Multi tool review - Buck, Leatherman, Victorinox

There are fabled stories and epic survival tales built completely on the transpiration of a multi-tool in a time of dire need. Whether it’s the climber high on a mountain who repaired his stove just before freezing or skiers who needed to jigger a binding back to life 14 miles from the car, the multi-tool has saved a legion of outdoor athletes from great misery or much worse.

Here’s a quick look at three new multi-tool models in case you’re planning to upgrade or add a multi-tool to your gear arsenal.

If you want the Cadillac of multi-tools, Leatherman’s Charge Ti ($124, http://www.leathermancharge.com) may just be it — both from a price and performance standpoint. Admittedly vying to design the top-end product in the entire multi-tool category, Leatherman used premium materials like titanium, bronze and high-grade steel to create this half-pound beast of a tool.

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The Charge Ti includes two knife blades, a screwdriver with interchangeable bits, a saw, a diamond-coated file, a needle-nose pliers, wire cutters, wire strippers, scissors, can opener and an eight-inch ruler. The tool measures four inches when closed and feels absolutely solid in the hand.

A step down in price, the stainless steel Victorinox SwissTool Spirit ($70, http://www.swissarmy.com) is still a fancy piece of equipment for the average camper. Manufactured by the makers of the original Swiss Army Knife, it has the requisite pliers, knife, screwdriver and bottle opener plus some extras like a scissors and a separate bit-socket wrench that fits alongside the tool in its nylon case.

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The SwissTool Spirit weighs about 7 ounces and is just over four inches long when closed. Victorinox includes a lifetime guarantee against defects in material and workmanship.

Gerber took a separate path with its latest multi-tool, as the Nautilus model ($60, http://www.gerbergear.com) eschews a pliers for an integrated L.E.D. flashlight. The tiny, one-bulb light snaps open at the push of a button and has enough power to illuminate a dark trail at night.

Other points of differentiation include soft, rubbery handles for a comfortable grip and a high-quality scissors. It’s 4.4 inches long when shut, weighs 3.8 ounces and also includes more standard features like a stainless-steel blade, two screwdrivers and a bottle opener.

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