It’s been 14 months now since we first included the category of cheap multi tools (under $25) as a separate. In all honestly, this is probably one of the most challenging guides to put together.In the first, place it’s not easy to pick inexpensive products when you know the industry from the inside…when you know what’s outsourced where, what companies just slap the label and specs onto a product with half of it being a lie…

1-tools-tested

Collection of multi-tools we accumulated over the years of testing – from high-end tools like the Leatherman Surge to cheap pieces like Squirt PS

I worked in the industry for over 10 years

I’m not bragging but I do know this stuff, I worked (I being Morry, the chubby bold guy from the videos) in a multi-tool factory as a Demand Planning Analyst for just over 10 years and a lot of buddies still do, so I know most what’s going on in the industry.

If Michele from accounting is seeing Don from assembly, I know about it. If they are changing the Carbon and Chromium content of the steel used in the blades, I know about it.

Enough about me, let’s dig in

The top spots are the easy part

Since we started the category, a few products are dominating the top spots and they’re only switching places update to update.

These are the multi-tools under $25 that
will give you the biggest bang for your buck.

 
Model
 
Overall Rating
 
Price comparison
link
best cheap-multitool leatherman style cs
See the Leatherman Style CS
on Amazon >>

 
4.18 / 5

button compare
top-low-cost-tool-jakemy-multitool
See the Jakemy 9-in-1
on Amazon >>
 
4.08 / 5
button compare
3rd best cheap multi-tool under $25
See the Magnelex 22-in-1
on Amazon >>
 
4.06 / 5
button compare

It’s not about price, it’s about value for money

 

Wouldn’t you agree?

If you are on this page, chances are that you are looking for an inexpensive piece that won’t break the bank.

But what if the difference in prices between these pieces and the best rated overall is worth one lunch?

A tool that will be a memento for your grand kids

You’ll notice that we don’t have a rating category called PRICE. We have VALUE FOR MONEY, because that’s the only thing that should matter if you are choosing a product you’ll be using every-day.

If we had a “price” rating, we could tie two sticks together, call it a multi-tool and sell it for one dollar. That tool would have to be rated with a full 5 under price.

Bottom line – it’s our advice that you look for value for money instead of just a cheap tool.

Now, let us move on and butt heads of the best multi-tool under 25 bucks and the BEST OVERALL (that’s the one that costs about one lunch more) – the Leatherman Wave Black Oxide.

Best cheap multi-tool compared to
the best overall – the LEATHERMAN WAVE

 
This tool
 
Best Overall

The Leatherman Wave Damascus Black
style-cs top low-cost choice
comparison-product
Number
of Tools

6
17
Closed length
(inches):
2.9
4
Blade length
(inches):
1.6
2.9
Weight (ounces):
1.4
8.5

Quality Ratings by Category

Durability &
Longevity

(out of 5):
3.6
4.8
Versatility
(out of 5):
4.1
4.7
Materials
(out of 5):
3.6
4.7
Design
(out of 5):
4.2
4.6
Value for $
(out of 5):
4.4
4.7
Overall Rating
(out of 5)
3.98
4.70
Badges
Awarded:
 
/
top rated and best value
read more
read more

 

Leatherman Wave features demo

 

One “problem” that we’ve seen with the Wave is that it goes out of stock way to often and for prolonged periods.

 

budget-friendly-options-multi-tools


Since the Original Wave was discontinued in 2003, the New Wave has taken its place and has seen a number of versions introduced – OUR FAVORITE BY FAR is the Wave Black, an aggressive look and an awesomeness factor of 10 out of 10

 

Click below to see the Wave on Amazon

 
read more
 
 

How do the companies cut cost on the tools?

The quality of the steel is the first to go. You’ll see “stainless steel” in the specs but how well the steel will  “behave” in every-day situations depends on the additives mixed into the carbon and iron alloy.

In other words – if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing and you don’t know how to read between the lines, you’ll probably end up wasting your money.

The rest of the guide will probably be less interesting

In the rest of the guide, we’ll look into the specs of the winner of the category of low-cost multi-tools and quote some of the experiences of our featured testers

Let’s move on to some honorary mentions and a few pocket knives you get for under $25.

What you can expect in the mini reviews of the cheap multi tools:

  • Have a look at what manufacturer’s said about their multi tool products
  • Take users’ reviews into account
  • We’ll will share my opinion of the multi tool we are reviewing and give it a Final Overall Rating

 

Leatherman Style CS – the winner among dozens of cheap multi tools we tested

cheap-multitool-style-csfrom Leatherman

People at Leatherman list that:

  • Features 6 tools including a steel blade
  • The tools are outside-accessible which makes them easier to use
  • Includes tweezers, a knife blade, nail file with screwdriver tip and scissors
  • Features an additional key ring
  • Measures only 2.9 inches closed length
  • Weighs 1.4 ounces

The PROs – from the people using the tool:

  • It’s a real eye-candy, but also very practical…
  • I love the scissors, well designed and placed. The steel quality is superb, I had it for a year and half now and it hasn’t changed a bit…
  • I use my Style CS  every single day. I think it’s a very handy carry-on because it’s so small. Small tasks like opening letters or nail grooming are a breeze with this baby…
  • Great for filling a broken nail, and the key fob is a really neat addition. If you’re like me, this tool is going to meet most of your needs
  • This Leatherman pocket tool is my personal favorite. I have the silver version and I love how it is even thinner than the standard version. It is very well designed and crafted. I love the way it looks, so I show it off all the time.
  • This is a perfect gift for anyone, but more so for a teenage boy. I use to own a Swiss pocket Victorinox knife, but decided to go with this instead. No regrets…
  • You can feel the quality the first time you hold it, very solid and tight.
  • A great cheap multi functional tool, there’s all there is to it…
  • My old Leatherman was flimsy and practically fell apart within months, this pocket tool fells like it’s built to last…

The CONs:

  • The toothpick is probably not the best part, I feel it’s just there so they can brag about having it, not really useful as far as I am concerned…
  • I go the one with the plastic covering and it now has key scratches all over…
  • The knife is very small, I don’t know what you can cut with this thing. Also, the key chain attachment wasn’t really thought through…feels awkward…

My summary and ratings of the best cheap multi-tool

This pocket knife has been the best rated  tool in this price range for 6 months now (that’s last 3 updates to the guide). It’s superior in quality and craftsmanship but it’s not really the choice for those who need a full-on multi tool (because there are no pliers).

Overall Quality Rating 3.98/5.

 
leatherman-style-cs-ratings
 

Click below to see the Style CS on Amazon

 
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Leatherman is hands-down the biggest name in multi-tool industry. So, logically, people are going to expect a lot, and I mean A LOT, from their products. And the Style CS does deliver a god bang for the buck.

It is pretty basic and it’s only designed for lighter jobs. For a tool that would be your every-day-carry you’d have to go a level above.

Moving on…another brand from the lower spectrum of multi tools…

Premium Pocket Multi tool – 4th best-rated in the category of cheap multi tools

From Gelindo

What Gelindo is saying:

  • Their multi tool is built for serious tasks
  • Made out of stainless steel
  • Designed for long and reliable use
  • 15 integrated tools are included, from various screwdrivers to pliers.
  • Intended for use on the road, while camping, or fishing
  • Engineered to reduce hand fatigue by employing a compact folding design with non-slippery handles
  • Belt pouch comes included for convenient storage between uses

Overall Quality Rating – 3.7/5.

 
Gelindo Premium cheap multitool

 

See its Amazon ratings & compare prices

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Let’s see what some of the more satisfied users had to say about it:

  • I have arthritis and this tool is the best thing that happened to me…very easy to use
  • A great little helper for anything from small jobs around the house to fishing (wires, hooks, etc.)…
  • I just got mine a few days ago and I love it. I’m thinking about getting a few more of these more of these as presents, since it makes a wonderful “toy”…
  • I think this is a very solid set. If something, I would single out it’s durability. I impressed with it’s strength what it can handle. I don’t believe you could break this under any normal circumstances.
  • It’s incredibly easy to use because of its spring loaded main jaws, especially in situations like repeated gripping or making multiple wire cuts.
  • I still haven’t used all the 15 tools, but the ones I have used are pretty good. All the different knives really come in handy, they’re not just for show. I work in the garden a lot, and having this Gelindo is of great help.

Some of the chosen CONs:

  • It’s a little misaligned when you close it, the handle is not as comfortable as I expected and I think that the build quality could be better.
  • I think it could have been a little sturdier. It is just not tough enough for any serious handyman work.
  • Even thought is very easy to use, I think the some parts, like the wire cutter, could be a lot sharper.

My thoughts

This nifty gadget from Gelindo is certainly a great buy, especially when it’s discounted. It is sleek and attractive, and it would definitely make a great gift.

However, if you plan to use it every day for more demanding tasks, maybe you are better of with some of the sturdier pieces on this list, since many users said that they don’t think it is durable or sturdy enough (in spite of what the fact sheet is saying).

Anyway, for just around $20, it is still a steal.

The Spartan Swiss Army Knife review

Victorinox Silver Tech Spartan Pocket KnifeFrom Victorinox

Basic info:

  • This multi tool includes 12 different tools
  • Tools include: small and large screwdrivers and knives, bottle and can openers, as well as a corkscrew
  • The tools are made out of stainless steel
  • The maker has used aluminum alloy separators
  • It is made with famous Swiss Army standards, now in a translucent silver body
  • 3 and a half inches in length
  • Made for outdoor activity and travelers
  • Offering a lifetime warranty
  • With tradition spanning from 1891

Let’s see what people said about it.

The PROs of this low-cost multi tool:

  • very cheap multi tool for the functions it offers…
  • I always have a Swiss Army Knife on me, no matter where I am(apart from airports, obviously). This all-purpose tool can fit almost anywhere, from your glove compartment to your pocket. If you like to garden, go camping or simply do regular DIY stuff, this tool is perfect for you.
  • I see myself using knives more than other available tools. I find that the knives in combination with tweezers are great for thorns and splinters. So I would say the tweezers are also quite handy. On rare occasions I even use the toothpick. I never could have imagined this this can replace my trusty old Gerber Dime
  • What usually bothers me about carrying tools is that they take too much room in your bag or pockets. This one is very petite, and can be carried anywhere without too much trouble, and it’s still big enough for comfortable use.
  • This multi tool is a classic in every sense, lives up to the brand in quality…and it seamlessly fits into my jeans pocket, which is exactly what I wanted.
  • I bought one to be my everyday pocket knife. From the moment I opened the box I was struck by how beautiful it was and how awe-inducing the craftsmanship was. The quality is simply outstanding. And all the blades are just as sharp as you would expect them to be…by far the best cheap pocket knife/multi tool you can get…
  • The blades on this affordable multi tool are pretty good for everyday tasks. The bottle and can opener can be very useful for camping and hiking stuff…

The CONs:

  • I was surprised to find my Victorinox was not what I expected. The plastic handle was visibly scratched on arrival and the blades blunt like it was used…returned it right away and waiting for a replacement…
  • The tweezers on this multi tool are practically useless, too small. They were of no help when I needed to get a splinter out of my hand…
  • The boxes these came in were crumpled. I wouldn’t really care if those weren’t intended as gifts. They just looked shabby, and who wants a gift like that…

The verdict on this inexpensive multi tool

It’s small, cheap but still well-built. Small enough to fit your pocket like it’s not there, still strong enough to do 80-90% of small jobs an average Joe would come across on daily basis. And the lifetime warranty seals the deal, we have a nice low-cost winner on our hands.

Overall Quality Rating – 3.8/5.

spartan-swiss-army-knife

 

Click below to see the Spartan on Amazon

 
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Micra Multi tool – a low-priced tool for basic needs (Rating – 3.6/5)

Leatherman Micra -low cost multi toolFrom Leatherman

Let’s see how this multi tool is described by the company:

  • Offering 10 different tools in a small package
  • Attachable to key chains
  • Created with personal care in mind
  • Easy to store in a purse, pocket, sewing kit, or a tackle box
  • Includes several sorts of screwdrivers, bottle opener, spring-based scissors, tweezers, nail cleaner, nail file, and a clip point knife

The positive comments from the users:

  • As someone who travels for business every week I have to downsize on the luggage. This is one of the things I carry with me when traveling by car. I have used plenty of similar multi tools, but this is the one for me.
  • I got this Micra Multi Tool as a gift. I never really thought I need one until I got it and now I don;t know how I lived without it…
  • I’m a girl and I believe this to be one of the best multi-tools for women – it’s light and small enough to be a keychain but still does the job…
  • I am still amazed at how well built it is for such a cheap piece. I read all the reviews I could before getting it myself, and I have to admit that it is still living up to my expectations in every way possible…
  • I have to commend the blades, which are really sharp and useful. From the scissors, which I had to sharpen just once in over two years, to the nail file, which is unpredictably good.
  • Impressed by the Phillips, I didn’t expect it to be this well made, considering the price…

The drawback according to its users:

  • This Micra is nothing like the one I used to own. I am so sorry that I’d lost it. This one just doesn’t compare quality-wise…
  • Old Micras used to have an inscription on them, saying “USA”, which assured me they were manufactured in the USA. The one I just got has no such sign, so I guess it is no longer made here…
  • I have had several of these all around my work place, my car, my house, and on myself. I used them all the time. They were amazing.

My  comment

In the first “issue” of this guide, the Leatherman Micra was the best rated piece, but the ratings dropped since then.

In the 10 months I am updating this guide it’s Overall Quality Rating went from 4.1 to 3.85.

leatherman-micra-colors

 

Click below to see the Micra on Amazon

 
read more
 

Yes, the blades might be great, and it’s smartly designed and small, but the build quality is lacking and people are noticing.

ST53100 Micro Max 19-in-1 Pocket Multi Tool review – Quality Rating 3.6/5

Swiss Tech ST53100 Micro Max - inexpensive multi toolFrom Swiss+Tech

The company’s description:

  • 6 different screwdriver
  • 2 hex wrenches
  • Additional drill, pliers, wire cutter and stripper, wire crimper, file, two rulers and two ruler extensions, as well as a bottle opener
  • The rulers and their extensions come in both millimeters and inches
  • Limited warranty for parts

The PROS:

  • Before buying it, I was afraid it would be cheap or flimsy. I was way off, it is very solid. I prefer to wear it on a key-chain, although you can put it in your pocket easily…
  • It is so light that I keep forgetting that I have it on me…
  • The variety of screwdrivers is excellent. In addition to them, the working wrench and pliers are the only tools I use…and they are very practical.

The CONS:

  • There is no blade on it…I find it highly impractical.
  • For a while, it was very tight. Later on it just wouldn’t fully close and then it began falling off the key-chain. Now it’s utterly useless.
  • I find the hinges to be too loose and the general build to be of poor quality.

What we think

Some say that the build quality is good, others that it is rubbish. Some will say it is sturdy, other that it’s flimsy. Whatever it is, I am not so sure about this product.

This product just didn’t win us over and it’s the last one (from the ones in the top 5) I would choose if I had 25 bucks to spend and I needed a multi tool.

Overall quality Rating – 3.6/5.

swisstech-keychain-multi-tool

 

Click below to see SwissTech 53100 on Amazon

 
read more
 

 

Final thoughts

As I said, it’s very hard finding a multi tool that would be practical, useful, well-made but still – the tools on this list are the ones that are closest to meeting those criteria.

Let me honest here – be aware that you are getting a cheap piece  and be conservative in what you expect from these pieces. After all, the alloy used is cheaper, with much more impurities, the quality of the steel is inferior to the more expensive pieces and if you are a handy man who uses a multi tool on daily basis, you will probably be better off with some of the more serious tools from other price ranges.

But for and average Joe and occasional use – these will do just fine. They are also great if you are a collector like me and want to increase your numbers without splurging.

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