5 Best Multi-Tools for Orienteers: Expert Picks for Navigation and Survival

July 01, 2024 6 min read

Orienteering, the sport that combines navigation with running, requires not only physical endurance but also the right tools. Navigating through varied terrains and environments can be challenging, making a reliable multi-tool essential for any orienteer.

A table displaying 5 multi-tools with compasses, maps, and various tools. Surrounding environment suggests outdoor adventure

A versatile multi-tool can help you handle unexpected situations, from fixing gear to dealing with minor injuries. It’s crucial to choose one that balances functionality and portability, ensuring that you can carry it easily without feeling weighed down.

1) Leatherman Wave+

A Leatherman Wave+ multi-tool sits atop a mossy rock in a dense forest. Surrounding it are a compass, map, and a pair of hiking boots, all essential for orienteering

The Leatherman Wave+ is a renowned multi-tool popular among orienteers.

You find its 18 tools highly versatile, including pliers, wire cutters, a knife, a saw, and scissors.

Crafted from stainless steel, it's durable and designed to withstand rugged outdoor conditions.

It features a secure locking mechanism to ensure safety during use.

One-handed access to tools makes it convenient when you need to multitask.

With a compact design, it easily fits in your pocket or pack.

Its practicality extends to urban settings, making it a great everyday carry item.

2) Victorinox SwissTool X

A forest clearing with a topographic map, compass, and Victorinox SwissTool X 5 laid out on a flat rock. Sunlight filters through the trees

The Victorinox SwissTool X is a highly regarded multi-tool for orienteers due to its rugged build and versatility. Made from stainless steel, it has a robust construction that ensures durability in challenging environments. This tool offers a wide range of functions essential for outdoor navigation and survival.

With 26 functions, the SwissTool X includes pliers, wire cutters, and multiple screwdriver heads. It also features a can opener, a bottle opener, and several blades, making it incredibly versatile. The precision of each tool ensures reliability and effectiveness in various scenarios.

The ergonomic design allows for a comfortable grip, even during extended use. The SwissTool X's compact form makes it easy to carry in your backpack or belt pouch without adding significant weight. This portability is crucial for orienteers who need to travel light.

In addition, the SwissTool X is known for its smooth operational mechanics. Each tool can be accessed and deployed with ease, reducing the time needed to switch between functions. This efficiency can be vital when you need to make quick adjustments or repairs.

Victorinox has a long-standing reputation for quality, and the SwissTool X is a testament to this legacy. Its high-quality components and thoughtful design make it a reliable companion for any orienteering activity. Whether cutting rope, opening cans, or tightening screws, the SwissTool X delivers consistent performance.

3) Gerber Center-Drive

A compass, map, and multitool lay on a moss-covered rock in a dense forest. The Gerber Center-Drive multitool stands out with its sleek design and multiple functions

The Gerber Center-Drive is a versatile multi-tool, making it an excellent choice for orienteers. Designed with practicality in mind, it features a center-axis driver that aligns like a real screwdriver, offering better torque and rotation.

One of the standout features is the full-size, outboard knife blade. Measuring 3.25 inches, it's comparable to a standard folding knife, ensuring it handles various cutting tasks with ease.

The tool includes spring-loaded pliers, which are convenient for gripping and manipulating objects. The pliers include integrated wire cutters, adding to its functionality.

The Gerber Center-Drive comes equipped with an assortment of tools, including a pry bar, nail puller, and various screwdrivers. This array makes it adaptable to different situations you might encounter in the field.

Durability is a key feature, owing to its robust construction. Made from 420HC steel, it’s designed to withstand the rigors of outdoor activities, ensuring long-term reliability.

The one-thumb opening system allows you to access the tools quickly, an important feature when you need to make fast adjustments. Plus, it includes a sheath for easy carrying and accessibility.

Customizable bit storage adds to its practicality, allowing you to carry the bits you use most frequently. This reduces the need to carry extra tools, streamlining your gear.

Its ergonomic design ensures a comfortable grip, minimizing hand fatigue during extended use. This makes it suitable for prolonged outdoor excursions.

The Gerber Center-Drive also prioritizes safety with its secure locking mechanism. This prevents the tools from accidentally closing during use, ensuring you can work with confidence.

4) SOG PowerAssist

The SOG PowerAssist stands out for its dual Assisted Technology that makes deploying tools fast and easy. This feature is coupled with compound leverage, allowing you to exert greater force with minimal effort.

You’ll appreciate the durability of the stainless steel construction, ensuring it withstands the rigors of orienteering. The tool includes multiple knife blades, screwdrivers, and even a bolt grip channel.

Safety features are embedded in the design, such as the locking mechanism that keeps each tool securely in place during use. It offers a solid grip, providing you with control and stability. The tool's compact size allows it to fit conveniently in your pack or pocket.

Versatility is a key aspect of the SOG PowerAssist. With 16 built-in tools, it’s equipped to handle diverse tasks, from cutting ropes to fixing gear. The incorporation of pliers, a wire cutter, and a can opener makes it a practical choice.

The assisted opening of the blades can be an added advantage when you need to access tools quickly. The SOG PowerAssist is designed to meet the needs of serious orienteers who value reliability and efficiency.

5) Leatherman Signal

The Leatherman Signal is designed to meet the needs of outdoor enthusiasts and orienteers. Its durable build and practical tools make it a reliable companion for wilderness adventures.

You will find 19 tools integrated into this compact multi-tool. Notable features include a fire-starting ferro rod, a whistle, and a hammer. These tools are essential for enhancing your safety and preparedness in the wild.

The stainless steel construction ensures longevity. Grip surfaces provide excellent handling even in wet conditions. Weighing approximately 7.5 ounces, it balances portability and functionality.

Deploying tools with one hand is possible, thanks to the Signal's user-friendly design. Safety locks keep each tool securely in place during use, minimizing the risk of injury.

A nylon sheath or pocket clip offers convenient carrying options. Whether attached to your belt or stored in your pack, this multi-tool is always within reach. The Leatherman Signal’s versatility and robustness make it a valuable asset for any orienteer.

Benefits of Using Multi-Tools for Orienteering

A multi-tool resting on a map, compass, and flashlight. A hiker's backpack and water bottle nearby. Forest and mountains in the background

Multi-tools bring essential benefits to orienteering enthusiasts by providing a blend of useful features into a single compact device. These tools help save space and reduce weight while maintaining cost-effectiveness.

Versatility and Adaptability

A multi-tool offers a range of functionalities, allowing you to tackle various challenges. Whether it's cutting rope, tightening a screw, or opening a can, having multiple tools in one device means you are prepared for unexpected situations. This versatility ensures you can adapt to changing conditions quickly.

Each tool within a multi-tool is designed to perform specific tasks efficiently. For example, a knife blade can help with food preparation, while pliers can assist in repairing gear. This adaptability makes multi-tools an indispensable part of your orienteering kit.

Space-Saving and Lightweight

One of the significant advantages of multi-tools is their compactness. Carrying individual tools for different tasks can be cumbersome. Multi-tools combine these functions, significantly reducing the amount of gear you need to carry. This space-saving benefit is crucial when every ounce matters on long treks.

Multi-tools are designed to be lightweight. Most are built with high-strength materials like stainless steel, which offer durability without adding extra weight. This feature helps keep your pack light, enhancing mobility.


Purchasing a multi-tool can be more economical compared to buying individual tools. A single multi-tool combines several elements, offering considerable savings. Investing in one quality multi-tool can be more budget-friendly than acquiring each tool separately.

Moreover, multi-tools are built to last. High-quality materials and craftsmanship ensure longevity, meaning you won't need to replace them frequently. This durability adds to their cost-effectiveness, providing long-term value. This makes multi-tools a smart investment for any orienteer looking to equip themselves efficiently.

Essential Features to Look for in Multi-Tools

A table displaying various multi-tools, compasses, and maps. A backpack and hiking boots are nearby. Outdoor scenery in the background

When selecting a multi-tool for orienteering, focus on durability, tool variety, and ease of portability to ensure reliability in various situations. Consider these key aspects to make an informed choice.

Durability and Build Quality

You need a multi-tool that can endure challenging conditions. Look for models constructed from high-quality materials like stainless steel or titanium. These metals resist corrosion and stand up to repeated use.

The construction should feel solid with no flimsy parts. Check for reinforced joints and locking mechanisms, which are crucial for longevity and safety. Rubberized or textured grips can also enhance handling, especially in wet conditions.

Tool Variety and Functionality

A versatile multi-tool should include essential implements for orienteering. Prioritize tools like a compass, knife, and pliers. Many models also offer screwdrivers, scissors, and a saw, which can be valuable in the field.

Evaluate the layout and accessibility of each tool. They should be easy to deploy and lock into place securely. Avoid tools that require excessive force to open or close, as this can be impractical during critical moments.

Portability and Ease of Use

Compactness and light weight are vital for an orienteering multi-tool. Aim for a design that fits comfortably in your pocket or attaches to your gear without adding excessive bulk. Foldable tools are typically more portable and convenient.

Ensure the multi-tool is easy to operate with one hand. Features like spring-loaded pliers and easily accessible blades enhance usability. Consider models with built-in clips or sheaths to keep your tool accessible at all times.