July 16, 2024

I was in a bit of a pickle when I got my Leatherman Wingman back in 2019. 

I needed a comfortable multitool I could rely on for heavy use, I needed it to be affordable, and I needed it yesterday. I bought the Wingman without doing any research, hoping it would live up to its name. 

I haven’t been disappointed so far. 

After four years of rigorous testing, I can confidently say it’s one of the best multitools I’ve ever had. Solid and dependable, with 14 versatile applications, this is the perfect budget-friendly Leatherman for those who work hard and play harder. 

Leatherman Wingman Pros:

  • 14 tools 
  • Inexpensive
  • Ergonomic
  • 420 HC stainless-steel blade
  • Lightweight
  • Spring-loaded tools

Leatherman Wingman Cons:

  • Short ruler
  • Combo blade
  • Poor wire strippers
  • Useless file

Build Quality and Design

Leatherman is known for superior form and function. Founder Tim Leatherman pretty much invented the pliers-based multitool back in the 1980s, and his designs have only improved since then.

The Wingman is another gem in Leatherman’s long and prestigious line of working-class products, a true powerhouse that won’t fail under pressure.  

An Everything Tool

Leatherman positions the Wingman as a jack-of-all-trades type of tool, and I find myself using it for a wide variety of daily tasks. Even though not every single one of its 14 applications functions flawlessly, the most important ones do.

This isn’t surprising. Leatherman tools are all field-checked before they go into mass production. Because they’re designed for specific purposes and tested by real humans, few poor-quality materials or design errors move past the drawing board.  

High-Quality Materials

I was afraid Leatherman would cut corners to squeeze the Wingman into a lower price bracket. My fears were unfounded. It’s true that this model is a bit smaller than other multitools and doesn’t have as many functions. But the Wingman is still a quality product.

It sports a 420 HC stainless-steel knife blade, which gets incredibly sharp and has excellent corrosion resistance. This is a high-carbon variety of stainless steel, so it won’t be as rust-resistant as knives with more chromium in the blade. But mine hasn’t rusted yet. 

The Wingman also has four spring-loaded tools across two steel spring mechanisms. None of the springs have rusted out or given way so far, which surprised me because springs are usually the first to fail. 

Ergonomic Design

This tool is lightweight enough to carry on a daily basis but big enough to get the job done. It helps to have some heft on your tool, and the seven-ounce Wingman does. I’ve been known to use it as a club when my hammer disappears, but I don’t recommend that. 

It’s also extremely compact, considering it has 14 applications. I wear it outside my pocket on a convenient removable pocket clip, but it also comes with a stitched nylon sheath.

I’m a person of small stature, and the Wingman isn’t too big for me. It’s a comfortable everyday sidekick, fitting nicely in my hand with good maneuverability. Overall, it’s a pleasant and much-needed addition to my toolkit.

Tools Included

There are 14 tools in the Leatherman Wingman, and I’ve tried them all. Some of them work incredibly well, and others are comically ineffective:

  1. Spring-action needle-nose pliers: The needle-nose pliers get the most use out of every tool in this unit. They align well, they’re powerful, and I’d be lost without them. 
  2. Spring-action regular pliers: The pliers are also a favorite. I never use dedicated pliers anymore. Instead, I just pop these out and go to town. They’re incredibly strong for such a small tool.
  3. Spring-action wire cutters: These wire cutters work like a charm. They have prevailed where other wire cutters have bent and broken. 
  4. Spring-action scissors: I am shocked that these work as well as they do. After four years, I keep thinking it’s some kind of fluke. Because they’re so small, they only really cut paper and plastic. But since the Wingman has a knife, you don’t miss out.
  5. Wire strippers: The wire strippers seem like an afterthought. They aren’t easy for me to use, but stripping wire is hard work anyway. They might work better for a person with a bit more muscle power.
  6. 420 HC combo knife: The knife sports a robust, durable, razor-sharp blade. It has a combination serrated/straight edge, but I wish it had two separate blades. 
  7. Package opener: The package opener is great for packages wrapped in rigid plastic, like the kind you get with most electronics. At first, I thought it was an oddly specific tool, but now I’m delighted it’s there. 
  8. Ruler: The ruler measures 1.5 inches. It functions very well as a joke.
  9. Can opener: The can opener is easy to use and works as you would expect. I was pleasantly surprised when I could open a can in less than a minute. Creamed corn, here I come. 
  10. Bottle opener: The bottle opener is also the can opener. It works fine, but I usually just open bottles with whatever tool I can pull out first. For some reason, it’s never the bottle opener. 
  11. Wood/metal file: The file is the second most useless tool in the Wingman. It’s too small for larger projects, and the grain is too coarse for fine work. Get yourself some sandpaper instead. 
  12. Phillips screwdriver: The Phillips head is a real 3D driver. You can fold it out and grip it firmly, so it should work well. However, I still find it awkward. You can’t replace it with another size, so you’re stuck with that head for life. 
  13. Medium flathead screwdriver: The medium flathead screwdriver should be called a big flathead screwdriver. It’s too big for most of my needs, but I sometimes use it to open bottles. 
  14. Small flathead screwdriver: The small flathead screwdriver is easier to pull out than the Phillips, so I often use it instead where size and shape allow. It’s tiny but tough and gets the job done. 

Special Features

The Wingman has a few features you won’t get with lower-quality multitools, going above and beyond for a product in this price range.

One-Handed Operation

Even the best multitools can be cumbersome, but the Wingman is less so than many I’ve worked with. Once you get it open, you can pull out the tool you need, close it again, and wield it with one hand. It’s small enough to grip easily but doesn’t disappear in your palm.

Accessible Tools

Sometimes, you don’t have the time or patience to open up your multitool. The Wingman’s knife and scissors are accessible from the outside, and you can get them out with a simple flick of the wrist.

Tool accessibility is not as critical as quality, but it sure makes life easier. I can whip the knife out in seconds, saving valuable time at work. 

Detachable Pocket Clip

Leatherman gives itself a lot of accolades for the detachable pocket clip. You can even buy an extra pocket clip in case you lose yours.

I have never taken mine off, but you can remove it to fit the Wingman onto a toolbelt if that’s more your style. The clip is also kind of a bonus tool, acting as a mini pry bar to reopen old paint cans and such. 

Locking Knife Blade

The locking knife blade should be a standard feature on safe multitools. Once you flip the knife out, you can secure it with a liner lock tab. You can then slice, saw, or cut things without worrying about your blade slipping.

I have been in several imaginary sword fights with my Wingman, and the knife has never fallen out of place or cut me. 

Leatherman Wingman in Action

After four years of heavy use, I can say definitively that the Leatherman Wingman is a stellar sidekick. It’s one of the best survival multi tools on the market and beats out much of the competition with sheer quality and affordability.

However, it isn’t perfect. There are still some features I find lacking and a few design elements I wish Leatherman would skip next time. 

What I Love

This tool works. It sounds simple, but a lot of multitools don’t. They’re too cumbersome to deal with or begin to break down after just a few months of use.

Not so with the Wingman. It’s incredibly comfortable to use and versatile enough that I find myself toting it around everywhere. I miss it when it’s gone. To me, that’s the definition of a good EDC. 

Wire Cutters and Pliers

The wire cutters are anvil-type wire cutters, not bypass cutters. Some people don’t like this, but they work outstandingly well for me.

They are undoubtedly the most functional cutters I have ever seen in a multitool, even those at a much higher price point. The blades leave barely a sliver of room between them, so they cut smaller wires just as successfully as larger gauges. 

I use the wire cutters for electrical work, but they’re also great for carpentry. It’s easy to apply a lot of force, so I can use them to cut pesky leftover framing nails or stubborn screws. I also really like where they’re situated inside the pliers because you get the best of both worlds during use. 

You often need these two tools together, and both synchronize well to provide the streamlined experience a good multitool should. I hear a lot of people complaining about the pliers, but I love them. They have some back-and-forth movement, but it’s minimal and not unreasonable for a tool like this.  

Stellar Spring Action

It’s tricky to incorporate spring-loaded tools into a cheaper EDC without compromising on cost or quality. Most springs break easily and are more expensive to manufacture, so I was overjoyed when I realized my Wingman had them. 

These springs are the main reason why the Wingman is so ergonomic. They reduce hand fatigue, streamline work to make it faster, and enable better control and precision.

The springs also allow for one-handed operation inside confined spaces, and I find they do not reduce the amount of pressure I can apply when using my tool. They serve me well, and I’m a demanding master.

Innovation and Creativity

There’s not a lot of wasted space in the Leatherman Wingman. It’s designed to be both compact and efficient, and it genuinely improves the quality of my work.

It also includes tools I never even knew existed, like the package opener. The tool is full of nice little surprises like this, and I appreciate how much easier it makes daily living.

What I Don’t Love

I feel like Leatherman wanted to squeeze in as many tools as possible to make the Wingman appear like it has more functions.

This might work on paper, but it doesn’t work in the field. And to be honest, it barely works on paper. Nobody is reading the description for a 1.5-inch ruler and getting excited about it. 

File, Ruler, Strippers Fall Short

I don’t think the ruler and the file work well. They aren’t ergonomic enough. Getting into the wood with that short file is tough, and the grain is too coarse for my needs.

The ruler is positioned so that you’re forced to hold it away from anything you could manage to measure with it, which would skew the measurement. 

The wire strippers just aren’t there for me, either. I feel like it would have been better to incorporate the strippers into the pliers somehow, but Leatherman stuck them onto the bottom of the can/bottle opener combo.

It’s impossible for me to get enough leverage to strip the wire, so I end up having to use the serrated end of the knife blade. 

Knife Lacks Function

The knife blade itself also presents an issue. It’s a combo blade, meaning it has both a straight and serrated edge on the same blade. This makes it work less optimally for each application. The serrated edge is so close to the grip that sawing becomes impractical. 

I would prefer two separate blades for each application, like the Leatherman Wave.

The knife is also pretty short at just over 2 ½”. This might be necessary because of the Wingman’s tiny frame, but I feel like they could have made it at least a little longer. That being said, the knife is incredibly sharp and cuts through most things with ease.

Keep in mind that my complaints are specific and fit the context of my own life. Since each person relies on different tools, you could have a completely different experience. Either way, despite the issues, I still believe the Wingman is one of the best tools you can get in this price range. 

Buyer’s Guide

Think you might need a Wingman? I’ve compiled some advice to help you decide whether this product is right for you and guide you through the buying process.  

Is the Wingman Right for You?

I’d say the Wingman can serve everyone to some extent. It has a slew of everyday applications that make it great for DIY warriors, hobbyists, construction workers, and survivalists. I often use it when fishing, hunting, gardening, and camping.  

The Wingman is optimal for general use because its array of trustworthy tools covers a wide range of activities. It will also work well at the job site, so tradespeople who need a cheaper multitool should consider it. However, it may not be the best for ultra-specific work. 

For example, I am currently installing some light fixtures and rewiring my outlets. The Wingman is perfect for that. But if you’re a master electrician, you’re probably better off with a multitool that caters more to your profession, like the Leatherman Surge with its array of wire cutters and crimpers. 

Maintaining Your Wingman

I don’t want a high-maintenance tool. I’m already high-maintenance enough, so I’m thrilled my Wingman has held up so well without much care.

You will need to wash it occasionally with plain soap and water, then dry it well and lubricate it to prevent corrosion. You can also sharpen and use WD-40 on your tool as needed to keep it opening and closing smoothly. 

Buying a Leatherman Tool

Leatherman is an American company that strives for excellence in craftsmanship. It makes products in Portland, Oregon, from materials sourced around the world.

The company stands behind its products with a 25-year warranty on all multitools. You can customize your tool when you order it or send it in for repairs if it gets damaged. 

You’ll receive free shipping on orders over $75 and get peace of mind with a 30-day return policy in case you don’t like your tool. This gives you confidence when purchasing, since you can always return a product if it doesn’t meet your standards.

If you do have issues, the company will handle them promptly, with most buyers reporting excellent aftermarket care and reliable customer service.

Overall, I adore my Leatherman Wingman. A small package with a big personality, it’s an ergonomic powerhouse with a price tag that can’t be beat.

This is everyone’s multitool, a tried-and-true EDC that I find myself reaching for whenever I need to fix something. I’d be lost without my Wingman.