The Best Full-Sized Leatherman Multitools – The Wave, Rebar, Wingman, and Sidekick

Leatherman makes such a wide variety of multitools that it can be difficult to decide which best fits your needs. Leathermans are divided up into several different broad categories based on the ruggedness of the tool: Keychain, Pocket-Sized, Full-Sized, and Heavy Duty.

Full-sized Leatherman multitools have an extremely broad range of uses for most situations you run into on a daily basis. Each full-sized multitool is still centered on the characteristic Leatherman knife and pliers design, but they have different peripheral tools to accommodate users with different lifestyles and needs.

Index

The Leatherman Wave

Leatherman’s most popular full-sized multitool is the Leatherman Wave. Its all-around utility, high quality, and ease of use make it one of the best multitools on the market today. If this is your first multitool or you do not know exactly what you will be doing with it, then the Leatherman Wave is what you want.

Specifications

  • Folded dimensions: 4” x .75” x 1.25” (10cm x 1.9cm x 3.2cm)
  • Main blade length: 2.9” (7.37cm)
  • Weight: 8.5oz (241g)

Tools

1. Straight Blade

  • Non-serrated
  • Double-sided bevel
  • Locks open

2. Serrated Blade

  • Good for cutting food with a skin
  • Single sided bevel for evenly slicing food
  • Textured outer edge for easy distinction by touch
  • Locks open

3. Wood Saw

  • 3 inch (7.5 cm) blade
  • Only for cutting wood no metal
  • Cannot be sharpened at home
  • Locks open

4. File

  • Has both fine and coarse grain flat sides
  • The thin edge is coarse and can be used to cut metal in a pinch
  • Made from hardened tool steel, not stainless, so it can rust.
  • Is NOT detachable, so you cannot sharpen your Leatherman Wave’s knife blades with your Leatherman Wave’s file.
  • Locks open

5. Pliers

  • Come with thick and thin gauge wire cutters
  • These are not spring loaded, so you will have to use two hands to open it. For spring-loaded pliers see the Leatherman Wingman and Leatherman Sidekick
  • Does not lock

6. Large Screw Driver

  • Great for use with most normal size screws in appliances/life
  • Can be used extended for screws in tighter spots or closed for screws that require more force
  • Does NOT have much reach for screws that are inset
  • Is reversible for use with both Philips and flathead screws
  • Locks open

Note: The phillips head is slightly flattened to fit in the handle. Because of this it doesn’t fit screws quite as well as a normal phillips bit or screw driver. It gets the job done, but it does compromise a little to keep everything compact.

7. Small Screw Driver

  • Great for screws in phones, glasses, and small electronics
  • Longer reach for inset screws
  • Reversible for use with both Philips and flathead screws
  • Locks open

8. Scissors

  • Spring loaded for one-handed use
  • Good for string, paper, fishing line, and okay for light cloth
  • Too small for heavy use
  • Locks open

Note: The scissors are one of the weaker tools on the Wave. For better scissors, see the Leatherman Wingman.

9. Pry Bar

  • Prevents you from breaking your flathead screwdriver opening a paint can
  • Has sharp as opposed to rounded edges for digging/scrapping
  • Locks open

10. Can Opener/Bottle Opener/Wire Stripper

  • Pretty standard can/bottle opener
  • At the base of the can opener is a wire stripper that is easy to miss if you do not know it is there.
  • Locks open

11. Ruler

  • Has both centimeters and inches
  • For accurate measurements push both sides of the ruler together (pliers = closed)
  • The zero point is all the way at the end of the handle
  • Total length from tip to tip is 8 inches (20.3 cm)

Ideal Uses

If you don’t have a precise idea of what you need in a multitool, the Leatherman Wave is what you are looking for. While cheaper and more specialized options are available, the Wave is the best all-around tool for most people. It has a great selection of common tools and none of the odd-looking ones that you never use. Since the Wave has a comprehensive toolset, it can help you learn which tools you use the most and which tools you do not need, so that your next multitool will be exactly the right fit.

Shortcomings

  1. Although the Leatherman Wave is described as built for one-handed use, you will need two hands to open every tool except the straight knife and the serrated knife. The scissors can be operated with one hand but not opened.
  2. The Wave is uncomfortable to carry in a pocket without the pocket clip.

Tools the Leatherman Wave Lacks

Although I have been using the Wave for years and recommend both the tool and the company to everyone who asks, it does lack a few tools that many users might want.

1. Cork Screw: without a corkscrew a bottle of wine is pretty tough to open. The Leatherman Juice is a small multitool that includes a corkscrew.

​2. Removable File: a removable file on the Leatherman Wave would let you sharpen the knife blades or remove burs etc. Some other models like the Leatherman Surge do have this feature.

3. Leather Punch/Awl: the leather punch/awl is included on the Leatherman Rebar.

4. Tweezers: the pliers can take out large slivers, but tweezers do a much better job.

5. Spring-Loaded Pliers: the pliers can be awkward to operate with one hand. The Leatherman Wingman and Sidekick both offer spring-loaded pliers.

Smaller Sized/Larger Sized

For a smaller, light-weight cousin of the Leatherman Wave, check out the Leatherman Sidekick.

For a larger, more durable version check out the Leatherman Charge TTI.

The Leatherman Rebar

The Leatherman Rebar is an outdoor, working-man’s tool designed for heavy use of the pliers, wire cutters, and screw driver. It is thinner and less expensive than the Wave or Charge, but it still features full-sized tools that do not feel like a compromise. All of the secondary tools fold out from the inside because the pliers are emphasized as the main tool that will be used the most.

Specifications

  • Closed length: 4” x 1.5” x 1” (10.16 x 3.8 x 2.5 cm)
  • Weight: 6.7 oz (190g)
  • Main blade length: 2.9in (7.36 cm)

Tools

1. Pliers

  • Needlenose and regular
  • Not spring loaded
  • Non-locking

2. Replaceable Wire Cutters

  • Very well aligned so they can almost cut like scissors
  • Can be replaced when dull
  • Need to use specialty bit to replace

3. Straight Blade

  • 2.9 in (7.36 cm)
  • 420 High Carbon steel
  • Double beveled edge
  • Locks open

4. Serrated Blade

  • 2.9 in (7.36 cm)
  • 420 High Carbon steel
  • Single beveled edge
  • Locks open

5. Wood Saw

  • 2.9 in (7.36 cm)
  • Cannot be sharpened at home
  • Locks open

6. File

  • Course grit wood and metal file
  • Does not have diamond-coated fine grit file
  • Locks open

7. Electrical Crimper

  • The electrical crimper is exactly the same design as exists on the Leatherman Wave, but it is not listed as a tool on the Wave. This makes me think that it is just a pinch point that they later realized was useful for crimping.

8. Flathead Screwdriver

  • Large and small
  • Large is sturdy enough to be used as a pry bar

9. Phillips Screwdriver

  • No interchangeable bit
  • Long and thin enough to fit some tight places
  • Locks open

10. Bottle Opener/Wire Stripper

  • Wire stripper is the V at the base of the bottle opener
  • Locks open

11. Leather Punch/Awl

  • Locks open

12. Ruler

  • 8 in (20.32 cm) from tip to tip
  • Make sure pliers are closed to use ruler’s full length

Ideal Uses

On the Leatherman Rebar, pliers and wire cutters come first, but it also sacrifices a larger variety in favor of more full length tools that do not make compromises. The Rebar is designed to be a light, daily-carry multitool for those who don’t want to compromise quality for quantity.

Shortcomings

  1. The Leatherman Rebar unfolds from the inside, making it inconvenient if you mainly use the knives.
  2. Two hands are required to be able to use the Rebar.

Tools the Leatherman Rebar Lacks

  1. Scissors
  2. Diamond-Coated File
  3. Removable File
  4. Spring-Loaded Pliers
  5. Tweezers
  6. Cork Screw
  7. Glasses Screwdriver

Smaller Sized/Larger Sized

Leatherman does not make a smaller, lighter version of the Leatherman Rebar.

For a larger, heavy duty version, check out the Leatherman Super Tool 300.

For worksites that do not allow knives, check out the Leatherman Knifeless Rebar.

The Leatherman Wingman

The Leatherman Wingman is an urban multitool that features the best scissors in its size class, spring-action pliers, and a package opener. It is designed for light-duty work around the house when you do not need a bulkier set of tools.

Specifications

  • Dimensions: 3.8” x 1” x 2” (9.7 x 2.5 x 5 cm)
  • Weight: 7 oz (198 g)
  • Blade length: 2.6 in (6.6 cm)

Ideal Uses

  1. The scissors are extremely good considering the size of the tool.
  2. The spring-action pliers make one-handed use easy.
  3. A specialized package opener makes opening obnoxiously-wrapped plastic packaging easy.

Tools

1. Scissors

  • Open from outside when tool is closed
  • Spring-loaded for one-handed use
  • Large for a multitool but not as good as full sized scissors
  • Locks open

2. Knife

  • Only one knife
  • Combo straight and serrated blade
  • Locks open

3. Pliers

  • Needlenose and regular
  • Non-locking

4. Wire Cutters

  • Pinch type not shear type
  • Good for small wires

5. Phillips and Flathead Screwdrivers

  • Non-locking

6. Package Opener

  • Easily opens difficult plastic packaging without damaging the contents or your fingers
  • Non-locking

7. File/Small Screwdriver

  • Half-length wood and metal file
  • No diamond coated file
  • The end of the file is a small flathead screwdriver
  • Non-locking

8. Can Opener/Wire Stripper

  • Wire stripper is the V at the base of the can opener
  • Non-locking

9. Pocket Clip

Shortcomings

  1. The Leatherman Wingman is supposed to be a small, light, pocket-carry multitool, but the weight is slightly heavier than the Leatherman Rebar with fewer tools.
  2. The half-length file is difficult to use effectively due to its size.
  3. The wire cutters are only useful for small wires since they pinch instead of shear the metal.

Tools the Leatherman Wingman Lacks

  1. Diamond-Coated File
  2. Removable File
  3. Tweezers
  4. Cork Screw
  5. Awl/Leather Punch
  6. Wood Saw
  7. Glasses Screwdriver
  8. Ruler

Smaller Sized/Larger Sized

For a smaller, lighter version of the Leatherman Wingman, check out the Leatherman Rev.

For a larger, heavy duty multitool with more functions, check out the Leatherman Wave.

The Leatherman Sidekick

The Leatherman Sidekick is similar in size and number of functions to the Leatherman Wingman, but it has different specialties and accepts different shortcomings. It is designed to be mainly for cutting and sawing with light-duty pliers and screwdrivers. The Sidekick is a good outdoor, light-duty pocket carry multitool.

Specifications

  • Dimensions: 3.8” x 1” x 1” (9.7 x 2.5 x 2.5 cm)
  • Weight: 7 oz (198 g)
  • Blade length: 2.6 in (6.6 cm)

Ideal Uses

  1. The full-length wood saw makes a solid addition to camping tools.
  2. The spring-action pliers make one-handed use easy.
  3. With a full-length straight blade, a full-length wood saw, and a half-length serrated blade, the Leatherman Sidekick is specialized for cutting.

Tools

1. Wood Saw

  • Opens from the outside
  • Full length
  • Locks open

2. Straight Blade

  • Full length
  • Double beveled edge
  • Locks open

3. Pliers

  • Needlenose and regular
  • Non-locking

4. Wire Cutters

  • Pinch type for cutting small wires not shear type

5. Phillips and Flathead Screwdrivers

  • Non-locking

6. Half-Length Serrated Blade

  • Opens from inside
  • Single-beveled edge
  • Non-locking

7. File/Small Screwdriver

  • Half-length metal and wood file
  • No diamond-coated file
  • The file’s tip is a small flathead screwdriver
  • Non-locking

8. Can Opener/Wire Stripper

  • The wire stripper is at the base of the can opener
  • Non-locking

9. Pocket Clip

Shortcomings

  1. The Leatherman Sidekick has a similar downside to the Wingman in that it has fewer tools than the Leatherman Rebar while still having a similar weight.
  2. The half-length wood and metal file is too small to do much real work.
  3. The Sidekick does not have overlapping, shear wire cutters, so it can only be used on small wires.

Tools the Leatherman Sidekick Lacks

  1. Removable File
  2. Diamond-Coated File
  3. Cork Screw
  4. Tweezers
  5. Awl/Leather Punch
  6. Glasses Screwdriver
  7. Scissors
  8. Package Opener
  9. Ruler

Smaller Sized/Larger Sized

There is no smaller, lighter version of the Leatherman Sidekick. For smaller Leatherman multitools, check out pocket-sized tools like the Leatherman Skeletool CX or the Leatherman Squirt.

For more tools and functionality, check out the Leatherman Wave

Full-Sized Leatherman Multitools in First Aid

When you are the first responder to a scene, you never know what situation you will be in. Although full-sized Leatherman multitools like the Wave, Rebar, Wingman, and Sidekick are not specialized for first responders, their tools cover an incredibly broad range of circumstances. During my time as an EMT, I used my Leatherman Wave all the time to do everything from cutting bandages to taking a door off its hinges during a bariatric extraction.

Leatherman does make two specialized, first-responder multitools for extractions and trauma. The Leatherman Raptor is a heavy duty pair of trauma shears that also comes with several tools for extractions and burn victims. The Leatherman Z Rex is a light-weight, reversible strap cutter.

The Bottom Line

Comprehensive Toolset – Knife Focused

The Leatherman Wave is an excellent all-around multitool with most tools the average person will need. It is heavier than some of the other full-sized multitools and needs a pocket clip or belt holster to be comfortable.

Comprehensive Toolset – Pliers Focused

The Leatherman Rebar focuses on an excellent pair of pliers with full length tools that do not compromise quality for quantity. All of the tools unfold from the inside making it inconvenient if the knife is used most frequently.

Limited Toolset – Urban

The Leatherman Wingman is a light-duty, urban multitool with a great pair of scissors and a specialized package opener. While it is great for light-duty work around the house, heavier work will be difficult.

Limited Toolset – Outdoors

The Leatherman Sidekick is similar to the Wingman in scope, but it has better knives and a full-length saw at the expense of scissors and the package opener. It is good for light-duty work outdoors when camping or hiking.

Review of the leatherman wave rebar wingman and sidekick

Additional Resources

  1. Leatherman Wave User Guide

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About Peter Oldani - Author of Inside First Aid

About the author

Peter Oldani graduated college with a B.S. in biomedical engineering, worked as an EMT to gain hands on experience in emergency medicine and completed active shooter training as part of New York State’s initiative to prepare civilian organizations for disaster response.