Multi-tools have been a staple of the EDC community and can be found in a wide range of styles to suit virtually any need someone might have. Because of the usefulness and variety of tools that can be crammed into one piece of gear many people feel naked without their trusty multi-tool. In many cases this makes a lot of sense. People that who find themselves working with their hands frequently may find it convenient to whip out their multi-tool instead of going to a tool box for dedicated pliers or screwdrivers. Here's the thing these items can be great for a lot of people, but they may not be great for everyone. I am going to lay out some of the pros and cons in my opinion of carrying a multi-tool and then give a brief example of the multi-tools that I like. I also want to specify that I am specifically looking at traditional style multi-tools here not the more minimal solid piece variants that can fit on a key-chain.
First lets look at pros. Multi-tools can offer a great variety of tools like I mentioned earlier. They are an easy way to carry a few tools without dragging around an actual set of tools. I know there are some people who do legitimately carry around a set of pliers or a bit set but for the average person that isn't the best option. Another plus is that a lot of times a good multi-tool can add some redundancy to your carry. Take for example a blade, a lot of people carry a knife, so a multi-tool that contains a blade is added insurance. Overall, a multi-tool is one of those items that it just feels great to have whenever you actually needed it.
On the other hands there are also some general negatives to carrying a multi-tool in your EDC. First and foremost, there are going to be aspects of your tool that you simply do not use. With a multi-tool packed with twenty tools there are just bound to be some features that you don't end up needing. Another big downside is that a good chunk of multi-tools are on the chunky side and take up some serious real estate whether in a sheathe on your belt or in your pocket. Of course there are ways to mitigate these downsides, you can carry a smaller, more compact, simpler multi-tool without all the bells and whistles. Hey if that satisfies you, more power to you. However, when you do go that route you risk compromising on some of the usefulness of the multi-tool. Yes it may take up less space in your pocket but it also might be hard to get a good grip with your pliers when they feel like they are going to fall out of your hand or break.
Like I said, whether you need a big multi-tool with every feature imaginable and are willing to carry the extra weight, or just need something with a couple of options and are fine with the what you might be losing, if a multi-tool is for you then by all means keep carrying it. Everyone has their own needs and your gear should reflect that. For the most part, my needs don't justify carrying a multi-tool as part of my main EDC. While that may be the case I do carry one in my bag where it is available if needed and there are a few things I would want in a multi-tool. The very fist thing I consider is whether or not it has a pocket clip. I hate having something on my belt so if I am going to carry a multi-tool it better be able to comfortably carry in my pocket. This seems to be an inconsistent feature that some brands take better advantage of than others. Of course there are options to install a pocket clip on many multi-tools after you get them, but I want one that comes standard. Another key point is the inclusion of a knife blade. Of course, most have this feature but there are a few options, typically for travelling, that lack a blade. I also want the screw driver/s to be as centered as possible to allow for a good rotation. Another need is the ability to open at least some of the tools like the blade without opening the pliers. The last feature I really like are scissors. This isn't a deal breaker but it is a really nice feature to be able to pull our a set of good sized scissors when needed.
My solution so far has been this YoCoo Multi-Plier.
It has most of the features that I like. It has a good solid pocket clip, a full sized knife, Phillips and Flathead screwdrivers, a set of large scissors, a bottle opener (just like everything else), a file, and of course the standard needle nose pliers. By no means is this a perfect tool, the biggest complaints I have is that the screw drivers are a bit awkward to use due to their placement as well as construction. However, when I bought it I paid less than twenty dollars and it was a great little investment. Unfortunately, this is listed as currently unavailable on Amazon. In addition, I am looking at picking up both a Gerber Suspension NXT and a Leatherman REV. If I pick these up I will more than likely carry them more often at first so that they can have a chance at a descent first impression, and who knows maybe they will change my perspective.