Gear Review: Leatherman Skeletool CX (Updated)

Leatherman Skeletool CX

My new everyday carry knife / multi tool.

It weighs less than my Milwaukee Fastback or Swiss Navy knife. It has a carabiner and pocket clip – which was a must-have for me. The tools include pliers, side cutters, screwdriver (Phillips and flat bits) and, of course, a bottle opener.

The only tools I miss from my Swiss Navy knife are the marlin spike, tweezers and toothpick. Unlike the Navy Knife, the Leatherman Skeletool CX’s blade is not serrated, which I much prefer. The steel used in the blade is a lot better too.

Earlier this year I was looking for a new backpacking / hiking knife because my (then) everyday carry knife, a Milwaukee Fastback, only had a blade, and I wanted more tools for the weight I was carrying. My Swiss Navy knife has all the tools you’d need (and more), but it’s getting old, has ‘a bit of history’ and the blade is just, well, meh! So I went looking for a lightweight multi-tool be my new Everyday Carry knife, as well as my backpacking and hiking knife.

Lots of research got me to the Leatherman Skeletool CX.

Likes

  • The blade can be deployed and put away single-handed
  • Pocket clip and carabiner
  • Blade quality
  • Pliers / side cutter quality
  • Retention clip for screwdriver bits so they cannot fall out
  • Low weight
  • Overall build quality.

Dislikes

  • Not a lot, though a can opener (See below) would have been handy!
  • $$$ – It’s expensive $80
  • It is still a little tight at the moment. We’ll see how it frees off with time and use.

While preparing for our most recent backpacking trip we realized that this knife doesn’t have a can opener and had to take along an extra knife just for that purpose – we couldn’t find our old tin opener.

Summary – See update below

At $80 this was a bit of an indulgence and not one I could really justify – so I put it on my birthday list. Don’t get me wrong, I very much like and enjoy it, but I have other things I’d spend $80 on. I would have bought the $60 Leatherman, Skeletool, which is essentially the same, but I do not like the Skeletool’s serrated blade; you cannot easily sharpen them, and that’s a deal breaker for me.

Leatherman Skeletool CX Update – after eight month’s use

The Good:

  • The blade has stayed sharp and taken all the abuse I have thrown at it.

The Bad:

  • The pocket clip is too weak and doesn’t keep the knife in a pocket.
  • Due to the weak pocket clip, the knife dropped out of my pocket a couple of times, which somehow damaged the screwdriver bit retention mechanism. It’ll no longer hold a bit, and before I realized it was damaged I lost the bit that was in it.
  • I’ve found tiny spots of rust on the pliers.

Hiking and backpacking I found I wanted tools that the knife doesn’t have, specifically a can opener, the marlinespike, and tweezers (it’s been a very ‘ticky’ year). I’ve gone back to carrying my old faithful Swiss Navy knife. The blade may not be as good, but overall for slightly more weight, it is much more functional. I still like the Leatherman and I will probably send it off for repairs, but it’s not effective for my current backpacking and hiking needs.

I may start looking for a multitool that meets more of my needs and marry that with a separate knife. We’ll see.

However, my original concern that CX was an indulgence has, unfortunately, proved to be correct.

My Swiss Navy knife showing off its small flat-blade screwdriver and tin opener, large flat-blade screwdriver with bottle opener and wire stripper, marlin spike with shackle spanner, and the philips screwdriver. There is also the terrible blade, which locks open. Not shown – the awl, tweezers or toothpick. The Skeletool CX boasts a very nice blade, pliers and wire cutters, a bottle opener and a couple of screwdriver bits (we’ll not mention the pocket clip I found to be totally ineffective).


 

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What do you think?