RE: [BackpackGearTest] Smallest backpack?
- *Owner Review – Leatherman Wave Multi-tool, June 2, 2004*
Name: Sam Johnson
Height: 70 in / 1.78 m
Weight: 120 lb / 55 kg
Location: Berkeley, California, USA
I was born and raised in Santa Barbara, California but I am currently
living in Berkeley attending school. I have been camping with family for
as long as I can remember. I started backpacking in 2001, but I am still
relatively new to the activity. My longest trip was 14 days with the
Colorado Outward Bound School (now Outward Bound West), but I have taken
a number of weekend outings. I have not been backpacking as much as I
would like due to insufficient gear and lack of traveling companions.
When I do have the opportunity, it is usually in the chaparral of the
back country of Santa Barbara County. I have been car camping all over
the western US. I also enjoy day hikes, and when living in Santa Barbara
I do so regularly.
Manufacturer: Leatherman Tool Group, Inc.
Manufacturer Website: http://www.Leatherman.com/
Product: Wave Multi-tool
Product Category: Multi-tool
MSRP: USD $94
Street Price: USD $58 to $70
Price at Purchase: USD $75
Year of Purchase: 2000
Weight: 8 oz / 224 g
Materials: 100% Stainless Steel, grades/hardness depends on each tool
Length (closed): 4 in / 10 cm
Length (open): 6.45 in / 16 cm
List of Tools:
Needlenose Pliers with Regular Rounded Interior Jaws and Wire Cutter
Four Flathead Screwdrivers
Medium Phillips Screwdriver
Can / Bottle Opener
*Descriptions of Tools and Comments:*
/Large needlenose pliers/, but include rounded interior jaws that make
it more versatile. The jaws are stored inside the tool and to access,
the handles are rotated 170 degrees. The needlenose point is large
enough to be operated in a similar fashion to regular pliers but bends
inward to make good contact at the point. This makes the pliers suitable
for finer work – I have pulled wood and glass splinters from hands and
feet with it. The wire cutters are satisfactory, but can be problematic
because the pliers do not lock to the frame of the tool. When cutting
some wire, the pliers will jam, and be stuck closed. Reversing force on
the handles merely causes the tool to fold up. The handles must be
pulled on rather than used for leverage. Care should be taken when
cutting soft, heavy gauge wire – I have had trouble when cutting 10 SWG
/Clip-Point Blade/. This is accessible without opening the entire tool.
Easily opened with the aid of the thumb hole, the 2.5 in / 6.3 cm blade
locks in place with a quality liner lock. The liner lock rests fully
behind the blade, and is approximately half the width of the blade. It
is disengaged with a secure push – not so easy as to be a hazard, but
not difficult either. The blade locks in line with the handle, a feature
I prefer, but this makes it more difficult to cut on a flat surface
without hitting my knuckles. As noted, the blade is a clip point (not
serrated) which gives it a fine point suitable for detailed work.
However, the weight from the frame and other tools make it rear heavy,
and a solid grip is advised for delicate work – I find it useful to run
my index finger over the top of the frame so it runs alongside the blade
while keeping my thumb on thumb hole. The blade is sharpened on both
sides which allows for a nice edge.
/Serrated Blade/. On the opposite corner from the clip-point blade, the
serrated blade is also accessible without opening the tool. It has both
the thumb hole and liner lock as described above. The blade is sharpened
on one side only, with one large serration followed by two smaller ones.
I have found it excellent at cutting cordage, fabrics and bread. This
blade also features a nose rounded down to the blade line. It is not
sharp and rather thick, making this blade relatively safe for cutting
clothing away from skin. I have only used it in this fashion once, but
when gripped securely, there was little danger of cutting the skin.
/Diamond-Coated File/. I have used this only rarely. This tool is
accessible without opening the tool, and locks in place with a liner
lock. It has a rough and a fine side, as well as small teeth running
along the underside. The file is useful for taking the edge off of sharp
metal – useful if a piece of gear breaks. The larger bits could be filed
down with the rough side, then finished with the diamond coated finer
side. In a pinch it could be used to reform the edge on another knife.
The teeth allow this tool to be used as an inefficient hacksaw.
/Wood Saw/. As with the other tools accessible without opening the tool,
this locks when fully extended. Two rows of sharp teeth line this tool.
Very good at cutting wood, but with an absolute length of 2.5 in / 6.3
cm the usable cutting length prevents any lumberjack activity. In a
pinch it could be used for sawing though large pieces of wood, but these
would have to be approached from different sides. It can also be useful
for cutting part of a piece of wood, which can then be broken by leaning
against an object (cut side down) and applying force. Sawing has never
been much of a part of my backpacking, camping and hiking adventures.
/Scissors/. Very well designed. These are stored inside the tool but as
with all interior tools (except the pliers) the handles can be closed
again once the tool is extended. Along with spring loaded blades, this
makes the scissors very usable. Sometimes a knife is dangerous or less
useful for delicate work. I have cut many pieces of moleskin with these
scissors. Similar to the pliers, the blades can get jammed shut, and
must be forced open. However, they can easily be opened and rarely jam.
/Flathead Screwdrivers/. Leatherman describes the sizes in general terms
but I have measured the heads as follows: Extra Small – 1/16 in / 1.6
mm, Small – 1/8 in / 3.175mm, Medium – 3/16 in / 4.75 mm, and Large –
1/4 in / 6.35 mm. The extra small head does not fit eyeglasses, which is
disappointing. These all function as screwdrivers should, except that
the blades are not centered in the frame, so turning the tool can be
awkward. The handle in which the screwdriver is not stored may be turned
at a right angle to the other handle and used for leverage against tight
fasteners. Special care should be taken to avoid injury as the
screwdriver blades are well squared and the corners sharp.
/Phillips Screwdriver/. A #1 Phillips head, this tool is very sturdy and
features four full blades (not just a flat “V” shape). The tip is
noticeably different from the rest of the Wave tool's stainless steel.
Leatherman claims this is hardened tool steel and my experience
indicates it is a good deal harder than the rest of the tool.
/Can / Bottle Opener/. Not very complicated, but thicker than most
pocketknife can openers. The tool is more blunt, and requires more force
to open cans. However, it can take more force and may be just the answer
to a stubborn can.
/Lanyard Attachment/. I do not use my Wave tool in a situation where I
feel it necessary to use a lanyard, but this attachment is very good. It
can fold out from inside the tool and provide an anchor for a lanyard.
It is small and rounded – very natural to the tool in or out. It can
swing out past the edge of the handle so as to not prevent the use of
any other tool.
My purchase also came with a high quality leather sheath and belt loop.
Leatherman recommends cleaning and re-oiling the tool every so often, as
well as sharpening the blades but does not give a specific length of
time. I have never re-oiled mine but the inner tools sometimes stick –
however, I do not have any problems with the outer four tools. I have
not fully resharpened then blade; I have only refined the edge with a
honing steel. It is still quite sharp, but could probably use a good,
full sharpening. Based on my experience handling and honing the blade,
sharpening should be easy, even towards the handle . Although
construction is stainless steel, it is only corrosion resistant (as with
all stainless steels). Periodic maintenance should prevent most
corrosion. Maintenance should be more often if used in damp or marine
*Personal History with the Product*
I have used this tool backpacking, car camping, day hiking, traveling,
EDC (Every-Day Carry), and around the house. I love to have it camping,
as it it useful for many tasks. On a day hike, I find it less useful, as
I usually bring a Swiss Army or folding knife. For EDC I find it heavy –
I prefer tools to be accessible but not on my person. I'll often throw
it in my backpack, my bicycle's pannier or my car's glove compartment.
When camping, I will often carry it on my person, as I find it very useful.
I began looking at Leatherman multi-tools when I first learned of them.
My biggest concerns were that the handles were sharp when trying to
apply force through the pliers, and the tool needed to be open to access
the knife. The Wave tool met these shortcomings and added a liner lock –
greatly increasing safety in using the tool. The rounded handles make
this tool easy to hold, and permit easy shifting in grip to adjust for
The blades easily open – but not so easily as to be hazardous. The
construction is top-notch. I have not had a problem with this tool in
the time I have owned it. It has taken a ton of abuse, still looks great
and I have no doubt that it will continue to serve me for many many years.
I would like to see a locking device for the pliers, so they do not jam
as easily. I would also like to see a sharper and thinner can opener.
The other tool I would suggest is an awl. I find awls useful for a
number of tasks while camping that a blade cannot easily perform. They
are especially useful for repairs and other essential task.
The Wave tool is about what I expect in size, weight and functionality
from a multi-tool. Larger and more complex tools are on the market, but
I do not have a need for so many functions. When backpacking and
camping, I only need a step up from a pocketknife not a step down from
my tool box.
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