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Some Skeletool -vs- Zilla-Tool Jr. thoughts 11551

Admin Team Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 23,213
Some Skeletool -vs- Zilla-Tool Jr. thoughts
« on: July 04, 2008, 07:20:51 PM »
Much has already been written about these two new multitools. Both are departures from the traditional formula of trying to cram as many blades and functions into a single device as possible. The term “minimalist” tool is oftentimes used to describe this approach. A plier, a knife, and a screwdriver capability are all most people need most of the time. The thinking is, why carry around anything more than that?



So how do these two plierknifescrewdrivers compare? Pretty well actually. Here are a few observations, in no particular order:

Pliers:
The heart of each tool is its set of semi-needlenose pliers. Neither is equipped with a full-size set of jaws like would be found on a Leatherman Wave or Gerber 600 Multi-Plier. Instead, the plier is smaller, a compromise intended to make for easier carry and less overall weight. Of the two, the Skeletool has a more solid feel. Plus it has a better reach in confined areas than the Zilla Jr, due to the way the handle scales extend up and over the pivot area on the Zilla. (see picture below)



Both tools have wire cutters complete with hard wire notches. Both cut wire with ease, but I find the Skeletool to be better simply because of its slightly longer wire cutter area.

Plier Usage:   
Despite having the better plier head, the Skeletool is not the better tool when it comes to pliering duties. This is because the Zilla-Tool Jr beats it hands down when it comes to ergonomics of the handles. In this category the competition is rather lopsided. Compare the Zilla-Tool Jr which fits your hand perfectly, like a piece of soft clay that was squeezed in your fist, then allowed to harden……..




…..with the Skeletool, which “sort of” fits a small-handed person one way……




…..but due to the carabiner digging into your palm doesn’t fit anybody right when held the other way.



I liked the idea of the Skeletool carabiner when I first saw it. The extra carry option is nice, but the poor plier ergonomics make me wish it wasn’t there.

Screwdrivers:
Both contestants make use of a bit driver and interchangeable screwdriver bits. And in both cases those bits are a special proprietary size that is only available from the manufacturer.



The Skeletool carries one bit in the driver, with another in an on-board compartment. They are double-ended bits, which allows the user to tackle two sizes of phillips and two sizes of flatheads with the ones that come with the tool. A strong locking clip holds the bit in the driver receptacle when in use.

The Zilla Jr comes with two driver bits as well, but they are single ended, and intended for smaller screws. These special size hex bits are carried in the handles of the tool, and when in use are held in place by a magnet.

Screwdriver Usage:
As with the pliers, the Zilla-Tool Jr is more screwdriver user-friendly on account of its overall shape. The driver receptacle is centered on the frame of the tool, making the Zilla Jr and its big brother the Zilla-Tool two of the best multitools for driving screws ever made.




The Skeletool on the other hand once again cannot escape the compromises of its handle design. Once you get in the habit of doing it right however its not so bad. Unlike previous Leatherman tools in which the screwdrivers are meant to be used with the tool closed up like a clam, the Skeletool screwdriver must be used with the tool open. (Also referred to as the “stretch” postion) It can be stretched two different ways, depending on which handle the pliers are folded up against.

I find this way works pretty good:



The screwdriver bit is on the center of mass and rotation, and the back ledge of the plier pivot gives my hand something to push against.

This way, on the other hand, doesn’t work for me at all:




Pocket Clips:
Pretty much a dead even race here. The original Zilla-Tool is a massively long affair that bottoms out in my pants pocket long before the pocket clip fully engages. The shorter Zilla-Tool Jr has no such issues.



My only complaint is a minor one; I prefer to carry clipped knives and tools in my right front pocket, but the Zillas have a pocket clip that is oriented the wrong way, better suited to the left front pocket. (see picture above) Like I said, a pretty minor issue.

The Skeletool clip works perfectly for me. I like how thin it is, and how it’s oriented.



By the way, both pocket clips are easily removable for those who would prefer to go clipless.

Knives:
Even though both these tools are based primarily on their pliers, their knife blades are probably what will get used the most.

To begin with, both knives have a selection of holes in them. The reason is ostensibly for lighter weight, but I suspect it’s more about looking cool. Personally I’d rather do without the extra holes. They just tend to collect crud and muck when cutting foodstuffs.



Both blades are about the same length, although the thicker Skeletool blade is definitely the stouter of the two. The Zilla Jr has a serrated section if that matters to you.

Knife Usage:
The Zilla-Tool Jr employs a little tab intended to “flip” the blade out. Problem is it never quite works for me. I get the blade flipped out about half way, then have to use my other hand to get it the rest of the way open.





Also note that the little flipper tab is the only way to get the blade out on the Zilla. There are no nail nicks or other alternatives.

Once the blade is deployed it enjoys the same advantages in use as the pliers and the screwdriver. The frame of the Zilla is such a perfect shape that one soon forgets that they are holding onto a multitool. It acts and feels more like a dedicated folder.



The Skeletool gets its butt kicked on ergonomics by the Zilla Jr in most areas, but not so much on the knife usage. Certainly you know you’re holding onto a multitool when using the Skeletool blade, but well thought out finger notches make it quite comfortable and safe. And as mentioned previously, the stouter blade instills confidence to take heavier cuts. The Zilla Jr blade feels somewhat delicate in comparison:



As regards knife deployment, the Skeletool is much superior in my opinion. I’m biased in favor of one hand opening blades with finger holes and liner locks though, so take that into consideration.



You’ve no doubt heard this phrase so often that it sounds like a cop-out, but you really can’t go wrong with either one of these fine multi purpose tools. Each have their strengths and weaknesses, and neither are meant to compete with bigger heavier models that feature dozens of functions. Instead, these two are intended to only offer the basics, in a compact package that makes it more likely to be with you when it’s needed, as opposed to back at home on the dresser.




In order to be certain of having the right tool for every job.........one must first acquire a lot of tools
Chief of the Absolutely No Life Club! Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here... Posts: 42,959 Why haven't you got a Farmer yet!
Re: Some Skeletool -vs- Zilla-Tool Jr. thoughts
« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2008, 07:29:56 PM »
Great review as ever Bob :salute:, it's interesting what a close race it was considering the big price differencial :)

Still don't want either of them though :D

Give in, buy several Farmer's!!!!!!
Multitool Enthusiast Admin Team No Life Club Posts: 2,780 Staff Writer
Re: Some Skeletool -vs- Zilla-Tool Jr. thoughts
« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2008, 07:39:56 PM »
I agree with you on both tools, the Zilla Jr. would make a better competitor if it could have access to more driver options, when the get-a-way comes out that will become a reality. I do like the pliers on the Jr but find them a little on the small size, or maybe it's my large hands that think they are small  ::) I found with the Jr you can deploy the blade in one flick, but your finger has to rest on the flipper very low, almost near the bottom to give you maximum push. My regular Zilla has no flicking issues, I think it's due to the smaller size and mass of the blade. Nice write up, I have both tools and they are both good contenders in the minimalistic tool race.
Head Turd Polisher Administrator Just Bananas Posts: 61,454 Optimum instrumentum est inter aures
Re: Some Skeletool -vs- Zilla-Tool Jr. thoughts
« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2008, 08:56:35 PM »
I agree with most of what you wrote, but Micky raises an interesting point.  With the Zilla Jr being found at around $30 and the Skeletool being priced around $50, do you feel that the Skeletool is wort hthe extra $20?  Basically, if you had limited funds, and were buying only one tool, which would you opt for?

Of course with the FreeStyle coming out soon, and expected to be at the same price point as the Zilla Jr, do you think that would tip the scales any?

Def

Leave the dents as they are- let your belongings show their scars as proudly as you do yours.
No Life Club Posts: 1,798 Spawn of Cthulhu
Re: Some Skeletool -vs- Zilla-Tool Jr. thoughts
« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2008, 11:30:47 PM »
So how do these two plierknifescrewdrivers compare? Pretty well actually. Here are a few observations, in no particular order


Excellent comparison review, J-sews - great job!

The quality photos you provide really help the reader to understand the ergonomics of using the two tools.

My only suggestion for improving this review would be to include the overall lengths and weights of the two tools - just so the reader doesn't have to search elsewhere for that info.

.

N
No Life Club Posts: 2,886
Re: Some Skeletool -vs- Zilla-Tool Jr. thoughts
« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2008, 11:49:47 PM »
Nice Bob. I like both tools very much and having smaller hands I don't really have a problem using the Skeletool with the pliers deployed by holding the bit driver in my palm. I don't like it the carabiner way though. I can see how some one with bigger hands could have a problem. My one small complaint about the Zilla Jr like you said is the thin delicate blade and like Dave mentioned the smaller bits. I look forward to getting a Get-A-Way driver.

"
Absolutely No Life Club Posts: 6,568
Re: Some Skeletool -vs- Zilla-Tool Jr. thoughts
« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2008, 01:23:57 AM »
Nice job, Bob! I think it's funny how you use the Skeletool's bit driver!! I think it is really awkward having the pliers that way...

B
Absolutely No Life Club Posts: 8,694 The MTO handshake.
Re: Some Skeletool -vs- Zilla-Tool Jr. thoughts
« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2008, 04:25:24 AM »
Great review Bob , as always :cheers: .One point though , if the Skeletool did not have the Carabiner it would loose the worlds coolest bottle opener. It is a bit of a show stopper at a BBQ when you use the Skeletool to liberate some beer , shallow but true  :D :D


"Downunder Mod (that sounds dirty, doesn't it?)"
Yeh Baby :P >:D >:D
No Life Club Posts: 1,957 Marsh-wiggle
Re: Some Skeletool -vs- Zilla-Tool Jr. thoughts
« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2008, 06:23:09 AM »
The carabiner/bottle opener is also the bit-cover when the tool's closed. It's a busy little piece of metal.
Admin Team Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 23,213
Re: Some Skeletool -vs- Zilla-Tool Jr. thoughts
« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2008, 04:01:18 PM »
Evidently I will need to open a whole lot more beer with the carabiner this weekend in order to gain a new appreciation for it! :D

In order to be certain of having the right tool for every job.........one must first acquire a lot of tools
Zombie Apprentice Posts: 13,375 Sing, Michael, sing. On the route of the 19 Bus!
Re: Some Skeletool -vs- Zilla-Tool Jr. thoughts
« Reply #10 on: July 05, 2008, 04:43:23 PM »
Evidently I will need to open a whole lot more beer with the carabiner this weekend in order to gain a new appreciation for it! :D

Lol - it is kind of hard to get excited about a bottle opener isn't it? But, its is very well thought out tool on the Skeletool.

I have even been known to go and fetch my Skeletool from the other room in preference to using whatever I have in pocket for opening beer. It really is a satisfying action though.

As for the screwdriver handle positions, I agree that it is a bit awkward at first, but I quickly got used to it, and even started to like it. I find that with the pliers lying on the driver handle, the ability to get your thumb behind the pivot of the other handle is very useful.




Admin Team Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 23,213
Re: Some Skeletool -vs- Zilla-Tool Jr. thoughts
« Reply #11 on: July 05, 2008, 05:00:35 PM »
As for the screwdriver handle positions, I agree that it is a bit awkward at first, but I quickly got used to it, and even started to like it. I find that with the pliers lying on the driver handle, the ability to get your thumb behind the pivot of the other handle is very useful.




Yes, same here. In photos the Skeletool looks awkward all splayed out like this, but its really pretty good. I would hazard to say that the Skeletool makes for a more comfortable screwdriver platform than the more common multitool screwdriver arrangement, which places the driver far off-center when in use.

(In other words, I would rather drive tight screws with a Skeletool than with a Wave or a SOG or a SwissTool)

In order to be certain of having the right tool for every job.........one must first acquire a lot of tools
Zombie Apprentice Posts: 13,375 Sing, Michael, sing. On the route of the 19 Bus!
Re: Some Skeletool -vs- Zilla-Tool Jr. thoughts
« Reply #12 on: July 05, 2008, 05:08:04 PM »
Agreed, and also it's a very simple adjustment from the position in your pic, to set the trailing handle at 90 degrees if you really want to apply some torque.

I still wish it had scissors though, although I wouldn't necessarily trade any of the existing tools for them, and if you add more, then I guess you may as well get a Fuse..

Great review btw Bob!

Absolutely No Life Club Posts: 6,568
Re: Some Skeletool -vs- Zilla-Tool Jr. thoughts
« Reply #13 on: July 05, 2008, 05:54:24 PM »
I recently emailed LM and asked them if they had any plans to make bit holder implements.. By this, I mean like a can opener, awl, chisels, and the like.. And they said NOPE.. Oh, and I asked them if they are going to have any new tools out... They said in February!!

B
Sr. Member Posts: 392
Re: Some Skeletool -vs- Zilla-Tool Jr. thoughts
« Reply #14 on: July 06, 2008, 02:20:05 AM »
Thanks Bob! Great review!
I wansn't interested in the Zilla, but after reading your review I think I'll have to reconsider.
Global Moderator Just Bananas Posts: 61,323
Re: Some Skeletool -vs- Zilla-Tool Jr. thoughts
« Reply #15 on: July 08, 2008, 05:01:57 AM »
Yeah I saw a Skeletool the other day :o and really like the look of it nice review Bob :salute: :D
No Life Club Posts: 1,092
Re: Some Skeletool -vs- Zilla-Tool Jr. thoughts
« Reply #16 on: July 08, 2008, 06:16:15 AM »
New tools in Feb? What do you think might face the chopping block?

Fan of the Leatherman mini-bit driver and the Vic backspring philips.
No Life Club Posts: 1,064
Re: Some Skeletool -vs- Zilla-Tool Jr. thoughts
« Reply #17 on: July 08, 2008, 06:47:18 AM »
On blades that have the flipper thing: I usually flick my wrist, as well as my finger. That always gets the blade out. But if I just play with it, and flip it out several times in a short time, my wrist starts to get sore.  :P

[
No Life Club Posts: 1,894
Re: Some Skeletool -vs- Zilla-Tool Jr. thoughts
« Reply #18 on: July 09, 2008, 01:57:22 AM »
Excellent input and pictures Bob!
Absolutely No Life Club Posts: 8,550
Re: Some Skeletool -vs- Zilla-Tool Jr. thoughts
« Reply #19 on: July 09, 2008, 02:39:23 AM »
On blades that have the flipper thing: I usually flick my wrist, as well as my finger. That always gets the blade out. But if I just play with it, and flip it out several times in a short time, my wrist starts to get sore.  :P

A well designed flipper won't need wrist action at all, like kershaw's junkyard dog. But on my kershaw storm I can't open it without wrist flip.
Global Moderator Just Bananas Posts: 61,323
Re: Some Skeletool -vs- Zilla-Tool Jr. thoughts
« Reply #20 on: July 09, 2008, 03:38:05 AM »
Oh, and I asked them if they are going to have any new tools out... They said in February!!

Now that's something to make a person all warm and fuzzy inside :ahhh :gimme: :D
No Life Club Posts: 1,894
Re: Some Skeletool -vs- Zilla-Tool Jr. thoughts
« Reply #21 on: July 09, 2008, 03:52:28 AM »
On blades that have the flipper thing: I usually flick my wrist, as well as my finger. That always gets the blade out. But if I just play with it, and flip it out several times in a short time, my wrist starts to get sore.  :P

A well designed flipper won't need wrist action at all, like kershaw's junkyard dog. But on my kershaw storm I can't open it without wrist flip.

I agree with this; the flipper is a function of the tab design, blade weight and locking system interaction. When all three interplay effectively the knife should open with no wrist flicks. I'd wager that the problem with the Zilla Jr. is due to the low blade weight, small tab, and impingement by the locking liner. Not necessarily a "problem" just inherent in this particular design. On my full-size Zilla I had @85% positive flipper deployment even after tuning, just one of these tradeoffs made to keep the tool sleek and ergonomic, never really minded.

Bob, meant to comment earlier but forgot about this. How do you find the "serrations" on the Jr.? Are they smaller scallops than the full-size? On the full-size; I never found them to cut as effectively and cleanly as a proper design like the Spyderco pattern but they did perform well on rope and fibrous material, just not much else.
Admin Team Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 23,213
Re: Some Skeletool -vs- Zilla-Tool Jr. thoughts
« Reply #22 on: July 10, 2008, 05:10:05 AM »
Even with a wrist flip, I can't get the Zilla Jr blade to open completely. You guys are right, it has to do with the extremely lightweight blade. (That and the drag from the liner lock.)


Spoon, I do not care for the serrations on either Zilla. The tooth size on the Jr is scaled down somewhat from the full-sized model. The problem however is that only the "valleys" of the serrations are sharp, but not the peaks. For instance, I can rub my thumb along the peaks of the serrations with no danger of drawing blood. I suspect that is why it only performs well on the rope and fiber materials.  :-\

In order to be certain of having the right tool for every job.........one must first acquire a lot of tools
Jr. Member Posts: 94
Re: Some Skeletool -vs- Zilla-Tool Jr. thoughts
« Reply #23 on: July 13, 2008, 08:06:34 AM »
 i love the way that the zillas pliers are spring loaded and pop out at the flip of a switch, i expeirienced one at an rei a couple of days ago and i can't say it wsn't a little bit addictive. its also neat how you can use the hole in the pliers as a carabiner whn in the locked position. and is the knife on the skeletool relalythat much better? or is it just the comparison that makes the zilla seem so wimpy
Admin Team Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 23,213
Re: Some Skeletool -vs- Zilla-Tool Jr. thoughts
« Reply #24 on: July 13, 2008, 02:31:11 PM »
i love the way that the zillas pliers are spring loaded and pop out at the flip of a switch, i expeirienced one at an rei a couple of days ago and i can't say it wsn't a little bit addictive. its also neat how you can use the hole in the pliers as a carabiner whn in the locked position. and is the knife on the skeletool relalythat much better? or is it just the comparison that makes the zilla seem so wimpy

Thats a good point RR, the Zilla Jr knife blade is really about the same size as most other 4" plier multitools. It's the Skeletool blade that is slightly larger/thicker.

In order to be certain of having the right tool for every job.........one must first acquire a lot of tools
Sr. Member Posts: 490
Re: Some Skeletool -vs- Zilla-Tool Jr. thoughts
« Reply #25 on: July 13, 2008, 05:20:16 PM »
Great review! I would like to offer one more point about the Skeletool screwdriver.

This may not be it's intended purpose, but I have used the screwdriver with the handles in a 90-degree angle one to another. This gives you turning power if you are putting woodscrews into a board, which is sometimes impossible to do with the driver in the default position.
Jr. Member Posts: 94
Re: Some Skeletool -vs- Zilla-Tool Jr. thoughts
« Reply #26 on: July 13, 2008, 05:38:12 PM »
i love the way that the zillas pliers are spring loaded and pop out at the flip of a switch, i expeirienced one at an rei a couple of days ago and i can't say it wsn't a little bit addictive. its also neat how you can use the hole in the pliers as a carabiner whn in the locked position. and is the knife on the skeletool relalythat much better? or is it just the comparison that makes the zilla seem so wimpy

Thats a good point RR, the Zilla Jr knife blade is really about the same size as most other 4" plier multitools. It's the Skeletool blade that is slightly larger/thicker.
thanks for the help, i wouldn't think that CRKT would put a small knife on one of their products! im not sure but did someone already bring up[ that the zilla is 4.8 oz while the skeletool is 5 oz? just if someone wants to know.
Absolutely No Life Club Posts: 8,550
Re: Some Skeletool -vs- Zilla-Tool Jr. thoughts
« Reply #27 on: July 15, 2008, 08:58:34 PM »
The problem however is that only the "valleys" of the serrations are sharp, but not the peaks. For instance, I can rub my thumb along the peaks of the serrations with no danger of drawing blood. I suspect that is why it only performs well on the rope and fiber materials.  :-\

Reminds me of the sog seal 2000 I used to have, the serration isn't ground deep/wide enough so the tip of serrations are unsharpened and probably 1/2 mm wide, so much for a knife that's touted for use by navy seals.
Jr. Member Posts: 94
Re: Some Skeletool -vs- Zilla-Tool Jr. thoughts
« Reply #28 on: July 23, 2008, 05:54:17 AM »
and also, if your an eco nut and a alcoholic and a rock climbing fanatic, when you open a bottle with the bottle opening, most of the time the carabiner catches the cap in its spring too! how practical.

 

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