The Most Influential Gear of All Time: Leatherman Multitool


An early Leatherman prototype     Photo: Courtesy of Leatherman

During months of dirtbagging through Europe, the Middle East, and Asia on his honeymoon in a $300 Fiat that broke down a lot, Tim Leatherman wished he had pliers on his scout knife. Back home, he made both cardboard and metal prototypes, and tried unsuccessfully to sell the idea to the United States Military, AT&T, and others. Finally, he got an appointment with Early Winters, a catalog merchant, and they agreed to purchase the tool if he simplified it to lower the price. Leatherman removed the extra vice grip and the pliers, which he later added to higher-end models. Cabelas bought the first 3000 Leathermans while Early Winters was still undecided. Between the two retailers, Leatherman sold 30,000 multitools its first year.

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