The Gear Journal

Compact EDC Multitool

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One of my seven readers sent me another question last night. Behold:

“Ryan, I want to EDC a multitool, but I don’t want the weight of a Leatherman and would prefer something with a bit driver and without pliers. Any suggestions?”

My first suggestion would actually be a Leatherman Skeletool CX. I like these because the blade can be deployed one-handed. In fact, the Skeletool carries like a regular flipper that just happens to have a bit driver and a set of pliers attached to it. And it only weighs 142 grams.

That being said, if you really hate pliers and don’t mind having a blade that can’t be deployed single handedly, your best option is a classic – the Victorinox Cyber Tool S. The smallest Cyber Tool features:

  1. A decent set of blades (one small and one large).
  2. A bottle opener.
  3. A can opener.
  4. An awl.
  5. A corkscrew.
  6. A bit driver with bit storage.

And the bit driver on these is really better than anything from Leatherman. Using Leatherman bit drivers, you are often fighting the shape of the tool itself. Screwing or unscrewing with the Skeletool specifically is just flat out awkward because there’s not a good place to stow the other side of the tool when doing so. The Cyber Tool S is small enough that it makes a decent handle when performing the same task.

Also, the Cyber Tool is light – especially for a multitool. At only 95 grams or so, you don’t even notice the thing in your pocket… Which is good, because unless you go custom, there is no pocket clip with the Swiss Army offering.

So, conclusion… If you use the blade a lot, I would suggest you deal with the pliers in your pocket and get a Skeletool. However, if you are more in it for the bit driver, the Cyber Tool is a no brainer.

Get the Skeletool here.

Get the Cyber Tool here.

The Kraken Blade

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This damned thing looks unwieldily as all hell, but… you know… I have a thing for disposable blade EDC tools.

You can back the Kickstarter here.

Panthera X For Matthew

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A few years ago, I was exploring Instagram and found this guy that was into both photography and woodworking. Sharing the same passions, I smashed that follow button and didn’t think much more of it.  But as Matthew’s posts began to infiltrate my scrolling sessions, I noticed a couple of things:

  1. Matthew had recently suffered a spinal cord stroke and was a T-10 paraplegic as a result.
  2. Matthew’s work (both in the darkroom and the shop) hadn’t suffered a bit from it.

After a year or so of following along anonymously, I approached Matthew just to let him know how inspirational he was. I just couldn’t get over the fact that a young guy could suffer from such a devastating injury, pick his damn self up, and get on with it without much regard for limitations, excuses, or any of the other unavoidable obstacles in his path.

I mean… Matthew’s Instagram account so consistently pumps out images of incredible photography and beautifully detailed woodworking, that it’s really easy to forget he’s doing all of this shit confined to a wheelchair. Every now and then, he’ll post a image of a downed drill press (those things are hard to move by yourself when your not in a chair) or a an update after his latest surgery, to remind you… and you relive that little shock all over again:

“Oh shit. I forgot he’s in a chair. How the hell did he even do that?”

Anyway, I got obsessed with watching Matthew progress both in work and life. Over time, we’ve gotten to be internet buddies and last week, he mentioned something that agitated the hell out of me – He’s been living out of an ill-fitting and incredibly heavy chair since his stroke. And while he had lined up a lighter weight option with a custom fit, his insurance wasn’t willing to pony up.

I’ve called bullshit. A few of his other pals have as well…

And to correct this nonsense, we’ve set up a Gofundme page with the goal of raising enough money to get Matt the chair he needs. It launched this morning and we’ve already raised $7,235 of the $10,000 needed. All we need now is a small push to get over the top and I was hoping you guys would help me make that happen.

You can see the Gofundme page and contribute here.

Camillus US Solider’s Knife

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When it comes to pocketable multi-tools, most people think SAK or Leatherman. Both, obviously, are decent enough options… BUT, when it comes to an absolute “Buy It For Life” scenario, it’s very hard to beat the durability of the old Camillus Soldier Knife.

You can read the history of the thing here.

The blade steel isn’t special, the make isn’t particularly elegant, and you can forget one handed access to any of the tools. However, many millions of these were made through the years… and I’d bet a VERY large percentage of those are still as capable as they were when they came off the line.

I don’t know that anyone actually sells these any more, but you can find them all day long on eBay.

China Vs. China

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I’m a big fan of James Brand and their design work. Due to their prices, I always just sort of assumed their products were made in the USA. However, a user on told me otherwise.

So… I investigated and yes, it appears as though most James Brand products are made in China. In my mind, there’s nothing wrong with that if your prices are inline with other products sourced from the same country.

With James Brand, however, that is not the case. Pictured above is the James Brand Elko knife (one of their most popular offerings) and the Whitby Sprint EDC knife.

It appears as though Whitby simply knocked off the James Brand design and had it reproduced in China – possibly even at the same factory. The price for the James Brand example is $85 while the price of the knock off is a little over $20. Both appear to use similar blade materials and some YouTubers claim that the Whitby actually has better fit and finish than the James Brand.

I don’t know how to feel about this. I love the design work that James Brand does and hate to see any kind of IP get so viscously and obviously stolen, but… at the same time, it’s really hard to justify the James Brand price strategy.


Benchmade Auto Fact

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This new auto from Benchmade feels like a modern stiletto… and I love it!


Personal Pocket Dump

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So I got a surprise yesterday – someone actually emailed and asked for a pocket dump. Hell, I didn’t know anyone actually read this crap! But, who am I to disappoint?

  1. iPhone 12 Mini. I’ve been carrying this for a month and I think I can already say it’s my favorite iPhone of all time. It’s small in the pocket and the camera is dope.
  2. Apple leather case with an Apple wallet attached using MagSafe. I got this setup when I got the phone and I’m undecided on the functionality of it all. The MagSafe actually works really well. The wallet is easy to attach and removes with appropriate effort, but the work flow of paying for something is awkward. You have to remove the wallet to access the cards, but when you do that you now have both hands occupied – one with the phone and one with the wallet. I do, however, love the space this setup occupies in my pocket.
  3. MakerKnife. This is the latest of their releases. It’s not made as well and the tolerances aren’t as tight as the originals, but the form and functionality of it is just too hard for me to resist. I’ve been carrying these for a couple of years now.
  4. Orbit Key Organizer. My key organizer of choice.
  5. Titanium Split Rings. Cuz every bit of weight saved, matters.
  6. Handgrey H4 Carabiner. I’d never pay $85 for a carabiner, but it was gifted to me and I absolutely love it. If I lost it, I just might buy one simply because it’s so convenient in use.

Black Diamond Litewire Carabiner

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You need a carabiner for your keys or bag. That just is what it is… But do you want one specific to that function or do you want one that will also hold some real weight in a pinch? If the latter, this is the carabiner you need. It’s cheap, light, and has an axis strength of something like 5,000 pounds.