The best multitools of 2021
Each year the makers of multi-tools continue to impress us with their creativity and sheer determination to squeeze utmost functionality into easily carried packages. 2021 was another that produced an eye-catching stream of versatile and stylish designs in this space. Let's take a look at the best of the bunch.
Make it modular
As versatile as modern multitools might be, developing a one-size-fits-all solution is a difficult undertaking, as different users are likely to favor different types of implements. The customizable Goat Tools multitool was conceived as a solution to this dilemma, taking a modular approach that allows users to add or remove tools as they see fit.
The tool is built around a Leatherman-style folding pliers/wire-cutter design with 12 slots built into the handle. Users can occupy these slots with other tools such as a knife, bit driver, saw, hex key, screwdriver or wrench, depending the tasks they've got in mind. The Goat Modular multitool is up for preorder with prices starting at US$99 over at Indiegogo, with shipping slated for April next year.
A smartphone handle with extra smarts
Back in March, we looked at a clever little smartphone attachment produced by knife-maker SOG in collaboration with PopSockets, whose standard PopGrips attach to the back of a handset and pop outwards to give users something extra to hang onto.
This version performs the same function, but built into the PopGrip is a small slot to accommodate a removable, stainless steel multitool. This tool can slide out to act as a bottle opener, mini pry bar, slotted screwdriver, along with a quarter-inch and 4-mm hex bit drivers. That makes it a 5-in-1 multitool, or six if you count the grip itself. PopGrip SOG Multitool is priced at US$25 and available via Popsocket's website.
Points for style
The Pichi X2 multitool might make the grade on its versatility alone, with a ratcheting wrench, bit driver, knife and crowbar in one 44-g (1.6-oz) package, along with a fold-out high-carbon steel surgical blade. But the stone-washed titanium alloy body paired with the optional leather holster (pictured at the top of the page) make it a particularly stylish solution for the everyday carry crowd, and a convenient one too thanks to an integrated belt clip.
The ratcheting wrench is the most prominent tool of the lot, and can be used to tighten or loosen nuts between 3/16th to 13/16th of an inch in width. An additional screwdriver bit can be fixed to the underside with help from a magnetic receptacle, while the blades can be easily replaced once they dull or break. The Pichi X2 is available for preorder over at Kickstarter for CAD 113 (US$88), with shipping estimated for May 2022.
Utility knife with a twist
The trusty utility knife with its retractable steel blade is a design you can count on for many a cutting task, but in August we saw an interesting new twist on this from toolmaker ToughBuilt. Just like a regular utility knife, the tool has a replaceable blade that slides in and out of its handle, but with a simple press of a button can take on a different form entirely.
This flips the orientation of the blade 90 degrees so that it faces forward, turning the tool into a scraper rather than a knife. This might be suitable for tackling old paint or stubborn adhesives, while a paint can opener features at the tail end of the handle for good measure. Available now, the ToughBuilt Scraper Utility Knife is priced at $18.
A pocket-friendly sidekick
The multitools of today sure are versatile and compact, but not all are designed to smoothly slide in and out of your pocket. The steel SlideKick from North Carolina's Novel Carry was cooked up with exactly this in mind, with dimensions of 0.4 x 1 x 3.6 in (10 x 25 x 91 mm) and total weight of less than 2 oz (57 g).
A removable cover on SlideKick's sleek body can slide back to pack a trio of standard 4-mm bits inside the handle, which work with a magnetic driver at the top end of the tool. It comes with three Wiha steel bits but users can add any third-party 4-mm bits of their choosing. Also onboard is a pry bar, scraper, box opener, bottle opener, imperial rulers along either edge and a lanyard hole for an extra carrying option. The SlideKick is available now in titanium, and is priced at $105.