From my observations it seems that many tradespeople now carry multi tools on their belts. This may reflect the larger numbers of higher quality multi tools available, but it could also be that tradespeople like them because they are a very useful “reach for me” tool, particularly when initially investigating a job. It is very often a multi tool that establishes just how far the rot has got into that doorframe, or unscrews the cover that conceals the problem.
Thankfully, we are now past the time where the multi tools were all “multi” and not enough genuine “tools” and the original Leatherman must take some credit for this – it was the first multi tool that included a pair of pliers that actually worked, and provided the stimulus for the competition to develop better products. Most manufacturers now include only the tools that are genuinely useful, so it is up to end users to explore the options that will suit their needs.
The Leatherman Super Tool 300 is part of a range of other Leatherman tools including the ”Surge” and “Crunch” for example, that are all deliberately different in order to provide a sensible choice for end users. While a tradesperson usually has a box of specialist tools nearby, a multi tool like the Super Tool 300 may be the only tool available for campers, hikers and yachtsmen.
The Leatherman Super Tool 300 feels weighty and solid when you first handle it – it is clear that this tool is a serious one, and it inspires confidence.
Closed, it is just over four inches (115 mm) long and with the handles bent open to reveal the pliers it is still only about seven inches (180 mm) long – enough to give enough leverage in use, but still compact enough to carry in a belt pouch.
As we would expect from a Leatherman, the body is made from solid, folded 420HC stainless steel, with harder 154CM stainless steel used for some blades, where it holds an edge better. The rivets that hold the whole tool together are reassuringly tight, and no doubt will ease slightly with use.
Once opened, the handles lock into place so that the pliers are ready for action. The pliers are forged and ground into a slimmish compromise between needle nosed pliers and standard ones. The finely ridged gripping tips meet precisely and there is no play in the fulcrum, so indeed it is a pair of pliers that give you the confidence that they will work properly. The wider milled opening before the cutting blades serves as a good way of holding a range of smaller sized nuts and bolts.
The pliers offer a number of wire cutting options, the most obvious one being via the removable cutting blades near the fulcrum. Using a hex key, these blades can be removed and then resharpened or replaced as required. I found them very efficient and sharp, even cutting some wire coat hangers.
On the handle side of the fulcrum there are wire cutters for cutting stranded wires and also the electrical crimpers. I was pleased to find that these features worked as intended. Electricians and mechanics take note!
I was slightly intrigued by the ruler function etched into the handles – in cm on one side and inches the other. It is possible to measure up to 23 cm fairly accurately by pushing the handles together so that the flat handle ends meet. Apart from the necessary gap between 9cm and 14cm it will give a pretty accurate result when needed.
Concealed inside the handles are ten other tools. These are actually quite easy to lift into position because they are ether provided with a good-sized fingernail slot or a hook. When fully opened they are locked into place with an efficient spring-loaded bar lock that you can actually hear as it locks. Unlocking the blades is a simple matter of pushing in the spring with one thumb and pushing the blade back into the handle with the other hand.
The Super Tool 300 has two incredibly sharp blades - one serrated and the other a simple drop point. As with any knife, care needs to be taken in use. I found that by folding the handles in to create a good handle, it allows you to cut safely.
The saw has very sharp teeth and is ground to cut on both pull and push strokes and will sever branches and small timber sections quickly. It is clearly aimed at campers and hikers, not joiners, so don’t attempt dovetails with it.
There are also three sizes of flat slotted screwdrivers and a Phillips 2 screwdriver. For general use these are perfectly adequate, but specialist trades should look at other Leatherman options.
There is also a double sided file with a toothed edge that was able to file soft metals quite well – clearly enough of a function to file a key to fit for example, and with enough finesse and accuracy to be useful.
Since I learned how to use combined bottle and can openers on knives when I was a teenager I take great delight in demonstrating them to the uninitiated and the Leatherman version is a gem – sharp and easy to start. No need for fancy ring pull cans with the Leatherman handy.
Finally, there is an optional lanyard ring that provides an extra level of security against accidental loss. Some trade users might attach a lanyard to it when working at height for example, where it is impractical to always replace the tool in its belt holster. The holster is made from strong black nylon with a hook and loop flap to keep the tool in place.
My overall impression of the Leatherman is that it is thoughtfully designed and manufactured well using good quality materials. It is clearly aimed at a discerning audience that appreciates a tool that will really work.
Leatherman is so confident of the quality of their products that they offer a 25 year limited warranty. However as we know, quality doesn’t usually come cheap, and a typical retail price for the Leatherman Super Tool 300 is £89.95.
Aimed at:- campers, hikers, outdoorsy types and a lots of trades as a first option tool.
Pros:- Well-made with useful accessories and an excellent guarantee.
For more information please visit www.leatherman.co.uk/