No doubt, unless you’ve taken to carrying a tote bag along with a tactical backpack, you’re EDC gear is too big for your britches. It’s impossible to carry everything you’ll need on a daily basis, or predict every scenario that might come up, which is why you must make the most of every inch of space. If you’ve found yourself hunting for a way to pack along a few more items, consider your keychain, where you could easily add a basic multi-tool without sacrificing more than a few precious millimeters.
The advantage to using a keychain tool over a more traditional multi-tool is not only the minimal space it takes up, but the weight is markedly less, which helps keeps your pockets lighter and reduces the strain on your belt. Despite their diminutive size, keychain tools rarely sacrifice much in the way of function for most EDC tasks. Granted, they won’t be sufficient if you spend your days working in the fields, but pair them with a tactical knife and you can often get a surprising amount of work out of a bit of scrap on your keys.
Really, there aren’t many tools to be had here outside of opening bottles and doing some prying, but the blackwash look and notable Kershaw “K” build gives it a sense of masculine style that starts with form and then slides in a bit of function. Purchase: $4
Only the basics for driving, prying, nail removal, wire-stripping, or cracking a cold one, the Shard has become the favorite keychain tool for anyone who encounters real work on a daily basis. It even resists corrosion thanks to titanium nitride coating. If only it wasn’t so sharp and jagged, it would be perfect. Purchase: $8
Made to save lives with its ability to crack open an oxygen tank or cut a seatbelt, the K.E.R.T. (Keying Emergency Rescue Tool) aims to be an everyday item with its hex wrench and standard flathead screwdriver, as well as an option that you hope you’ll never need to get you out of a deadly jam. Purchase: $8
The strange build of this is a turn-off for many, as you’ll be putting your keys into the jaws of the pliers, but due to the folding nature, this can make it both easier to use and easier to remove your keys from than most other options. It also manages to carry along a few screwdrivers without the rough edges that most micro-tools bear, making it unlikely to gouge a hole in your pocket. Purchase: $8
The Tin Mill Chord Multi-Tool
Ruggedly good-looking with curves right where you need it to slide into and out of your pocket without a hitch, you’ll get a set of basic screwdrivers, an understated box opener, and a pry bar, with one of the smoothest hex wrenches around. $13
Titanium Pocket Bit
Few of us need a whole tool kit attached to our keychain, but being without a screwdriver at the most inopportune time can be crippling. Rendered in nigh-undefeatable titanium, you can get a nice ring that gives you the ability to screw your way out of any troubles that arise. Purchase: $14
Keeping this on your keychain is a good idea, but if you’re all out of space there, having it in your glove box is equally good. Rather than being the item for your daily worries and workaday woes, the BodyGard is strictly for dire circumstances. It has an LED flashlight along with automatic glass breaker and seatbelt cutter, the combination of which could be how you survive a burning or sinking wreck. Also included is a protection alarm and flashing red emergency beacon, so that help can find you at speed. Purchase: $17
Griffin Pocket Multi Tool
What’s slick about the Griffin is that it starts out by being a key organizer that frees up pocket space by putting your tools – and its own sharp edges – on the outside of your work pants. Every bend and curve is executed with thoughtful function so that the holes give you wrench leverage, the sides pry handily, and the ring hole also handles hex heads for adding utility on the fly. For added style, get it in brass. Purchase: $25
An everyday sort of Leatherman that’s built largely for grooming and ordinary package-opening tasks, the Micra is an effective office companion that removes the traditional pliers for a set of spring-loaded scissors. A pair of screwdrivers of the small and tiny variety are perfect for handling basic repairs on your laptop or pocket electronics. Purchase: $25
There’s no wrong call when picking a Victorinox, as they’ve never wavered in their dedication to true military-grade engineering. We chose the Manager because it is more thoughtful, crafted for modern living with a ballpoint pen and handily magnetic Phillips screwdriver. Add in a wire stripper for electrical duties and hygiene implements to keep you quaffed, and the Manager is good for work and preparing for play. Purchase: $28
If the Manager is a little light for your tastes, and you want to add in a few more functions such as ruler, quick-deployment emergency blade, and even a cuticle pusher to go with the same pen and sticky screwdriver that make the Manager great, this is a step up that won’t weigh you down. Purchase: $33
Leatherman Squirt PS4
Everything to love about a standard Leatherman put into a compact package, there’s no superior mini-multi-tool on the market. You can pry, poke, twist, pull, and cut with 420HC steel outfitted with a 25-year warranty that it’s doubtful you’ll ever need to remember you have. Best of all, there’s no rough edges to catch as it rides in your pocket. Purchase: $33
Machine Era Multi-Tool
Asking the question “How often do you really encounter hex bolts?” the indestructible, solid titanium multi-tool from Kickstarter darling Machine Era has only what you’re likely to need on a daily basis. A quick prying tool, basic flat and Phillips screwdrivers, and rulers in both metric and imperial, plus the bottle-opener none of us can live without.
Atwood G1 Superbug / Crave Melontool
Each of these are extremely difficult to find and will likely require setting up an alert for the secondary market. Which is a shame, because they are each beautifully designed pieces. Using a crab-claw style makeup they both feel like a serious wrench in your fist and bear a contained hex holder that works with most standard bits, including the one built right in. Digging and prying are as easy as the torquing and twisting thanks to the solid tool construction. Melontool: $25 Superbug: $117