New from Leatherman: The Signal
Jon Stokes 01.21.15
Leatherman has finally jumped on the prepper/bushcrafting bandwagon with the Signal, a totally new multitool that they’ve unveiled at SHOT 2015. The Signal is a lightweight, full-sized multitool that comes with the standard compliment of tools, plus a few extras: pliers, can opener, saw, awl, removable pocket clip, hammer, replaceable wire cutters, diamond-coated file, bit driver, whistle, and ferro rod.
Along with the black and yellow color scheme, the external, removable ferro rod and whistle are the big attraction for this tool. I got some hands-on time with the new tool on the show floor. I didn’t actually notice the whistle on it so I’m not sure where that is or how it works. I did get a look at the rod, and I’m sure it’s serviceable and would work well in a pinch.
I like where Leatherman is going with this, but the tool left me distinctly underwhelmed. Here at AllOutdoor we’ve long been advocates of the Surge as the ultimate all-in-one urban/wilderness survival multitool. With a Surge, a separate ferro rod and whistle, a bit driver set, and a complement of replacement saws and files, you’re prepared for pretty much anything. Sure, the Surge is heavier and the add-ons increase the footprint, but in exchange for the extra bulk you get unprecedented functionality in what is still a very small, belt-friendly package.
I think Leatherman should do two things to the Signal to make it an even better survival tool. First, they should offer a blaze orange version. Black looks wonderfully rugged up until the moment when you’re trying to locate it in the dead of night, and then you wish it was a different color. The second thing they should do is make the saw blade replaceable using the same t-shank blades that fit the Surge. These are small, cheap, and ubiquitous, and with very little added bulk you can have an assortment of files and saws that work on everything from soft wood to metal and fiberglass.
All of that said, though, I do think there’s a place for the Signal. This would be a solid option for a multitool to toss in a get-home bag and forget about it until you actually need it. If you have a Surge, a Charge, or a Wave, you’re probably using those on a regular basis, and you may not want them stashed away in your car. The Signal as it’s currently configured would be a tool that I’d buy and leave in my trunk. Hopefully never have to use, but if I did have to use it, I’d feel pretty good about it.
Update: On re-reading this post, I realized that I forgot to mention the awl! I’ve been a lover of the humble awl since my days carrying a Swiss Army Knife, and I found myriad uses for it in the outdoors as a Boy Scout. A few years ago I actually searched around and bought an out-of-production full-sized Leatherman (I can’t remember the model) just because it had an awl. Anyway, I love that the awl seems to be making a comeback with the Signal. Let’s hope that it’s a trend that keeps going, and that the awl finds its way onto other tools.