I love my multitool. For years I’ve carried a Leatherman Sidekick my wife bought me for Christmas. It’s grown dull in patches from thousands of thumb swipes. I swear I’ve worn the imprint of my palm onto the tool’s metal. We’ve bonded, become inseparable. Or at least we were. Within two days of receiving Leatherman’s new Free P2 multitool, the Sidekick has been relegated to the utility drawer.
The Free doesn’t really do anything the Sidekick doesn’t (except for one cool thing, more on that in a second). There are no lasers or lighters or screens or any fancy new tech. The changes Leatherman baked into the tool are subtle, but as a whole, they make a terrific, easy to carry tool.
And the best part—you can use it one-handed. (Below is a sequence of flicking it open with one hand).
That is to say, the tools are accessible, including the pliers, without using both hands. With enough practice, you could be staring at a small, say, flathead screw you need to back out of a piece of equipment you’re holding in one hand, and, with the other, remove the Free from your pocket, thumb open the screwdriver, and start using the tool without ever looking at it. It’s easy and pretty intuitive, though it will take a few tries to open and close the pliers smoothly. When opening and closing the handles, a satisfying haptic click lets you know everything is in place. One-handed use is something I didn’t realize I was missing in multitools I’ve owned previously.
The key to the one-handed operation, and a big jump in Leatherman construction, is the use of magnets. They hold the handles together and keep all the small tools in place. When you open the handles, you’re just breaking the magnetic tension. Flicking open the handles like butterfly knife is possible because of that tension. Snap your wrist, the tension releases, and the handles swing apart. When you open the tools recessed in the handle, it’s the same smooth action. Rather than pick at the base of each tool with your fingernail, you can roll your thumb over the base of the small tools to raise them one at a time (though usually a couple will pop out). It’s just easier.
The P2 comes with 19 tools, all of which you’d expect. The tool I always use the most in a multitool, the knife, is excellent. It’s serrated at the base, straight toward the point, and also flicks out easily with a thumb. Rather than depressing a slider to close the knife, you just push a small tab on the handle to release the magnet and close the blade without having to put your finger in the knife’s path. Safe, simple.
Leatherman says that each tool itself has been redesigned, to the point that this is the biggest refresh since the original Leatherman debuted in 1975. Unless you’re a serious Leatherman geek, I can’t imagine you’d notice that. But what you will notice is how well the multitool as a whole functions. Fits the hand perfectly, with the easiest operation of a multitool I’ve ever experienced.
I probably wouldn’t go out and replace a perfectly functioning multitool with the Free—the most capable tool is one you’re comfortable with—but if you’re already looking at a new multitool, this is the one you want.
Dimensions: The P2 is 4.25 inches when closed, is 0.61 inches thick and weighs 7.6 ounces. 19 tools, including wire cutters crimpers and strippers, a 2.75″ knife blade, can opener, multiple screwdrivers, pliers, ruler, awl, and file, among other tools.
$120 • BUY
Multi multitool options
Gerber is Leatherman’s main competitor, at a much lower price point. Their Suspension NXT Multitool is a solid choice for a tool set with all the basics in a functional package. $30
Leatherman’s Signal tool is a standard multitool, but with a fire starter and safety whistle included. Pretty cool. $120
The SOG Micro ToolClip is only 3.9 inches long, but packs a punch. $30