Sep 09 2011

Leatherman Style PS Review

Leatherman Inc. Retail Store
10109 NE Cascades Pkwy. Portland, OR 97220 (At Cascade Station)
Phone: (503) 408-5550 Email: info@leatherman.com

I donated my first multi-tool to an airport security agent nearly 20 years ago. Strangely, it was before the rules were so stringent and I actually “donated” it on the return part of the trip.

Since then, every flight I have gotten on has left me a bit twitchy. At some point, I usually have some MacGyver driven delusion that involves being able to stop some horrible disaster if only I could get at a screwdriver. Well, and a roll of duct tape, some rubber bands, a 9 volt battery and flashlight. OK, back to topic!

Obviously, my delusions are exactly that. I am not going to avert a disaster because I have a multi-tool in my pocket. However, I feel incalculably better when I have something in my pocket to feed this particular delusion.

The TSA is unconcerned with my particular form of compulsion. The prohibited list of objects on flights is long and very specific.

The biggest immediate challenge for carrying a multi-tool on a flight is the fact that ANY knife is prohibited. That knocks off a huge percentage of multi-tools immediately.

OK, scissors with blades shorter than 4 inches are allowed. Tools, including screwdrivers, wrenches and pliers are allowed as long as they are less than seven inches in length. The rules are a bit ambiguous as to whether this length includes the handle of the tool or not.

So for me, the goal would be to find a tool that conservatively fits within these restrictions. Then when I have a self-righteous blow up at a hapless TSA agent doing his best to do his job as he understands it, I will be completely in my rights. Not that it will help anything!

Leatherman’s Style PS tool seems to fit the bill. Folded, the Style is just shy of 3 inches so it is very pocketable. Construction is steel, aluminum and just a bit of black nylon for some contrast.

The outside of the Style features a carabiner hook that does double duty as a bottle opener.
It worked the opposite direction from a normal bottle opener but was very functional. The carabine tolerance is pretty tight and I found it would go on a key ring, or a D ring on a bag, but not anything thicker.

The outside also has a combination screwdriver and file. The single notched tool has to do double duty as both a Philips and a slot head. Not perfect, but you surrender some things for size. I was surprised at the amount of torque I could get out of the Style without the handle flexing. I was also very pleasantly surprised that the tip of the screwdriver was small enough to tighten the screws on my glasses.

This side of the tool also secrets away a small pair of tweezers in the nylon part of the handle for those splinter situations. The tips of the tweezers are cut at an angle, which I prefer, and while you won’t be doing surgery with them, they are serviceable given their size.

The opposite side of the Style has the smallest pair of scissors I have ever seen. The blades are about three-quarters inch in length. They are steel and they do let you cut something, but there is a limit to the amount of leverage you can apply with them. As emergency nail clippers or to cut through packing straps they work well but I would not want to use them for anything in-depth. Having said all that, I cut through reasonably thick cardboard, a Cat5 cable and with a bit of work an outdoor extension cord. The last trick did leave me with a bit of a sore thumb.

Opening up the Style gives you access to the spring action pliers. Leatherman has always excelled at pliers and even at this size these are no exception.

The offset length of the handles helps give you good leverage and the size of the teeth is a good balance between needle nose and traditional. Not too big, but not so small you can’t get anything done with them. The serrated center could be pressed into service as a bad wrench in a pinch as well.

The very center of the pliers also features a wire cutter for small gauge wires. 12 to 14 gauge is going to be about the max you can plan on cutting through with these.

The real test though is your friendly, neighborhood TSA agent. There are definitely some compromises with the Style PS, but I will put up with all them if Captain TSA will give me the wave off and let me board.

So far, so good on that front. The Style PS went through the Xray machine at Orlando Airport with nary a hiccup. I ACTUALLY RODE ON A PLANE AND DIDN’T HAVE THE “NO-TOOLS, HEEBIE JEEBIES”!!! It was truly a wonderful feeling!

Although I wouldn’t want to have the Style PS as my only tool, Leatherman has put a little package together that solves a real problem. I can carry it on an airplane and actually have something with me. The tools that it does have are a bit limited, but it is a good balance given the limitations that TSA has put upon us. Please keep in mind that some of this is up to the discretion of the individual TSA agent so they may still ask for a donation of your tool at some point.

At less than $20 the Style is EASILY worth the peace of mind that it affords. It still carries the 25 year “we’ll fix it” warranty that covers all of Leatherman’s tools. For me the Style is a no-brainer.

Update: Be sure to check international restrictions on tools in flight. Brazilian security now owns my Style PS as part of my tool outreach effort. They offered to let me check it, but alas, I did not have time. I hope they enjoy it!

Leatherman Style PS

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