Swiss Army Knife vs Leatherman – Which Should You Carry?

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Last updated on July 14th, 2023 at 02:41 pm

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When it comes to multi-tools, two brands often dominate the conversation: Swiss Army knives and Leatherman tools. Both have a rich history and a loyal following, with each offering a wide range of products to suit the needs of various users. However, choosing between these two iconic brands can be challenging, since they both present unique features and advantages that appeal to different preferences and requirements.

Swiss Army knives, made by Victorinox, are the original multi-tools, cherished for their compact design and practicality. They typically include a variety of essential tools, such as blades, scissors, and screwdrivers, all housed within their iconic red handles. On the other hand, Leatherman, an American brand founded by Tim Leatherman, is known for its innovative folding pliers-centered design. This focus on pliers has led to the development of a large range of multi-tools that cater to specific needs, such as outdoor adventures, everyday use, or specialized professions.

While both Swiss Army knives and Leatherman tools offer durability, versatility, and various tool options, their differences can help you make a more informed choice based on your needs and preferences. Factors to consider include the types of tools offered, design, portability, and intended use. Comparing the key features of both brands and keeping in mind your specific requirements can ultimately lead you to the perfect multi-tool for your needs.

Swiss Army Knife vs Leatherman

Brand Comparison

Victorinox is the iconic brand behind Swiss Army knives, originating in Switzerland. Known for their pocketknives, Swiss Army knives are compact and versatile, with a variety of tools made of high-quality materials. They are perfect for everyday carry and appeal to those who need a small, easy-to-use multitool.

On the other hand, Leatherman is a well-known American brand, founded by Tim Leatherman. Leatherman tools are plier-based multitools that have a sturdy, rugged design, making them ideal for more heavy-duty tasks. These multitools cater to people who require a larger, feature-rich tool for work or outdoor activities.

Historical Background

Swiss Army Knife The history of the Swiss Army knife dates back to the late 19th century. In 1891, the Swiss government decided to provide a standard-issue tool to their soldiers. It commissioned two Swiss companies to produce the knife, with Victorinox being chosen as one of the suppliers. The Swiss Army knife has evolved over time, with various models and designs catering to different needs and preferences.

Leatherman The Leatherman brand emerged comparatively recently in the 1980s, when Tim Leatherman, an American mechanical engineer, invented the first plier-based multitool. Inspired by his own experiences while traveling, Leatherman wanted to create a versatile and reliable tool that could perform various tasks. This led to the development of the Leatherman Pocket Survival Tool, which became popular in the USA and around the world.


Size, Design, and Build Quality

Materials and Durability

Swiss Army Knives and Leatherman multi-tools are both known for their durability and use of high-quality materials. Most options from these brands are made from stainless steel, which makes them corrosion-resistant and less likely to be damaged over time. Some Leatherman tools, like the Charge TTI and the Wave Plus, go a step further and incorporate premium materials like titanium in their construction.

Both brands are also backed by strong warranties, with Leatherman confidently offering a 25-year warranty on their multi-tools, while Swiss Army Knives typically come with a lifetime warranty.

Compactness and Portability

Size matters when it comes to everyday carry tools, and both Swiss Army Knives and Leatherman multi-tools are available in compact and pocket-friendly designs. The Leatherman Micra is an example of a portable and light multi-tool, while Knipex can also be considered a compact alternative for certain applications.

Both brands provide various tools in their designs, with Swiss Army Knives often boasting more tool options in a single device, such as the Victorinox Swiss Champ XXL with its 73 tools. Meanwhile, the Leatherman Surge is known for its practicality and usability, even if it doesn’t have as many functions as some Swiss Army Knives.

However, the more tools packed into a single device, the larger it generally becomes. Leatherman models like the Free P4 strike a balance between compactness and offering extra tools, with pocket clips to ensure it remains easily portable and accessible.

In conclusion, both Swiss Army Knives and Leatherman multi-tools excel in size, design, and build quality, offering users a range of options when it comes to material, compactness, and portability.

Versatility and Use Cases

Outdoor Activities

Swiss Army Knives and Leatherman multi-tools both cater to various outdoor needs, such as camping, hiking, hunting, and fishing. Swiss Army Knives are known for their compact design, with tools like the Huntsman providing useful accessories such as a corkscrew, can opener, and scissors. Meanwhile, Leathermans typically include heavier-duty tools like pliers, which can help with tasks like tightening hardware and fixing ropes during outdoor activities.

When it comes to outdoor self-defense, both Swiss Army Knives and Leathermans offer options with reliable blades. Additionally, Leatherman offers tools with functionalities like built-in saws, making it ideal for camping and hiking trips.

Indoor and Everyday Tasks

Both Swiss Army Knives and Leatherman multi-tools can handle various indoor and everyday tasks at home, the office, or while traveling. These tools offer accessories like:

  • Bottle openers
  • Screwdrivers
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Small blades

These features are great for simple home repairs, opening packages, or even minor clothing fixes. Swiss Army Knives, with their compact size and elegance, can easily fit into pockets, purses, or desk drawers, making them a popular option for everyday carry. On the other hand, Leatherman multi-tools, with their sturdy and all-metal design, provide more heavy-duty tools suited for tougher tasks such as fixing motorcycle parts or doing electrical work.

Professional Applications

In professional settings, Swiss Army Knives and Leatherman multi-tools cater to different needs based on the industry. Swiss Army Knives often have specialized models for specific purposes. For example, the Swiss Army electrician tool includes wire strippers and insulated screwdrivers, catering to the electrical trade.

Leatherman multi-tools, on the other hand, are often favored in professional settings due to their robust build and versatile tool combinations. Professionals like mechanics, carpenters, and technicians might find that the pliers, wire cutters, and other sturdy tools offered by Leatherman models allow for more efficient and heavy-duty usage in their trade.

Price and Affordability

In a comparison of the two popular multitool brands – Swiss Army Knife and Leatherman, considering the price and affordability is essential. Let’s discuss these aspects by comparing popular models and determining if they’re worth the investment.

Comparing Popular Models

ModelAverage PriceFeatures
Leatherman Wave$10018 tools, including pliers, wire cutters, 420HC knives, saw, spring-action scissors, bottle/can openers, files, screwdrivers, and more
Leatherman Wingman$6014 tools, including spring-action pliers, wire cutters, combo knife, package opener, bottle/can openers, file, screwdrivers, and more
Leatherman Charge$14019 tools, including needlenose pliers, regular pliers, wire cutters, 154CM knife, saw, scissors, bottle/can openers, and more
Swiss Army Pioneer$458 tools, including a large knife, reamer, can opener, 3mm screwdriver, bottle opener, 7.5mm screwdriver, wire stripper, and key ring
Swiss Army Scout$3012 tools, including a large blade, Phillips screwdriver, can opener, small screwdriver, bottle opener, wire stripper, scissors, and more

As seen in the table above, the price range for Leatherman multitools lies between $60 and $140, whereas Swiss Army Knife models fall within a more affordable range of $30 to $45. There is also a substantial difference in the number of features available in each model.

Worth the Investment

While Swiss Army Knife models are generally more affordable than their Leatherman counterparts, it’s important to consider what you’re getting for your money. Leatherman multitools often feature more tools, configurations, and improved build quality. Moreover, Leatherman products come with a 25-year limited warranty, whereas Swiss Army Knife offers a lifetime warranty on manufacturing defects and material.

Both multitools require minimal maintenance and come with a variety of features such as bottle openers, wire cutters, and the reamer. Depending on your needs and priorities, you can decide if spending a little extra for a Leatherman multitool is worth it or if a more affordable Swiss Army Knife can provide the utility you’re looking for.


In conclusion, when it comes to choosing between Swiss Army knives and Leatherman tools, it ultimately comes down to personal preference and intended use. Both brands offer a wide range of products with unique features and advantages that cater to different needs. While Swiss Army knives are known for their compact design and practicality, Leatherman tools are favored for their innovative folding pliers-centered design and heavy-duty tasks.

Both brands offer durability, versatility, and various tool options, making them a reliable choice for outdoor activities, everyday tasks, and professional applications. Ultimately, comparing the key features of both brands and keeping in mind your specific requirements can help you make an informed decision and find the perfect multi-tool for your needs.

When you visit a merchant by clicking a link on this site we may make a commission on anything you buy (at no additional cost to you).   Affiliate programs and affiliations include, but are not limited to Amazon Associates and the eBay Partner Network.”