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BACKPACKER Gear 360 Review
If life is a lock box at times, this multitool is the key. The Leatherman FREE P4 continues the brand’s emphasis on ease of operation and access. All of the 21 functions—including a straight blade, a serrated blade, a saw, scissors, and more screwdriver sizes than a hardware store—flick out easily without opening the pliers, making for quick access, though it takes practice to operate the lock-release knob (it’s wedged into the tool’s fold). The stainless steel straight blade is sharp enough to require maximum concentration to keep from cutting yourself while whittling the ol’ cheese block. We also appreciated the needle-nose pliers, which went where fingernails couldn’t to pick a recessed plastic tab out of the nozzle on a water storage sack, saving frustration. At just over half a pound the FREE P4 is ideal for car camping, boating, or everyday carry, but is perhaps a tad heavy for backpacking. We found that most of our backcountry camping gear does not have Phillips or flathead screws, and many of the other driver heads were superfluous for backpacking trips; likewise, a can opener probably won’t get much use. But for hikers who want a handy tool for around the house or on a car camping adventure, the FREE P4 gets the job done.
Consumer Reviews from Around the Web
Cory Michaela Dinter
Opening the box, I was delighted to see that all the features (excluding the plier and wire cutters) are accessible on the outside of the tool, allowing for superior ease of use in comparison to my old Leatherman Wave. The tool retains the classic articulating butterfly design and comes with an attractive stippled stainless steel faceplate. Coupled with excellent aesthetics, the weight and feel of it in your palm leaves a strong impression of solid engineering. There are a few features I particularly enjoy. The FREE P4 is easy to open with one hand and entirely ambidextrous (even the scissors) which, as a lefty, I’ve found isn’t always the case. I was glad to see that the wire-cutting surfaces are replaceable, as these wore out quickly on my old Wave. The last feature I’d like to point out is the addition of a belt clip which I prefer over taking the time to thread a sheath through my belt, though this tool comes with a perfectly sturdy one.
I have never really appreciated the tiny scissors on any multitool, as they’re never as good as a real pair. I wouldn’t use the ones on the FREE P4 for anything terribly intricate, but they are plenty adequate for basic tasks. My only real complaint with this tool is the presence of two small, protruding nubbins visible when the tool is in “pliers” mode, just below the blade/tool locks. However, if you’re holding the tool correctly, these nubbins aren’t an issue.
So far, I’ve used the FREE P4 on a weekend camping trip, some hikes, and around the house and yard. It’s great around camp, especially for food prep and sharpening marshmallow roasting sticks. To me, the versatility of this tool makes it a great buy for pretty much anyone who likes good, useful things; it can be used on hikes, for home improvement, cycling, fishing, woodworking, and charcuterie board preparation—your imagination is the only limit.