Prehistoric man required the bare essentials: water, food, shelter, fire, and the latest multi-tool. Humans, like moths to a flame, cannot resist their primitive urge for a pocketable device concealing many tools. In such an instance, Steve, a mid-level IT consultant, happily married, with three kids and a Prius, can be found in the garden, looking for things to ‘fix.’ A week later, he’s dug himself a subterranean lair after frantically convincing his wife that the aforementioned multi-tool was ‘adequate for the job.’ I’d been in the market for one such device, and after watching my housemate in a moment of caffeine-fuelled frenzy hand-saw his king-sized bed into two pieces with a Leatherman Rebar, I was sold. That was over 10 years ago, and I’ve not bought another general-purpose multi-tool since—there is no need.
The first prototype was conceived by Tim Leatherman while on a European holiday in 1975. It was during this trip that an unreliable Fiat (short for ‘Fix It Again Tomorrow’) inspired the concept for a multi-tool that could be used for emergency roadside repairs. Well, that Fiat probably still doesn’t work, but in 1983, Leatherman launched their first model, the PST. Over 30 years later, the company remains one of the biggest names in the industry and continues to manufacture its products in Portland, Oregon.
The Rebar is one of their best sellers and pays homage to the ‘iconic box-like’ shape of the original PST design. Leatherman states that the pliers on this particular model have been ‘optimized for strength’, but I’d argue this characteristic transcends to all the integrated tools. The Rebar is exceptionally strong, considering its 4-inch dimensions, and this is reflected in the 25-year warranty. I’ve owned mine for over a decade, and I can’t list the number of white-knuckle profanity moments we’ve shared—occasions where I’m gripping the Rebar with such force that one slip would break the space-time-continuum and send me back to the Dark Ages. Moreover, this model incorporates just the right number of tools (full specifications listed below) and doesn’t get caught in the trap of ‘more is better’. It’s all very well trying to include every accessory under the sun, but this approach will inevitably be at the detriment of strength and ergonomics.
The Rebar is great to hold, reassuringly weighted (6.7 ounces), and doesn’t flex, even under considerable force. Furthermore, whilst this multi-tool features a modest apparatus, I’ve found countless ways to utilise each of the tools outside their designated purpose. That’s the real charm of the Rebar; it may not be the exact tool you want, but it might just be the tool you need (yes, I’m taking inspiration from the Dark Knight). There are more technically advanced options on the market, but very few have the same work-horse charm. This intentionally understated multi-tool prioritises functionality over intricacy and is at home in all environments, be they domestic, work, or exploration.
$70 | leatherman.com
– Needle-nose pliers
– Regular pliers
– Premium replaceable wire cutters
– Premium replaceable hard-wire cutters
– Electrical crimper
– Wire stripper
– 420HC knife
– 420HC serrated knife
– Awl w/thread loop
– Ruler (8 inches, 19 centimeters)
– Can opener
– Bottle opener
– Wood/metal file
– Phillips screwdriver
– Large screwdriver
– Small screwdriver
Closed length: 4 inches (10.16 centimeters)
Open length: 6.25 inches (15.87 centimeters)
Primary blade length: 2.9 inches (7.36 centimeters)
Weight: 6.7ounces (189.94 grams)
Width: 1.18 inches (2.99 centimeters)
Overall thickness: 0.65 inches (1.67 centimeters)
Materials: 420HC stainless steel, 154CM stainless steel, black oxide