Leatherman have been making multi-tools since 1983 and in a very short time they gained themselves an excellent reputation. Leatherman products are made in the US and are now exported to over 80 countries across the world, which is a far cry from the early years when Tim Leatherman failed to gain any support for his wonderful invention. If you’re an avid outdoors man and you haven’t heard the name “Leatherman” then you’ve been away from civilisation for far too long!
Zen imports was kind enough to send us a Leatherman Sidekick to review. The Sidekick is marketed as a full sized multi-tool and a great product for first time users. There are a total of 15 tools within the Sidekick package and as I was soon to discover, all of them are functional for everyday situations.
The Sidekick has two outside opening blades which lock into place by means of a liner lock. One is a straight edged blade and the other a serrated saw. Both measure 2.5 inches long and can be easily opened by using your thumb.
The straight edged knife is razor sharp and I was impressed with overall finish of it. The edge is perfectly even on both sides and the point is fine enough for digging out splinters or cleaning beneath your finger nails before that big date!
Despite the saw’s short length it performed well on some deadwood braches. The trick is to attack the branch from several different sides until the middle is thin enough to manually bend or snap it off. I actually found the saw quite useful once I realised its potential.
The pliers are probably the most often used item on a multi-tool (at least in my hands anyways) so it’s important that they are functional and durable. The pliers on the Sidekick certainly fit into both of these categories. They are spring loaded and can be used as either normal of needle nosed pliers. There’s also a wire cutter which is my only complaint in regards to the pliers. The cutters don’t come far enough together to ensure a clean cut. However, it’s only a small gap and it just means you need to “jiggle” the wire in order to get it to snap apart. In any case, they still get the job done.
Once the handles are opened you have access to the rest of tools. There’s a can opener which is of similar design to the ones used by Wenger on their Swiss army knives. I find this design easier to use than the Victorinox version and the one on the Sidekick opened a few tins with little effort.
There’s also a metal file which has a one inch ruler on the back of it. The file is quite aggressive and it tapers down to a tip that can be used as a small flat head screwdriver.
On the same side is a serrated knife which has a bit over one and a half inches of useable blade on it. Serrated knives are a great idea for multi-tools because they help get a cut started on harder synthetic materials. I tested this one out on some spare seatbelt material I had lying around and found it cut as well as expected. I can imagine that the size of this blade would also make it ideal for gutting fish if I’m even lucky enough to catch one!
No multi-tool would be complete without a couple of medium sized screwdrivers. The Sidekick has a Phillips and Flathead screwdriver and both of them function well. I haven’t yet grown fond of the removable tips that come with many multi-tools so it was nice to see that the Sidekick didn’t have this feature. Eventually I will get with the times and try out some removable tips to see what all the fuss is about.
The handle on the Sidekick has rounded edges which makes the tool extremely comfortable to use. Red groove marks dug deep into your skin is a common occurrence when using cheap multi-tools, but Leatherman have ensured that there won’t be any of that with their line of products. The handle fit’s my hand perfectly and it really is a pleasure to use.
Without doubt my favourite feature of the Sidekick is probably also the simplest, and that’s the belt/pocket clip. My job requires the use of utility knives and tools and my favourite way to carry them is clipped into my pocket. The clip on the Sidekick is secure enough to ensure it won’t come free (even with the pocket turned inside out) and yet it remains gentle enough that it won’t rip your pants on removal. I’m loving this feature and I now have no excuses not to be carrying a multi-tool. If for some reason you’re not into pocket clips then fear not as its easily removable.
This Sidekick didn’t come with a sheath as such, but it did come with a leather pouch. At first I wasn’t sure what to make of the pouch idea, but I’ve found that with use I’ve grown to like it. The multi-tool is a snug fit and it would require a fair amount of effort for it to accidentally fall free. The overall finish is excellent and the leather gives the Sidekick that work horse look about it.
Attached to the pouch is a Carabiner bottle opener accessory which can also be used to clip the Sidekick onto a belt loop or similar. It’s a nifty idea and yet another addition to the Sidekick’s versatility.
The Sidekick is an impressive multi-tool and I’m extremely happy with how it’s been performing. Stainless steel construction helps keep it rust free and a 25 year warranty shows that Leatherman know that their products are going to last.
Leatherman have got the weight to size ratio spot-on with the Sidekick and as I mentioned earlier it’s a very comfortable tool to use. If it was any bigger it’d be too bulky for my hands and if it was any smaller I’d be worried that it might sacrifice some of its strength and useability. At the risk of sounding like a cereal commercial, I’m going to say that it’s “just right”.
More information on the Sidekick can be found at the below link. I’ve also attached a short 2 minute video clip on Leatherman’s history which I thought viewers might find interesting.