I got a pair of multi tools today from the local shop, and I would like to talk a little about them.
The Leatherman Freestyle and Freestyle CX.
Both of these tools have a very strong familial resemblance to the Skeletool and Skeletool CX. I do not have a Skeletool CX as of yet, but I do have the plainer Skeletool for comparison.
The one thing that surprised me the most when I first got the Freestyles out of their respective packages, was their size. I was expecting something smaller then the Skeletool. A lot smaller then the skeletool. I was wrong. They are almost the same size in regard to their “larger” cousins.
From left to right: Leatherman Freestyle CX, Freestyle, and Skeletool. As you can see, the Freestyle models aren’t that much smaller than the older and slightly larger Skeletool.
Showing the other side of these Leatherman multi-tools.
From left to right: Freestyle CX, Freestyle, and Skeletool.
Showing the belt clip side with pliers open.
From top to bottom: Skeletool, Freestyle, and Freestyle CX, all showing blades open. Note the differences between all 3 multi-tools. The skeletool features a 420HC stainless steel smooth blade. The Freestyle’s 420HC stainless steel blade is serrated for half its length. The Freestyle CX has a smooth blade made from 154CM stainless steel. Of interest, the Skeletool CX has a 154CM blade that is half serrated along its length. I find it interesting that Leatherman has decided to have a smooth and serrated version for both the Skeletool and Freestyle line.
From left to right: Freestyle CX, Freestyle, and Skeletool. It is interesting to see the similarities and dissimilarities of construction between the two lines. The Freestyles, due to their lack of features, offer a simpler and more robust construction. Freestyle v.s. Skeletool
I find it very interesting that the size isn’t that much different between the two models. The Skeletool is a slightly longer multi-tool (Leatherman actually classified it as part of their full size tool family). What that extra real estate give you, is more functionality. You get a pair of pliers, a knife, carabineer/bottle cap opener, and a bit driver with extra storage of one bit in the handle. The Freestyle on the other hand offers a little less than the skeletool. You get the core set of tools, that being the pair of pliers and the knife. That is it. Otherwise, the pliers, and the knives are very similar, along with the general shape and feel during handling. Both also feature a removable pocket clip.
Now I have already talked about the similar size. If you take a good look at both multi-tools, you will note that the main body is also very similar. This translates into a very similar weight. There is a difference of about 14grams. Now that may sound a lot. But in reality it isn’t. Mind you, I am a fairly large guy and that amount of weight difference is sort of negligible. I can honestly say that they both feel almost the same in weight in the hand. With that said, I guess some will find the weight difference beneficial if you are going to every day carry it. I myself, would rather have more functionality in a slightly larger package that also weights a little more. To each their own.Freestyle v.s. Freestyle CX
Both tools are the same shape and function, but differ a little in their construction. The Freestyle CX is the slightly more expensive of the two. For the extra money spent, you get a Tungsten DLC coating and carbon fiber handle inserts, along with a tougher 154CM steel knife blade. That is about all that separates these two models. Interestingly enough, both models weight the same if I go by the Leatherman statistics off of their own web site. One would assume that the carbon fiber would have saved a few extra grams, but alas, it was not meant to be. That is because these fiber inserts are rather small. They do look pretty though in direct sunlight. Think of the carbon as more of a decorative feature, rather than a weight saving feature.Conclusion
The Leatherman Freestyle is based upon a cut down Skeletool. The Skeletool has a limited tool set that was sacrificed for light weight and ease of portability. The Freestyle takes that general notion a few notches more. One could think of the Freestyle as a folding knife with a bonus pair of pliers. The pliers are excellent and sturdy. The Freestyle is perfect for someone who wants to travel very light, and only need a good pair of pliers along with a good knife blade. You could use this like a folder with a hidden pair of pliers at the ready when the need arises. I find the weight and size not that different from the more capable Skeletool, however, the Freestyle does have a good quality feel to them with a reassuring weight that whispers to you that you are not holding a toy, but a real tool.
Like the Skeletool before it, the Freestyle is built rather well. Overall the multi-tool has a very high fit and finish. Both are well built and nicely thought out multi-tools.Skeletool
- Longer handles pack more features but also makes the tool a little easier for big hands to use.
- An included carabiner is a handy way to store the tool for travel.
- Bottle opener works rather well, as it is a good size.
- Neat locking feature for the screwdriver bits, plus a storage in the handle means you can tailor the tool to your specific need with the purchase of the Leatherman bit set.
- High fit and finish. Excellent quality feel.
- Pocket belt clip.
- Awkward when using the bit driver if you open the tool somewhat.
- Limited feature set for its size compared to other Leatherman tools.
- Carabiner can get in the way when using the pliers if you have large hands.Freestyle, and Freestyle CX
- Smaller size is easier to carry.
- Does not weight as much as the Skeletool.
- No carabiner to make the tool slightly awkward in the hand.
- Built very durable.
- Very limited tool set.
- Size and weight aren’t that much different than the Skeletool when you really think about it.