The concept of incorporating more than one tool into a single unit has existed for decades, but it was Leatherman with its do-everything pliers that defined our contemporary notion of a multi-tool. And how does a decades-old company that created a product category reinvent itself and reimagine its most iconic product? The answer: magnets.
Last week Leatherman not only redesigned its logo but also revealed a new collection of multi-tools called Free. The core purpose of the Free collection is to make each element of the multi-tool easier to open. Leatherman accomplishes that by integrating magnetic elements into the new tools and an internal locking system that reduces wear. The design eliminates the need for all those nail knicks that do, come to think of it, make opening each individual implement in a multi-tool a somewhat cumbersome process.
Leatherman isn’t just releasing one magnetic multi-tool either; it’ll drop six throughout 2019. The Free line can be divided into three subgroups: P, K and T, each of which refers to a core tool — P for pliers, K for knife and T for multipurpose tool.
The Free P multi-tools can be thought of along similar lines to Leatherman’s iconic Wave. The main implement is a pair of pliers, and the rest of the tools stem from the handles. Perhaps the most exciting element of the magnet integration here is that the multi-tool can be flipped open with one hand, like a butterfly knife. A 19-tool version for $120 and a 21-tool version for $140 will be released in April.
The K tools feature a 3.35-inch drop-point steel knife blade as the primary utensil, with others (spring-loaded scissors, bit drivers, a bottle opener) emerging from knife’s handle. With a release date of August, the K line will be the last available with eight tools for $80 or nine tools for $90 (the extra $10 gets you scissors).
The T tools are the lightest and most compact of the Free collection. They’re similar in scope to the Swiss Army Knife, with small knives, scissors, drivers, openers and scrapers in a highly pocketable form. These T series are also the cheapest at $40 for an eight-tool version and $60 for one with 12 and will release in June.