The Leatherman Charge + TTi is a versatile multi-tool. I bought it for excursions into the bush – the times where we can’t bring half the garage with us. But I quickly found myself wearing it every single day! In fact, I don’t leave home without it and I really mean that. It’s about time we give this top tier Leatherman tool the review it deserves. You may even find more than a few reasons why you may want one yourself, its applications are endless.
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- What is a Multi-Tool?
- The Leatherman Charge Packs a Lot of Function for its Mini Size
- What’s Included in the Leatherman Charge + TTi?
- Real Life Application of the Leatherman Charge
- Review by Function
- Leatherman Charge + TTi Specs
- Leatherman Charge + TTi
- Further Reading: The Total Knife Manual
What is a Multi-Tool?
Simply put, when you have several tools in one, it’s a called a multi-tool. We know them as smaller, pocket sized gadgets like a Swiss Army knife, Leatherman, SOG, Gerber and so on. Let’s stop right here and think for a second. Even if we look at tools in general, take a big screwdriver for example: It’s obviously a screwdriver but it does double as a prybar. So while basic tools are obviously not multi-tools, they can be multi-use. What Leatherman has done brilliantly is jam several tools (like 19 of them) into a single multi-tool. Many of these tools are in turn multi-use. Following that logic, you have a pretty powerful gadget at your service.
Now generally speaking and for the record, I’m not a fan of multi-tools. Wait for it, I mean the as seen on tv stuff that claims to solve your life’s problems. Good tools typically do one job only and very well. You need to buy several tools to have a decent SET of tools and there’s no way around that. Any gear-head reading this will know exactly what I mean – because I am one of you as well. But that very gearhead also needs to understand that we are not always in the comfort of a well outfitted garage. This is where our mindset needs to change.
The Leatherman Charge Packs a Lot of Function for its Mini Size
In our outdoor adventures whether deep in the woods or out on stroll, we may run into things that need fixing. That’s why we have multi-tools we can slip into a pocket. I’ve come to learn that the Leatherman Charge + TTi does indeed do MANY things VERY well. From fixing the ATV, to fixing guns, to unhooking a fish, I’ve done it all with a 4″ pocket size tool! A tool, that won’t weigh you down on a multi kilometre hike.
What’s Included in the Leatherman Charge + TTi?
The Leatherman Charge + TTi comes with 19 tools in one. I’ve added some descriptions but straight from the Leatherman site, here’s their list of what’s included:
- Needlenose Pliers
- Regular Pliers
- Premium Replaceable Wire Cutters
- Premium Replaceable Hard-wire Cutters
- Electrical Crimper
- Wire Stripper
- S30V Knife (S30V is stainless steel)
- 420HC Serrated Knife (420 HC is a higher carbon, stainless steel)
- Spring-action Scissors
- Cutting Hook
- Ruler (8 in | 19 cm)
- Can Opener
- Bottle Opener
- Wood/Metal File
- Diamond-coated File
- Large Bit Driver
- Small Bit Driver
- Medium Screwdriver
Below, we compiled an image showing you where these tools are found:
Real Life Application of the Leatherman Charge
I got my Leatherman at MEC, shortly before they closed for the day. I was eyeballing and mulling it for a while as it’s not exactly cheap. This was in my fiscal years when I was in the city and buying with the intent to use it in the country on the weekends. Naturally the next morning I wore it under my suit. It was the shiny new toy and I wasn’t leaving it at home. Driving the kids to school, they were quite upset that their toy wasn’t working – the batteries died and the cover had a screw. Pulling over for a quick stop, out comes the Leatherman and boom the toy is fixed and dad’s a hero.
In other words, 12 hours later it’s put to good use in a real life situation. It won the battle, albeit a minor one but it started to justify the purchase. These situations started happening day after day. So for good reason I really do wear and use it every single day!
Review by Function
The multi-tool is a fancy piece of steel and I can’t exactly write a book about it. At least not an interesting one that anyone would read. What I can do is tackle this review by addressing what each tool can do and how we can apply it in real life situations. So let’s get started.
Pliers: My Favourite Part of the Leatherman Charge
Hands down, no questions asked, this is the biggest difference between the Leatherman and the Swiss Army Knife. There are INFINITE uses for pliers. Just yesterday I popped hinge pin latches into place on an RC car body in the middle of a park. A job not possible without pliers. In the bush, it can mean removing a hook from a fish’s mouth, pulling a stuck empty shell out of a rifle or tightening a loose nut on the side by side. Boiling water in a metal cup on a fire and no cloth in sight? Use the pliers. I can tell you, I’ve done them all.
The Leathermans in general have needle nose pliers and regular (wider) pliers a little farther back for bigger jobs. This area also includes a replaceable wire cutter. It’s genius and it works. The electrical crimpers are on the underside of the pliers. Are the crimpers as good as professional dedicated crimpers, not really. But they do work more than good enough as none of my crimped connections made by them ever failed. Nor have I had to replace the cutting blades after years of use.
It should be noted, the pliers are of immaculate precision. They fit tight and have no wiggle when manipulating the handles. That’s a sign of a quality tool, even in professional hand tools let alone a multi tool.
The Leatherman Charge + TTi excels in this department. It has a fold out, large flat screwdriver which doubles nicely as a prying tool. Imagine popping tight batteries out of things or prying something open.
Next comes the bit driver. The bit driver holds double ended bits. Ie. Philips on one side, flat on the other. 5 bits = 10 screwdrivers. The Charge + TTi comes with a partial bit kit. That means some bits and flat plastic holder that neatly slips into a dedicated pocket inside the sheath. Brilliant!
Lastly, you’ll find a mini size, bit based screwdriver with one bit. One end philips, the other flat. Simply flip the bit to change it. Also brilliant and I may be wrong about its rarity but I’ve yet to see this on other multi-tools. For someone who wears glasses, it’s a big bonus.
Cutting Tools / Blades
Leatherman ships with sharp knives in general and this one is no exception. It’s also pretty good at staying sharp and I can’t say the same for any of the several Swiss Army knives I own.
I don’t have to tell you that having a knife in general has a million uses. From opening mail, to opening boxes, to cutting birch bark off a tree for tinder or even cutting up that sausage at a hunt camp. If you don’t carry a folding pocket knife, try it and you’ll see what I mean.
At first the Charge’s knife does not seem very big. It even looks fairly insignificant. I recently did a review of an amazing bushcraft knife, the Morakniv Garberg Carbon. The Garberg’s blade is 4.29″ and we are talking about a full tang belt knife. The Charge’s knife comes in at just under 3″. In other words when you put it in perspective, Charge’s knife is actually a very respectable size.
Serrated Knife / Cutting Hook
Yes, the Leatherman Charge + TTi has two blades. The second is a totally separate serrated knife which is excellent at cutting rope.
The serrated knife also has a cutting hook on its end. That means blade number 3! Imagine cutting off zip ties tightly bound to something, even if delicate you’ll have ample precision. When you need speed, think cutting a car’s seat belt in an emergency.
For those that like gut hooks, I don’t see why you couldn’t skin an animal with it. The “cutting” hook looks like a typical gut hook. I wouldn’t use it myself in light of cleanup of the tool. But I will admit it’s comforting that it’s there. In a survival situation, 2 is 1 and 1 is none…
While not very big at all, in fact they are tiny, I will admit they are functional. I wrapped my fero rod with some gorilla tape as a flame extender to go with it. I cut some of that tape just yesterday to a very precise size using the scissors. It’s one of those jobs that can be done with a knife, it’s just so much easier with scissors.
If I have to lodge one small complaint here. As tight and solid as the pliers feel, I can’t say the same for the scissors. Mine has a lot of wiggle in it. It works fine, it just cheapens the feel of an otherwise flawless product. I think Leatherman could have done a better job on that.
The saw is an amazing tool to have. Don’t expect much in terms of size and now is a good time to remember that the Charge is only a 4″ tool:) But it is more than enough to cut down some branches and get a fire going. Especially in the winter when trying to source dry wood for a fire in the snow. Or better yet, maybe you need to do some finer sawing work on a bushcraft project.
What the saw also has is a perfect 90 degree spine. For the non-knife folks out there, the “spine” means the back side of a blade. If you know where I am going with this, it’s excellent for striking a ferro rod to get that very fire started!
Can / Bottle Opener
For bush purposes, this is invaluable. “I don’t drink beer often but when I do” this is what I use to pop off the non twist-tops. For opening a can of beans or soup, that very bottle opener is what grips the edge of the container. The angled blade end of that tool is what cuts the can open as you work your way around. It saves you from using a knife for the task and risk losing sharpness – not to mention is a lot safer than repeatedly trying to stab a can all the way around.
Invaluable. Files have a million uses and this one is wood/metal on one side and diamond coated on the other. I’ve rounded corners on wood with the wood file and I’ve filed back fine burs on metal with the diamond file to re-slip tight fitting parts.
I was going to complain here that the diamond coating is slowly wearing off. Upon further inspection, it’s just black from use and looks dull. After years of use, the diamond coating is in fact still there and still retains its grit.
Oh boy, I really don’t know what to say about this:) I guess there was an opportunity to toss in a freebie and chalk it up as a selling point. The ruler is cut into the body of the handles so it was there for the taking. Unless you measure small things Ie. 8″ or under, there’s no real use for this. Maybe useful for reading distances on maps but we always carry a dedicated protractor / ruler for that. Right? Maybe? Fingers crossed. Anyways, I did want to cover it as it’s officially listed as one of the “tools”.
The sheath is a ballistic nylon in a neutral black colour. The flap with snap enclosure securely holds the Leatherman Charge + TTi in place and it’s all nice and compact.
Tip: I wear my Leatherman on my belt and hardly notice it’s there. It’s also far less likely to get lost and it also leaves your pockets free for other things.
When in the bush, I highly recommend carrying certain things such as your knife and multi-tool on your person. Just in case you get separated from your pack, you’ll still have the most vital and useful tools you’ll need in the woods.
The sheath has a loop on both sides. Leatherman designed it to hold the optional bit extender they sell. Personally, I keep a ferro rod in one of these loops. This ensures the ability to make a fire is always there. To secure it, simply wrap the ferro rod on one end with Gorilla Tape which stops it from falling through the loop. The tape is very handy to have anyways. You can use as tinder, repair gear/clothing and it even has some emergency medical applications. If there’s a hole in the ferro rod, put a small hank of paracord through it and tie a loop. You can then fold that loop of cordage over the top of the tool before closing the snap enclosure and your Ferro Rod definitely isn’t going missing!
The other loop used to house a small flashlight but sadly it broke and I can’t find a small enough replacement. At least not in any retail store I’ve been to. An ongoing effort is taking place to look online and I’ll even link it here if I find one:)
The ferro rod and flashlight are not included with the Leatherman but it sure does extend its function in one small package.
Leatherman Charge + TTi Specs
- Length: 4 in (10 cm) closed, 6.25 in (15.87 cm) open
- Knife Length: 2.9 in (7.37 cm)
- Width: 1.2 in (3.0 cm), Overall Thickness: .76 in (1.9 cm)
- Weight: 8.89 oz (252 grams)
- Material: Stainless Steel with Titanium Scales
I’m not sure if it’s still the case but any time I review pricing, this model is the most expensive of the Leatherman multi tools. It’s also their flagship model and I’m not surprised, it just does all the right things in a small package.
Leatherman Charge + TTi
Like many, I was always a Swiss Army kind of guy and proudly carried one. The 80’s tv show MacGyver certainly blew smoke up my childhood ego, even though deep down inside I knew you can’t do ALL those things he did with just a small knife:) Tim Leatherman knew that all to well and it’s a very interesting story how and why he started his multi-tool business.
After having a number of green beret or army ranger guys come out and swear by the Leatherman, it really opened my eyes. Owning one, confirmed it. The Leatherman Charge + TTi is the Cadillac of Leathermans and I would go as far as saying the Cadillac of multi-tools. After years of real life use and abuse, mine is as good as new and I’ll never look back.
Further Reading: The Total Knife Manual
Here’s an awesome book by Field & Stream I want to pass along. The entire series is amazing and every page has photos. This book covers knife design, types, multi-tools, custom knives and knife care. Then it covers knives in the context of: hunting, fishing. wild kitchen, camping and survival. If that’s not enough, it then covers axes, hatchets and saws!
I’ve not only read this book, I refer back to it over and over again. If you like knives or enjoyed this post, The Total Knife Manual is definitely for you. Grab one while you can!
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