Saturday, November 14, 2009

Minitool review: Minichamp vs. Squirt P4

The Battle of the Mini-titans

The reasons for writing about gear and their reviews are many.
Of course I do enjoy writing about it, that’s good enough.
Money being a limited resource for most of us, I myself will read lots of reviews before spending a single buck, and I advice everyone to do the same.

I also enjoy using them and having them handy. As my son opened the gifts grandpa brought today, the Minichamp earned its space in my pocket once again, cutting the tape and small plastic straps, later the wonderful Minichamp Philips tool was used to open the battery compartment.

But there’s more to it. First, while coping and dealing with problems is a matter of mindset, a tool makes solving those problems a much easier task. No matter how much mindset you have, you can’t cut rope or unscrew the plastic cover of an air conditioner unit with mindset.
You need tools, and the more you learn to deal with stuff, improvise, fix things, the more important your tools become.

This doesn’r sound very survival related but there are other cases were fixing something may make a world of a difference. I’ve used my knife and a bit of tape to fix a leaking car hose, without such a fix I would have been stuck on the road. I’ve used my Gerber multitool to replace a windshield sweeper during a stormy night. Without such tool ( and LED) I wouldn’t have been able to fix it.

Victorinox Midnight Minichamp

For several months now, the Minichamp has earned a place in my little tinkering heart. I have used it to install a network card on my PC motherboard, tighten the screws on my car door’s lock, cut dozens of strings, cut out newspaper articles and write down phone numbers when no pen was handy at the time. For me, there’s no equal when considering size/quality/utility/price. I do love the Victorinox Minichamp. Read previous posts about it.

Leatherman Squirt P4

But then came the Leatherman Squirt P4, Leatherman’s keychain multitool.
I liked what I saw, but went cautiously, buying a used one on ebay for 10 bucks plus shipping. Worn exterior, but little real use. Perfect.
I got it, liked it, started using it, and the more I use it the more I like it.
Never thought the Minichamp could have such competition. Both are about the same size, have somewhat similar tools and are very well made. Which one to pick?

Blade: The most often used tool and the harder to improvise. Here, Leatherman wins with a blade that, even though its as long as the Minichamp, its wider and thicker, about 40% bigger than the one in the Minichamp. The Minichamp one is clearly more fragile, but at least you have two blades in case you brake the main one.

Screwdrivers: The P4 has a flat Phillips screwdriver that works kind of ok. The Minichamp Phillips is a little work of art, somehow fits most screws and works perfectly. The P4 has nicer flat screwdrivers(small and large) , but the Minichamp has the cutitcle pusher that works like a large flat and a small one with a ruler.

Awl: The P4 has one, but I improvised making holes with the Minichamp’s scrapping tool.

Both have one but the P4 one is much nicer.

P4 pros:

Spring action pliers and wire cutter, a nice blade, nice small screwdriver.
Minichamp pros:
Scissors, ruler, red LED light and pen.

Squirt P4 Tools:
· 420HC Clip Point Knife
· Spring-action Needlenose pliers
· Regular Pliers
· Wire Cutters
· Extra-small Screwdriver
· Medium Screwdriver
· Flat Phillips Screwdriver
· Wood/Metal File
· Bottle Opener
· Awl

Midnight Minichamp Features:
· Blade
· Scissors
· Nail file
· Nail cleaner
· Cuticle Pusher
· Screwdriver
· Ruler
· Emergency blade / letter opener
· Orange peeler
· Scraper
· Bottle opener
· Magnetic Phillips screwdriver
· Wire stripper
· Key ring
· LED mini light
· Retractable ballpoint pen

So, both have a few similarities, but if I had to choose just one, the Minichamp has more uses and it proves that on daily basis. Yet the pliers … I settled with the Minichamp on my house keys and the P4 for my car keys along with a small LED.



Anonymous said...

Hi Ferfal, I hope you are doing well. I have been reading that Argentina ( along with much of the rest of the world ) is suffering from severe droughts.

Would you say this is being understated or overstated in terms of severity? I have not heard much about the droughts in the mainstream media.

Have you seen food prices rise drastically in the last 9 months? What kind of food do you usually eat? Where do you buy it from?

Thank you in advance for your responses I really appreciate the wealth of information you have provided on this site, and immensely enjoy reading your posts. Take care of yourself, god will be with you always!

Angela said...

Thanks for the fine review. I carry the P4 everyday and love it-it takes care of all my mom duties and fits discreetly in my pocket. :) I've thought about a knife like the minichamp before, but just can't part with the pliers and wirecutters on the P4. Nice to see a comparison like this!

Anonymous said...

This USDA map cannot be accurate, my county (and most of my state) is listed as in drought conditions, yet if anything, we have had way too much rain.

Anonymous said...

I wish we would have had these tools when I was younger, I had thousands of instances where one would have been very useful, like you said, from road side repairs, to my experiences hunting, fishing and camping outings, I for one could have really used one of these tools back in the day.
They do work so well to lighten a backpack tool case load.
If only they had a slot for a bit of black tape and bailing wire.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post. It is also a chance to comment that the RH column seems to be broken. I see the Fenix (and comments), and the comments (only) on Gorilla Tape, but everything else is an empty heading. ??

FerFAL said...

Hi Anon, the droughts in Argentina are real. Specially in Cordoba, they are rationing water a lot, the San Roque lake has gone down several meters.


Bones said...

I carry a victorinox explorer plus because it's the only one with a magnifying glass, which my aging eyes desperately need. I had another model with an LED and pen but the hard-to-find, odd-sized battery died and the pen ran out of ink. The blade comes in handy most often, followed by the screwdrivers, scissors, corkscrew and bottle opener. I've used the awl to punch holes in leather and it has an eyeglasses sized screwdriver that is invaluable on the rare occasions it's needed (old eyes again). The only tools I've never used are the hook (wtf?) and the can opener (ok, I think I used that once).

I have a cheap Gerber mini multitool similar to the squirt, but it just isn't needed often enough to be an EDC item so it stays in my carry bag.

The victorninox Phillips head screwdriver is indeed a work of art; it's worked when dedicated screwdrives slip. Dunno what they did to make it work so well but I'd buy a full set of screwdrivers from them if they made them.

Explorer plus:

Anonymous said...

The LED headlamp worn on the head that you recommend, is one of my favorite tools. It is light weight, fits nicely and is 1 watt, and is surprisingly bright. When shopping for LED flashlights, I look for the LED bulb that has a yellow color to the bulb. These tend to be the brightest.

The headlamp is very handy and allows one to get around easily in the dark. I finished a set of stairs last night, so my working day is extended to all hours. Time to get things done and save money, or make money, is precious now, and worth more when things get much tighter.


Anonymous said...

I have the Swiss army knife. Leatherman type tools are good, but the Swiss army knife with only a few choices and including a flat blade and Phillips screw driver tips (cross blade). It fits easily in the pocket and get the most done for it's size.

Another 'must have' for myself, is the P38 Army issued can opener. This tiny bit of flat metal is small enough to fit in the wallet or on a key chain, yet comfortably opens most cans. When out in the woods or away from home, lunch is made easier as one always has it with them. One can run into a store grab a can a beans or whatever, and save several dollars over the price of 'fast food'. It's cost about 50 cents.

It's takes practice to learn how to live fugally. I've already started and find there's more to learn. If one has to make do, or wear it out, these and other tools become more important. I believe FerFal has some expertise here. :O)

BulgarWheat said...

I have more leatherman tools than I can even count. My kids all do as well.

One thing I've invested in heavily are tools over the last year. Power tools, hand tools, common every day items in the advent that I'm going to need to be a lot more self-sufficient in the future.

There's almost always a leatherman tool on my belt. When you use something daily you keep it handy.

Anonymous said...

Where the keyring sized SAKs excel is losing the outside knife scales, and lose quite a bit of bulk. I have a slightly smaller MC (no pen, no light) that when scales were removed, is now slightly wider than 1/8" thick - thats compact!

I also carry a SOG Crosscut in my trucker's wallet, along with spark rod and P38 can opener - yeah, I've got some bases covered, lol.

Good review FerFal.

Anonymous said...

Bones, that hook (I think) serves as a handle for carrying netted packages, the hook is centered in handle, which is why I think this.

Too, very handy for pulling wire or lines tighter when working cordage.

Losing the scales does lose the tweezers and toothpick, both of which are on that SOG mentioned above.

'kay, I'll shut up now.


Michigander said...

My wife bought me a Letherman Super Tool for my birthday a few years back, and I honestly use the thing almost every day for something. Either at work or home, the Super Tool comes in handy for so many things. I've never had to use it to "save my life" yet, but I'm sure I could trust it to help me do so if needed. I'm on the second set of velcro on the belt sheath, but other than that it's still going strong!