I can’t remember a year when there was no new product in Leatherman’s offer, but what can you do – in 2018, the only novelties are upgrades of three multitools: Wave+ (two color versions), Charge+, and Charge+ TTi. Although Charge has already undergone a lifting process involving a change in the design of the cladding, this time something more than just the appearance has changed, fortunately.
The basis for all these models is the pliers, which have been modified to make them more useful. Charge+ and Wave+ are now equipped with interchangeable wire cutters. It doesn’t look like a big thing, but the change is quite important because it finally allows you to use the cutters without any worries. Yes, Leatherman tool comes with a 25 year warranty and in case of damage (chipping, dents or similar) to the cutter blades, the tool could be sent back to the service center and you would get a new or repaired tool. The attempt to repair the jaws on your own was rather doomed to failure already from the start because even if you had the right tools at your disposal, it would be very difficult to do so.
Therefore, what could be done is to have the service repair or replace them, but this in turn took time – it would take a week at best, but in a worse-case scenario, it would take certainly even longer. The use of exchangeable cutters of the Heavy Duty series (e.g. MUT, OHT or Rebar and Signal) allows for a rapid replacement of damaged or worn parts. The repair kit includes two 154CM steel blades and a wrench to replace them, and a set of new screws. The consequence of using interchangeable cutters is a slight shortening of the grooved, toothed part of the pliers. In addition, we have a flat part and – in the Charge + TTi model only – a blasting cap crimper.
The jaws are screwed onto (an Allen key with shank, requires special bits to loosen them) the arms of the multitool – the entire tool opens and closes like butterfly knives (balisong). Wave+’s arms are “bare”, without handles, Charge+ features aluminum handles, and Charge + TTi comes with titanium handles.
Traditionally, with the Charge+ and Wave+ closed multitools, there are four tools available:
- plain blade (Charge+ and Wave+ 154CM steel, TTi S30V steel, a clip point blade, length of approx. 70 mm),
- serrated blade (420HC steel in all models, length of approx. 75 mm) with a belt cutting hook in Charge+,
- file (diamond dust-coated on one side, tear-off textured on the other, and featuring a hacksaw substitute on the underside),
- wood saw – each of them is locked with a liner lock, the button of which is marked with a padlock symbol.
Both blades can be opened with one hand, and the saw and file can be opened by grasping them with your fingernail, by an incision in the cladding. The tools in the “idle” position are held by a liner lock with a detent ball. To make it easier to distinguish between a plain and a serrated blade, the latter has three clear incisions on its back that are easily felt with the finger.
Pro tip: If you open the saw, insert a flat, hard object (e.g. the tip of a car key) into the saw slot and move it to the end of the tool’s arm. Push harder after you feel some resistance – a hidden eyelet for attaching a leash with a diameter of around 5 mm will slide out at the end of the arm.
An interesting fact about the knives: the blade locks itself to protect the user against accidental opening when using the pliers. In old models, it was possible to accidentally open the knife when the pliers were open and, if it was sharpened properly, cut the fingers when the pliers were closed. In the new model, it is impossible to open the blade after the handle has been unfolded – a clever solution has been applied, based on double springs cooperating with the relevant profiles on the lower part of the pliers, to which the hinges of the handle are attached. When the tool is opened, the cam goes between the springs to prevent accidental folding of the pliers, while one of the spring arms swings aside and its projection enters the opening of the “quick” opening of the blade, locking it in a closed position. The spring itself is also a unique element: in addition to locking the blades and working with the jaws of the pliers, it is also a stop for the jaws after they have been folded inside the tool – the bent up end of the pliers’ spring provides a stop. Adding to this the fact that the spring of the back lock block is also supported on the same rivet which attaches it to the handle, we get a typical Leatherman “Swiss clock”, i.e. a design excellence of sorts.
Once the arms have been opened, you have access to other tools:
- ruler – the edges of both arms are marked with scales in inches (8′) and centimeters (19 cm). These are not super-precision measuring tools, but are sufficient for immediate, spontaneous applications.
- cap and can opener, connected with a wire stripper. A typical Leatherman invention used in the majority of tools of this company. Simple and functional, which is the most important thing.
- bit driver with a spring clip. These are not full “tool” bits, but “flattened”, double-sided bits. A 10-bit driver and a watchmaker screwdriver are supplied with the Charge+ kit, although the factory setup offers seven of them (a double one with a Phillips screwdriver (PZ1/PZ2), two double torx (T10/T15 and T20/T25), a double one with a
- flat screwdriver (2/3 mm), and three double Allens (1.5/2, 2.5/3, 4/5 mm) – and one in the tool. If you feel that is not enough, you can buy a set of bits containing two sets of different bits, i.e. 20 pieces, two tools in each, separately. Wave+ owners have to do with one Phillips #1-2 & 3/16” bit.
- large, flat screwdriver, 7 mm wide. A standard, simple tool, without any bells and whistles, with a ledge on the back for easy opening.
- driver for watchmaking screwdriver with a locking spring for screwdriver and an opening ledge. The screwdriver itself is a fairly long (almost 35 mm) rod which ends on one side with a flat screwdriver (approx. 2 mm) and with a Phillips screwdriver on the other side. A perfect tool for tightening eyepiece screws.
- scissors. Small, filigree, and short (20 mm), but sharp and cutting very well. As they are equipped with a spring and a comfortable thumb ramp, they are very easy to work with and do not require any exceptional precision despite their minimal dimensions.
All internal tools in the working position are locked with a back lock at the end of the arm. The block buttons affecting the incisions in the opened working extension, working with a spring-supported ratchet placed in swinging position, are large and comfortable to use, with additional grooves to prevent fingers from slipping.
Charge+ is equipped with a quick-release lanyard eyelet (diameter of approx. 11 mm) and a spring clip, which allows you to carry the tool safely without a cover in a pocket. Both of these elements are fixed in the end of the handle, in a notch next to the bit driver, and are blocked with a back lock. This makes it easy to assemble and disassemble the mechanism, but especially in the case of the eyelet, it also causes additional accessories to fall out when you release the lock to hide the can opener or the bit driver and point the tool downwards with the end of the handle. None of them, on the other hand, makes it difficult to work with either the opener or the bits.
The belt sheath for the tool has also been changed. An older model with Velcro fasteners has been replaced by a Lift the Dot fastener.
I’ve been using the Charge TTi (and some other Leatherman tools) for almost 10 years now, and I got a new multitool a few weeks ago. As the only difference is the pliers themselves, I think you can safely apply the comments on the previous model to the new “plus”.
Charge TTi is a premium model. Of course, it’s a great piece of workmanship, but it doesn’t differ from the cheaper Charge (with aluminum cladding) or the even cheaper Wave in terms of functionality. OK, Wave does not have additions like the keys eyelet (the attached one, as it has already the fixed one) or a clip or a bit kit, but Charge does, and costs noticeably less. However, the titanium cladding improves the appearance of the tool, is more wear-resistant, and will not wear out like Charge’s black colored cladding. The choice is therefore up to the buyer.
When it comes to tools, yes, we also pay for the more durable steel of plain blades, because S30V has better properties than 420HC or 154CM, but it is also more expensive and more difficult to process. Anyway, I’ve chipped the blade in Wave once, I don’t remember how and when, but it hasn’t happened with Charge. It is much more difficult to make it happen anyway.
The saw works – small, but badass. Of course, because of the length, its possibilities are very limited in terms of the diameter/thickness of the material to be cut, but as for a pocket tool there’s not much to complain about.
The file is a great thing. Although I practically haven’t used this grater from the bottom, the grit and “diamond” serve their purpose very well.
Serrated blade – cuts soft materials very well and the hook on the back of the blade perfectly cuts through safety belts, for example. Unfortunately, it has one major disadvantage: its placement on the serrated blade back makes it not a very safe tool and when using it, especially in an emergency situation, you have to be very careful not to hurt yourself or the person being freed from safety belts.
Opener for cans and caps – well, it opens them. Both of them, and is quiet and effective. I’ve rarely used a wire stripper, but as far as I remember, I didn’t how anything to complain about. All in all, it is better to use it than to use a knife, as the latter can be easily blunted or damaged.
Bit driver and bits. They work, but there’s one “but”. By placing two ends in one bit, the larger torx and Allen bits are “undersized”, i.e. flattened on the sides to a size corresponding to the hole in the driver (its size also limits the maximum width of a flat screwdriver, which in this case is 5 mm). The effect is that, for example, a 5 mm Allen can be used to unscrew the corresponding screw, but the end will have far fewer support points in the screw head than a full-sized Allen key. This is in fact similar to removing an Allen screw with a flat screwdriver, although slightly better fitted, which means that it can be removed as long as it does not offer too much resistance, because in this case it can lead to the bit or the head of the screw becoming damaged.
Scissors – tiny, but just as badass as the saw. They cut great, do not tend to become loose or pull the cut material in between the blades, which can irritate you quite well. The spring makes working much easier and improves the comfort, but I saw one tool where a badly fitted spring jumped sideways and locked the scissors when the lever was pressed. The tool was sent for exchange, it came back, and everything is OK now.
Watchmaker screwdriver – saved me and my friends a few times from having glasses fall apart completely. It’s great, but you have to remember that it can only be used as a screwdriver. Attempting to use it to lever something ends in breaking it, and a colleague of mine did it already to my tool. Luckily, the screwdriver costs a penny, so I have a new one and I remember it’s ONLY a screwdriver.
Flat screwdriver – well, it is a piece of solid sheet metal. It is there, it works, nothing more to write about it.
I usually carry a Charge+ TTi with me in my pocket clipped to its edge. The clip itself does the job, but if you pull it harder, you can bend it back. Fortunately, it can be tightened up again with pliers and restored to normal operation. It does not interfere with the use of tools, as is the case with the eyelet that is fixed in the same place. However, I do not use the latter at all, because it is too big and uncomfortable. I prefer the hidden tool, which is built into the arm of the tool. The clip itself sits in the seat so firmly that even when the lock is pressed down, there is no tendency for it to fall out, and to remove it, you need to put some force into it.
To sum up: Charge+ TTi is Leatherman’s top-of-the-range tool – only MUT and Tread are more expensive (excluding “special” models). It works like the Wave or the Charge, but differs from them in terms of the featured materials and accessories. A piece of good tool, but for people with a rather fat wallet. Those less in the money can go for a Wave+ or a Charge+.
I had a thing to do some time ago, there was something to cut, bend, then catch, tap, and tighten. And you know what? I didn’t want to look for a saw, a hammer, a screwdriver, and a pair of pliers… so I didn’t do that at all.
Now I am holding in my hand a piece of metal. Angular, oxidized, which appears quite elegant to me. The most important thing is that thanks this piece of metal, it I don’t have any dilemmas anymore when I need to do something at home and rummage in the garage in search of tools. Wave is not a novelty, but it is my first, private Leatherman (because my father’s Leatherman was the first one of all – unfortunately, dad wasn’t willing to give it to his sonny). I won’t reinvent the wheel if I write that “damn, it is so great to have such a multitool in my pocket, I can do anything”, but that’s what it’s all about. I am not a specialist, a collector of such tools, I don’t know much about such equipment so much that I can judge it in terms of “kick-assness” in the multitool class. I look at it as a user, not even as an extreme one, but as an ordinary user, i.e. as assumed by the manufacturer. The Wave makes a good impression on me, it is robust, heavy (although it’s probably a disadvantage), it opens hard (it will probably break in with time), the pliers’ jaws meet quite precisely, the locks are sturdy, not to say – coarse (they’ll hold long), the knife is sharp (so sharp that I was surprised), so is the saw, the screwdrivers, and even the miniature scissors – everything makes an impression of a reliable, solid piece of workmanship, which will probably not disappoint me after some time using it. And even if it fails, the manufacturer gives 25 years of warranty, without any paperwork!
Since when I started to carry Wave, I’ve noticed I really need it – as if I’ve been coming across only such situations in which having it has turned out to be necessary all of a sudden. During the season I mostly ride my motorbike, so when a bulb dies – bam! – I grab the Wave and undo the rim of the spotlight in several seconds. Bam! It took me just a while to replace the light bulb at a petrol station, but it was important to me that it was possible first of all. I’ve had a few of such situations, e.g. installing a piece of equipment in my car – me and my Wave in my hand, a locked padlock and chain at the gate to the bin shelter, adjusting screws at the bike, whittling sticks for my daughter, opening wine bottles, and a lot of other stuff. It has turned out that carrying the multitool with you makes sense – I don’t know if any other piece of equipment would be so useful. Probably yes, but this one still looks good, is handy, fits in the hand, has a firm grip when using particular tools, and it is aggressively black 🙂
My Leatherman can tolerate anything with no problem, no deformations, no loosening – yes, the oxide is wearing off a bit, but it gives the tool more of a cool look. I don’t take it easy on the tool at all – sand, water, whatever, and it works as I expect it to. I must add that it has also become part of my equipment at the shooting range, and it has turned out super useful there several times already (recently when replacing the front handle, where there were problems with the holes in the stock in the AR). I mounted its sheath on the front line belt and it’s perfect – I have it at hand, I can use it quickly, and it’s always with me.
All in all, it may sound a bit exaggerated… but that’s it, the tool is awesome, tailored to my needs and living up to my expectations. I’ve had it for a few months and I’ll be honest with you and tell you that I haven’t been going easy on it, and you can see that it’s being used, but the traces of use are minimal. All this lets me believe that this piece of gear is of a very good quality and will serve me well me for many, many years to come.
I’m just wondering – why Wave? Wave, waving, tide, to wave… or permanent wave? 🙂
I don’t think there’s a point to write what Leatherman’s multitool is. If you don’t know what is it that we’re talking about here, you must have come across this article by chance (seriously?) or you’ve spent the last 20 years living under a rock. But for those of you for whom it doesn’t ring a bell – it’s a combination of a knife and pliers, and Charge is a better crafted Leatherman Wave. Premium or Pro version, if you may. I used the classic Wave for 10 years, taking it with me virtually wherever possible – if you fly only with your hand luggage, it must stay at home, though. Since Tim Leatherman himself autographed my old Wave, I had to give up using it – it would be stupid to lose it or leave it somewhere (and it was very close once).
And so, in February 2018, a new, improved Charge+ got into my hands. How is it different from the previous Charge except for the exchangeable wire cutters in the pliers’ jaws? I think there’s no difference apart from that. I find the anodized aluminum cladding with rough surface a big difference compared to the old Wave, as it improves the grip during work, especially when you had wet or sweaty hands. Aluminum still remains cold in winter, so you’ve got to wear gloves when it’s really cold. In addition to the cladding, the difference is in adding another tool, the cutting hook, to give a total of 19 tools in one. Quite a lot. You will probably never use some of them, but it’s better to have them than not to have them.
Charge+ has been my everyday companion since February – it has proven useful many times when I needed to tighten or loosen screws in a cabinet, mount some lighting elements, cut a cardboard package or a rope, remove or bend nails or some sharp edges, adjust the bike, knock out a pin in a rifle, remove the insulation layer from cables, open a beer or a can, trim and file my nails (you bet!), or even take measurements as there are rulers (inch and metric) on the edges of the tool – and it’s common knowledge that it’s better to be precise with measurements. As Staff Sergeant Sykes used to say in Jarhead: You take what you know and then you multiply. Please don’t use your dicks. They’re too small and I can’t count that high… The only things missing are a USB-C port and a Wi-Fi module. In general, I take Charge+ for every trip with me because you never know if you need it…
A great addition is a set of interchangeable bits, which is provided in a nylon sleeve along with the tool. You don’t have to worry about some popular bits missing. What is the disadvantage of the tool? It’s weight. 235 grams is already quite noticeable, so you either carry the tool in your waist bag/backpack or in a cover on your waist. I do not recommend carrying it in the pocket, as it is totally uncomfortable.
The tool should be cleaned from time to time because it is quite a complex device and if sand particles get inside, it starts to grit and jam. It must be thoroughly cleaned, dried, and greased, and it will probably last you longer than the manufacturer’s warranty, which is over than 25 years.
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