A multi-tool is a tool which includes several tools in one, so that it can serve a variety of functions. The Leatherman® is often credited as being one of the earliest and most famous multi-tools, setting the bar for companies which wanted to follow suit. Many hardware stores carry these handy tools, and they can also be ordered from specific manufacturers.
Some multi-tools are designed to fit in the pocket, in which case they are small, with a limited number of included tools. Others attach to a tool belt, with a correspondingly larger size, and some are designed to be kept in a toolkit, but not necessarily to be worn or carried on a regular basis, in which case they may be much larger, with a myriad of options. Most multi-tools fold when not in use so that they compact neatly for storage.
Some examples of tools which can be included in a multi-tool are: pliers, scissors, knives, screwdrivers, awls, corkscrews, nippers, and bottle openers. Some are designed with removable bits, so that people can take off one bit and add another as needed. The extra bits can be carried in a case along with the multi-tool, providing access to a range of bit heads including Phillips and regular screwdrivers, hex heads, and so forth.
The materials used to make a multi-tool tend to be very rugged and basic, so that the tool can endure hard use. Stainless steel is a common choice, with upscale models being made from titanium and other highly durable metals. To reduce the size, things like rubberized grips are usually avoided, and some companies make multi-tools with a lacy design to reduce the weight, removing excess metal wherever possible so that the tool can be functional without weighing too much to be useful.
Some companies refer to their multi-tools as “x in one tools,” referencing the number of tools which have been fitted to the multi-tool. “Multi-purpose tool” is a another term used to refer to this useful addition to the toolbox or tool belt.
If a multi-tool is being purchased for someone else, it may pay to do some research to make sure that he or she does not already own one, and to determine potential brand and option preferences. It is also possible to purchase accessories like carry cases for multi-tools which can be added to the gift, in which case it is a very good idea to confirm that the case will fit on the recipient's tool belt or pants.