Back to top

What Is The Use Of A Multi-Purpose Tool In A Survival Kit?

When you’ve spent as much time outdoors as I have, you quickly learn that you can’t do without a decent multi-purpose tool in your survival kit. When it comes to emergencies in the outdoors, the multi-purpose tool is your friend. It might even save your life.

Multipurpose survival tools are designed to give maximum functionality in a small a footprint as possible. As well as traditional knives and openers, these may include pliers, scissors, saws, and more.  Their portability and multiple functions make them incredibly useful in survival situations.

Whether it’s the classic Swiss Army Knife or Leatherman or any one of the many modern high-tech multi-purpose tools out there, this piece of gear is a must for every survival kit. From starting a fire to building a shelter and fixing your backpack, this is the most valuable piece of outdoor equipment in any adventurer’s backpack.


You might think I’m overstating the case for the multi-purpose tool, but you would be wrong. There are countless stories of people who swear their devices saved their life in one way or another. There are even more stories of how useful the multi-purpose tool is. Once you know, you’ll understand why you should never leave it behind. Not just for your outdoor adventures, but always.

What are the Most Important Uses of a Multi-Purpose Tool?

There are countless uses for any multi-purpose tool, but the range of benefits will differ depending on your needs and which device you buy. There are old-school multi-purpose tools with valuable elements, but the newer versions take this to the next level. Here’s what you should have on your multi-purpose tool

Slice and Dice with a Range of Knives

Knives are an essential part of any multi-purpose tool, and most devices contain a range of small but useful blades. From gutting fish, slicing jerky, and chopping veg to stripping loose bark and cutting rope or vine, a small collection of good quality blades on your multi-purpose is all you need. 

Build a Shelter using a Saw

Multitool blades, as functional as they are, are not designed for chopping wood. You might scrape away wet bark and get some small pieces as a fire starter, but if it’s the more prominent pieces you need, you’ll want a sawing blade. Not big, but big enough and built to last. If you need to create a shelter using the available materials, this tool will make that a whole lot easier.

Open that Beer Bottle and can of Baked Beans with no Fuss

Imagine, after a full day trekking, you arrive at your overnight camping spot only to realize you don’t have a can or bottle opener? Your canned dessert, now inaccessible. And let’s not forget those cold beers you have been drooling over for the better part of nine hours. Lugging a bunch of treats and food along only to find you don’t have the right gear to open them is both annoying and a waste of much-needed energy.

Start a Fire with Flint or Magnifying glass

When it comes to survival in the wilderness, fire is your number one priority. From scaring off predators to keeping warm and signaling for help, you need to start a fire.

If you have left your lighter and matches behind, or they got wet, a magnifying glass will help you start a fire as long as the sun is shining. Flint, which is included in many multi-purpose tools,  can help you create a fire in any condition, but best to practice beforehand. You don’t want to test out your fire-starting skills for the first time in the middle of a storm.

Use Cutters/ Scissors for Medical Emergencies

Cutting tools other than your blades and a saw are also critical. From cutting off clothes in a medical emergency to cutting bandages and fixing a backpack, tarp, or item of clothing, decent hardy scissors are crucial.

Use Tweezers as a Compass

Tweezers are essential on any multi-purpose tool worth its survival rating. Very useful for retrieving splinters and also makes a handy compass when your GPS runs flat. Find a small leaf and a puddle or use some water. Break the tweezer in half; you only need one side; run it against your hair or on a wool shirt and place it on the leaf. It will rotate to a north-south position.

What gear should accompany the Multi-Purpose Tool?

The beautiful thing about the multi-purpose tool is that it’s small, compact, light, and very easy to pack. Now, while I have plenty of outdoor gear, many of which could be life-saving, there are a few items you should pack into your backpack which complement your multi-purpose tool. A day hike will require less than a multi-day wilderness trek, but still, these items should be staples for any wilderness activity.

Always Carry a Basic First Aid Kit

A basic first aid kit is essential. The good news is you already have the tweezers, scissors, and cutters; now, you need antiseptics, a range of bandages, and all the other requirements. This topic, like many, deserves a blog on its own, but you can buy inexpensive small first aid kits at most outdoor shops or drug stores, and it is as essential as having the right multi-purpose tool.

A Rope is one of your Most Essential Survival Tools.

A rope is often not required for simple day hikes. But anything where scrambling or exposure to heights is involved, you will need a rope. They also come in very handy to help build emergency shelters and for dangerous river crossings. The rope can be heavy, so decide what you need and cut it to size. Remember, it may save your life, but you will need to carry it. With a rope and the right cutting tools, your survival accommodation options just improved dramatically.

Duct Tape for the Win

Duct tape is probably the next best thing to a multipurpose tool. It is so handy and easy to use for a wide range of needs. Patch that ripped rain jacket or hole in your backpack, tape your sole back on your shoes. If duct tape can’t fix it, you’re not using enough.

Whistle While you Wait

The humble whistle. Should you find yourself alone and lost, possibly injured in the wilderness, it’s often difficult to make yourself heard to any search and rescue members who may be looking for you. This is particularly true in bad weather when strong wind and rain will drown out your loudest screams. A whistle can penetrate that noise and may lead to someone finding you sooner. It’s small, light and very cheap but may save your life. Many multi-purpose tools come with a whistle these days.

Up your game with these top of Range Multi-Purpose Gadgets.

The more recent models of multi-purpose tools include some fancy new additions that the purists might not love but boy, you will when you need them. These include a lighter, led mini torch, whistle, and compass; new technology taking old classics to the next level.

Don’t go Anywhere Without your Multi-Purpose Tool

I know I’ve made a strong case for a multi-purpose tool and its role in the outdoors, but the truth is everyone should have one and carry it with them always. Yes, always. How many times are you out on a picnic or even at someone’s home, and there’s no can opener or screwdriver?

Now you are the hero every time. Also, you must decide what you need as some tools are designed for specific activities like cycling or even fixing cars.

Also, it’s a pretty nifty little tool; it looks fantastic and is a sure conversation starter. Although once you start talking about your multi-purpose tool, you might not stop, and that duct tape might be necessary. T

These tools are so helpful; you can leave them in your backpack and forget they are there. But when you need it, and you will, you will be so grateful.

Frank Pearmain

As a homesteader, survivalist, and previously a safari guide in Africa, I have extensive bush and wilderness experience. I am passionate about living a self-sufficient, off-grid lifestyle and continuously learn and strive toward that goal!

Recent Posts