The Best From Our Tests: A Review of the Leatherman Signal

The Signal is the ultimate survival and camping multitool

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Leatherman Signal

TripSavvy / Nathan Allen

For years, I've searched for the ultimate multitool for the outdoors-focused person. Not surprisingly, multitools serve many purposes. Some focus on home maintenance and situations, while others feature tools for garage or mechanical situations (think your cycling or bike multitools). Leatherman's Signal is the best I've found for general outdoor and survival situations.

Below, we break down the 19 tools available on the Signal and how it compares to Leatherman's other outdoor-focused multitools.

The Signal has some handy survival tools

On the outside of the Signal are two of the most valuable tools I've seen on a multitool for outdoor survival and emergencies. One is a whistle, and the other is a Ferro rod. I have to admit the 23-year-old version of myself would probably make fun of the present-day version of myself for mentioning a whistle first in a review about a multitool as badass as the Signal. But here we are. A whistle is a game-changer in a situation where you need to be found, or you're trying to find someone else. Why? Compared to yelling, a whistle requires less effort, will last longer (you can sustain a blow into a whistle longer than a scream) and can be louder than yelling.

Next, the Ferro rod (which the 23-year-old version of myself would be happier about). Using the backside of the folding saw, users can strike the included Ferro rod (which is the same piece as the whistle) to create fires in pinch situations. Now, I would not recommend using this as your typical fire starter. This is meant for an emergency when your fire starter was left at home, or you've found yourself lost without the rest of your gear. But what's so awesome about the Signal—and what makes it my favorite stand-alone multitool—is you have everything necessary to start a fire included with the multitool besides the fuel. The folding saw will cut limbs, the straight-edge knife will create kindling, and the Ferro rod will provide the spark.

These fire-starting capabilities set the Signal apart from Leatherman's other popular multitools like the Surge, Wave+, and Skeletool.

Leatherman Signal

TripSavvy / Nathan Allen

We like the blunt-edge hammer, pliers, and serrated and straight-edge knife blade

The Signal also has a few general camp tools that we love. First is the hammer, which is essentially just the Signal's blunt side. And while it's not the most comfortable or practical hammer, it's perfect for backpacking or bikepacking situations. I've used it multiple times while bikepacking to hammer tent stakes into the ground.

The pliers with wire cutters are also handy in camping and other outdoor situations. I've found the pliers and cutters particularly helpful while fly fishing when I need to bend down barbs on hooks, perform river-side fixes to rods or reels, or cut off line or leader. I also love that the blade includes a straight-edge and serrated knife, allowing you to cut different things.

If we could improve some things about the Signal, we'd replace the Awl tool and can/bottle opener with different tools. No one really uses the Awl tool for much in a multitool situation, and a can opener for camping is kind of a thing of the past. We don't anticipate opening a can of beans in the backcountry. And if we did, we'd likely just purchase a can with a pop-top.

Leatherman Signal

TripSavvy / Nathan Allen

It has a bit driver and box wrenches for RV and van trips

Lastly are the more mechanical-focused tools, which are excellent when RVing or living your best #vanlife. There are attachment points for a quarter-inch hex bit drive and two different-sized box wrenches. Leatherman sells the attachments separately. We also like the bit driver, which is next to the Awl tool and can opener. This multitool is definitely light on the more mechanical tools like the Surge.

It's an excellent value for what you get

The Signal is in the middle to upper-middle in Leatherman's multitool price range. But for what you get and Leatherman's durability, we think this is a no-brainer investment for anyone spending time camping, fishing, backpacking, bikepacking, or hiking. I keep it next to the door to throw it in my daypack while hiking, my fly-fishing gear kit, and for camping and other backpacking adventures.

Leatherman Signal

TripSavvy / Nathan Allen

Who should buy the Leatherman Signal?

The Leatherman Signal is for anyone who spends significant time outside. Hikers can benefit from it, whether that means trailside repairs to shoes, or trekking poles, or in situations where they get lost or injured. Backpackers will find it helpful for similar cases and when an emergency or impromptu fire needs to happen. And campers can use it for all sorts of situations, from driving in tent stakes to sawing up kindling and fuel for campfires.

Why Trust TripSavvy

Nathan Allen is TripSavvy's Outdoor Gear Editor. He's been on the hunt for the perfect multitool for years and thinks he's found it in the Leatherman Signal. From opening boxes to bike maintenance and repairs to household chores, Nathan uses a multitool almost daily.

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