Leatherman Wave Review

Reviewer: Matt Grand

Retail Price: $90.00

Date:  01/15/2017

Before we start this review let tell you about the journey that landed me with the Leatherman Wave. I am an AV (audio/video technician) by day at a local Pittsburgh university and my job requires me to cut and strip cable, use a knife, a serrated blade, files, scissors, and a screwdriver. My job also requires on the spot tech support when needed. So I went on a search to find a tool that would allow me to carry all of the tools previously mentioned without having to carry a tool bag every time I am called to a classroom. After three other multi-tools (Leatherman Juice CS4, Leatherman MUT, and the Leatherman Wingman) I ended up with the Leatherman Wave. I'm not going to get into the exact details on the other three multi-tools but suffice to say that I just couldn't find the right combination of rugged, weight, size, and tools until I found the Wave.

The Leatherman Wave is one of Leatherman's top selling multi-tools. It is not considered a heavy duty tool like the MUT or Surge, but it is also not a medium duty tool. I am not sure what the category between medium duty and heavy duty would be called, but that is where the Leatherman Wave falls. I can use this tool for everything from tightening a screw on my sunglasses to replacing an outlet in the house. I would also trust this tool to perform some heavier tasks such as installing a chainlink fence, helping around the camp site, or fixing the car in a pinch. This doesn't mean the Wave is perfect, it is far from that, it just happens to meet my qualifications to be an EDC item for me.

Lets talk about what I required to complete this search for the "perfect" multi-tool. First on my list was the ability to replace my pocket knife. Why? Because I was tired of carrying a mult-tool and a knife. I have limited pocket room and wanted to maximize what I was carrying.

Since I was looking to replace my pocket knife, that led me to my next requirement, a pocket clip.  I must be able to carry this tool like I would a traditional knife with a pocket clip. The clip needed to be sturdy and ride deep in the pocket. I don't want the top of the tool sticking out of my pocket all day long.

Next on the list is size and weight. I am lumping these two together because while they are different they are very similar and one usually correlates to the other. The Waves size comes in at just over 4", 4" and 10cm to be exact. Thats not much bigger than my pocket knife in length. Weight on the other hand was a significant increase at 8.5oz, but I was willing to accept that considering the versatility I was gaining. All in all the size and weight were well within my requirements. I didn't want this thing yanking my pants down while fixing a projector on the first a day of classes.

Now onto my favorite requirement, TOOLS! This is what a multi-tool is all about, so bring on the tools! My first requirement in the tool section was a bit driver. Now I'm not talking about a dedicated phillips and flathead tool inside the multi-tool. I wanted a swappable bit driver, just like my drill. This is where the Wave really shines. It has a bit driver that allows you to swap for any Leatherman bit. What is most exciting about this though is that Leatherman sells a bit driver extender giving you more reach, BUT also giving you the ability to use any 1/4" bit with the driver. You might not think this is a big deal, but to someone who has to use special security bits this is a huge deal. I finally don't have to carry a screw driver that accepts 1/4" bits. I can just leave that bit in the extender and tuck it in my pouch.

The next tool that was the most important on my list was the knife. I wanted this multi-tool to replace my pocket knife. I was tired of carrying two tools to complete tasks. The Wave has two knives. A plain edged knife and a serrated edged knife. I personally would have been happy with a combo blade, BUT having two knives, a straight edge and a serrated edge is brilliant. I use the straight edge for tasks like wire stripping and finer work.

The serrated edge gets to see more grunt work, like box cutting, rope cutting, and wire cutting. The serrated edge is a beast of a knife for a multi-tool blade. Both blades have strong liner locks and handle tasks (within reason) extremely well.

The final tool that had to meet my requirements was the pliers. I have a need for a decent set of needle nose pliers daily. The needle nose pliers are good enough to handle most tasks that I throw at them. Next on the list for pliers,  a decent pair of gripping jaws. These are located below the needle nose pliers and have larger ridges than the needle nose and are great for freeing stuck bolts or holding bolt heads while tightening a nut. And finally for the pliers are wire cutters. Now the wire cutters on the Wave work pretty well. I would have liked to see the wire cutters have the replaceable blades like the Leatherman MUT. This way when the blades get worn out it is easy to replace them yourself. If you wear out the cutting blades on the Wave it is going to have to go back to Leatherman for a replacement plier head to be installed.

The rest of the tools are all small things like scissors, dedicated screw drivers, can opener, bottle opener, and wire strippers. They all work as they should but are tools that I don't use on a regular basis.

We did mention above that Leatherman sells a bit extender that will slide into the bit driver on the Wave. This bit extender gives you extra reach for those tough to get too places. The other thing this extender allows you to do is use regular 1/4" bits just not Leatherman specific bits. This is a huge deal.

Leatherman also sells a bit kit. It is a two pack of stripper clips that are packed with double sided bits that fit the Leatherman bit drivers. It is a great kit and extends the ability of your multi-tool.

All in all the Leatherman Wave is a great tool. My favorite features are the pocket clip and the bit driver. Because of these two features I have been able to replace several tools that I normally carry with me on a regular day. I no longer carry a pocket knife and the Wave rides in the spot that the knife used to occupy. I have also quit carrying a multi bit screwdriver as I now carry the Wave and the above mentioned extension. This allows me to use my special security bit, phillips bits, flat bits, or hex bits without having a need for several bit drivers. I would definitely recommend this tool to friends, family and strangers. It is a great mid range tool that will serve lots of purposes and complete tons of jobs. Oh, and don't forget Leatherman's 25 year warranty!

But local if possible - Matt Grand