Every man has an inner MacGyver. And it doesn’t matter if they’re a military helicopter pilot, or a computer geek, they all need at least one multi-tool. Since I’ve only got three or four lying around the house, I happily accepted the opportunity to review one from Coast.
Of course, it had to be something special, since pretty much every one of these tools has pliers, a knife blade or two, and then at least a couple of auxiliary tools. I wasn’t let down, as the model they sent was their LED Pro Pocket Pliers Multi Tool, which has a few features not found on most other similar tools. For starters, it’s got two built-in LED lights, one at each end. Then there’s the spring-loaded pliers, along with the ergonomically shaped handle, inset with some rubber for better grip. The more standard fare includes a nice blade with serrations on the lower half, two flat head screwdriver blades, a phillips head screwdriver, bottle opener, and even some scissors.
After more than 15 years of using the same style tool, I’ve apparently taken certain things for granted. While the stamped and folded steel of a certain other brand makes for simple, inexpensive production, it doesn’t feel very good in hand. The Coast tool has curved handles with contoured edges, making for a much more comfortable grip. Further enhancing the functionality is the spring that gently props the pliers open, making using them in awkward positions that much easier. Of course, Coast takes that a step further with the LED lights. With one placed at each end, and controlled by a single button, it’s easy enough to switch between the two. Although the offset of the bulb means that it’s not pointed exactly at the tip of the pliers or the screwdrivers, it’s close enough to guide you into whatever work you’re doing. Certainly a bit more convenient than trying to hold a flashlight with your other hand, or in your mouth.
Different companies use a variety of methods for pulling up the auxiliary tools, with limited success. If you have fat fingers, or difficulty getting a fingernail into the slot to lift a tool, the assist on the screwdrivers is certainly noteworthy. Pressing down on the slightly protruding assist will lift them up and out, so they can be easily grasped. The larger screwdriver has a similar function, while the cap lifter/can opener blade requires you to get a nail into the slot. My least favorite feature on this tool, the scissors also use the traditional nail slot to open, then you have to carefully unfold them. What did surprise was that while they are flat and somewhat unimpressive looking, they cut through paper, some filter material, and even cloth, with ease. Who knew?
So the big question is, would this replace any of the other tools I own? Of course not, that just goes against conventional wisdom. There will never be one multi-tool that does everything, and there’s no reason not to have several. But the comfort of this model, along with the convenience of the LED lights, places it way ahead of other tools for certain jobs. And if the features alone aren’t appealing enough, the fact that you can pick one up for about $40 should ensure its place in a stocking, or under the tree this year.