Dumb multi-tool question.

I have an old Gerber multi-tool, which I never carry when boating. Reason being that I have not been taking multi-day trips of late, and figure that I can survive until the end of the day. But as I have been going over my potential gear list for a hoped-for looong trip, and have been ruminating over the need for a repair kit, I have a question:

Say that one of your thwart bolts suffers a loose nut. Sure, its a locknut, but the guy in the Pakistan-based foundry failed to install the nylon collar and the boat factory droid failed to note this during assembly.

You pull out your Gerber/Leatherman/SOG/Whatever and grasp the nut with the handy pliers. Now, how do you turn the screw?

Have you packed a SAK with slot and Phillips blades? Or have you packed a screwdriver too?

If you have to carry a screwdriver, wouldn’t it make more sense to carry a set of slip-joint or mini locking pliers instead of the heavier (and more expensive) multi-tool?

A large portion of my brain cells are now tied up in this personal debate. What do you folks carry?


tiny Vise Grip brand locking pliers

– Last Updated: Jan-30-07 5:15 PM EST –

Remarkably versitile. After my Gerber Multi-tool, the most important (and only) tool I carry.

Just today an engineer locked himself out his office trailer. Got my dry bag out of the car, pulled out the tiny vise grips, loosened the door trim and got him inside.

your paddling partner…they should have a kit too…maybe they brought a multi tool :slight_smile: that would make 2 of them, as long as you stay together and work together on the problem (tightening loose screws)should be able to get any job done without carring everything for everyone…

Best Wishes


My new game plan :
Always include Mike on my trips. Of course, I imagine there is a price (or a penalty?) for him to make field repairs!


Back ON Topic…
There is no substitute for PMCS. (Preventive ,Maintenance Checks and Services)…tighten the screws in everything prior to loading…and I suggest you add a ratchet strap to your lists…(Missing tiedowns suck…and…

I temporarily fixed a broken thwart (Long story short…a dead limb fell and snapped a thwart in a friends boat while we were camped) with a tree limb on one trip by crossing the hull with the limb, and running the strap under the hull and around the tree limb where it overhung the water on each side of the boat…(Ratchet tight).

Tools are my living
so I am a bit biased toward having tools handy most of the time. In a pinch I can get buy on quite a few urgent repairs with a multi-tool and a multi screwdriver, one of the kind that the shaft stores the bits and that pulls out of the handle. One can do lots more than just fix the boat with those handy little pliers. What would you do if someone produced bottles of homebrew on a trip and no one had a proper opener? Would you risk damaging the bottle, thus rendering it unusable for the next filling, and at the same time getting glass slivers in the beer, all because you brought vise-grips instead of a multi-tool with an opener in it? I think not.


AKA: Tim the tool man.

Question for all you screwdriver hounds
What do you need a wide variety of screwdriver tips for field repairs? Besides a #2 phillips and a good sturdy flat blade, what else do you need and what do you need them for?

(I’ll concede that eyeglasses may be considered a specialty item. But even there, as duct tape or your knife blade ought to suffice if you don’t want to add a single purpose tool)

the Leatherman tools, have interchangeable screwdriver bits. so you can tailor the kit for your use.

For quick and dirty
repairs where anything is better than nothing, use what you have that works. As for multiple screwdriver tips, how many mangled screw heads have you seen because someone didn’t use the right size tool for the screw? It’s ugly, makes the screw harder or impossible to turn, and is amateurish. In the case of valuable equipment like reels and guns one doesn’t want to do that.

Gerber multi, plus…
a little 4" crescent wrench take care of the “nut & bolt issue.” Craftsman makes a nice little one that’s not junk. That plus many of the goodies mentioned above fit into a plastic peanut butter jar. But no, it’s not a Mike kit…

yep to all that
I was just thinking about essential tools for field repairs. If I want to later replace a screw because I hacked it up a little, I can accept that. Not an option with precision gear like guns or reels. Stoves would be another one.

Great thread
I love when these kind come up.

I have a book “Build the Perfect Survival Kit” by John D McCann. It has made me rethink EVERYthing. I come on here and see what to get for repairs and first aid and this book makes me add just a few items.

Again I am TOTALLY boring and do nothing that resembles danger. Once I took my friends on an 8 mile canoe lesson. they didn’t entirely listen to me, and as expected they later flipped. I pulled out my emergency kit, dryed them off, gave them the dryest clothes we could salvage, bailed the canoe (this is only about waist deep river), and got going. even had some hand warmer packets. I know they aren’t the best things for heating you, but it was helpful in those last 3 miles. I have used that same kit to keep my buddies smokes dry and later the space blanket for keep us dry in a tent window disaster.

It doesn’t take much space to hold repair and emergency items. work it and rework it until you have just about everything you could ever want. I have daytrip survival items in a large ziploc bag. get a few good quality items (that is a key in the feild) and don’t worry about the weight or space. I mean really is a fanny pack of tools really going to kill your speed?

just something to think about…and a book to go check out


I carry a decent multi-tool and
a small multi-tool for situations such as described. If going for more than 2-3 days, I typically expand the tool kit from that.

Pipe Wrap
Pipe wrap is better than duct tape. It’s plastic tape, like electrician’s tape, but stickier, thicker and twice as wide.

When it comes to repair kits think of what your needs are going to be. My Leatherman Wave, 4" Visegrips, 6" crescent wrench, sewing awl and tape will fix just about anything on a kayak or in camp.

A very handy tool I carry at work, I work maintenance at a resort at the Grand Canyon, is a screwdriver with interchangeable tips that also accepts saw blades.

Robogrips and gorilla tape, multitool
That’s a great repair kit right there.

Coleman multi-tool
I used to have a Coleman brand (now my wife’s) that at first glance was just like a Leatherman. However unlike all other multi-tools I’ve seen, the knives/drivers/awls etc unlocked so that you’d have a working set of pliers and two “swiss army” knives to work with. I got a Gerber as a groomsman’s gift a few years back and have not regreted the switch, but the Coleman version may work better for you. To be honest tho, I think I’d just end up bumming a second multi-tool off of one of my buddies.


I don’t carry a multitool for the very reason you state. In the senario you mention I use my swiss army knife and the needle nose pliers from my fishing gear.

BTW - the swiss army knife I carry is not one of those big ones – two blades, bottle opener/blade screwdriver, can opener/philips screwdriver (though it doesn’t look it because it isn’t + shaped), awl, corkscrew, toothpick, and tweezers.

That’s it for tools.

The rest of the canoe repair kit is duct tape, a little bit of wire, and my newest addition - cable/zip ties. Actually, if you loose a thwart bolt, a couple of cable ties make a good fast fix.

cable ties rock
I buy them by the 1000 bag at the big box hardware store. The Thomas & Betts “Catamount” black ties are UV resistant, made in USA, and dependable. The cheapo brands can be counted on to not latch and to break in cold weather. I have to admit to being addicted to them. From putting up Yule decorations, to securing tarps on the dog run, to even bundling wire, I use 'em for alotta stuff.

I just got a new Leatherman
The Juice CS4 or something like that. It is not as robust or as outdoors or mechanics oriented as other leathermans, but it does have a corkscrew, which I find eminiently valuable for travel in europe, where one needs a corkscrew for wine bottles on picnics (best and cheapest way to eat in Europe). I have also found the saw makes a great breadknife for big crusty bread.

The one thing I have never figured why the keep putting them in swiss army knives and the like is the awl. That is the most superfluous tool in the world.

RE: Cable ties
Good point about the Thomas-Betts brand. I believe it is that brand that uses a small metal tooth to grip the tie instead of a molded nylon tooth. Much stronger - What we use at work for “real” electrician duties.