Victorinox SwissTool Spirit X
If you’re going to bring a multitool traveling or backpacking, this is the classic choice, thanks to an array of saws, pliers, blades, and screw-drivers. For the sake of weight, stick to the basics. Why This One: Leave it to the makers of the Swiss Army Knife to perfect the all-purpose multitool. The Victorinox SwissTool Spirit X costs more than comparable models like the Leatherman Wave, but it’s built to last and has enough sharp edges to cut anything encountered at home or in the backcountry.
Leatherman Syle PS
Also referred to as key-chain tools, these companions pack only the bare bones. They’re lightweight, durable, and give you quick access to the necessities, like pliers for base camp and a bottle opener for minibar beers. Why This One: The 1.6-ounce Leatherman Style PS does away with the knife blade of its predecessor, so it’s TSA compliant. The file-screwdriver combo cuts through packing tape but isn’t as dangerous to inquisitive toddlers. With the company’s dependable pliers and scissors, plus a bottle opener and tweezer, it’ll get you out of most jams.
For remote treks with a point-and-shoot, a multitool that doubles as a tripod makes a lot of sense. Why This One: The Gerber Steady does the job. Two legs extend to form a stable base for cameras and cell phones (the latter connect via suction cup), and there’s a super-strong blade, a serrated knife, three screwdrivers, a bottle opener, and needle-nose pliers. The 5.9-ounce poly-propylene body sits comfortably in your palm.
SKS Tom 18
No one knows the sorrow of being stranded without tools like a cyclist. Here are the staples: tire levers to unseat your slicks, Allen wrenches for adjustments, and a chain tool and spoke wrench for when things really go sour. Why This One: A study in compactness, the SKS Tom 18 packs 13 tools—six Allen wrenches, a screwdriver, a Torx driver, two tire levers, a spoke key, a chain tool, and a bottle opener—into one jersey-pocket-friendly neoprene sleeve. It can even store an extra chain pin.