The Best Keychain Multi-tools in 2019

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The Best Keychain Multi-tools in 2019

Part of putting together your EDC is knowing what tools you'll need on an average day, but it's hard to be prepared for everything. That’s why so many people rely on a good multi-tool to cover their bases. Traditional full-sized multi-tools aren't for everyone, however. They can be a bit bulky or heavy for a minimalist EDC and can be hard to justify if you don't use one often enough. Smaller multi-tools that can fit on your keychain, on the other hand, are worth a look to keep essentials handy without weighing you down. Whether you’re looking for some functional alternatives to larger tools or you don’t want to be caught without a tool and are looking for a backup to keep on you at all times, the items on this list are tried and tested EDC classics.


Victorinox Manager

Victorinox needs no introduction for EDC as an iconic multi-tool manufacturer, building Swiss-made tools of every size for decades. If you’re going for small and practical, then the Manager should be on your short list. At a little over an ounce, the Manager is a classic keychain tool with everything from a small blade and tweezers to a screwdriver and pen built right into the small body. It does a little bit of everything and is easily one of the best keychain options for anyone.

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Victorinox Minichamp Alox

When you need a whole load of functionality—18 functions, to be exact—the MiniChamp Alox is worth checking out. Packed into its compact size are tools like an orange peeler, scissors, and even a ruler just to name a few. Of course, it also comes with a small blade as well so if you don’t already EDC a pocket knife this could handle some basic cutting tasks. The Alox scales make the exterior tough enough for life on your keychain and at only 1.4 ounces, it will fit comfortably next to your keys.

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Leatherman Micra

Leatherman is best known for their popular pliers-based multi-tools, but their generally larger size makes them harder to carry. Their Micra swaps out the pliers to get a more compact tool while still packing one of the more comfortable pair of scissors in a multi-tool. The Micra is perfect for your keychain and at just 2.5” in length, you’ll get 10 different tools that can come in handy in a pinch. Plus the brushed stainless steel construction gives it decent durability while able to mix in with many EDC aesthetics.

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Leatherman Squirt PS4

One of the defining features of a full-sized multi-tool is a quality pair of pliers, which is admittedly hard to find on a keychain multi-tool. So if a solid pair of pliers is a must-have for you, then the Leatherman Squirt PS4 should be right up your alley. This multi-tool measures only 2.25” in length yet still packs a punch in its 2-ounce body. You’ll get spring-action pliers, scissors, and a small blade to go along with a number of other useful tools that you might find yourself needing.

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Gerber Dime

One of the best entry-level EDC items you can get is the Gerber Dime, but just because it’s affordable doesn’t mean it isn’t great. The Dime is a crowd favorite among EDCers thanks to its excellent combination of functionality and portability. It's super compact at around 2 ounces and has a discreet profile for inconspicuous carry. Its clamshell-opening design gives quick access to the tool's pliers, while other handy tools built into the handles like spring-action scissors, screwdrivers, and a package opener handle general tasks on the fly.

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Gerber Mullet

A one-piece multi-tool worth checking out is one of the newer options from Gerber: the Mullet. Similar to the Shard, its popular predecessor, you get a single piece of metal with a clever design that packs 11 different tools into its 3” body. It comes with a pry bar, wire stripper, flathead screwdriver, and a ¼” hex driver, along with a belt loop hanger to help with EDC. Also check out the Gerber Shard as an affordable alternative if you don’t mind sacrificing the ability to suspend them from your belt loop.

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BigiDesign TPT Slide

The original Titanium Pocket Tool was a huge success, but the newer TPT Slide has an updated design that lets you deploy its utility blade easily by simply sliding it out. Like the original, you’ll still get a number of useful tools like a bottle opener, mini pry bar, and universal wrenches right there on your keychain. Plus, the Grade 5 titanium construction means you don’t have to baby it. Of course, it also comes with a pocket clip if you’d prefer to carry it that way but at just one ounce, tossing it on your keychain is also a solid option.

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Gear Infusion EverRatchet

The EverRatchet is a keychain-friendly multi-tool that strikes a balance between function and size. It’s only about 2.5” long but built with solid features, with everything from a flathead screwdriver to a scraper and 7 wrenches packed into the all-metal design. It comes in either stainless steel or titanium and has an integrated bit driver for safekeeping. The EverRatchet’s key feature works thanks to what Gear Infusion calls their “dynamic ratcheting beam,” a system that holds the bit still under force but lets the tool rotate back to its starting position to get additional torque in use. Simply put, this means no longer having to reset your hands or the tool when ratcheting, giving you a unique and efficient way to use your existing bits.

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Kershaw PT-2

Kershaw is best known for the excellent value your get from their unique, high-performance knives, but the PT-2 is an impressive multi-tool offering that nails the basics. It has 8 tools built seamlessly into its design including a pry bar, hex drives, and bottle opener, and the glass-filled nylon handle is textured for a better grip while in use as well. The PT-2 comes with a bead-blasted 8Cr13MoV stainless steel construction that’s as attractive as it is tough, so if you want a tool to throw on your keychain and forget about until you need it, this might be for you.

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True Utility FIXR

The best-designed multi-tools do more with less, and the True Utility FIXR is a prime example of that philosophy. The FIXR is only about 3” long, but its clever design holds 20 different tools including a bottle opener, eyewear screwdriver, a wire stripper, and a sharp edge for easily opening packages. The best part is the gold-plated disc that rotates to expose the tools when you find yourself needing them. Once the task is done, you can rotate them back into place and keep them out of your way.

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Griffin Pocket Tool

You can’t have a list of keychain multi-tools and not include the Griffin Pocket Tool. This one-piece multi-tool is one of the most popular EDC items thanks to its size, practicality, and robust construction. The single piece of metal offers everything from a pry tool to a screwdriver, and has integrated pocket clip so you can hang it from your belt loop. The 3” tool is also just long enough to give you that extra bit of leverage when loosening a stubborn nut, and you can be confident that the stainless steel construction will hold up to even the toughest jobs.

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CRKT Viva

The CRKT Viva is another keychain multi-tool that gets the job done without any moving parts. Besides the typical tools you’d expect like a bottle opener and prybar, the Viva also puts multiple wrench sizes and screwdriver right in your pocket. The unique design measures just under 4” in length and only weighs 1.1 ounces, making it tough enough to carry your keys but light enough to carry until you need it.

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What multi-tool do you keep on your keychain to stay prepared? Sound off in the comments below!

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If I could add one to this list, it would be the Leatherman Style CS. This keychain tool goes everywhere with me and for good reason. I'm a bigger fan of having a decent pair of scissors vs pliers (I just use them more often). The best scissors are going to be ones the are not found as an 'additional' tool in a multi-tool configuration, so kudos to the Micra. But unlike the Micra, I have access to the tools that I need without having to open it up. I still get a knife, flathead/prybar, file, scissors, tweezers, and a bottle opener. In addition I have an integrated carabiner. Really, no complaints!
Atwood prybaby
If you are the parent of a young child, I strongly recommend you consider carrying the Victorinox Manager. Especially if you don't like to carry around a lot of extra bulk/weight, but constantly find yourself searching for the right tool while a kid is crying in your ear. Here is what you get, and why I think it is the perfect minimalist multitool, specifically for parents:

All the SAK Classic tools:
-A pen knife for opening diaper/toy/Amazon packages
-Small scissors perfect for cutting tags off all of the clothes your children will rapidly grow out of, or the toys you spoil them with
-Nail file for doing a quick-fix manicure on your toddlers' jagged nails when they are distracted (bring out the real nail clippers and watch them go running...)
-Tweezers for removing splinters and ticks

PLUS:
-A micro phillips head screw driver-- All toys with batteries have a small screw to safely keep the kids away from the batteries, and you will need this to change those batteries. This is where it really earns a place in the pocket of a parent-- This tool is basically the "key" to all of your children's battery-powered toys
-A pen for signing all the checks to your daycare and pediatrician. Or when you need to make a quick exit from a restaurant due to a fussy kid, and the waiter forgot a working pen
-A bottle opener for the beer you will inevitably need after a long day of parenting
An old traditionalist, I possess three of these, plus a tiny Victorinox. In my personal usage, both urban and bushcraft, here they are in order of usage and dependability, 4. True Utility FIXR - good, and the tools work, but not the best cutter, so lives in a Maxpedtion Micro 6/10 3. Micra - great size and usability, better with pliers. 7.5/10 2. Squirt - best functioning of all, and decent size. I have the ES4, which gives pliers that double as the best tweezers, with a cutter inside and wire paring to boot. Perhaps a little weighty for a key-chain, and the file can rub a bit in your pocket, so rarely resides there 9/10. 1. Victorinox Signature. I find this the best overall for a key-chain, despite not having pliers. Mine has tweezers and a pen, which is pressurized, so doesn't need replacing with a Fisher. 9/10
The best tool overall is the Squirt ES4, but the Signature is slim and hangs effortlessly on my key-ring. Plus, the Signature weighs 23g, the ES4 is 54g. Ray Jardine only carried a Victorinox Classic on his treks. Very good, but I use the pen a lot. https://www.victorinox.com/uk/en/Products/Swiss-Army-Knives/Small-Pocket-Knives/Signature/p/0.6225
Victorinox Mini is always fine. Omitting the pen Leads to the Rambler model on my office kit. Or add a second blade and a third ripping blade: the old Vagabond model I love so much.
But the everratchet is very nice, too.
So that is 3 of these 😊
I own and use both the Kershaw PT-2 and the CRKT Viva. The PT-2 has been one the best mini-prybars, perfect length, good grippy surface and I won't cry if I lose it, unlike those pricey custom titanium showpieces. The Viva rides on a loop on my carry bag, mainly to use as a bottle opener. One of the best there is outside an SAK, and occasional use for wrenching as it has enough length to actually get some good torque.
How is it that none of Mike Bond's Parabiner series ever make these keychain multi-tool 'best of' lists. They offer a great set of tools and the workmanship is beyond reproach.
Not seen this before. Thanks for the heads-up. Bit too large for my key-ring, but looks a superbly designed tool.
And paracord heaven :)