Pocket Protectors
(Photograph by Inga Hendrickson)

The Essentials: Pocket Protectors

Hardware to get you out of all kinds of jams.

Pocket Protectors


Pocket Protectors

Pocket Protectors

Binding drama in the backcountry? Loose skeg at the surf break? Dakine‘s Torque Driver is a pocket-size, four-ounce ratcheting tool kit for skiers, surfers, and snowboarders, storing the six heads you’ll need—including posidrive, for ski and snowboard binding screws, and two hex-nut wrenches for surf fins—in its handle. Just don’t drop those little bits in the snow or sand or you’re out of luck. $10; dakine.com


CRKT‘s Norfolk White­water is an experienced river runner’s secret weapon—its fixed combo blade is built for severing snagged lines or sawing someone free of a kayak or spray skirt. Hopefully, nobody will need rescuing, in which case this 3.3-inch knife—with a secure but nonlocking sheath and impressively grippy handle—does just fine cutting salami and slicing onions, too. $70; crkt.com


Most keychain knives are glorified toys. Leatherman‘s thumb-size Squirt PS4 is a real tool. Its sturdy steel construction and smart quiver of nine tools—pliers, scissors, a 1.6-inch knife, and two screwdrivers—make it reliable in a pinch, and perfect for whenever a full-size multitool is overkill, like in a backcountry repair kit. $40; leatherman.com


Salt water will rust almost any knife, especially the edge. But Benchmade‘s 551SH20 Griptilian uses top-tier, scalpel-grade steel, which dramatically slows corrosion and rarely needs sharpening. The 3.4-inch, locking combo blade opens easily—with a push of the thumb or quick snap of the wrist—and the tacky handle feels solid even when wet or smeared with grease. $120; benchmade.com

Pocket Protectors

Pocket Protectors


No, Eddie Bauer‘s Belay Knife is not one you’ll pass on to your grandkids. But at a mere 1.4 ounces, this combo-blade folding knife is among the lightest pocketknives you can find—ideal for ultralight hikers or climbers. It also clips to a carabiner and, at 2.3 inches, is just long enough to be useful around camp. The handle isn’t the most rugged we’ve seen, but when every ounce counts, it’s worth the trade-off. $25; eddiebauer.com


Like the original, only better. The Swiss Armed Forces has changed the design of its standard-issue knives only four times since 1891. In 2008, the top brass called for an update—a grippier tool that could open with one gloved hand. They got it: Victorinox‘s new Swiss Army knives have a more ergo­nomic handle with no-slip rubber pads. The only difference between this one, the One-Hand Forester (which has a combo blade, saw, screwdriver, etc.), and the military issue? This one (thankfully) also has a cork­screw. $60; swissarmy.com


Gerber‘s new Strata is not a multitool. It’s an arsenal, with scissors, a tool designed specifically to open plastic packaging, and seven other outer tools—some of which do double duty, like the bottle/can opener—including spring-loaded pliers with wire cutters inside. The tools can be a little stubborn to access and stow (a bummer at this price), but it’s still a beefy (7.4-ounce), reliable multitool at a fair price. $104; gerbergear.com


Ultralight bike tools skimp on key features (like a chain tool); heavier tools pack in extra, rarely used wrenches. Crankbrothers‘ burly aluminum-and-steel Multi-17 gives you everything you need for the average breakdown—a chain tool, four spoke wrenches, plus hex, torx, and standard drivers—at a respect­able six ounces and a smoking price. $27; crankbrothers.com

From Outside Magazine, April/May 2021 Lead Photo: Photograph by Inga Hendrickson