For those of us that like to have a knife or two nearby, we always like to keep an eye on what products are coming out. So many companies out there are focused on separating the Knife and Multi-Tool market, when in actuality there is much to be said for having something in between at your disposal. The Coast FX200, Gerber’s Obsidian model and Leatherman’s Crater line are a good start to these.
What does a guy like myself use a knife for? There is no simple answer for this. Cut open boxes, pry open todays plastic packaging, and even tightening a random screw or two. Now the majority of multitools I have come across would fit the bill, though not very comfortably (or safely, in some cases).
The typical swiss army knife-style will allow you to cut a soft material. Now, challenge that same item with a moderately large cardboard box or plastic package, and the knife suffers: a blade that may be on the small size, and a handle that is insufficiently sized or textured to hold up to such a task.
A step up from these is what is commonly handled as the modern multi-tool: Pliers, knife, scissors, file, and an assortment of tools to fill in the frame. I own several of these, and they work out great when I reach for them. My problem with them is that these are a bit bulky for an everyday carry.
Now, an obvious downside to some of these items is the price tag. I cannot speak for everyone, but I am not about to drop $50 or more on an item, just to get it home, and realize I don’t like the way it fits in my hand, or the layout of the tool.
“As any designer knows, you have to work through the unsuccessful models to learn what really sells. To those designers I say, keep it up.” – Patrick Mackey, @mackeyp42 YBLTV Reviewer/Writer
One of the potential answers to a dilemma like mine is the Coast FX200 folding pocket knife. It’s minimal, unassuming, and it gets the job done. With a modest 2 inch blade, bottle opener and money clip, this knife would be suitable for a great number of people in a commuter situation, without a doubt. Boasting black on brass coloring the FX200 gets points for style as well.
The Gerber Obsidian takes an ‘all business’ approach to it’s design. We have a pocket knife with a 3 inch blade, that also carries a bottle opener/screwdriver and nail file. This low key combination would take care of probably 90% of the daily carrier’s needs.
Black on silver, the style is nothing flashy. We know it’s a knife. The additional bits are appreciated. Problem solved, now it’s back to work.
Leatherman Crater C33TX
Leatherman has a way of flying a bit out of the typical user’s comfort zone with some of their designs. The Crater C33TX sort of straddles that line for me. With a 2.6 inch serrated knife and flathead screwdriver on the same end, and a Philips head screwdriver and pocket clip on the reverse.
While I commend Leatherman for always anticipating the multitudes of uses their fans may have, I think they would have been better off dropping the carabiner/pocket clip, and putting the screwdriver/bottle opener together, as many similar items in this category have offered.
- Lightweight Design
- More utility than just a blade
- Unique Design
- Features sometimes unpopular
- Design can be uncomfortable as well as unwieldly
There are a great variance of how these tools are put together, and with varying success. The three models named are some of the better designs available at the moment. As any designer knows, you have to work through the unsuccessful models to learn what really sells. To those designers I say, keep it up. I can’t imagine where we would be with out some of the strange tools that have come in the past.