Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Leatherman Sidekick: Affordable Jack of all Trades

Leatherman 831429 Sidekick Multi-Tool

The new Leatherman Sidekick isn’t going to earn you any cool points in the shooting range. It has average looks, its not big and mean looking like the Leatherman MUT and I doubt you’ll see many tacticool guys bragging about their Leatherman SideKick. Honestly I got it for reviewing because I felt I had to, not because I just needed to add it to my already large collection.
Its only after handling it some that you see the stoic beauty of the thing.
Crisis Creature
The new Leatherman Sidekick has been conceived with a clear objective, one born out of necessity: To satisfy the need of a Leatherman Charge/Wave yet doing so at a price people affected by the current hard economic times can afford. The Wave and Charge models do the same things the Sidekick does and do them better. The Wave and Charge simply are better, ly larger  more complete tools. Yet even if you own one, you might still be interested in the Sidekick. What the sidekick does is offer surprisingly close performance to the one offered by the more expensive tools mentioned but at half or one third of the price of the Charge and Wave.
Concentrating on what Matters

Just a bit smaller than the Charge/Wave pliers

The shape of the 420HC blade in the Sidekick (below) is excellent. Charge Tti above for comparison.
Gone are the fancy titanium handles and Leatherman laser engraving on the pliers that cost time and money to make. Like in wartime weaponry, the handles are instead stamped steel, for fast and cheaper production yet though and effective.
The main virtues of the Charge and Wave were of course the pliers, but also the nicely made blades included that could be opened single handed and locked with a liner lock. Thanks to the pocket clip, it could even double as an acceptable EDC folding knife. That and a few more tools like Phillips and flat screwdriver provided a nice amount of uses. The functional blade and pliers along with an assortment of tools where the key of success for the Charge and Wave. That’s replicated in the SideKick, though doing it in a budget minded way.
The pliers and knife are excellent. I’d say that the pliers are even better than in the Charge and Wave. The blade isn’t made of any fancy steel like s30V, it’s the more humble 420HC which is not great but still good, and is in fact the same steel used for the blade in the Wave. Slightly smaller than in is bigger brothers, the blade design is still fantastic for its size.

Flat and Phillips scredriver, serrated sheepfoot saw, file/ruler/small screwdriver,bottle and can opener.

The SideKick's fixed Philips screwdriver is similar to the removable one on the Charge

The saw on the Sidekick is similar to the one in the Charge
On the down side there are a few sharp edges on the inside of the handle which could have been removed, but this is an easy fix with some sandpaper or a small file. There’s no exchangeable bit driver, but you get a long enough Phillips screwdriver that can go where the bit in the Wave and Charge wount reach. The file is probably the worst thing this tool has going for it and the 1.5 inch rule isn’t much better. I wish they had done a smaller version of the diamond dust file found in the Charge and Wave, and place the ruler in the handles instead.

All in all, it’s an excellent tool when you consider the price which hovers around $30. Not bad at all.
The Leatherman SideKick would be perfect for you if you want a Charge or Wave yet cant spend that kind of money in a multitool right now. Also as a very nice gift that doesn’t break the piggy bank or as secondary multitools in kits or emergency bags.
It wont be replacing the Charge, but I still recommend this tool, especially more so when you look at the price tag.
Happy New Year every one!
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TOR said...

What about the good old regular leatherman? I've got one of them and it works pretty darn good. Now that there are a dozen bigger fancier versions they go on sale somewhat regularly and the cost has dropped a lot. The new ones may have another tool or two but I have never had a viable multi tool task (they are good but don't replace a toolbox)it couldn't complete.

Just get one and take care of it. My dad has one in the "junk drawer" that is over a decade old and it works just fine. I have one that is close to the same age.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the excellent review. The other day home depot had the wingman for $20. I want to hit myself on the head for not getting it.


Anonymous said...

I've been able to find USED Waves and even the Surge for very reasonable prices at pawn shops, less than $20. Still very serviceable tools, hardly any wear at all. Might try that route.

I saw the Sidekick at an Academy for $30 and sort of regret not buying it. Already own several Waves though, so I don't consider it a major loss.

I appreciate the 1st hand review of the Sidekick's tools, I might still buy one yet. Thanks Ferfal.

Anonymous said...


I forgot to ask you, what is the purpose of the serrated blade on the Side Kick. The Wingman has scissors instead and I kind of they are more useful to cut a loose thread or tag, etc. However, I can think of a real use for the serrated blade. If I want to cut a small branch an inch or two in diameter, I can simply snap it instead of using the little blade. Other than that, what else is it good for?

Thank you.


Anonymous said...

Good point on the pawn shops, swap meets etc.

Anonymous said...

Isn't that the corp whose owner some time back advocated restricting gun ownership in the US?

FerFAL said...

Hi TOR, the good ol Leathermans are fine, I just preffer the much nicer blade sistem in the new ones becuase it opens single handed like a normal folder and locks. The blades are also bigger and with a better shape.