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Outdoor Programs in Desert Survival and Bushcraft

Thursday, December 30, 2010

What's the best multi-tool?

I get this question a lot in my courses. Multi-tools, like knives, are all about personal preference and the nature of the tasks you are undertaking. My primary blade has always been a Swedish Mora but there are times when the various gadgets on a multi-tool are helpful. The one I use the most is the Wenger brand Swiss Army Knife, the Evolution model in particular. This has a handy folding saw along with the usual features (screwdriver heads, awl, tweezers, etc…). Mine cost around $25 and is a streamlined model of the older, bulkier versions of Swiss Army Knives.  
I also have a Leatherman Wave in my truck’s glovebox for any vehicle issues or minor work. I have found that the most important feature for my line of work is the folding saw that these multi-tools provide. The other features are not as critical (of course, that toothpick feature is nice after a dinner of wild game....). There are so many variations of multi-tools so look at the features you need the most- do you really need scissors or corkscrew in the wilds?
These tools compliment my 4” fixed-blade Mora Knife that is my main “working” blade when teaching and when I am on the trail. I would recommend going with a reputable brand when purchasing a multi-tool like Leatherman, Gerber, SOG, or Swiss Army as there are many cheap spinoffs and the last thing you want in the backcountry is a critical tool that fails you.
Also, keep in mind that a multi-tool is not a knife it- is a multi-tool! So, carry a quality fixed-blade in addition to a multi-tool. The fixed-blade will allow you to split firewood, whittle, and handle the heavy-duty chores associated with wilderness living. Carry at least two blades and remember the motto with critical life-saving gear: “Two is one and one is none.”
Enjoy the Wilds!
Tony Nester
Ancient Pathways, LLC

About Ancient Pathways

Tony Nester is the author of numerous books and DVDs on survival. His school Ancient Pathways is the primary provider of survival training for the Military Special Operations community and he has served as a consultant for the NTSB, Travel Channel, Backpacker Magazine, and the film Into the Wild. When not on the trail, he lives in a passive-solar, strawbale home in northern Arizona. For information on Tony’s books, gear, or bushcraft courses, visit

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