Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Multitools: Why are they needed.

Its’ pretty simple and self explanatory. Everyone that ever carried a multitool, swiss army knife or even a pocket knife knows how valuable a tool can be when needed.
It’s common to hear people say that they use whatever tool they carry at least once a day and they couldn’t imagine not having it with them.

That’s true. Once you get used to having a tool with you at all times, one that fits your general needs, it becomes very valuable to you.

Now of course, all this is directly linked to your general tinkering skills and know how.
As I mentioned in the Poxitas post, I used the epoxy cloth patch and a knife to fix my car’s cooling system hose once, but that was possible because I knew how to detect the problem, where to look, how it works on general terms, how to purge the system, how to avoid getting scald with the hot liquid and steam.
Same for fixing a leaking AC, unless you figure our why its leaking, how it works and where to look, the tool alone wont fix anything.
You need to put a bit of extra effort if you expect to use whatever tool you carry for more than cutting a piece of string or opening a box.

Yet the tool is the hardware to the software in your head. Without it you can somewhat improvise on occasions, and of course the knowledge is more important because there’s no way around that, but without the tool at the right time you can’t solve the problem at hand.

So, what’s all this got to do with Preparedness and Survivalism?

It’s likely that you’re already pretty good at tinkering, fixing stuff and solving problems and that you have some sort of multitool (or several) you carry on daily basis.
SHTF or not, its always useful to carry a minimum amount of stuff for everyday chores and small inconveniences.
Now, why is this extra important when SHTF or when things simply start getting worse?
Because the structure you used to rely on before is either starting to fail little by little or is disrupted completely, depending on the nature of the event.
Here, we’re already used to many things a lot of people take for granted in other places simply not working.

If there’s a blow out in a power substation or street transformer, we already expect to have to wait for days.
If the subway brakes down, expect to get out and walk out of there as well as you can on your own, there’s almost no chance of a subway employee showing up with a flashlight and helping people out.
If you somehow get trapped or caught at the doors of the Roca train, don’t expect anyone to show up to help, and if he does, I assure you he’ll have no tool to help you. Not even a knife to cut you free if your clothes got tangled on the door or somewhere else.
Remember when someone broke into my neighbors home and I had to hand over my flashlight to the cops? They didn’t have one of their own.
When my mother’s car was stolen may years ago, and she hurried to the police station near by, they told her they didn’t have any gas for their patrol cars.
And that’s how everything is here in Argentina: ½ way through, “A medias” as we use to say around here.
This is typical of 3rd world countries and of course typical of emergencies and other problems where you have to cope with the problems yourself.

For all these reasons, what during good times is just a way to solve small daily problems or more serious unexpected emergencies, it becomes of much greater importance when you already know the infrastructure and the general system is not to be trusted or depended on.
A multitool can always be a lifesaver, can always be made useful no matter what, its just that when the structures and safety nets start failing you know you’ll be more likely to need it, and you learn to depend on it yourself more to solve problems instead of counting on others.

The Tools

I always like tools even before I knew how to use them.
My first SAK I found in Pierce School’s yard in Boston, when I was in kindergarten. Oh, I kid you not. Its the truth. All I remember was those beautiful red scales and the little bright shield. The teacher took it away from me immediately and threw it to the trash, so my first SAK was lost to me the same day I found it! If only I had kept it in my pocket…

Many years later already living in Argentina I found a well worn Swiss Army knife in a pier in Mar del Plata, most likely left behind by a fisherman.
That SAK was well worn already when my brother and I found it, and its seen a lot of use all these years. I doubt a lot of people have a SAK with a blade as worn as mine, the tip is almost rounded like a butter knife by now.

About 12 years ago I bought my first multi tool. I didn’t have much money and as always, most of these things are much more expensive here than in USA and other countries.

But as it usually occurs, when you buy quality you don’t exactly pay bargain prices. As with many other things, paying for quality means you pay once and cry once. That was the case with the Gerber Multi-plier.

It’s a “first production run” as stated on the handle, and proudly made in USA. It served me well for many years and still lives in my bag. I bet a cheaper tool wouldn’t have taken ½ the abuse I put that tool through.
Yet today there are several more alternatives and there’s been some progress made during these years.
The improved multitool designs offer more tools than ever, in a more practical package.

12 year old Gerber Multiplier, my first multitool.

The Gerber next to the Leatherman Charge TTi, the pocket clip makes it much easier to carry on daily basis.

After doing a bit of research as usual, for me it came down to Leatherman being king of the hill with their Wave and Charge Tti models. I bought both and have been using them and testing, so far the one I like the most is the Charge Tti. Both models are pretty much the same but the Charge has more comfortable handles and a better steel blade, as well as a hook for cutting seatbelts.
A review of both will be posted soon but I think its important to explain why tools in general are worth having for the preparedness minded person, and within that realm, the tool you actually carry with you is the most important.
Take care folks.



Anonymous said...

this year, 2009, i sent back my
old Gerber multitool, since it was
not functioning properly. Gerber not only sent me a NEW one at no charge, but sent back my old one, too...and free shipping! life-time warranty.
guess which multitools
i'll carry everywhere.


Anonymous said...

"And that’s how everything is here in Argentina: ½ way through, “A medias” as we use to say around here."

Half-assed is how we say it in the States. That Gerber was my first multi-tool, too...reliable.

Idahoser said...

While I don't dispute that Leatherman is the original and many folks will consider it the only choice, I should point out that they're on the list of "Blue" businesses- like Levi Strauss and Sara Lee, the communists support them because they support the communists.

Anonymous said...

Anony 3:45,
I just sent back a 10 plus year old original multi-tool to Gerber (bought it when it first came out) and they ended up sending me a brand new Model 600 in it's place - all I paid for was shipping to them. Lucky you received your old one back, I didn't. They kept the old one because it wasn't "safe" to use anymore. If you have a old worn out Gerber multi-tool, it's in your best interest to get it updated, especially if it's an original model without the basic locking blade safeties.

Every BOB or Get Home Bag has a multi tool from either Gerber or Leatherman in it - no bag will be without one.