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Bicycle multi-tool folded (left) and unfolded
Two multi-tools from Codex Löffelholz, Nuremberg 1505
Victorinox SwissTool

A multi-tool (or multitool) is a hand tool that combines several individual functions in a single unit. The smallest are credit-card or key sized units designed for carrying in a wallet or on a keyring, but others are designed to be carried in a trouser pocket or belt-mounted pouch.[1]


The idea of incorporating several tools in one unit is very old, dating back at least as far as Middle Roman times.[2] Many of these were used for eating.

Pocket knives

Main article: Pocketknife

Among the earliest contemporary examples is the Swiss Army knife, as supplied by makers Victorinox and Wenger. The actual version supplied to the Swiss army includes a knife blade, a reamer, a bottle-openerscrewdriverwire stripper, and a can-opener–screwdriver. Besides Victorinox and Wenger, many other manufacturers now make similar knives.

Other versions may include items like a nail file, tweezers, folding scissors, a tooth pick, a magnifying glass, screwdriver bits and others. There are also versions that have special tools for specific sports or outdoor activities like golf, horseback riding, shooting, hunting or fishing. Versions intended for cyclists may have a selection of allen (hex) keys, a selection of wrenches, screwdrivers, a spoke wrench, and a chain tool.

Folding multi-tools

Leatherman Pocket Survival Tool

In 1983 Tim Leatherman sold his first "Pocket Survival Tool", ⁣[3] larger and more robust than a pocket-knife-based tool, and incorporating a set of needle-nosed pliers in a butterfly knife-style mechanism. Too large for most pockets, it came with a belt pouch.

Other multi-tools

Survival Card

Other multi-tool functions include a hammer,[4] LED light, lighter,[5] tape measure and an assortment of screwdriver bits.

Multifunction tools may be specialized for use in certain activities. Cyclists may carry a folding tool with screwdriver bits or wrenches to allow adjustment of bicycle fasteners during a ride, or for repairing a broken chain. For sport fishermen, a specialized multitool may combine common functions such as cutting fishing line, crimping weights, removing hooks or opening split rings. A specialized multitool may be used for adjustment, cleaning or minor repair of a firearm in field use. Since 2007, smartphones have emerged as a popular multi-tool category.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Roman multi-tool". Archived from the original on 2017-05-11. Retrieved 2016-03-21.
  3. ^ "The Leatherman Story".
  4. ^ "- Sheffield Multi tools - Pocket Knives, Lockback Utility Knives »14-in-1 Hammer Tool". Archived from the original on 2014-07-15. Retrieved 2014-06-21.
  5. ^ "LighterBro Turns Your Bic Lighter into a Multitool". Lifehacker. 20 February 2014.