An Ode to the Leatherman Juice CS4
Why I think this is the best multitool ever made
The best multitools should be like your favorite adventure buddy: available, grounded in trying situations, and versatile. Oh, and they should also like to party.
For me, no multitool nails all those traits like the Leatherman Juice CS4. Some of you might find that an odd choice, seeing that the Leatherman Wave is a much older, better-known tool. I like that one, too, as do lots of adventurers I interviewed for this column, including polar explorer Eric Larsen, who is on his fifth Wave. But hear me out about the Juice, which slots in as the Wave’s lighter, skinnier cousin.
For three years now, I’ve carried a Juice with me everywhere I go. That’s hundreds of days doing everyday tasks, and by my estimation, about 50 days of camping and more than 30 days of skiing. At just 3.25 inches long, it never feels bulky in the front pocket of my jeans, carrying more like a regular knife than a multitool. And even though it has 15 tools, the Juice weighs only 5.6 ounces, so I can bring it on long backcountry ski or backpacking trips and not worry about unnecessary weight.
Some people’s eyes might glaze over when multitool or knife geeks start talking about “hand feel,” but if you’re using something every day, you want it to be comfortable and well designed. Thanks to a texturized handle made from aluminum and stainless steel, the Juice always feels secure while cutting, wrenching, or plying, but it isn’t overly aggressive or have so much texture that it’ll chafe my leg while riding in my pocket.
I’d never try to do any big home improvement or car repairs with the Juice, but its tools are perfect for adventuring. I’ve used the Philips head screwdriver when tinkering with old Coleman stoves, and the saw helps me get my kindling to the perfect fire-starting size. The pliers make short work of pulling out stubborn tent stakes or straightening bent metal. My favorite tool, however, and what keeps me coming back, is the included corkscrew.
How many times have you shown up to a campsite and forgotten a wine opener? If you’re me, plenty. This isn’t a problem with beer, since you can use almost any hard object to remove a cap. But when you’re left sans opener, your only options are to pop the cork in, which sucks—especially if it’s a good bottle of wine—or try to pound it out with a shoe, which also sucks. Having the opener on my Juice ensures I’m never stuck looking forlonly at an unopened bottle of vino. Plus, thanks to my time as a waiter, I love the tactile feel and sound that a corkscrew opener creates when it pops a cork.
All that being said, the Juice isn’t perfect. The blade, at just 2.27 inches, isn’t great for cutting through dense, thick rope. It’ll work but frustrate the hell out of you in the process. Also, you have to keep the can opener out to use the wine opener. That feature isn’t a huge deal, but it started to bother me on the hundredth use. I’m guessing Leatherman can figure out a slicker workaround.
Finally, there’s the price. The CS4 is not cheap, but you get a lot for $75. Over three years of testing, mine is still like new. I can appreciate the cheaper, throwaway multitools that you’re not sad to lose, as well as the more expensive $200 EDC knife that has a longer and stronger blade. But when it comes to overall utility, durability, and convenience, my money is always on the CS4.