A review of the Leatherman Skeletool CX.
One of our most popular blogs of 2021 was How to Choose a Knife for Walking, Climbing and Mountaineering. In this article we recommended carrying a multitool for Scottish winter mountaineering. The ability to quickly repair a crampon is essential so a tool with pliers and screwdrivers is very useful.
I’ve routinely carried a Leatherman in Scottish winter conditions for over 25 years. Initially I used the excellent but sadly discontinued Leatherman Mini which I’ve now lost. Then I had a Leatherman Juice which was a tad flimsy, and had a couple of tools I didn’t need. So in search of a new multitool I’ve done a load of research and had a good think about the ideal winter walking/mountaineering repair tool and decided the Leatherman Skeletool is probably the best option.
With a new dump of snow in Scotland and with some of you heading up north on one of our winter courses I thought it would be useful to review the new addition to my winter mountaineering repair kit.
Leatherman have a fantastic reputation for making strong, practical and portable tools. Many of the models have a huge array of tools but are just too heavy for mountaineering and climbing use. This is where the Skeletool fits in. It’s a pared down version of their classic folding pliers design but with a limited set of tools that keeps the weight down to 5oz, over half the weight of some of the beefier models.
The Leatherman Skeletool is simply a pair of pliers with wire cutters, a locking knife and a bit driver with both Phillips and flat head screwdriver bit included. One bit lives in the driver with a really secure attachment and the other is stored in the frame.
An additional Leatherman bit kit is available which contains just about every bit tool you can imagine including screwdrivers for your glasses.
The great thing about the interchangeable bit tool is that you can carry exactly what you might need to repair and/or tighten whatever crampons or axes you’re using.
The knife blade is accessible from the outside of the Skeletool without having to open the tool up. There is a thumb cutout that allows one handed opening. It’s very sharp, locks securely and is perfect for cutting up abseil tat and slicing a nice bit of salami.
The carabiner is a very practical feature. Most of the time I would most likely keep the Skeletool in the bottom of my pack but If you tie some cord to a key ring clip in your pack lid, you can clip the Skeletool to this for quick access. The carabiner also doubles up as a bottle opener.
A useful winter hack is to attach some cord to the thumb hole to allow the knife to be opened easily while wearing gloves or mitts.
There are currently three versions of the Skeletool. The standard version which is available in a variety of colours with a knife blade that is partially serrated. The Skeletool RX is marketed as an emergency multitool which comes in a lovely red colour with a carbine glass breaking window bit attachment and a fully serrated blade. And then the CX version I own which has an upgraded non serrated blade. They will all do the job equally well.
A very well made and beautifully engineered multitool. With its lighter weight, pared down tools and custom choice of bit attachments it’s a great choice for winter walkers, climbers and mountaineers.
You can buy the Leatherman Skeletool here
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