Updating The Classic Multi-Tool

Leatherman Rebar and Free P4 keep the heritage but up the functionality

Both options feature the core tools like knives, flat and Phillips-head screwdrivers, pliers, and more.
Both options feature the core tools like knives, flat and Phillips-head screwdrivers, pliers, and more.Jeff Allen

My grandpa used to carry a Leatherman. So did my dad. The tan leather sheath is an iconic symbol of DIY readiness that has been ingrained in me since I was a kid. Leatherman is still offering the same classic tool that my predecessors carried, but they have also updated that timeless shape to make it more versatile and easier to use in various other models.

The Rebar is the classic multi-tool my dad used to carry. It comes with a leather sheath, the word "Leathermen" embossed down the front in gold letters. It is still made in the USA and will run you about $70. It has 17 tools built in, including a can opener, saw, knives, and file. This tool uses friction and squeeze points to stay open and shut, taking a bit of force to use until it's nice and broken in. Using a fingernail, the tools fold out of the handles when it's open, and stay locked in the open position until you push the release and fold them back in. Everything in this multipurpose tool has been tested and tried over years and years—it is built to last. Less moving parts and a more simplistic design mean less that can go wrong. If we were to choose a multi-tool to survive the fallout, this would be it.

Leatherman Rebar and Free P4 with leather sheath.
It’s easy to tell which tool is classic and which is modern, but we prefer the look of the leather sheath for either.Jeff Allen

The new Free P4 tool uses a similar silhouette to the classic tool, but updates just about every part of the way you use it. Unlike the Rebar, all the tools except the main plier and wire cutter are accessible while the tool is folded shut, meaning one less action required to access them. The knives, both serrated and smooth, flip in and out one-handed using a small lock and release on the back of the handle. All of the flip-out tools are easily accessed by pushing on a small tab at the base, rather than having to reach in and pry them out, which again, saves time. The P4 has 21 tools included in its package, and is also designed and manufactured in Portland, Oregon.

Opening up the P4, you notice the difference immediately. Moving away from the pinch points, the Free uses magnets to stay shut and a sprung clip keeps it open during use, making the action much smoother than earlier tools. It’s still very deliberate and won’t open or shut without your trying, but you don’t have to muscle it like you do on the Rebar. This tool comes with a nylon sheath, which lacks the charm of the leather, but leather “heritage” sheaths are available on Leatherman’s website. This tool will cost you $140 and comes with a 25-year guarantee.

While I love the classic Rebar, I have been carrying the Free P4 for about a month now and have been thoroughly impressed. It's a little bigger and heavier than the Rebar, but the improvement in accessibility of the tools is massive. I ordered a horizontal sheath from Red Clouds Collective, so I still get that old-school style.

Carrying this on my hip everyday, I feel like I am honoring the family DIY tradition but with a perfectly updated and modern tool.

Leatherman Rebar: Closed length 4 inches, weight 6.7 ounces, primary blade length 2.9 inches.
Leatherman Rebar: Closed length 4 inches, weight 6.7 ounces, primary blade length 2.9 inches.
Leatherman Free P4: Closed length 4.25 inches, weight 8.6 ounces, primary blade length 2.76 inches.
Jeff Allen

Free P4 tools:
Needle-nose pliers
Regular pliers
Premium replaceable wire cutters
Premium replaceable hard-wire cutters
420HC knife
420HC serrated knife
Spring-action scissors
Saw
Pry tool
Package opener
Awl
Can opener
Wire stripper
Ruler (1.41 in. | 25mm)
Wood/Metal file
Bottle opener
Electrical crimper
Phillips screwdriver
Medium screwdriver
Small screwdriver
Extra-small screwdriver

Rebar Tools:
Needle-nose pliers
Regular pliers
Premium replaceable wire cutters
Premium replaceable hard-wire cutters
Electrical crimper
Wire stripper
420HC knife
420HC serrated knife
Saw
Awl w/ thread loop
Ruler (8 in. | 19cm)
Can opener
Bottle opener
Wood/Metal file
Phillips screwdriver
Large screwdriver
Small screwdriver