Monday, October 24, 2011

Leatherman Wingman and Sidekick

Leatherman stuff is really well thought out.  They, along with Victorinox, represent the very top tier of multitool makers.  So when they release two new models, three months before Christmas no less, they merit some attention.  The two models are the Sidekick and the Wingman.  The two models are medium sized tools, roughly the same dimensions and weight as the Wave/Charge models. 

There are four big innovations with these multitools.  First, both come in at below $35.  They are aimed at the lower end of the spectrum of multitools (ahem...Gerber...ahem).  Ideally they will be sold in big box stores where the premium priced Waves seem to gather dust.  Second, they have spring loaded pliers which enables the pliers to be ready to go, even one handed.  Third, the Wingman has one of the most interesting tools I have seen on a multitool in years: the clam shell opener.  Finally, they both include a built-in pocket clips (there have been accessory pocket clips for Leatherman tools for a while, but only the Skeletool had a built-in one).

The Sidekick doesn't have scissors, so, for me at least, it is a no go.  It offers a large serrated blade and a large straight edge blade and the normal selection of tools.  The Wingman, in contrast, does offers a pair of scissors, and not just any scissors--really good ones.



The scissors are in one of the two large tool slots on the outside of the tool, giving you both a larger than normal pair of scissors (when compared to other multitools) and externally accessible scissors.

Other than the scissors and the knife blade, all of the other tools are internally accessible only.  The other good part of the Wingman is the package opener.  Designed to rip open the ubiquitous and annoying clam shell/blister packs, the tool looks like a little hook, but the inside of the hook is straight (not curved) and sharp.  I imagine that you'd place your index finger on the back edge of the hook and then press it into the plastic.  Clam shells are everywhere and sometimes a knife blade isn't ideal.  It can poke the contents inside, damaging them, or worse slip out one of the sides and injuring your hand.  The new clam shell opener makes that much more unlikely.  When you look at how widespread these packages are, a tool design to address this issue is a welcome addition to any multitool.  For me, it makes the short list of multitool requirements (the list: pliers, knife, Phillips and Flathead Screwdriver, carabiner clip, pocket clip, scissors, bottle opener, and clam shell opener).  It is also nice to see that Leatherman is still innovating after all of these years.  Not that I thought they were slowing down, the Skeletool is really amazing, but it is just nice to see new stuff.    

Some of the bad:

1.  The steel is crappy steel, 420HC.  This is a significant step down from the 154CM of the Skeletool or the S30V of the Charge TTi.

2.  The pocket clip is still the off-set design like on the Skeletool which can roll and bunch in the pocket with lots of use.

3.   Most of the tools are on the inside of the tool.  I guess the PS4 and Skeletool have spoiled me, but I don't know why they need to place the tools, other than the pliers, on the inside.

All of these disadvantages though are offset by the incredible price: $24.96 at Home Depot.

I assumed that the Sidekick/Wingman were made in China, given that price, but they aren't.  Leatherman insisted on USA made and a good price point and what do you know?  It worked.  I am trying to get one for review, but just a rundown of the specs and price shows you this is a real contender.  It also makes it hard for me to justify buy a Wave or Charge, though the better steel is seductive.  I have also heard these are going into Home Depot/Lowes stores for the holidays.  That, coupled with the announcement that Home Depot will carry 4sevens lights (from last year), means that for under $100 you can have a pretty bitchin' EDC set up: a Wingman and a Quark AA (a total of $84.96). 


5 comments:

  1. The only substantial review of the Wingman I've seen is this dude on BF, who thought the cost-cutting resulted in a tool with unacceptable build quality:

    http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/showthread.php/890547-Leatherman-Wingman-not-recommended

    My mind's still open. I'll be interested to read your review (or at least some impressions), as time permits.

    PS: The Leatherman ad campaign for this tool is pretty amusing. Check their website.

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  2. Leatherman has agreed to send me a review sample, so I will have a review up as soon as I get it and use it for a while. Probably sometime in mid-November, just before the holiday shopping season.

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  3. I had a Leatherman Wave and I lost it. I now have a Gerber multitool but don't like it as much. I can't bring myself to spend another $69 on a wave for fear of losing it again, should I go for the Wingman?
    I found it at expressbuy123 for $21.99 with free shipping. The price on their site is $25 but they have a $3 coupon if you type in dpwingman.

    http://expressbuy123.com/featured/leatherman-wingman-multi-tool-831426.html?SID=f7lfnro6tthc0308addu5ju656

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  4. I won't vouch for a vendor I have never used, but you can get the Wingman at Home Depot for about the same if you live in the States.

    I would recommend the Wingman though. The Sidekick was quite nice. I would also look into the Skeletool. It has all of the basics but nothing else.

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  5. The wingman is nothing more than a beater tool. For $30 and a 25 year warranty, what more could you ask for? I'll abuse this MT all day long for $30.

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