Review: Leatherman Leap
Tony Sculimbrene 11.10.14
If you have tools and a kid then you will soon find out that kids love tools. They love mimicking you. They love exploring the world with their tools. They love poking and prodding and sawing (yes, sawing–helicopter parents need not read the rest of this review). But most tools are too big for little hands. Additionally, while there are a bevy of toy tools out there, there is something dissatisfying for kids in having a tool that doesn’t work. So to fill this gap, Leatherman released the Leap, the first multitool designed for little hands.
The Leatherman Leap is a multitool designed for kids. It has easy access implements, a shape that promotes correct holding positions, and a knife blade that can be added to the tool when the kid reaches the right age. Here is the product page. The tool has 13 implements, and unlike many Leatherman tools, almost all of the tools on the Leap are outside accessible.
On the outside there are four large slots for three tools (the open slot is for the knife blade): scissors, saw, locking Phillips driver/bottle opener.
There is also a series of smaller tools on the same handle with the driver. Included are a pair of tweezers (my son loves these), a smaller 2D Phillips driver and a flat head driver. Inside there are the normal multi use pliers that Leatherman runs all of the time. All of the locking implements have a special locking mechanism that allows the tool to be unlocked and closed without passing fingers into the path of the closing tool. The tool has a plastic overlay on a metal frame making it less pinchy than an all-metal frame.
It’s hard to test a knife designed for kids without a kid, but I am super fortunate to have an awesome little guy and he LOVES tools. We did a lot of horsing around, using the drivers on a test board I made to teach him how to use a screwdriver. (It’s a big old chunk of pine with six or seven different fasteners in it and he loves playing around with it.) We also played with the pliers and tweezers, crushing some pistachios and picking up lint. The main Phillips driver is quite good, but the smaller ones are hard for kids under five to get out and use.
The big tool and the one that I feel like all kids are going to want to use is the saw. It is a standard Leatherman saw with a new little hump to allow you to grab the blade.
I also used the tool for a while, but it was mainly tested by my son with my close supervision. It did quite well for both of us and my son truly liked using it.
Here is the knife in a little hand and yes, the touted handle shape does exactly what Leatherman claims it does. Because there is an extreme taper, it forces little kids to hold the Leap in the right way.
I also really like the plastic handles. We are used to the click on click of metal handles, but little folks aren’t and the rounded plastic handles are great. The design of the locking mechanism is great. Again, for kids, it is truly a superior and safer option (quick aside: this is a tool, it’s sharp, and so no it is not 100% safe. With parental supervision it is quite good and safer than, say, a cup made of glass or a dozen other things kids encounter on a daily basis).
The cool thing with the Leap is the size. It is right between a Juice and a Squirt. Even if you aren’t a kid the features and the size are quite nice, and the entire thing is a masterstroke on the part of Leatherman–not just a design that caters to kids, but one that works for kids and adults quite well.
The entire tool is very well made with no sharp edges (other than the ones that are supposed to be sharp). I like the plastic handles and I like the shape a lot. It works well in a pocket.
All of the tools are finished in a satin finish. The saw is immaculately ground and very sharp, and the blade is also sharp. The pliers meet quite nicely, and they are pointier than those found on the Skeletool (my go-to Leatherman). The tweezers are also nice and meet precisely at the tip.
The only ding I will level against the Leap is the small tools on the outside of the handle. They clump badly and are hard to get out, even for an adult.
All of the touches make you realize that while this was designed for kids it is actually on par with the best Leatherman puts out. They didn’t dumb down or cheap out on the fit and finish of the Leap. In many ways, this reminds of the old school Nintendo Game Boys, which were so stout and well built that many are still humming along today. You can drop the Leap, kick it across the ground, and it will be fine, even if it is a little scuffed up.
I asked my son what he thought of the Leap and he said this: “Daddy, it’s good. SUPER good. SUPER, SUPER, SUPER good.” I think I agree with him. This is a great tool, a real tool, and it works well for kids. Be careful with the saw blade because even though it is probably a bit safer than the knife (not as pointy), it is still very, very sharp. I’d also warn you that the small tools are hard to retrieve and can be frustrating for kids. But aside from those two points, both of which are minor, the Leap is amazing. It does exactly what Leatherman hopes it would–make tools fun for kids and parents alike.