How to Choose the Best Multi-Tool for Camping

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If you are in search of a tool which can replace an entire toolbox but manage to squeeze into your backpack or even your pocket, a multi-tool is probably the exact thing for which you have been searching. Essentially, a multi-tool takes a bunch of tools and fits them into a small, compact package tiny enough to slide into a backpack, slip in a pocket, or wear on a belt.

Although they may all appear to be quite similar on the surface, not all multi-tools are created equal. Before going ahead and purchasing the first, the prettiest, most rugged, lightest, cheapest, or most expensive one you find, let’s take a few minutes to consider the ways that multi-tools may differ from one another and how you can go about selecting the right multi-tool for your particular needs.

How to Choose the Best Multi-Tool for Camping

What Size and Weight Multi-Tool Is Best?

The size and weight of your multi-tool are most important if you plan to take it on a backpacking excursion. Generally speaking, the size shouldn’t make much of a difference in stationary camping situations, since you can keep the tool in your car or packed away in one of your storage containers. Size and weight are mostly important when you are trying to pack the tool into a small area or reduce the amount of weight in your backpack.

How do you know if a multi-tool is a typical size, larger than average, or smaller than average? Honestly, you would have to compare many tools to figure out the answer to that question. Luckily, I’ve already done that for you. All of the tools on this website are average or smaller than average in size and are typical or less than typical weights.

Plier Tip

Cutting Tip

In terms of size, anything around the 4-inch mark is about average. You may be happy to know, however, that you do not need to settle with this size if you are looking for something small for your backpack. Quality multi-tools as tiny as 2.5 inches in length are available on today’s market.

The typical weight of a multi-tool is somewhere around 8 to 10 ounces. If you are willing to pay more or sacrifice a few tools, however, you may find one as light as 5 ounces. If the weight of the item isn’t clearly written on its packaging or in its product description, look for tools with handles which have designs cut out of them. Removing these extra pieces of steel not only makes a tool look interesting, it also reduces its overall weight.

Which Tools Should Your Multi-Tool Include?

The type of tools your multi-tool should include depends upon how you intend to use it. Even though everyone visiting this website is planning to take their multi-tool on some sort of a camping trip, we must remember that some of you are probably going on trips which are much different than those in which others of you will plan.

For example, some of you will be going on backpacking adventures in the back country with very little in the way of supplies. Some of you will be building fires from scratch, catching or foraging for your own food. Meanwhile, others of you will be camping from your car, bringing food and firewood with you or purchasing it at your campsite. The types of tools each of these types of people will require are drastically different.

Stationary campers, also known as car campers, are those people who camp in tents or trailers at campgrounds and bring an assortment of accessories and amenities with them on their trips. These people will probably only require multi-tools with the most basic of functions, such as knives and screwdrivers.

If you are a backpacker or someone who enjoys camping with as little as possible, you will want to consider purchasing a multi-tool which features the same basic things that the stationary campers will need, in addition to a few extra pieces. For example, a saw may be especially helpful to you.

Though you won’t find a multi-tool with something large enough to split logs, a saw can be helpful in meal preparation (if you catch live food) as well as cutting small twigs and branches for kindling.

You may also want to consider a tool which is capable of descaling a fish and removing fish hooks, and which includes a pair of scissors for opening dehydrated food packets as well as other unexpected needs. A can opener and bottle opener may also be helpful, depending upon the type of food you plan to pack.

Essentially, the best thing to do when selecting a multi-tool based on the tools it includes is to run through a typical day in your camping life to see what you may need for it. Next, you should ask yourself, “What unexpected emergencies may happen upon me as I am camping or backpacking?” Things break and medical issues may come up, so it is always good to have the necessary tools for dealing with those situations.

Look For Quality

A quality multi-tool is rust-resistant and should, therefore, be made primarily from some form of stainless steel.

Also worth considering is that knife blades made from high carbon stainless steel may be slightly less rust resistant but will keep their sharp edge for much longer, ultimately making them more useful.