What do words like Kleenex, laundromat, thermos, and trampoline have in common? They were all once trademarked, brand-specific terms that were so dominant in the marketplace they became the common term for the products they represented. When that happens, you know that brand has made its mark on history.
One shining example of this phenomenon in the tactical gear industry is Leatherman, or more accurately, the Leatherman Tool Group. Founded by Timothy Leatherman and Steve Berliner in 1983, Leatherman pioneered the concept of the modern multitool and its name has since become synonymous with this class of product. Regardless of what brand of multitool you might actually be carrying, it’s not unusual to hear someone ask “Can I borrow your Leatherman?”
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Although they are still an industry-leading force in the now-traditional multitool market, Leatherman has never been a company content to rest on its laurels. They are constantly introducing new categories of incredibly useful, everyday carry tools as well as continuing to expand the functionality of their established products. Because they offer such a broad range of products — and because everyone needs to fix, cut, turn, or tighten something at some point in his or her life — Leatherman tools are literally the perfect gift. With that thought in mind, let’s take a look at three of their newer offerings.
The Signal is a compact, easy-to-carry folding multitool that is ideal for campers, outdoors enthusiasts, and many other users. Like most Leatherman multitools, it includes many of the standard features we’ve come to expect —like needlenose pliers, regular pliers jaws, wire cutters, a knife blade, a can opener, an awl, and a reversible flat-head/Phillips-head screwdriver. To optimize the tool for outdoor/survival applications, it also includes a folding saw blade, a ferrocerium rod for fire starting, a high-pitched survival whistle, a knife sharpener, a hammer butt, and both ¼” and 3/16″ hex drivers.
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To ensure you have your Signal with you when you need it, it comes equipped with an onboard spring clip for pocket carry, a carabiner with a spring gate (which also does double duty as a bottle opener) for attachment to D-rings and similar platforms, and a heavy nylon belt sheath with Velcro closure. The well-designed sheath allows both vertical and horizontal belt carry and also includes two elastic loops for carrying a pen and pencil.
The combination of functions offered by the Signal makes it the perfect multitool for hikers and backpackers and an ideal complement to any well-thought-out survival kit. Like all Leatherman products, it is extremely well made incredibly sturdy, and boasts excellent fit and finish. All its key tools also feature locking mechanisms that keep them securely opened during use and allow them to be easily closed — once you understand the mechanism. To be honest, this is my only real criticism of this extremely functional tool. While its Ikea-style graphic instructions do identify the many features of the product (in multiple languages), they do not provide any details regarding their actual operation. Leatherman’s professionally-produced videos on their YouTube channel definitely help, but still lack a lot of the detail necessary to understand some of the finer details of the tools’ operation.
As a seasoned knife and gadget guy, 10 minutes of fiddling with the Signal allowed me to discover all its secrets and comfortably access any of its functions quickly. When I shared it — and the instructions — with a few novice tool users, however, there was a fair bit of head scratching.
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Once you’ve taken the time to explore and understand its 19 different functions, the Signal is an excellent, extremely versatile multitool. And at an MSRP of $109.95 (for the black-coated version,) it’s also a great value.
Specifically designed to meet the needs of civilian, law enforcement, and military shooters, the Leatherman MUT is a folding multitool that proudly offers 16 different functions. Like the Signal, the MUT features many standard tools that are useful in a broad range of circumstances. These include needlenose and standard pliers, wire cutters, a locking knife blade, a locking saw blade and a tool driver with three different reversible bits that store securely within the tool itself. For shooters, it also includes a removable straight punch for firearm disassembly, a bronze carbon scraper, and threaded blind holes that allow the tool to be used as a handle for bore cleaning rods. The hammer butt of the longer handle also includes both a hook-style safety cutter and a tapered tip that functions as a bolt override tool.
The MUT’s screwdriver bits are all sized to adjust standard military and civilian weapon sights, and a separate scope/front sight adjustment wrench is also included with every tool. Although the MUT includes a substantial pocket clip, because it is rather hefty (10.9 ounces), it’s probably more at home clipped to personal equipment with its built-in carabiner or riding in the included MOLLE-compatible nylon pouch.
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As with the Signal, realizing the full potential of the MUT’s functionality takes a bit of time and experimentation, but it’s time well spent. At an MSRP of $159.95, it’s also money well spent.
Several years ago, the Leatherman Tread revolutionized the concept of the everyday-carry multitool by integrating more than two dozen tools into a fashionable bracelet. The Tread Tempo takes this innovation a step further by combining the Tread’s multi-functional bracelet design with a high-quality precision timepiece. The result is a one-of-a-kind wristwatch and toolkit, all in one.
From the moment you open the box, the Tread Tempo screams quality. Its elegant packaging and presentation rival the finest jewelry-grade watches and reveal one of the most robust wristwatches you could ever imagine. Every link of the Tread Tempo’s band features three tools — a driver or punch of some sort on each side and a hex wrench or similar tool as the hole in the center of the link’s body. The heavy-duty clasp section of the band includes a longer link with a bottle opener as the center hole and a small hook-style strap cutter and carbide glass breaker on the opposite ends.
Right out of the box, this unique tool included five multi-functional links in addition to the clasp link. Three additional links are included separately in the packaging with the idea the user can custom configure the Tread Tempo to include the tools most relevant to his needs. This is a necessary process, as the watch, as it comes out of the box, is too large for all but the thickest wrists. Once you make your tool selection from the available link choices and size the Tread band to fit you, the clasp link allows you to finetune the fit of the band in 1/8″ increments. All adjustments and configuration of the 30 available tools can be performed with the link tool, which stores in the back of the watch itself.
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Designed by Leatherman, the Tempo’s timepiece is water resistant to a depth of 200 meters, has a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, a rotating click-indexed bezel ring, and a precision Swiss-made Ronda 715 movement. It includes both time and date functions, has luminescent hands (including the second hand), and a five-year battery. Like the Tread band, the watch is a hell-for-stout design.
An incredibly ingenious and beautifully manufactured product, unlike conventional multitools, the Tread Tempo is actually air-travel friendly. However, wearing it is a serious commitment. In its stock configuration, it tips the scales at a somewhat daunting 9.5 ounces. Available in silver and black finishes, its MSRP is $449.95.
Leatherman is a name that is not only synonymous with highly capable everyday-carry tools, it is also synonymous with quality, versatility, and innovation. Whether you’re shopping for the perfect gift or building your own ultimate EDC kit, Leatherman has something for everyone.
For more information, visit www.leatherman.com
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