4:25:20 Leatherman Micra, a tool review

Like many, I carry a pocket knife. A given on my person, like a ring with car, house, and bicycle lock keys. Or my wallet. A small blade is essential for tasks like cutting string or peeling an orange.

tool

Several months ago, I wore out the best $20 I ever spent. It was a Leatherman Micra multitool. I’d had it for time-out-of-mind, more than 20 years. I used the scissors often and a back spring broke. I didn't feel badly about this tool failing. It had served me faithfully for decades, like a refrigerator in its longevity, Yes, the broken Micra was so old, its blue coating had worn away completely from decades of jangling against keys in my pocket.

Leatherman offers an unconditional repair/replace 25-year warranty on their multitools. Although I could’ve driven over to the Leatherman factory out by PDX, and asked about the warranty, I didn’t know which side of 25 years my broken Micra was.

For a modest price, how could I go wrong buying another Leatherman Micra? I did and couldn’t be happier with my modest buy of a new, blue (for now) Micra.

Like Tim Leatherman, I once, decades ago, had the ubiquitous Swiss Army Knife (SAK), standard issue for national armies the world over. My SAK was a Victorinox edition. I never quite got the appeal of the SAK with its mix-and-match ERECTOR(tm) Set-ish design. I had two SAK attachment inserts in the Swiss-red plastic covers: a white toothpick and tweezers. Without much effort, I managed to lose one or both. The whole assemblage of my Victorinox said, Jack of all trades, master of none.

Tim Leatherman’s eventual dissatisfaction with a SAK led him to invent and patent a better tool. He was not paying homage to any Swiss watchmaker tradition; he was building a durable multitool ready for hard use. When he started his company, he wanted a multitool that did its suite of tasks very well. No USB or cigarette lighter attachments (two regrettable offerings of the SAK) for him. No, just a machined vision of loveliness in steel. No flashy red plastic. Instead, a synergy of metal sliding and working against metal.

Leatherman multitools continue to be made exclusively in Portland, Oregon. Once, Tim Leatherman had a meeting with his employees and told them Leatherman multitools are to be made in Oregon, nowhere else. State-of-the-art manufacturing processes have kept the company here and globally competitive.

My Micra has ten tools and best of all, it can be used hard. Would I buy another? Yes, in about 25 years.

Image credit: author photo


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Read Charlie Dickinson's latest novel, Losing Laika, as an ebook in these five downloadable formats:

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Read Charlie Dickinson's story collection The Cat at Light's End, as an ebook in these downloadable formats:

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