Leatherman Wave Multi-Tool
Full Disclaimer: I’ve had this review in mind for over a year now, however due to the fact that I bit my finger nails, I was unable to use this tool in the field without a secondary device to open the components! Now that I’ve shaken that filthy habit, onwards with the review!
Leatherman, a known name in the multi tool business for over 27 years has a variety of models available all with their own specific usages. I chose the Wave to accompany me around the world on a bicycle due its price point, amount of tools available, and probability of using each specific tool. I’ve had a chance to utilize each and every tool at various stages before the writing of this review, so I’d like to think that some of my comments hold some merit. I’ve used this tool on a near daily basis for a year.
This attractive device, made from stainless steel has a sturdy feel to it, due to its 241 g weight. Folding up into a compact rectangular shape its easy to shove in the pocket, or in the included holster, that fits horizontally or vertically on ones belt, protected in place by a snap.
With the tool closed and compact, the user is given 4 choices of tools to use, a Knife, with just over 2.9″ of length that can be easily opened with one hand via the kidney-shaped notch on the outside. From the factory, this blade comes very sharp, and has yet to be dulled by my usage. Directly across from the knife, a 4 sided file appears, giving the operator a choice between two surface grades – Precision filing is able to be performed, using the narrow end. To gain access to this tool there are two areas, one towards the tip of the file, where a minor nail catch exists, and towards the base of the tool, where a bit of pressure can be provided to release it from its holding area.
Flipping the tool over, reveals two other tools, another knife with a serrated blade, and a saw with 15 teeth per side. It cuts through wood in short order, however one must be sure not to slip due to the short travel distance taking off a chunk of your skin in the process. The serrated blade offers the same quick opening mechanism as the knife on the other side, while the saw shares the notch as the file. All of these tools lock into place and can be released with a release directly behind where the tool rests at the base. This ensures that the tool does not release its lock during usage. The only way I can see an accidental closure is if the operator is using the tool in reverse, which has its own safety implications in itself, and quite frankly – would be stupid.
Grabbing both horizontal ends of the device allows one to perform a near 180 degree rotation of each handles revealing a sturdy set of needle nose pliers, pliers, wire cutter, and stripper. The tip of the needle nose is fine enough to be able to reach into tight spots, and is extremely durable to wear from metals or whatever you throw at it. I’ve yet to wear down any of the “teeth” resulting in slippage when pulling, pushing twisting or bending. The wire cutter, which is not sharp, has difficulty in breaking through a piece of wire, and most usually has resulted in a bending of the wire, forcing the user to assist the tool by means of moving the piece you wish to cut back and forth repeatedly. The stripper, handles wire with a 26AWG with ease, yet struggles on anything bigger than 10. I’ve resorted to using other techniques and parts of this tool to accomplish stripping, however not in such a clean fashion.
Bending the handles to be perfectly horizontal reveals a ruler, with each side measuring 4 inches or 10 centimetres. It’s best to use both handles on a flat surface to ensure precision, otherwise stick to measuring smaller pieces. Hidden in between the rulers is a surprise with yet more tools ready to be used. One side, holding a combo can opener and bottle opener does the job cleanly and efficiently after getting the hang of it. One must depress another locking mechanism on the other side of the handle to release this and other tools, with your fingernails. Also on the same side, is a screwdriver, with a Phillips end, one can simply pull on the bit to reveal that there is a “Blade” on the other side. Leatherman sells additional sizes of bits and replacements as a seperate product, that fit in both the Wave, and the more featured Charge. On the other end, you have the option of yet another multi-bit screwdriver, however of the precision type, suitable for repairing eyeglasses, picking your teeth, or tightening smaller screws.
The holding mechanism for these bits is secure, so one should not worry about losing one in the field. Alongside, is a much thicker “blade” piece, which has not only worked for tightening and loosening screws and bolts, but has acted as a prybar in my workings. Nothing has snapped off as of yet. Finally, a set of scissors uniquely fold out allowing the operator to cut nicely through twine, paper, fabric, what have you. All of these tools that are contained between the ruler allow for extra leverage by folding the Wave back to its compact state, only leaving the desired tool out.
After repeatedly getting the unit soaked with salt water, I’ve yet to see any surface rust appear. The unit does get quite dirty however, and I’ve struggled with finding a solution to clean the hinges, and inside of the device leaving quite a dark mess inside. This can affect the overall fluidness of the hinges. The units innards are protected via a secure Torx bit, which is likely to be able to adjust the fluid motion of the tools, and allow for complete disassembly, however I’ve yet to come across any of these bits in my travels.
The Wave has stood up to some non standard usages as well, acting as a hammer to bang in tent pegs, an eating utensil when one has realized they left theirs in an unknown place, makeshift fishing rod tying a bunch of line around it and running as fast as possible back tugging when receiving a bite, furniture shim, ingrown nail surgical tool, and ear scratcher. It’s passed each of these tests with flying colours. I receive many comments from passerby’s asking what type of Leatherman I’m carrying each asking how my overall feeling is about the unit. If the unit had a small fork built into it, and the means to hold a small thermometer, this device would be the be all end all for me, however at this stage, it’s graduated to the “never leave my side” status.
Leatherman offers a warranty of 25 years for the unit, and I’m sure with proper care, that it’ll be able to stand up for that time and then some, providing I don’t lose the damn thing. A highly recommended tool for bicycle touring, camping, and just everyday tool carrying at a reasonable price. If you’ve been wondering if a multi-tool is right for you, keep this one in mind as a contender.
You can buy it from any of these retailers, which will allow me to continue fulfilling my dream to cycle around the world, by means of the store operator offering a minor commission for referral. Thanks!