Wednesday, October 1, 2014

LONG TERM UPDATE: Leatherman Charge AL Multi-Tool- "The Do-It-All Pocket Companion"

It's been almost two and a half years since I reviewed Leatherman's Charge AL Multi-Tool. How has the Charge held up? Brilliantly. In fact, I like it so much that it has become my main EDC tool. In spite of the fact that I have a large collection of high quality folders, I still find myself grabbing the Charge over my other blades when headed off into the unknown. Why? Simply put, the Charge is the best of both worlds-- a convenient one-hand opening folding knife with a pocket clip, and a full size multi-tool, all in one.

The Leatherman Charge 2 1/2 years later: Well used but still going strong, the Charge AL has been a fantastic pocket companion:

Surprising Portability

Now don't get me wrong, when compared to a typical EDC folder, the Charge is no lightweight, weighing a rather hefty 8.3 ounces (about 3x the weight of a typical EDC folder). The key to the Charge being such an excellent EDC tool is that despite its weight, its excellent deep-carry pocket-clip makes the Charge feel almost as light as a standard EDC folder when carried in the pocket.

The Charge AL sitting comfortably inside the pocket of my 511 Pants:

Infinitely Handy, Extremely Versatile

I've found the various tools of the Charge to be so handy that I feel practically naked without them. In fact, I misplaced the Charge last year for about a week and practically went into withdrawal until I found it! Since I spend the majority of my time living off-the-grid or field testing on private property and in national forests, I've found the Charge's tools to be indispensable when I don't have a larger toolbox close by.

PLIERS/WIRE CUTTERS- The pliers and wirecutters have been more useful than I ever imagined. I've used them for pulling fish hooks, lifting hot pot lids during campfire cookouts, performing emergency repairs on the Rocky Mountain Bushcraft Mystery Van, pruning pieces from edible plants and a myriad of other things.

FILE- The diamond-sided and course-sided files have been used many times to file off burrs and sharp edges on everything from the corner of my aluminium backpack frame to the tip of the front sight on one of my wiilderness rifles, saving me from lots of cuts and scrapes. The diamond-sided file has come in handy for sharpening my axes when I don't have access to my axe sharpening stones.

SAW- The saw has been used to make multiple shelter poles, and to harvest pitchwood knots when my larger folding saw was unavailable.

SCREWDRIVERS- All of the screwdrivers get used on a regular basis, including making sight adjustments on wilderness survival guns I'm testing.

SCISSORS- The scissors proved tough enough to cut through some thick leather I used to make a field pouch for my ceramic sharpening stone. They also come in handy for cutting loose threads, trimming nails in the field, etc.

MAIN BLADE and SERRATED BLADE- The 154CM on the main blade still amazes me with its ease of sharpening and edge holding. It has also proven to be extremely tough, because in spite of some very rough use, the edge has never rolled or chipped- great job Leatherman! The 420HC Serrated blade has been great for cutting through cardboard, and pulled double duty as a crude potato peeler to scrape edible roots clean.

CAN OPENER- When the 2013 Colorado Flood Disaster hit us, the Charge came in especially handy. All the mountain roads leading to town were blocked for over a week by boulders, running streams, and debris, cutting me off from civilization and leaving me stranded for the duration at a friend's mountain cabin. Most of my tools and equipment were at another location, so the Charge was pretty much the only real tool I had on me. When my fresh food supplies dwindled, I had to dig into my emergency supply of canned food. The Charge's can opener was a Godsend! I also once used the can opener as an awl to punch a new hole in my leather belt during a backpacking trip.


What else can I say? The Charge AL's superb pocket clip, rugged durability, and "pocket tool kit" abilities make it one of the best EDC/portable preparedness tools on the market today. Having a combination one-handed folder and a full-sized multi-tool with me at all times has been more handy than I could have imagined. In fact, I didn't know how much I'd miss the Charge's multi-tool functionality until I misplaced it for a week and nearly freaked out!

The only drawback is that the Charge is thicker and heavier than a typical folding blade. Even with its excellent pocket clip (which makes it feel light in the pocket for its weight), it's still no Gerber EZ Out or SOG Flash II. Still, the Charge AL's advantages far outweigh any of its disadvantages, and it is without a doubt the most handy and complete EDC tool I've ever owned.

4.5 out of 5 Stars ( Highly recommended)

For more information visit Leatherman's site at

About the author
Jason Schwartz is the founder and senior editor of Rocky Mountain Bushcraft. He is a former Red Cross certified Wilderness & Remote First Aid Instructor, and has taught bushcraft and wilderness survival techniques to the Boy Scouts of America, interned with the US Forest Service, and studied wilderness survival, forestry and wildland firefighting at Colorado Mountain College in Leadville, Colorado. Jason has also written for magazines such as The New Pioneer and Backpacker, including writing the "Tinder Finder" portion of Backpacker's "Complete Guide to Fire," which won a 2015 National Magazine Award (NMA). Email him at rockymountainbushcraft @ (without spaces)

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