Alright, time for a new itty-bitty multitool review. Today, I'm going to be examining the Swiss+Tech MicroMax 19in1 tool. It's definitely a cool piece, with a lot of functionality engineered in to a very small, very compact keychain-sized package. There's a lot to like about the tool, but there's also a few flaws - a few minor flaws, and one very, very big flaw. It's also a flaw that I think is completely indefensible. Want to know what it is? Read on!Build Quality:
Made by Swiss+Tech tools, the MicroMax should likely be considered the crown jewel in their keychain MT lineup, boasting 19 tools in a 3.2oz, 1.5"x2" package. It's very solidly made, with no rubbing parts, no squeals and nothing out of place. The quality of the MT overall is extremely good - the tools are well cast and fit together perfectly with no noticeable gaps or issues. The plier jaws come together perfectly, with no noticeable gap or offset. All of the nested tools in the handles also fit together tightly with no gaps, but not so tight as to be difficult to extract either. For the price point that this tool comes in at (~$20 MSRP) I'm very pleased with the quality overall. The one negative I can find in the build quality is that the MicroMax is pretty heavy at 3.2oz. Something like the Gerber Clutch at 2oz is about the heaviest piece of kit that I'd want hanging off my keychain, lest my ignition starts to compain.Tools
: There are... a LOT of tools in the MicroMax. Rather than expound on them all, I'm going to reproduce the list that Swiss+Tech has on their website and work from there.
- 1/4 Inch Hex Wrench
- 7/16 Inch Hex Wrench
- #0 Flat Screwdriver
- #1 Flat Screwdriver
- #2 Flat Screwdriver
- #0 Phillips Screwdriver
- #1 Phillips Screwdriver
- #2 Phillips Screwdriver
- Wire Cutter
- Wire Stripper
- Wire Crimper
- Nail File
- Hand Drill
- Bottle Opener
- Inches Ruler
- Inches Ruler Extension
- mm Ruler
- mm Ruler Extension
Hm, where to start? Well, the screwdrivers for one, are absolutely excellent. Cast in solid stainless steel, they have a polished finish and are perfectly formed. I've used the polished drivers on both this tool and Transformer (which has the same-sized drivers) for a while now, and they're excellent. Even with the polished finish they very rarely slip even with a fair amount of force applied.
Unfortunately, one thing that the Swiss+Tech MicroMax lacks is a ball detent or solid stop for the handles - they rotate freely 360 degrees around the pivots that attach them to the pliers head. While the handles are stiff enough now, I could easily see them loosening over time and making the screwdrivers difficult to work with. As it is now, the "hand drill" (which looks like a small wood screw) is nearly impossible to use - the ramping on the screw thread doesn't come down near enough to the tip to be that useful unless you use a lot of force. If you try to use enough force, the drill will more likely than not just fold up in to the handle on you. I would've preferred a small Vic-style awl in it's place, with or without a thread loop - that would've been a much better design.
The combination bottle opener/crimper/cutter/stripper also works pretty well - I helped my father install about 10 hanging lanterns outside his house over the weekend. While not nearly as good as a dedicated tool, I never felt the MicroMax made the work more difficult or got in the way - something that's difficult to find in a keychain-size multi. Of course the bottle opener came in useful more after everything was installed than before.
Now of course there's some pure marketing bupkus in the specs, though it's mostly benign. For some reason, the ruler has been split up in to four completely different tools, as Swiss+Tech has found it fitting to list a "ruler extension" for each inches and millimeters as separate tools. I'm not going to complain that much, though Swiss+Tech does do this a fair amount. One of the separate tools on the Swiss+Tech Transformer is listed as a "straight edge". At least they didn't do that here.
However, I think this desire to put a large and pretty number in the marketing has created one major problem, and it's a problem I find indefensible.
The pliers are terrible
If you take a look at the plier head on the MicroMax, you'll notice a few things. First of all, it's not a needle-nose set, which is much more common on this size of multitool. This in and of itself doesn't bother me - there are times where a needle-nose set of pliers isn't that useful. However, what I find indefensible is that there are no teeth on the inside of the pliers head.
This particular choice severely, severely limits the usefulness of the pliers head. Without teeth, the pliers head doesn't really grip on much, and the extremely short handles give you very little leverage to hold the plier jaws closed. I have a feeling that the polished finish isn't helping much here either - there's absolutely no grip on anything that doesn't perfectly fit in the pliers head.
I was wondering why Swiss+Tech would do this, until I read the description again, and this jumped out at me: - 1/4 Inch Hex Wrench
- 7/16 Inch Hex Wrench
. Aha, the culprit. If you take a look at the picture above, when you pull the plier jaws apart slightly the cutouts in the head conform perfectly to a 7/16 inch hex head bolt. Similarly, if you clamp the jaws down together, the cutouts then conform to a 1/4 inch hex head bolt. Unfortunately, to make this even remotely feasible, Swiss+Tech had to cast the plier head without teeth as they would get in the way of the hex wrench functioning.
Personally, again, I find this indefensible. I cannot think of a time where a keychain multitool would be able to exert enough force to make hex wrenches of this size usable at all. However, since Swiss+Tech decided to include those cutouts, the functioning of the pliers is badly impaired.
So at the end of the day, where does that leave us? It leaves us with a keychain multitool based around a set of pliers where the pliers are the worst tool of the lot. Oh, there's plenty to like about the Micro-Max, but at the end of the day I think this is a tool where the desire for marketing hype (Look, we fit 19 tools in to this keychain tool!) outweighed usefulness or indeed common sense. I just can't recommend it.
-Excellent build quality
-Some of the best keychain tool screwdrivers around
-Heavy for a keychain
-No detent or posi-stop on the handles
-Very poor pliers