The inclusion of an edc multi tool in your edc gear setup is a pretty wise move. An edc multi tool can serve many purposes and you never know when you might need to use one of its features.
So, where do you begin? Cost, features, practical usability, and the number of choices on the market might leave you in a daze.
Practical usability is hardest to determine for someone looking to purchase a multi tool for their edc. I spent a whole weekend testing and using a handful of tools that can be found on everydaycarrysupply.com. Please bear in mind that the lag bolt test is fairly unrealistic. I used a 1/4" x 2" lag bolt to test all the pocket-tools that had a hex wrench feature. A lag bolt of this size requires full-size hand-tools to be driven succesfully. I wanted to see how they would do in what can be best described as a torture-test. The same applies to the Nail-pull test. The two-inch nails I used on the nail-pull test are too long for tools in this size range. Again, I just wanted to see how they would perform.
-Knife: The Boker Toucan is the only tool tested which features a knife blade. The blade happens to be the Toucans best feature. It is extremely sharp and small enough for edc and large enough to be useful.
-Screwdriver: The slotted screwdriver, which is integrated into the choil and relatively thick, will accommodate screws with larger slots. The screwdriver feature can only be accessed with the included kydex sheath removed.
-Pry Bar/Tip:The thin profile of the pry tip made quick work of extracting heavy-duty staples from a 2x4. The Toucan is tied with the Scrade Ti pry tool for popping staples with the least amount of effort. If you need to pull nails, make sure its a small nail. Even with a fulcrum, the small size of the Toucan does not have enough leverage to force larger nails from solid substrates. I chipped the inside of the v-notch when I tried to pull a large 2" nail from a 2x4.
-Kydex Sheath: The kydex sheath and ball-chain allow you to wear the Toucan around your neck. Remove the chain and attach it your keys if you're worried it wont match your diamond encrusted dollar-sign medallion. I think it compliments mine perfectly. Boyeee!
2. BOKER VOX.
-Pry Bar/Tip: The thickness of the pry-tip profile on the Boker Vox Access made getting under a staple quite tedious. It required a little more work than the Schrade TPT 1 and the Boker Toucan. Once I worked it under the staple, it came right out. The shape and length lends well to leveraging heavy-duty staples and smaller nails. Its worth mentioning that the thicker profile of the tip also made getting under a nail-head difficult. The Vox Access has no problem getting undereath nails that were not flush. As with any pry-bar of this size, there isnt enough leverage to lift larger nails.
-Carabiner clip: The gate on the integrated carabiner clip is very strong. The strength of the gate on the small carabiner clip is important as smaller clips with weaker gates tend to become unclipped. Say that fast, five times in a row.
-Bottle opener: It works well. The bottle-opener is actually integrated into the carabiner. You would not know its there unless you look really hard.
-Glass Breaker: There is a sharp-pointed glass breaker protected by two O-rings. Honestly, I don't know first-hand if it works. I'm fresh-out of automobile glass. I'll spare you the technical jargon relating to the laws of physics and say that pressure on an object(glass in this case) is a function of force divided by area. The smaller the area, the greater the pressure. In other words, where pressure=P, p x F/A= I don't know.
-Screwdriver: The hex-bit driver is by far the stand-out feature of the CRKT get-a-way driver(GAD). Included with the driver are four 1/4" hex bits which store in the main body. You get two phillips bits and two slot bits. There is also a GAD Torx bit version. You can customize which bits to carry based on what your needs may be. Be aware that the hex bits that come with the GAD have built in detent balls.
I was able to drive a 1-3/4" wood screw about 3/4" into a 2 x 4 without a pilot-hole using it as an in-line driver. I stopped due to discomfort from the thin metal attachment loop on the butt-end of the driver. As you can imagine, I was not able to apply pressure comfortably on the loop. When I switched the bit holder to the angle feature, I was able to continue until the screw actually broke. Had the screw not broken, I have no doubt it would have been driven in all the way. For driving screws, the Crkt GAD is highly functional and better than any full-size multi-tool I have ever used.
-10mm Hex: The 10mm hex opening, like all other parts of the GAD that take stress, is reinforced with metal. The opening is 1/8" deep with backing material. This backing keeps the wrench engaged with the hex head.
-Bottle-opener: The bottle-opener is similar to the "church key" style openers. It is attached with four torx screws so you can remove it if you don't ever open bottle-caps and don't like the protrusion it creates.
-Oxygen tank wrench: Situated behind the bottle-opener is an oxygen tank wrench. This wrench could also be used for shackles and 1/4" hex heads. The tank wrench is still functional with the bottle-opener removed.
-LED Flashlight: The flashlight is is useful to about 12 inches. It really isn't very bright. The flashlight seems to be an after-thought. The usefulness of the GAD is enough for me to overlook the LED light.
4. CRKT VIVA:
-Hex Wrench: SAE 1/4, 5/16, 3/8, 7/16, 1/2. The first objective with the Viva was to drive a 1/4" x 2" lag bolt into a 2 x 4 without a pilot hole. A 1/4" x 2" lag bolt is quite large. I was very surprised with the performance from a tool of this size. I was able to drive the bolt 1-3/4" into the 2 x 4. I stopped because the thin profile of the tool was digging into my palm and there wasn't enough leverage. If the Viva was larger, it would have been no problem. If the Viva was larger, you would not have a very pocket-able pocket tool.
-Screwdriver pry-tip: The pry-tip does a great job of doubling as slotted screwdriver. Its thin enough to get into smaller slots and wide enough to handle larger slots. There is enough width in the handle/body of the Viva so I was able to generate enough torque to fully drive a 1.5" wood screw into a 2 x 4. The tip is too wide to completely get under and remove a heavy-duty staple from wood. I used the corner of the tip to loosen the staple and continued with the bottle opener to completely remove the staple.
-Bottle-opener: The bottle-opener, like most bottle-openers, is very effective. This particular bottle-opener was also effective in assisting in the removal of heavy-duty staples from a 2 x 4.
-Integrated loop/hook: The hook/loop is the feature that makes the Viva stand out from other pocket tools. It gives the Viva a unique look and makes gripping the tool very ergonomic. You can hook it on your pocket, a belt-loop, or a belt.
5. GERBER SHARD
-Pry-tip: The tip on the shard is angled away from the main body. This creates a built in fulcrum which makes prying more ergonomic and easy. The narrow profile tip was able to get under staples effortlessly. The Shard also worked well for small nails.
-Phillips screwdriver: I love the screwdriver on the Shard. It does not look like it would be very effective. That could not be further from the truth. The phillips tip seats well in screw-heads and did not slip or torque out. A wood screw was no match for the shard. No match until the pry-tip end of the Shard came into play. The pry-tip is pointy and sits on the opposite end of the phillips head. When the screw was about half -way into the 2 x 4, it became difficult to put enough downward pressure to drive the screw further.
-Scraper tip: The Nite-Ize Doohickey Key Tool(Dkt)features a scraper as its front-end feature. No nail-puller here. I was able to perform light-duty prying with the Dkt. I opened a paint can with no problems. One corner of the scraper edge comes to an acute angle tip for scoring packages and taped boxes.
-Screwdriver: On the posterior end of the Dkt there is a slotted screwdriver. I used the Dkt to drive a 1-1/2" slotted screw into a two-by-four to a depth of 5/8". I was unable to comfortably apply enough pressure on the scraper end to continue driving the screw. I expected this with the Dkt and all other double-ended pocket tools.
-Hex wrench: SAE 1/4, 5/16, 3/8. The Dkt features three hex wrench sizes built in. The Dkt was not able to drive a 1/4" x 2" hex lag bolt into a two-by-four more than 1/4" deep. After 1/4", the extra torque required to continue driving the bolt caused the Dkt to flex. Even if the Dkt did not flex, it was not long enough to provide enough leverage.
-Ruler: One side of the Dkt has SAE(inch) markings to a maximum length of 1-3/4". The opposite side of the Dkt has metric markings up to 40mm.
-Carabiner clip: Gate on clip is strong. I used it as a keychain for a few days and felt comfortable that it would stay secured. It never became unclipped.
-Pry-tip/Screwdriver: The main feature of the tip on this pocket tool would be the screwdriver. The very tip easily accomodates most slotted screws and even phillips screws if the size is right. Its also an effective can-tab opener so you don't ruin your perfectly manicured nails. Its sharp enough to open packages and score taped boxes.
-Serrations: The sharpened serrations are great for cutting cord, zip-ties, envelopes, and blister packaging.
-Pry-tip: The Schrade TPT1 has an outstanding pry-tip. The tip is thin enough to easily slip under staples and pop them out effortlessly. Of all the pocket tools here, the TPT1 performed the best when it came to heavy-duty staples. It also worked very well for smaller nails. It did not do so well with larger nails and did sustain minor damage. Its is unrealistic to think that the TPT1 or other tools in this size range would be able to pull a large nail.
-Hex wrench: SAE 5/16, 3/8, 7/16, 1/2. The integrated hex wrench on the TPT1 is another great feature. I made decent progress on the 2" lag bolt. Like the other pocket tools in this test, the TPT1 was hindered only by its size.
-1/4" Hex opening: This is a great feature. I used the 1/4" hex hole as a bit driver. 1/4" hex happens to be a very common size for machine screws found on many household appliances.
-Seatbelt/cord cutter: Another handy feature of the TPT1. The opening is small enough so that there's no risk of cutting yourself unless you have really thin fingers. The cutter worked well on zip-ties.
-Slotted screwdriver: The slotted screwdriver tab is useful in a pinch. The angle of the grind is too obtuse for a screwdriver. With enough torque, the screwdriver tip naturally works itself out of the screwheads slot. I was able to fix a faucet valve with this particular feature and feel that it would handle most screws with no problem.
-Hex wrenches: SAE-5/16, 3/8, 7/16, 1/2, 9/16. Metric-5,6,8,10,13. The Schrade TPT 2 accomodates ten hex sizes-more than any other pocket tool in this test. The TPT 2, like the Crkt Viva, was very effective at driving a 2" lag bolt. The size of the TPT 2 is what makes it effective at handling larger hex bolts and nuts. The TPT 2 is designed so smaller wrench sizes are situated towards the center of the tool and the larger sizes are situated towards the ends. This allows for better leverage and more torque to handle larger bolts and nuts.
-1/4" Hex hole: I used the hex hole on the TPT 2 as a bit driver and it worked good. It could also be used as a lanyard hole or keyring attachment.
-Pry-tip: The pry-end of the TPT 2 is a little wide for the staples I was trying to pry. The thickness also made it difficult to insert it under staples.
-Seatbelt/Cord-cutter: The opening of the cutter on the TPT 2 is identical to the cutter on the TPT 1. It cut cord and zip-ties with ease. The opening is small enough that I was not worried about cutting my fingers. If you have small fingers, there might be a risk of cut fingers.
-Screwdriver tip: The screwdriver tip on the end of the TPT 2 was useful for loosening and removing staples. The angle of the grind was too obtuse for some slotted screws but worked well for a few phillips screws i tested it on.
10. Screwpop Driver.
-Bit driver: The screwpop tool has one main function. It performs this function very well. The shaft that holds the bit is magnetized. The loop handle is comfortable and allowed me to really torque down on screws. A bottle opener is integrated into the loop handle. Included with the driver is a double-ended slot/phillips bit.
11. Screwpop Wrench.
-Hex Wrench: 5/16, 3/8, 7/16, 1/2, 9/16. Another no frills bomb-proof pocket tool by Screwpop Tool. The wrenches on this tool work very well. It did not do so well against the lag bolt. The one thing hindering the Screwpop wrench is its size. As with all other pocket wrenches of this size, the amount of leverage is limited. It did fine against machine screws and nuts that are threaded.
-1/4" Hex/ Bit driver: Honestly, I don't have much to say about this feature. It takes a standard 1/4" hex bit. This adds a bit of functionality to the Screwpop wrench.
-Can-opener: The Vargo Ti multi-tool is the only pocket tool of the group to feature an actual can-opener. I compared the can-opener function to the can-opener function of a Swiss Army Knife(SAK). An actual handle makes the SAK more comfortable while performing this task. The longer opener blade on the Vargo allowed it to open cans with fewer strokes.
-Hex wrenches: 5mm, 6mm, 8mm. I did not have any metric hex bolts or nuts around the house. I went to the hardware store and purchased an 8mm hex nut and hex bolt. I clamped the bolt by its head in a pair of vise-grips. I used the Vargo Tool to fasten and unfasten the hex nut to the bolt. The Vargo was able to torque the nut very tight and then unscrew it easily.
-Slotted Screwdriver: The front portion of the bottle-opener doubles as a slotted screwdriver. I was able to use it on a phillips-head screw as well.