I'm a big fan of pocket knives as EDC or Every Day Carry gear, especially when they have additional features that expand the utility of the tool. Multitools are great, but often they are chunky because of all the different tools incorporated within the handle. Try carrying something like that in your pants pocket all day and you'll quickly get tired of the uncomfortable bulge and extra weight. I usually keep them on the desk drawer or toss them in the toolbox and neglect them until I can't find the right screwdriver or other tool I need, and I've become desperate.
The Leatherman Skeletool is a unique multitool that really fits into the EDC role well. Folded, the Skeletool has a carabiner style clip that makes it easy to hitch a ride on your belt loop or keychain / lanyard. Its a very skeletized design, which makes the overall weight fairly light. It has a hinged plier design like other popular Leatherman multitools, but minimalist approach to the onboard tools keeps the profile slimmer and more pants or jacket pocket friendly.
Before opening the Skeletool up, its worth mentioning the exterior tools that are available while its in the closed mode. First, the carabiner clip doubles as a very handy bottle opener. The stainless finish will also make rinsing off beer easier if you have a party-foul that could lead to sticky hands later.
The second feature is the blade that is very easy to deploy one handed via a thumbhole. The blade is 2.5" long with a unique sway design and a drop-point that is suitable for puncturing jobs, and a nice edge that arrived pretty sharp out of the box. With a hardness of 420HC I've found the blade to hold it's edge well over time, although I sharpen all my blades every few months anyway. I've been careful with the tip as to not torque it horizontally during odd jobs, and after 7 years of moderate use it's still nice and pointy.
When you spread the Skeletool's handles apart, the plier jaws are exposed as well as the bit driver on the non-carabiner clip arm. The opposite arm has integral storage of a second double-headed bit for the driver.
The plier jaws are approximately 2" long and have about half an inch of a flat nose with serrated surfaces, a squared off nose and deep teeth along with a wire cutter. The plier head itself feels a bit thicker than other multitools I've owned, and the hinges are well designed and feel reinforced. Usually the breaking point of a multitool is the hinge point when the operator squeezes with too much force, resulting in the tool separating itself in two halves. This has not happened to me and my Skeletool, because I know when the job at hand requires a more appropriate set of pliers. These are not meant to loosen the lugs on your flat tire! Use the tool between your ears before using a pocket tool on a heavy duty job.
While the Skeletool looks awkward to grip in the plier mode, its actually pretty usable. Leaving a bit in the driver may cause you to stab the heel of your hand if you've got large mits, so keep that in mind. The knife blade stays stowed and protected in this mode, but its handy to be able to use the bit driver in this mode if whatever task your are doing requires gripping or prying/screwing.
The bit driver mode isn't the most ergonomic screwdriver in the world, but it does get the job done. When inserted, the bit is locked into the drive via a detent so it won't fall out from gravity or get stuck in valley of the screw head. When you want to swap bits, there is a serrated thumb lever that releases the detent. For how small the parts are I'm actually surprised how well thought out Leatherman put into this design. The included bits are proprietary to Leatherman and won't fit in your other drivers. However they are double sided, being the same type just one larger and one smaller. I find the integrated storage slot for the unused bit to be very cool and convenient, and more importantly secure. In all the years I've beat this thing around, I've never had the stored bit come loose or fall out unintentionally from its friction fit little compartment.
Overall the Skeletool is extremely portable, but it lacks additional tools beyond the basics. Some may find the features underwhelming if you find yourself needing hex/star wrenches, scissors, files, or other tools. While there are other compatible bit heads available from Leatherman, I've never personally seen the need for them. I do own other multitools, for jobs like maintenance on a compound bow or a modern sporting firearm. You could of course just order the extra bits and swap out the secondary for a bit you find more useful in your day to day life. The purpose of the Skeletool is to cover the essentials and be more convenient to keep with you on a regular basis, and I think it really succeeds at that role.
Firearms Insider Reviews – 8 Key Points
Claim to Fame: The Leatherman Skeletool is an ultra lightweight, bare-bones multitool equipped with all the tools you need.
Target Market: Everybody
FNBs (Features & Benefits of this product):
- Weighs only 5 oz.
- 2" Pliers and wire cutters
- Bit driver with four bits
- Drop-point knife
- Carabiner/bottle opener
- Removable pocket clip for easy carry
- Stainless steel 420HC drop-point blade
- Length 4"
What other aesthetic options or finishes are available?: Stainless, Tan, Green, Blue anodizing as well as serrated or non-seratted blade. Other models are now available with glass breakers, seatbelt cutters, and carbon fiber handles.
What others are saying?: "One really slick bit of engineering is that as you close the tool, the bit fits neatly inside the frame around the carabiner. Speaking of the carabiner, I rarely find myself using it. Clipping it to a belt loop makes for an awkward carry since the tool is too short to ‘tuck’ into a pocket that way and it sort of pokes out a bit for me. I prefer using the spring clip in a back pocket… until I noticed that the protruding head was catching on things like my car seat. This is not really a design flaw, but it bothers me enough that I stopped carrying it for now (I will re-evaluate when I get the case, which I still have not ordered.)
My ‘wish list’ for the Skeletool is pretty short. I wish it had a detent that held the tool so you could use the bit at right angles for more power, and I wish it could carry bits and the extender more easily without the case, perhaps some sort of ‘snap-on bandoleer’-like device. I also wish there was a version with scissors – I use the scissors on my Juice S2 quite a bit – although I would not want to give up the light weight and small size of the Skeletool for them.
Overall, this is a solidly-built smaller multitool that feels great in your hand or pocket. It has not quite replaced my Juice S2- but it well might if/when I order the extension bit, bit kit, and case." -The Gadgeteer Review
- Retail: $69.85
I need it now! Availability: Leatherman Dealers, Direct from Leatherman
- Knife can be deployed without opening entire tool
- Self storage of the extra bit
- Bit driver locks in bit head with detent, easy thumb lever to release
- Curved handle fits palm of hand contour
- Slim enough to fit in pockets, rangebags, glove boxes or clipped elsewhere
- Handles never contact each other when pliers jaws are full closed/squeezed, preventing excess force and leverage that could cause damage
- Tools are minimal, more bits sold seperately
- One of the main screws of hinge came loose over time, had to use locktite and retighten with another tool (star head)
- Leaving a bit in the driver while using the pliers could injure your hand via stabbing or puncture, if the user's hands are large.
Score: 8.5 Great