The most important thing about owning a tool is having it when you need it most. Think of a compact pistol in a self-defense situation or a first-aid kit after a catastrophic accident. Neither does you any good if it’s sitting at home while you’re on the road. Of course, it’s not always possible to carry a whole toolbox everywhere you go. Hence, keychain tools can go anywhere.

That’s why humans have used multi-tools for centuries — at least since roughly 200 A.D. when the Roman Empire was using a folding utensil set. That’s why our focus here is on multipurpose gadgets that can fit on your keychain ring.

Why rummage through your bug-out bag for the right tool when you can just reach into your pocket? What these little keychain tools lack in size and leverage they make up in portability. Need to wrench a bolt? Tighten a screw? Or pop open a bottle cap? Check, check, and check. In fact, a couple of these keychain tools could even work as a get-off-me tool in a violent scenario with enough training.

While none of them can help you build an emergency shelter, most can add more functionality to your daily loadout without adding that much more weight.

Big Idea Design Titanium Pocket Clip

OAL
2.25 inches

Material
Titanium

Weight
0.5 ounce

MSRP
$40

URL
bigidesign.com

Notes


The Titanium Pocket Clip (or TPC) is first and foremost a suspension clip; hook it to your pocket or your belt loop so your keys don’t lie in a pile at the bottom of your pocket. It also has a bottle opener, 1-inch ruler, key ring holder, and a ¼-inch hex bit driver — all integrated into its small frame. (A $10 upgrade gets you a built-in LED light.)

Pros:
> Lightweight and super strong titanium construction
> Its brilliant suspension design frees up pocket real estate
> Props to Big Idea for its outside-the-box engineering

Cons:
> Essentially, it’s a Gucci key ring holder with a bottle opener; the ruler is too short to be practical and the TPC’s small size makes using the hex bit driver a tad frustrating.

Columbia River Knife & Tool KERT

OAL
2.48 inches

Material
8Cr13MoV stainless steel

Weight
0.8 ounce

MSRP
$10

URL
crkt.com

Notes


The KERT (Keyring Emergency Rescue Tool) is a keychain tool that has an integrated seat belt cutter, which can also slice clothes, webbing, or other fibrous material. The stainless steel frame also houses four other built-in functions: screwdriver, bottle opener, oxygen tank opener, and ¼-inch hex wrench. Comes with key ring and vinyl slip-sheath.

Pros:
> The integral seat belt cutter is a smart SHTF feature.
> Sturdy flat screwdriver
> Comes with a large key ring
> Easy on the wallet

Cons:
> Even with the slip-sheath, its corners are still kinda pokey — an innate drawback to one-piece multi-tools.
> Bottle-opener design limits leverage

Gerber Gear Shard (OFFGRID BEST VALUE)

OAL
2.75 inches

Material
8Cr13 stainless steel

Weight
1 ounce

MSRP
$7

URL
gerbergear.com

Notes


This little keychain tool has seven integrated tools: pry bar, key ring hole, wire stripper, bottle opener, cross driver, small flat driver, and medium flat driver. We also used it as an improvised box opener. A titanium nitride coating keeps wear and corrosion at bay. The Shard is promoted as being airline safe, so you can travel with it in most airports, too.

Pros:
> Plenty of functions for its size
> TSA-friendly travel companion
> Cheapest of the bunch
> Drivers work well despite being so slim

Cons:
> Like most one-piece multi-tools, the Shard can give a minor jab when you sit a certain way or reach into your pocket.
> Wire strippers are basically just for show.

Kershaw Knives PT-2

OAL
3.25 inches

Material
3Cr13 stainless steel

Weight
0.8 ounce

MSRP
$12

URL
kershawknives.com

Notes


Kershaw’s PT-2 is easy to use and provides an abundance of helpful features — all in a slim package that costs less than a movie ticket. It’s longer than most one-piece multi-tools (boosting leverage) while offering eight functions, including a pry bar, two screwdrivers, and a bottle opener. Plus, it comes with a key ring.

Pros:
> Longer frame is easier to hold and use
> Glass-filled nylon handle boosts grippy-ness
> Affordable functionality
> Included key ring

Cons:
> The PT-2 would be a flawless keychain tool if it had a cutting element (i.e. blade, cord cutter, etc.).

Leatherman Squirt PS4 (OFFGRID TOP PICK)

OAL (Closed)
2.25 inches

Material
420HC stainless steel, 6061 aluminum

Weight
2 ounces

MSRP
$40

URL
leatherman.com

Notes


Leatherman is synonymous with the term “multi-tool.” So, no surprise, the Squirt PS4 is hands-down not only the most comfortable model in this buyer’s guide (thanks to its smooth handles), but also the most useful. It comes with nine mini tools, including pliers, a 1.6-inch blade, and spring-action scissors. An easy choice for our Top Pick Award.

Pros:
> Loaded with nine useful tools
> Easy to use
> Comfortable to carry in your pocket
> Classic design scaled down

Cons:
> Though a liner lock for the blade would fatten up the Squirt, it’d increase safety

Nite Ize Doohic Key Key Chain Knife

OAL (closed)
2.25 inches

Material
420J2 stainless steel, aluminum

Weight
0.7 ounce

MSRP
$13

URL
niteize.com

Notes


The DoohicKey is a solid selection if you’re looking for a budget keychain knife. You can’t baton firewood with its 420J2 stainless steel blade, but its 2-inch length gives more cutting edge than most other keychain tools or knives. Plus, the included S-Biner MicroLock (a twist-to-lock carabiner) makes it easy to secure or detach the knife to packs or key rings.

Pros:
> Strong lockback locking mechanism
> Dual-locking carabiner
> Budget friendly

Cons:
> No additional tools other than blade and carabiner
> Though corrosion resistant, 420J2 steel is soft and dulls quickly

Pangea Designs Prylobite

OAL (closed)
3.3 inches

Material
S35VN stainless steel, G10

Weight
0.7 ounce

MSRP
$125

URL
pangeadesigns.com

Notes


When fossil meets future. The Prylobite might appear to be nothing more than a unique-looking friction folding knife, but it’s actually a cool, versatile six-in-one multi-tool. Aside from the 1.7-inch-long blade, this top-quality gadget also has a pry bar, hex driver, screwdriver, bottle opener, and suspension clip (to hang as a keychain tool or from your belt loop).

Pros:
> Premium S35VN steel
> G10 handle improves grip without adding weight
> Visually appealing and practical

Cons:
> Locking mechanism requires threading the included Nite Ize S-Biner carabiner through the blade and handle — secure but inconvenient.

SOG Specialty Knives & Tools MacV Tool

OAL
2.5 inches

Material
420 stainless steel

Weight
0.5 ounce

MSRP
$15

URL
sogknives.com

Notes


This odd skull-shaped medallion is actually a 12-in-one multi-tool that’s designed to resemble the Vietnam-era insignia of the covert Studies and Observations Group which SOG is named after. It’s jammed with the usual tools (i.e. drivers and wrenches) as well as some pleasant surprises, including a cord cutter and a blade sharpener.

Pros:
> A slew of integrated tools
> Unique special operations motif
> Carbide blade sharpener
> TSA-friendly

Cons:
> The short driver heads combined with the 90-degree orientation makes using it as a screwdriver awkward and impractical.

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