Monday, February 11, 2013

Leatherman Sidekick and Rebar Review


Leatherman Sidekick and Rebar Review

I have been a fan of Leatherman Multi-Tools since Tim Leatherman's original multi-tool.  That original tool was used so hard that it actually had to be replaced.  Sure I could have sent it back to Leatherman under their 25-year warranty, however karma prevailed and I happily slapped down another $40 for replacement.  Over the years, I have purchased another dozen Leathermans and seem to have one stashed in every vehicle, pack, and tool drawer around the house. In the last five years, I have become a bit picky about what should be on a survival based multi-tool and what is just extra weight.  Cruising the aisles of my local sporting goods retailer, the Sidekick and Rebar caught my eye, because they featured just the right combo of features in two distinctly different packages.


FIT, FINISH, & FEEL
From a spec and finish perspective the two multi-tools are very similar.  Leatherman’s typical high quality fit and finish is reflected in these solid stainless steel multi-tools. From a feel perspective the intent of each tool is clear the moment you pick them up.  
When comparing the Sidekick to the Rebar, the Rebar is a purpose built hard use tool with thicker, stronger, and longer tools and a more substantial handle. The Sidekick is actually only .5 oz lighter but feels substantially lighter due to a more compact package. The Rebar gives you more substantial feeling full sized locking tools and the Sidekick gives you a more compact package designed for more casual use which can take the place of a pocket knife clipped to your pocket.



FEATURES
There are features I believe are critical to a general survival multi-tool including locking knife blades, bottle opener, can opener, lanyard ring, standard screwdriver, phillips screwdriver, ruler, saw, small screwdriver, pliers, wire cutters, Crimper, wire stripper, and file. These allow you to cut, fix, scavenge, and fabricate pretty much anything with the the exception of something that requires an end mill and CNC machine and both the Rebar and Sidekick have these tools to some degree. 


The mid-sized Sidekick really is a tool designed more for casual everyday use with a size, tool size, convenience and design that downsizes many of these tools into a package that is simple and easy to carry anytime and anywhere. 


The same quality and strength is there, however just in a slightly smaller package. The one hand operation of the locking saw and knife blades is a feature I love on this tool, however it does generally make the sacrifice of a slightly bulkier tool to have some tools on the inside and some on the out.

To prevent bulkiness on the Sidekick, Leatherman shortened many of the nested internal tools. In some cases, it does not make a difference, however on the file and serrated knife, you do lose just a little working length. To increase the utility an attached pocket clip for tip-down carry of the one-handed thumb-opening utility blade.  For about the same size as a pocket knife, you have an entire tool package that still clips to your pocket and offered one-handed blade deployment.


Also included with the Leatherman Sidekick is a slipcase for an executive type carry and carabiner tool which I did not find particularly useful other than as a nice add on to my key chain. One of the features I know some will be excited over is spring loaded plier jaws, however I am not a fan as a big use for me is using the pliers as a third hand to hold a piece of wire for soldering or to tie a fly. With a rubber band over the handles,  I can still use the plier for that purpose. I also would have also liked to see full-length ruler markings on the side versus the rather limiting 1.5" ruler markings.

The Rebar is back to a size and full sized tool function of the original Leatherman but just a bit thicker for a few extra features. The Rebar is all about packing more into a more compact package. What impressed me about this tool was how much was packed into the tool from a size and weight perspective. 


Added to the original Leatherman’s features are a serrated blade, saw, awl with eyelet for sewing, replaceable wire cutters in the plier jaws, all tools lock open, and non-spring loaded plier jaws. This is the Leatherman I wanted back when the original was introduced and addresses every shortcoming.  


This is by far my favorite of the general purpose Leatherman’s for survival use and will most likely be the new "standard" model for Leatherman and a long time favorite.  Sure a few more gadgets like a one-handed opening blade would be handy, however that would increase bulk and for general purpose survival, ounce for ounce this is a new favorite companion when I have real work to do.

FINAL THOUGHTS
The Sidekick and Rebar really should not be compared side to side as they have different intents.  The Sidekick is the convenience tool which I tend to carry all the time either clipped in my jeans or slipped into my zippered jacket pocket. Should I need a tool when unexpected, the Sidekick is there with enough tool to get the job done.

The Rebar doesn’t have a pocket clip, or one handed operation and is not a “convenience tool”, but rather a workhorse type tool that includes a standard nylon belt sheath.  Without a doubt both can take about the same abuse, however I like the fact that each tool on the Rebar is full sized and locking which is a significant safety and practical feature when I know that the multi-tool will see hard use.


For a tool to use daily and toss into your jeans the Sidekick is a great choice. For a bug out bag, survival kit or toolbox I would lick the Rebar. You cannot go wrong with either... after all they are Leathermans.

LEATHERMAN REBAR SPECS
Tools:
Needlenose Pliers
Regular Pliers
Premium Steel Replaceable Wire Cutters
Premium Steel Replaceable Hard-wire Cutters
Electrical Crimper
420HC Knife
420HC Serrated Knife
Wood/Metal File

Saw
Small Screwdriver
Large Screwdriver
Phillips Screwdriver
Awl w/Thread Loop
Ruler (8 inches/20 cm)
Bottle Opener
Can Opener
Wire Stripper
Features:
Lanyard Ring
All Locking Blades and Tools
Stainless Steel Body
Stainless Steel Handles
Black Oxide Version Available
25-Year Warranty
Measurements:
4 in. | 10.16 cm (Closed)
6.7 oz | 189.94 g (Weight)
2.9 in | 7.36 cm (Blade Length)

LEATHERMAN SIDEKICK SPECS
Tools:
Spring-action Needlenose Pliers
Spring-action Regular Pliers
Spring-action Wire Cutters
420HC Knife
420HC Serrated Knife
Wood/Metal File
Saw
Small Screwdriver
Medium Screwdriver
Phillips Screwdriver
Ruler (1.5 in)
Bottle Opener
Can Opener
Wire Stripper
Carabiner Accessory: Hex Bit Driver and Bottle Opener
Features:
Lanyard Ring
Removeable Pocket Clip
Stainless Steel Body
All Locking Outside Blades
Leather Sleeve
Stainless Steel Handles
25-year Warranty
Measurements:
3.8 in | 9.7 cm (Closed)
7 oz | 198.4 g (Weight)
2.6 in | 6.6 cm (Blade

SOURCES
Leatherman
http://www.leatherman.com

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