"Seriously, how many multitools does someone need before it becomes something of an obsession?"
That was the question Muddy Madam posed when my new Leatherman Signal arrived at Muddy Towers. To be honest, I don’t know the answer to her question, but on my last count I have twelve, including the Signal.
With this many tools scattered around Muddy Towers and in Deux Smurf, what possessed me ask Leatherman to send me their latest Multitool to review?
Well, for starters one can never have enough tools, secondly amongst the usual array of gubbins, the Signal has a couple of useful additions that can make life outdoors a little easier. Not only does the Signal boast a pocketful of traditional and functional tools, but it also has 'preparedness' features like a shaped diamond coated sharpener for maintaining your straight and serrated blades, an emergency whistle and to top it off, a fire-starting ferro rod.
I know what you’re all thinking - gimmicks! Well, that’s exactly what I wanted to find out, so I spent a couple of evenings outside with only the Signal for company to see how we both coped.
So there I was, out in the bush (a friend's farm), all alone risking life and limb (his house is around 300-yards away). I had my Biostove, brew making sundries and my Signal, and I was thirsty.
Our first challenge was to find some fire wood…
The saw is very aggressive and solid. I found a dried up branch on the floor and proceeded to saw it into 6” lengths. Like the rest of the tools it locks into place so you can really put some pressure on it.
Next was to create some tinder…
Using the part serrated knife to feather thin strips from the branch was easily enough, but I found that when I wanted to bear down on a branch the serrated edge got in the way. To be fair it isn’t major criticism, just something to be aware of. After a few months of use I haven’t needed to sharpen either as both the serrated and straight edges have kept their sharpness well.
Now that I had most of the ingredients required to make a fire, it was time to see how the the ferro rod coped. Removing it from the body is easy, but it can also be fiddly. It’s a good job they’ve put it into a yellow plastic frame as I’ve lost count how many times I’ve dropped it. Thankfully the ferrocerium fire starter, safety whistle and the diamond knife sharpener are all are replacement items.
Because of its size it doesn’t throw a huge spark, but one is all it took to ignite a ball of cottonwool, and with kindling piled on top the fire took within moments.
The safety whistle works a treat too, but don’t try it in the house, especially if you have pets, or an angry Muddy Madam, they don’t appreciate it.
The pliers and replaceable wire cutters are of course excellent and mean that you can really use the tool hard. Regularly cutting barbed wire or other tough, large materials means that you don’t have to worry about killing your tool.
There’s a hammer too, but don’t get overly excited as it’s not meant for anything arduous or heavy duty like pounding in 6” nails, though it’s pretty good at hammering in tent pegs I’m told.
The body itself is lightweight but strong with the lockable knife and saw mounted on the outside so you can access them quickly without opening the body.
Inside the handle, opposite the hammer/clip are the driver, can opener and awl. These lock open for safe use also and their locks doubles as retention for the knife sharpener located in the handle behind them.
There are 3 ways in which you can carry your Signal, there’s a pocket clip on the side, a carabiner style clip that’s attached to the hammer and of course a sturdy nylon pouch that you can attach to your belt.
Overall then, is the Signal just a gimmicky toy? Certainly not. Like every other Leatherman tool I have, it’s tough, reliable and well thought out, though if you spend a lot of time out in the great outdoors then a fixed blade and separate ferro rod will serve you better, but as a back-up tool it’s worth it.
Of course, at 5p under £160, the Signal isn't cheap, but I'll repeat the same quote that I've used numerous times over the years - 'the bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten'. Plus, Leatherman offer a 25-year warranty on their tools, which should ease some of the financial pain!
The Signal has found a permanent place in my camping gear box because I am the numpty that goes out for the afternoon and leaves his matches and lighter on the kitchen table!
- Closed Length: 4.5" (11.43 cm)
- Weight: 7.5oz (212.6 g)
- Blade Length: 2.73" (6.93 cm)