I grew up with Leatherman tools. My dad always carried one, and to this day he still has his Leatherman Juice on or around him most of the time. In Scouting, most people carried a multitool of some kind. The first knife that I cut myself with was my dad’s Leatherman Wave. When we climbed Mt. Whitney, I didn’t take a bushcraft knife, I didn’t take a modern folder; all I had was a Leatherman Squirt PS4. If you can’t tell by this point, I’ve got a lot of love for Leatherman tools.
Under those circumstances, it’s pretty obvious why I’d be drawn to the Leatherman Charge TTi. Full size, all locking tools, built like a tank from materials even a knife snob couldn’t turn their nose up at; you see where I’m going. Last Christmas I decided to take the plunge and purchase one. It’s less and more than what I expected, and I’ll let you decide if that’s a good thing.
I’m sure every gear nut knows this feeling: you only need a tool when you don’t have it with you. That’s part of the problem here. I’ve carried the Charge in the pocket, on my belt, or in a bag for more than a month, and all the tasks I thought I’d be using it for disappeared whenever it was around. Who knows, maybe the plumbing was intimidated into submission.
General Dimensions and Tools
The Charge TTi has a closed length of 4” and a blade length of 2.9”. It’s .8” thick, and weighs 8.89 oz. I haven’t done the math, but it’s approximately heavy enough to qualify as assault with a deadly weapon if thrown. Partially responsible for the dreadnought class tonnage is that all the tools lock while open, a design choice that I still don’t know if I agree with yet. On one hand, it’s comforting to know that the blades won’t be snipping my fingers off if I do something stupid. On the other, I don’t know why an eyeglass screwdriver needs to lock. There’s a bit of play in all the locks, but that’s par for the course with multitools.
You can check out all the tools on the Charge through this link, the below chart, or the picture below that. I can’t think of a tool they left out, and their inclusion of a flathead screwdriver when the Charge already has two bit drivers suggests they were running out of ideas. That, or they knew too many folks just used the flathead for prying open paint cans and wanted to make replacement easier. Either way, all appropriate tools are present.
|Needlenose Pliers||S30V Blade||Can/Bottle Opener|
|Regular Pliers||420HC Serrated Blade||Wood/Metal File|
|Hard-Wire Cutters||Saw||Diamond Coated File|
|Wire Cutter||Spring-Action Scissors||Large Bit Driver|
|Crimper||Cutting Hook||Small Bit Driver|
|Wire Stripper||Ruler||Medium Screwdriver|
As I noted earlier, the Charge frightened away most of the chores that I would have used it for, but I was able to reach for it a few times. The pliers (which are cast, not machined) are wide and aggressive enough to remove the aerators from sinks, yet come to enough of a needle point for splinter removal. I didn’t use the blade hard enough to push the S30V to its limits, but it worked fine on boxes, apples, and spreading condiments on a sandwich. More than a few bottles of beer were opened as well. The only complaint I have is the absence of replaceable wire cutters, which are common enough in other Leatherman tools that I can’t see why they weren’t included.
Handle, Ergonomics, and Carry
The handles (if you couldn’t guess) are made of titanium. Well, the scales are. The non-tool guts of the knife are made of steel; I don’t even want to know how difficult the machining would be otherwise. By multitool standards the construction is pretty tight. Nominally, it’s held together with torx screws, but that would imply that you can disassemble it. This is not the case. For some reason that only the engineers at Leatherman know, these torx bits have little pins in them, which makes them incompatible with most torx drivers. A quibble, but a galling one. Before I get too negative, I will note that the finish left on the scales is truly beautiful, in a chipped stone kind of way.
Imagine a brick. Now shrink it, make it a little slimmer along the way, and put it in your hand. That covers the essential points of the ergonomics here. Normally I wouldn’t be so dismissive, but compared to the Skeletool the Charge is lackluster at best. To be fair: the edges are rounded, and I’ve never felt a hotspot, but it doesn’t conform to your palm the way other Leatherman tools do. If you’re carrying the Charge with the pocket clip, then disregard my line about “never feeling a hotspot.” You should have a good idea why farther down.
Take that same shrunken brick and strap it to your belt. Honestly, it’s not that bad that way. If you’re working in an industrial setting, no one is going to care about a multitool, and even most offices won’t mind a Leatherman on your belt. The worst I can say is that it can compete for space with any bag you might have, depending on how you wear it. Mine came with the leather sheath, and I haven’t had any problems with it. The side pockets on it are nice for a AAA flashlight and a mini sharpie.
Are you feeling particularly brave? Clip it to your pocket.
Leatherman Charge TTi Final Thoughts
If you walked away from this review with the impression that I don’t like the Charge, I’m sorry. I can see that in many ways it’s a great tool, and deserves to be on the shortlist of high end multitools. This is probably just a consequence of my expectations being in the wrong place. A carpenter, an electrician, or anyone that does a lot of work with their hands would probably love having this on their belt. In other words: “it’s not you, it’s me.”
Funnily enough, its stiffest competition comes from within the brand, in the form of the Leatherman Wave. The Wave shares most of the design language of the Charge: a full set of locking tools, outside accessible blades, and a nearly identical toolset. Of course, it doesn’t have the premium materials that the Charge TTi does, but it also costs half as much. Whether those materials are worth the premium is up to you. Leatherman isn’t the only game in town; Victorinox, Multitasker, Gerber, and SOG all make plier centric multitools. I imagine that I’d have similar complaints if I were to review any of their offerings, as they’re all near the same weight or heavier.
At the end of the day, who should buy this? Well, despite its staid design, it really is the top of the heap. If you want a multitool that has the same materials as a Spyderco Sage 2, this is your only option. The all-locking tools may be unnecessary to me, but a godsend to someone else. It’s a nice enough object that I’m not going to get rid of mine; this’ll just be consigned to the glove box, where it can do some real good in a pinch.
Next up – the ZT 0900. You bastards finally got to me.
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