14

I have been trekking for years now, mostly in Scandinavia, Canada and Peru. For most of treks we had to be sustainable and carry food for 10-14 days at a time - so weight is always a big issue.

Obviously this requires very optimized equipment, and for this reason I never considered bringing a multitool (like a swisstool or leatherman): personally I just never saw the benefit of such a tool, as out in the wild I essentially never encountered situations that would call for pliers, screwdrivers, or any of the other sophisticated tools.

However, over the years I have seen plenty of people who absolutely swear by their multitools and bring them on every occasion, including long hikes or trekking trips.

I'd like to know of you:

  • Why do you bring your multitool on long trips?
  • What kinds of purposes does it serve, which a normal knife can't?
11

There's always a difference between required and excessive. A lot of these multi tools have specific purposes. Do I require a screwdriver on a trek? Mostly no. Will I use a knife, a pair of scissors or even a pair of tweezers? Mostly Yes.

So do I recommend carrying a multi tool to a trek? Yes. But having said that, there are multitude of these tools out there. What one needs to look at is the one which makes sense for a trek. I have multitools which have the basic knife-scissor-tweezer-pin combination and also another one with a screwdriver-plier combination. I do not carry the screwdriver ones on treks. They are heavy and pretty much useless.

What all have I used my multi tools for?

  • Cutting fruits, opening cans, opening up packed food.
  • Removing thorns from my fingers using tweezers.
  • Sewing up my shoes with reamer (a temporary but useful solution).

On a lighter note, once when I was on a forest survey, I met a fellow who felt his swiss multi tool knife could provide him sufficient protection against wild animals. So yeah, for some, it might give some mental strength as well :D ;)

EDIT:

What a normal knife can't? That would be a very selective list. And probably one could argue that pretty much everything could be achieved using a normal knife with sufficient skill. Personally I do not use a bigger knife for delicate stuff like removing a splinter ;). Also, I've met folks who do not carry a knife (mostly those going for guided treks) and prefer multi tool instead. I also believe that the human tendency to feel more comfortable with more options has to do with this somehow.

  • 2
    In Canada you can also use the tweezers to remove ticks which may carry the Lyme disease. – ppl Jul 7 '15 at 16:04
  • Tick removal is also a major concern in the northeastern USA. – KRyan Jul 7 '15 at 20:34
  • Are you guys saying that there aren't ticks in other parts of the world? – ShemSeger Jul 8 '15 at 0:03
  • There are ticks in Europe too, and they can also carry nasty diseases. – fgysin Jul 8 '15 at 6:30
  • 1
    You use tweezers to remove ticks?! You are just begging to burst the body and leave the head inside the wound. As a Team Medic I am imploring you stop doing this and invest in a tick removal tool ($3). If you must use tweezers there is a dedicated technique. bada-uk.org/correct-tick-removal/… – Venture2099 Jul 9 '15 at 23:18
5

I carry a compact Victorinox Swiss Army Knife (Huntsman) which I find perfectly adequate for all of the situations I have encountered in the wilderness.

If you consider that too heavy to carry (3.5 inches and 28grams) then you need to reevaluate your fitness (joke!) and what kind of trade-offs you are making between weight and functionality.

As an ex-soldier I know plenty of guys who swear by huge industrial leatherman tools but I have never felt they were particularly more efficient.

Here are my primary reasons;

  • The UK has very stringent laws regarding knives; it's not worth owning a larger variant
  • I will always need to cut paracord or tape or bandages so a small blade is fine
  • I often strip sticks for the kids into items/poles
  • I have sawn down small foliage for various reasons
  • I have used the bottle opener several times ;-)
  • I have whittled poles to slot into the eyeholes of the tarp
  • I have used the tweezers quite a few times

But ultimately it is really the idea that I would rather have a small, useful utility tool in my packing list and not need than the other way about.

If I was trekking the Appalachian Trail or the Rockies I would probably invest in a large, suitable knife because you are correct; 90% of the actions involve cutting, sawing, stripping or the blade portion in some way but for the UK and most of Europe a Swiss Army Knife is perfectly adequate.

The limitation of a multi-tool versus a knife is the force you can bring to bare through the handle of a knife as a hammer-like strike (tent pegs, stakes, general all-round man smashing of stuff).

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