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2023-04-03 📌 More ruminating on small tools, EDC and shrinking options

Tags All Tech Personal

I was doing some reading around and it turns out that the once useful Leatherman warranty may actually be worthless depending on what tool you own since they've discontinued so many models, unless you're replacing a full size one. For example, Leatherman substitute the Style PS with the ancient Micra (!) on warranty returns, and the Wave+ for Juice models like the CS4 and XE6. I know I'd be pissed off to get a replacement tool without pliers or a bulky tool that isn't legal carry in many countries plus is missing tools from its set in exchange for a pocket sized Juice. They're in no way comparable.

In fact, when I started writing this under pocket tools the site only listed the pliers-less, illegal carry, locking blade Free T4 and the full size, illegal carry locking blade Skeletool. The UK site now redirects to a version of the US one that only has a single carabiner in its pocket tool category. All of this gives the impression that the company which was founded on pliers-based multitools seems to be having a bit of an identity crisis, in addition to being stupid and disingenuous. Don't get me wrong, the UK devolving into fascist idiocy over tools when knife crime is synonymous with cheap kitchen knives isn't defensible, but Leatherman is guilty of bad faith marketing to Normal Island.

The lack of genuine pocket tools is presumably driven by production cost versus viable retail price and a desire to preserve inflated per unit profit margins. So they've handed the pocket multitool market to next tier down Gerber, who outsource overseas and get a lot of criticism for quality issues. A Gerber Dime isn't necessarily a bad choice for very light use but lacks proper screwdrivers, saw, can opener, corkscrew, etc. and there are too many reports of the pliers outright snapping in different places due to poor design and casting. The alternatives are generics or if you don't need much in the way of pliers you could consider a 4+ layer Victorinox swiss army knife such as a Deluxe Tinker, which seems to be the current thinnest SAK that includes them.

SAKs are a rabbit hole of trying to find the best trade off of size and functionality, and the Deluxe Tinker is to my mind let down by its lack of a saw as well as an inflated price versus the Super Tinker... but you could always add a convenient piece of hacksaw blade or two to a pouch or opt for an even chunkier and pricier Handyman (6 layers) or SwissChamp model (8, and the nontraditional 6 layer 111m WorkChamp alternative is locking and too long). None of these are quite to taste, personally. If I was spending that much on a SAK I'd prefer an alox style model and only the tools I specifically wanted. But always having tweezers is also a plus of SAKs so DIY fitting custom metal scales might be an option, and I suspect that some point I'll try a pliers model just like the small Philips screwdriver on the Rambler is simultaneously interesting and impractical.

Anyway, I've been rejigging my own EDC and settled on a quattro screwdriver on keys plus a pocket friendly thin canvas wallet packed out with an old-fashioned Swiss+Tech Micro-Tech copy, basic Waiter SAK with glasses screwdriver, Bullet space pen, mini pack of sticky notes, folding scissors and saw blades. I might move the quattro to a lanyard on the SAK or something, just for a clean split, but otherwise that's everything I'm likely to want without too many compromises and choosing minimalist separates that are easily replaceable.

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