Footsteps in the Forest

Search
Close this search box.

Leatherman Skeletool

A Hands-On Review

We’re not going to beat around the bush: The Leatherman Skeletool is an example of what happens when a top-notch manufacturer puts a lot of thought into a product.

Despite not packing a ton of tools, the Skeletool is an extremely capable tool that immediately caught our attention and gave every other multi-tool we tried a run for their money.

Don’t get us wrong — it’s not perfect. In fact, it presents a few significant liabilities relative to some of the other multi-tools at the top of the pile.

But on balance, we just friggin’ love this thing.

Let’s tell you all about it.

Leatherman Skeletool Review: The Basics

LEATHERMAN Skeletool Review
B. Team

It’s immediately apparent that the Leatherman Skeletool is designed with hikers and campers in mind. To that end, Leatherman went a different direction with their design than most of their competitors.

Most multi-tools for hikers and campers focus on packing the maximum amount of tools in the smallest, lightest package. But while this arms race is going on, ergonomics often suffer.

Many otherwise-impressive hiking multi-tools have a ton of very useful tools and features, yet they’re uncomfortable to wield.

The Skeletool exemplifies the opposite approach.

Everything about the Skeletool makes it a pleasure to handle, and the tools are not only easy to access but also to employ.

And the corollary of this is that the Skeletool doesn’t come with a super-impressive slate of tools. It contains most of the things you’ll need, but it certainly doesn’t contain what we’d describe as a comprehensive tool kit.

One other broad point is worth mentioning: The engineers who designed the Skeletool did everything they could to reduce its weight. And this too is pretty obvious when glancing at it — it’s full of weight-saving holes.

Leatherman Skeletool Multi-Tool: Specs & Features

The Skeletool is a bit light on features, which is consistent with the overarching theme of the tool. But its specifications are quite impressive.

Specifications:

  • Weight: 5.0 oz.   
  • Closed Length: 4.0”
  • Open Length: 6.0”
  • Blade Length:  2.6”
  • Width: 1.24”
  • Overall Thickness: 0.52”  

Important Features:

  • Bits store in the handle
  • Blade locks into place
  • Pocket clip is removable

Five ounces is pretty darn light.

To provide some context, the Skeletool is 50% lighter than Leatherman’s other great hiking multi-tool, the Signal.

It’s even 1.7 ounces lighter than the Gerber Gear Suspension-NXT — a direct competitor to the Skeletool.

For that matter, the Skeletool is only about 2.3 ounces heavier than the keychain-sized Nextool Mini Flagship Pro, despite having a much larger blade, heavier pliers and an interchangeable bit driver set.

If you’re so inclined, you could remove the pocket clip to make the Skeletool even lighter and easier to store.

Leatherman Skeletool: Included Tools

The Skeletool’s design and specifications are quite impressive. But what about that somewhat-less-than-impressive tool assortment we’ve been talking about? How unimpressive is it?

Well, we view the tool assortment a bit differently than the manufacturer does.

We’d characterize the tool list as follows:

  1. Needlenose Pliers
  2. Regular Pliers
  3. Hard-wire Cutters
  4. Wire Cutters
  5. 420HC Combo Knife
  6. Carabiner/Bottle Opener
  1. Large Bit Driver
  2. Small Cross Bit
  3. Medium Cross Bit
  4. Small Flathead Bit
  5. Medium Flathead Bit

LEATHERMAN takes a more conservative approach. They itemize the tools like this:

  1. Needlenose Pliers
  2. Regular Pliers
  3. Regular Cutters
  4. Hard-Wire Cutters
  1. 420HC Combo Knife
  2. Carabiner/Bottle Opener
  3. Large Bit Driver

Basically, the difference is they’re not counting the bits.

Regardless of which list you prefer, there’s just no way around it: The Skeletool does feature a pretty limited tool assortment. Especially when you’re talking about a $75 multi-tool.

Really, this is a pair of pliers/cutters that has a knife blade and driver set. It does have a bottle opener and nifty little carabiner, but there’s no file, no saw blade nor a can opener.

Now, the tools it does have are top-notch. The 420HC blade is one of the best of any multi-tool we tested, the four-function pliers are extremely capable, and the driver set is better than the ones included with most other multi-tools.

For example, the components of the driver system all fit well together and work well. But unlike the heavy, bulky drivers included in some other multi-tools, the components of the Skeletool driver system are designed in a way to save as much space and weight as possible.

You can check out some photos of the driver and bits below.

B. Team
B. Team
B. Team

Our Experiences with the Leatherman Skeletool

After receiving the Skeletool and checking it out, we took some initial measurements to make sure it matched the manufacturer’s specs (which it did). At this point, we started putting it to the test. 

The first thing you’ll notice is just how cool this thing looks. The tool’s overall shape is slightly curved, as are most of the major structural components. The color is also awesome (we purchased the green model, but you can also opt for a blue, stainless steel or topographical finish).

It doesn’t come with a carrying case, but it does feature both a built-in carabiner and a pocket clip, so carrying it won’t be a problem.

Picking it up, we noticed that it fits in the hand better than most multi-tools, which are typically bulky and blocky. The Skeletool is sleek, thin and falls right into your palm. It is a little slick, but we imagine that won’t be a huge problem once this thing gets a little wear and tear. If it stays slick, we may experiment with some type of grip enhancing option.  

It’s also light. We knew that going in, but it was still impressive to actually feel in person.

But unlike some other lightweight multi-tools, the Skeletool feels rock-solid. LEATHERMAN kept the weight low through design choices (including the weight-saving holes we mentioned earlier) and by including a relatively minimal set of tools.

But while it may not have all of the tools some other options on the market include, the tools it does come with are top-notch.

  • The four-purpose pliers serve a litany of purposes. You can pick up small items with the needle nose pliers, you can grip things approaching 1 inch in diameter with the regular pliers, and we found both of the cutters quite capable. The pliers are not spring-loaded, which is a bit of a bummer.
  • The Skeletool has what is likely our favorite knife blade of any we’ve tested. It’s large enough without being overkill, and we love that it features a serrated and normal cutting surface. It also locks into place and arrives sharp – like frighteningly sharp.
  • The driver features a narrow rectangular shape, which helps to save space. It accepts the bits easily enough and holds them securely.
  • The bits themselves are also narrow rectangles, rather than the cylindrical bits of many other systems. You get two double-ended bits in total, for a total of four bit ends – one medium cross, one large cross, one medium flat, and one large flat. You can store one bit in the driver, while you can store the other in the handle. Unfortunately, this actually means one of the bits is always sticking out from one of the tool’s handles. We don’t love this design, as the bit can dig into your hand if you’re not careful.  
  • The bottle opener/carabiner is kind of a nifty addition.  The bottle opener is actually easier to use than the dual-function, bottle-can openers found in some other multi-tools. The carabiner is easy to use, but it is a bit small. You won’t be able to clip this to wide belt loops, but normal-sized ones shouldn’t be a problem.
  • Overall, because the Skeletool offers a great combination of quality, ergonomics and looks while weighing very little, we like it a lot.
  • We think it’s a little minimalistic for hiking or camping in really remote areas, but we love carrying it on casual hikes, less than 5 miles or so from the car. And if you’re comfortable trading weight savings for tools you’ll only rarely need (if ever), you may find it suitable for trips that take you farther from civilization.
B. Team

Leatherman Skeletool: Pros & Cons

No multi-tool is perfect; they all have strengths and weaknesses.

On the plus side, we found that the Skeletool is lightweight yet rugged.

We love, love, love the blade that it comes with.

It locks securely into place to prevent injuries, and it’s also accessible from the outside of the tool (meaning that you don’t have to open it fully to access the blade). Best of all, you can easily open and close it with one hand once broken in.

You can see the blade release below. Just press on it and fold the blade closed.

B. Team

Also, unlike a number of other multi-tools, the Skeletool just feels great in the hand. It’s an absolute pleasure to use.

That said, there were a few weaknesses. However, we only mention one of them (plier weakness) because others reported the problem — we didn’t experience this issue ourselves.

Skeletool Pros

  • Very lightweight for a full-sized tool
  • Rock-solid driver system
  • We found the pliers impressive
  • One of the best blades we’ve tried
  • The included carabiner clip is handy
  • Belt clip eliminates need for sheath
  • Feels great in the hand
  • Blade opens with tool closed
  • One-hand operation is easy
  • The blade locks into place

Skeletool Cons

  • Minimal tool assortment
  • Pliers are not spring-loaded
  • Pliers reportedly broke for others
  • Stiff until broken in
  • We don’t love the way the bit pokes out

And there’s even one more thing we absolutely loved about the Skeletool: It just looks fantastic.

No, that’s not going to matter when you’re trying to fix your lantern in the middle of the night or trying to clean a trout you just caught. But there’s nothing wrong with sticking to tools you like the look of.

If nothing else, it makes it more fun to use the tools, and that’s plenty justification for us (assuming, of course, that the tool itself is capable, which is clearly the case here).

In terms of the biggest drawback, we would have loved if the pliers were spring-loaded. That’s not a dealbreaker for us, but if you just have to have spring-loaded pliers, you may want to check out the Gerber Suspension-NXT or Gerber Truss.

User Reviews: What Do Others Think of the Leatherman Skeletool?

Several other reviewers praised the Skeletool’s streamlined tool assortment:

…when I saw this particular item, I got excited: it is just the essentials. Blade, pliers, screwdrivers, bottle opener. 

Amazon Reviewer Timothy Bessler

They have just the right number of tools and features so that you almost always have the tool you want. 

Anonymous Amazon Reviewer

Most multitools tend have too much superfluous gadgetry, which only adds unnecessary weight. This is stripped down to what I actually use on a day-to-day basis.

Amazon Reviewer merrckd

And then there were others, who seemed most impressed by the Skeletool’s quality:

Leatherman hasn’t disappointment me yet. Knife is nice and sharp!

Amazon Reviewer Stephen Noakes

Nevertheless, there were a few reviewers who did find some faults with the tool. But — to their credit — Leatherman seemed to step to the plate and fix the issues in most cases:

I would have gave it all 5 stars but it came with no Phillips bit all good costumer service was the best at leartherman they just sent me a new one thanks 😀

Amazon Reviewer Fast Eddie

I managed to break both of my Skeletools, the blade snapped on the first, and the pliers broke on the second. However, Leatherman honors their lifetime warranty and I only had to mail them in and had them fixed free of charge.

Anonymous Amazon Reviewer

There is a lifetime guarantee for these. I sheared off the knife doing stupid things and in 10d I got a brand new one from LEATHERMAN.

Amazon Reviewer John Rhoads

For that matter, even the reviewers who didn’t end up liking the Skeletool still praised its quality:

I am sending this back. Way overpriced for what you get. I read all the hype on this particular model and wanted to check it out.
Pliers, a knife blade, screwdriver and a bottle opener for $78.00 What??
Typical Leatherman quality and design. I liked the weight and overall size. Mind you, if that’s all you need its perfect.
Personally I think your money is better spent on the wingman, which I already have. Pretty much the same weight and size as the skeletool.
Again, its a fine tool though overpriced.

Amazon Reviewer ppfd

Bottom Line: Is the Leatherman Skeletool Worth It?

B. Team

If you are looking for a weight-saving, full-sized multi-tool for your next hiking or camping adventure, it’s hard to beat the Skeletool.

Sure, you can find multi-tools weighing about half as much, but we’re not aware of any high-quality, full-sized alternatives that are as light as this one. You’d have to settle for a mini or keychain multi-tool to save much more weight.

And these pint-sized options are simply not as capable — especially when you need the big-boy tools like the blade or pliers.

The Skeletool isn’t exactly cheap, but we don’t view the price as a significant downside — high-quality tools come at a price. And from a value standpoint, the Skeletool certainly holds up its end of the bargain.

The only real choice you need to make comes down to tool assortment vs weight. And if you are of a weight-saving, minimalist mindset, the Skeletool is easily the best multi-tool for your needs.

Best Ultralight Camping Multi-Tool
LEATHERMAN Skeletool

The ultimate lightweight multi-tool for weight-conscious campers, this pocket tool weighs only 5 ounces yet features 7 different functions.

Amazon

***

We obviously liked the Skeletool, despite finding that it comes up short in a few key areas. But what about you? Have you tried the Skeletool? What are your impressions of it? Would you buy it again?

Let us know in the comments below.

Footsteps in the Forest is reader-supported. When you purchase products via links on our site, we may receive a small commission.

Related Articles

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Newest Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *