining an AR15, M16, or M4. I can see storing that in your gun bag, just in case. They even have specialized multi-tools for people who work with fiber optics and cable systems.

There are also multi-tools for EMTs and anglers. I like these as well. It’s the generic tools that try to do everything but fail to do it well that don’t impress me.

Lifestyle Choice

For me, not carrying a multi-tool is a lifestyle choice. I am usually near a tool box or my workshop, so I usually have access to better tools than those on a multi-tool. If I need a fencing plier, I’m going to be 100 feet from where it hangs on the pegboard in my shop, not 1,000 yards.

I also don’t ride a bike, go fishing, or do much camping, all activities where I can see a multi-tool might be useful.

If you are bugging out or heading off for a camping or bush crafting weekend, then a multi-tool might be useful. I think you will get more done with a hatchet, a folding saw, and a knife, but a multi-tool is better than nothing, and certainly lighter. Try it out, see how you like it. Maybe your pocket dump will one day include a multi-tool.

If you are starting out as a prepper, don’t let this post convince you not to get a multi-tool. Instead, let it convince you to buy a folding saw and a decent knife as well. Consider having both part of the layered approach to prepping.


  1. Depends on what you do I guess. Fixing computers I carried a multi-tool every day for 30+ years. The multi-tool and the Victorinox Swiss Army Cybertool M let me leave the tool bag in the car for 99% of the jobs I had to do. That kept me from having to keep track of the whole bag of tools at every job site.

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