WHETHER YOU END up using it or not, a multitool should always be one of the first things thrown in your bag when you’re heading off on a trip, because you just never know…
There are a number of multitools on the market but it is Leatherman – and its variety of models – that has become the ubiquitous choice. And even when you think there’s no way that more features could be packed into this compact tool, Leatherman’s Signal seems to prove you wrong.
The Signal includes 16 tools, and adds in a few additional survival-based implements as well. The spec list is impressive – included in the Signal’s compact dimensions (114mm closed length; 212.6g weight) are: needlenose and regular pliers, replaceable wire cutters and hard-wire cutters, knife, saw, hammer (yes, hammer!), wire stripper, an awl (with thread loop), can and bottle openers, 1/4-inch hex bit driver, ½- and 3/16-inch Phillips head screwdrivers, ¼-inch and 3/16-inch box wrenches and a carabiner. All of these tools are very easy to access and simple to operate (the screwdrivers just pull out and are then re-inserted in the opposite way to access the different sizes). The blades all lock out so you won’t slice a finger, and some of the tools can be used singlehandedly.
All this is pretty cool, but even more so is the addition of a safety whistle, diamond-coated blade sharpener and a very handy ferrocerium (or ferro) rod for fire lighting. For this tester – and long-time user of Leatherman multitools – the inclusion of these three implements really adds to the appeal. Most notable is the ferro rod; if the worst does happen and you’re stuck overnight somewhere in an emergency and need some warmth/fire, the ferro rod is a great backup to your always-packed set of waterproof matches.
The Signal belies its compact size when it comes to being easily manipulated by someone with larger hands. Leatherman does make more compact multitools, but with the Signal’s cut-away construction keeping its weight down, it maintains a far more accessible size, which in turn means the blades are larger and more robust (blade length is 69mm). Funnily enough (well, for this tester, anyway) out of all the easily accessed tools on the Signal, it is actually the hammer that has come in handiest. Provided you are accurate with your hammering action, you will be surprised just how effective this basic tool is.
While the Signal does not signal a reinvention of the multitool, the addition of a few carefully considered (and welcome) tools to its spec list, combined with the robust construction and impressive weight, has ensured it has already become a must-pack in my bag.