Outdoorsy people are easy to shop for: Every one of them could use a functional, reliable multi-tool. And who doesn’t like getting something shiny and sharp? These gear must-haves make it easy for hikers and campers of all stripes to prep dinner, repair backpacks and tents, start the perfect campfire—and the list goes on. But choosing the best option for every kind of hiker can get a bit tricky. What works for an ultralighter doesn’t necessarily make sense for a troop leader, and a dayhiker has different needs than a car camper. Fortunately, Leatherman offers dozens of high-quality options, developed with decades of tool-building expertise at the company’s Portland, Oregon factory—and with the company’s 25-year warranty, you know it’ll be the gift that keeps on giving. Here’s how to know which type of outdoor enthusiast is on your list, and how to choose the perfect multi-tool to match.
How to recognize them: Small pack; lightweight boots; frequent checking of their watches to make sure they’re down off the mountain in time to catch happy hour at the craft brewery.
What they need: The essential tools for lunch, gear repair, and emergencies, combined in a lightweight package.
Gift pick: The Free K2X ($79.95) is the perfect pocket knife-plus. This 4.9-ounce multi-tool is made of durable stainless steel and combines a part-serrated (great for tough or soft materials), part-smooth (ideal for cleaner cuts), 3.3-inch blade with eight other tools, including three different screwdrivers, a pry tool, an awl, and a bottle opener. Like everything in the Free collection, the K2X is designed for one-handed operation and boasts magnetic features to keep tools gliding smoothly and lock into place for easy operation.
How to recognize them: Large multi-day pack; three-day stubble; an inexplicable fondness for dehydrated chili mac.
What they need: All the basics plus overnight extras that make it easy to cut cords, make gear repair and adjustments, and even safely remove ticks. Oh, and it can’t weigh much.
Gift pick: You get a whole lot of functionality in a 4.3-ounce package with the Free T4 ($59.95). The easy-open, one-hand-friendly multi-tool features 12 tools: spring-action scissors (great for cutting blister pads and repair patches), a wood/metal file, four screwdrivers, tweezers, a pry tool, a 2.2-inch blade, and more. All can be deployed with one hand, and all lock into place. Bonus: It comes in six bright colors.
How to recognize them: Wearing shorts even in cold weather (pants weigh too much); sawed-off toothbrush; bug bites from sleeping under a tarp instead of in a tent.
What they need: Just the basics, thank you very much.
Gift pick: Ounce-counters will love the Skeletool KBX ($29.95), a sleek pocketknife with a combination serrated/straight, 2.6-inch blade that can handle heavy-duty tasks, thanks to its combinaton of stainless steel and anodized aluminum. The Skeletool weighs just 1.3 ounces, but also features a pocket clip and bottle opener, because even ultralighters sometimes stop for a cold one.
How to recognize them: Tents you can stand up in; decadent meals featuring grilled meat and fresh veggies; camp chairs; deodorant.
What they need: Everything! Weight doesn’t matter, but needing a tool and not having it sure does. Car campers appreciate the tools to accomplish any camp chore under the sun, from trimming kindling to fixing a balky camp stove.
Gift pick: The stainless steel Free P4 ($139.95) multi-tool comes fully loaded with a whopping 21 tools, including two pairs of pliers (regular plus needlenose for more delicate tasks), wire cutters, two knives (one serrated, one straight), a saw, ruler, bottle opener, and four different screwdrivers. Even with all the bells and whistles, it weighs a manageable 8.6 ounces and measures 4.25 inches when closed.
How to recognize them: Calf muscles the size of campfire logs from all those 40-mile days; their refusal to respond if you call them by anything other than their trail names.
What they need: The tools to handle 1,000 miles’ worth of unpredictable trail tasks—but balanced with the need to keep weight and bulk to a minimum.
Gift pick: The Free K4 ($89.95) combines a 3.3-inch straight blade with eight other tools, such as spring-action scissors, an awl, a pry tool, and three screwdrivers, yet weighs in at 5.5 ounces—the perfect compromise between durability and low weight. The one-handed operation of the Free collection makes it quick and easy to deploy, too.
How to recognize them: Uniforms
What they need: All the basics, plus extra features to teach the next generation essential fire-starting, cooking, and tent-pitching tasks safely.
Gift pick: With 19 tools, such as a saw, fire-starting rod, safety whistle, hammer, can opener, awl, pliers, and a combination blade, the Signal ($119.95) puts everything a troop leader needs in one 7.5-ounce multitool. Tools are one-hand operable and lock into place, and the Signal comes in seven different colors.