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Paul Austin decides whether the Leatherman Signal has a place in his backpack
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Leatherman have been in the multitool business since the beginning. Traditionally DIYers and handymen have been their target audience, but with the Signal the focus is definitely on the outdoors, with what is predominantly a camping, hiking or hunting tool.
There are a lot of gadgets squeezed into a small space, so let’s take a quick look at what’s on offer. There are two exterior blades. The standard knife can be deployed with one hand (after a bit of practice) courtesy of a cutaway, while the saw has a small indent on the end and needs to be lifted with a fingernail.
Both are razor sharp out of the box, with the main blade offering both a standard and a serrated section towards the ricasso. All the tools on the Signal, with the exception of the pliers, are lockable with either button or push releases. This excellent feature avoids any concerns about the assorted blades or gadgets folding back on your fingers unexpectedly.
There’s a small clip release on the back that locks the Signal into knife mode, but open that up and the two handles pivot around to reveal the LEATHERMAN SIGNAL essence of any multitool – the pliers. These offer replaceable wire cutters in addition to traditional jaws.
On the inside of the handles the two pop-out accessories await. There’s a diamond coated knife sharpener to help keep the main blade in good order, and it’s cleverly rounded so that you can also maintain the serrated section of the blade.
The other pop-out is a whistle, with a ferrocerium rod embedded on the opposite side. The whistle is surprisingly loud for its size and although not huge, the ferro rod is very effective when applied to the back of the saw blade. Not perhaps your go-to fire starter, but still a very handy backup.
At the rear of the other handle there are three more flip-out tools, again all locking – an awl for drilling holes or threading, a can opener and a reversible flat blade and Phillips head screwdriver. Back to the other side you have a sprung carabiner clip, bottle opener and hex-head combo tool with a hammer-head end section for knocking in tent pegs, or indeed anything that needs a firm wallop with a bit of weight behind it. You also get a belt pouch for storage and a pocket clip if you need to keep the Signal close at hand.
If I were going to spend a few days in the back of beyond, the Signal would definitely find a place in my backpack. It covers all the bases when it comes to hiking, camping or extended hunting trips. It isn’t cheap, but alas Leatherman gear never is. However, it does make a great general-purpose survival tool.
The build quality is brilliant, as you’d expect, and you’ve got to respect the engineering and design that goes into these things. It packs a lot of punch for it weight and indeed size, which can be vital when mountain hunting or just hiking. You’ll certainly be hauling a lot less gear around with one of these in your pocket and in extreme circumstances it might just save your life.
Whitby & Co
PICTURES: PAUL AUSTIN
TESTED BY PAUL AUSTIN
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