Review: The Leatherman Bond Revives a Multi-Tool Classic
Because sometimes you wind up back where you began. And there's nothing wrong with that.
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The story of Leatherman goes something like this. Back in 1983, a young engineer named Tim Leatherman received his first order for 500 tools from Cabela’s after eight years of research, design and public disregard. Named the Leatherman PST (short for Pocket Survival Tool), his product was the first multi-tool centered around a pair of needle-nose pliers. It featured 14 essentials found in most every modern full-size multi-tool; pliers, wire cutters, screwdrivers and a knife were packed among other instruments. And the rest is pretty much history.
These days, Leatherman manufactures $100 million worth of multi-tools annually from its Portland, Oregon, factory. The brand’s latest innovations focus on high-tech tools, one-handed use and specific activities like hiking, fishing or construction. But Leatherman’s most recent multi-tool, the Bond, revives the same design and set of tools found in Tim’s original Pocket Survival Tool.
Design and Materials
In many ways, the $50 Bond appears to be a replica of the PST. The toolset is very similar, but it adds a wire stripper and abandons a large screwdriver. Whereas the PST was rectangular, the Bond is rounded at the corners and tapered to promote an ergonomic grip. I even broke out my personal PST for comparison only to find the Bond more comfortable through everyday tasks, from tightening loose screws to cutting fresh veggies. The nail nick is also longer on the knife and metal file, making it easy to equip each tool at a moment’s notice.
I imagine hardcore Leatherman fans will protest the Bond’s absent magnetic locking mechanism that keeps tools in place, but that’s probably intentional. It reduces the price and ensures the Bond is legal in more countries across Europe that don’t allow locking multi-tools. The 420HC stainless steel isn’t winning any awards for edge retention, toughness or corrosion resistance, but that’s not really a deterrent when Leatherman tools are so strong.
What We Like
- Durability. Like so many of its siblings, the Bond is tough. Tim Leatherman has a habit of cutting through a concrete nail to showcase the strength of his tools, and this one would pass the test with ease.
- Simplicity. In a world dominated by overstuffed multi-tools, the Bond’s unique selling point is what it lacks. Elegant lines and classic style are welcome reminders that we used to carry dozens of tools when we left the house. Now those same tools fit in our pocket, and they look good.
- Cost. Decades of innovation carry a big price tag. Modern multi-tools are expensive, but the Bond features the essentials at $50. This is a deal you can’t beat.
What We Don’t
I’m still trying to find something I don’t like about this retro multi-tool. There’s no sense in nit-picking the features (or lack thereof) when the Bond’s entire objective is to A) remain simple and B) replicate the PST. Maybe it isn’t perfect, but the PST wasn’t either. You can only appreciate the Bond for what it is.
Should You Buy It?
At $50, the Bond costs less than almost all of Leatherman’s full-size multi-tools and many of its pocket-size ones — like the Skeletool. As the Bond’s product description reads, it’s “perfect for first-time owners or a great backup to existing gear.” And if you’ve never owned a Leatherman, $50 is a great way to kick off what will surely become a committed relationship with a reliable brand.
Tools: needlenose pliers, regular pliers, wire cutters, wire stripper, 420HC blade, awl, can opener, bottle opener, file, screwdrivers (3), ruler
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