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Leatherman Tread review: Serious jewelry for the person who's always prepared

Gordon Mah Ung | July 15, 2015
Let's not kid ourselves, Leatherman's Tread multi-tool is jewelry. But it's truly functional jewelry that only the legendary multi-tool maker could make.

Let's not kid ourselves, Leatherman's Tread multi-tool is jewelry. But it's truly functional jewelry that only the legendary multi-tool maker could make.

Leatherman's origin story puts its founder in a situation where his standard-issue pocket knife couldn't get his broken car back on the road, so he created the Leatherman multi-tool with an integrated pair of pliers. The design is often emulated, and for many it's replaced the old Swiss Army Knife as the tool of choice.

The company is now applying that out-of-pocket thinking with its Tread. Worn on your wrist, the Tread multi-tool features no fewer than 29 different "tools" cleverly integrated into its links. 

Need a 1/8-inch hex drive, #1-2 Phillips or a 8mm bolt wrench? Just flip the Tread off your wrist, find the right section of the Tread to use, and screw away.

What makes the Tread different from the typical keychain or compact wallet "multi-tools" is its beefiness. I've tried a lot of different keychain and wallet multi-tools, and they all fall short in durability and usability. Usually made of very low-quality steel, I've actually had one shatter from dropping my car keys on the ground--an impact that broke the "tool" but didn't hurt my keys.

The Tread itself is made of 17-4 hardened stainless steel, not the pot metal you see in the $15 items. That makes it corrosion-resistant and fairly hard.

Another big advantage of the Tread over the typical miniature multi-tool is your ability get a proper amount of leverage with it. A prime weakness of the the keychain models is there isn't enough body for your hands to get a good grip. 

With the Tread, each of the links is held in place by beefy screws, with very little flex. It may look like a typical watch bracelet, but it's a hell of a lot stronger.

I'm fairly certain I could bend or destroy most watch bracelets by intentionally twisting them, but with the Tread, twisting it as hard as I could just resulted in divots in my hands. This doesn't mean it's indestructible, but it does mean you can really lean into the Tread and apply a lot more torque than you could with a cheaper tool. 

The Tread is also covered by Leatherman's 25-year warranty. While most warranties are pretty worthless, Leatherman's warranty reputation is fairly reputable out there.

Certainly a lot of the "29" functions of the Tread are just double- and triple-counting different sizes of the hex, Phillips, flat drivers and box wrenches but there's a few you don't expect, such as the carbide glass breaker or the bottle opener. There's also a small pick that's actually made so you can pop the sim card out of a phone. The other side of it includes a blister-pack opener. It works: I easily sliced my way through some blister packs as though I were wielding a light saber. It's safer than using my pocket knife, too.

 

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