Leatherman has a couple of new multi-tools out that you may have seen, the Skeletool (ST)and Skeletool CX (STCX). They are billed as the multi-tools for today’s outdoor enthusiasts that want to save weight. It looks to me that they made a tool and then tried to find a market for it, but found the wrong market.

Leatherman’s site describes the STCX as:

Today’s outdoor enthusiasts want to keep weight and volume to a minimum without sacrificing quality and true functionality. While multi-tools have multiple options, they’re often heavier with more features than are used on a regular basis. Conversely, pocket knives are light and streamlined, but render themselves useless when necessary adjustments call for a tool. Enter the new Skeletool platform: Minimal weight, compact size and endless capabilities.

and the (ST) as:

At a mere five ounces the new, full-size multi-tool from Leatherman features a stainless steel blade, pliers, bit driver and carabiner/bottle opener—that’s it. Only the most necessary multi-tool features, because sometimes that’s all you need. Removable pocket clip means it easily clips onto a belt, pack, or vest—no sheath required.

So, you basically have a set of pliers with a knife, a carabiner, a can-opener, and a bit driver. That’s it. I am not counting the different parts of the plier section. How did they decide that those are the most essential tools that an outdoor enthusiast needs? What happened to the saw, awl, and scissors? Hell, even the fish scaler? I am guessing that the designers sat down and realized that if they distilled a Leatherman into the lightest, most essential parts, they would be left with a Swiss Army Knife. I doubt that their marketing would like that, even though I would love to see a SAK type tool come from Leatherman.

I obviously agree that a knife is essential. I don’t go outside of my bed, let alone into the woods, without a knife (or four). An argument could even be made for the pliers, even though they are really just extra weight to an ultralighter. How many times have you [i]really[/i] needed pliers in the wilderness? I have used them many times, but could easily have done without. Not to mention that the SK pliers are much more blunt that most other Leatherman pliers. A saw, on the other hand? I would take a crappy saw over the best pliers in the world.

If you look at what are commonly considered the three immediate needs in a sticky situation (fire, water, and shelter), pliers do not really help you in any of those areas. A knife can help in all areas, and a saw is incredibly useful for fire and shelter. A bit driver doesn’t even enter into the equation. Actually, does a bit driver ever enter into the equation? I can’t think of a single piece of gear that I own that would take the size bits that come with most Leatherman bit sets. Some jeweler sized bits like a couple of the Charge bits, now those can be occasionally useful. Still, I can’t think of when I would ever [i]really[/i] need a bit driver of any kind.

Now, let’s take a look at this tool from a different perspective. I started working in construction, specifically decks and trim carpentry, when I was 13. I had a Leatherman type tool back then with a lot of tools that I never used. The Skeletool would have been perfect for me, and the same holds true for many other similar jobs.

I guess saying that a tool is perfect for a construction worker is not exactly sexy marketing for their new tool. They do have tools, like the Core, that they market to that crowd. Of course, it has a saw. Maybe we were just privileged carpenters, but we had some badass saws and never even considered using the ones on our multi-tools. I don’t know if I ever used anything other than the pliers and occasionally the knife (usually a utility blade instead) and bit driver/screwdrivers.

Maybe I need to take the cue from someone on one of the 500 forums I read and build my own Leatherman. I have enough multi-tools where I could take a few apart and cobble together the perfect tool for me. Now that I think about it, custom Leathermans would be a good business idea…