The Many Uses of the Multi-tool – Your All-in-One Survival Tool

September 2, 2020

If you have undertaken any sort of outdoor activity like camping and hiking then you understand the importance of having all the essential survival tools in your possession. The downside here is that you have such a limited inventory that you will undoubtedly need to leave behind certain items.

However, a multi-tool solves this problem in the most cost-effective and convenient way. A multi-tool offers you a multitude of important functionalities from knives to can openers, just to name a few, without it significantly eating up your carrying capacity. In this article, I’ll give you the low-down on multi-tool uses as well as some tips on maintenance.

Multi-Tool Uses

The multi-tool or more commonly known as the Swiss army knife is a single and compact tool that offers a multitude of functionalities. It is designed to make the most out of its diminutive design to offer a handful of essential uses all while being able to fit in your pocket.

1. Knife and Scissors

One staple function found in multi-tools is the cutting knife. While not exceptionally sharp, it is still able to cut through most materials you will encounter or have when in the great outdoors.


However, there is one material that will surely be a problem if you wish to cut it cleanly. I am talking about paracords. Paracords are made of highly durable materials that are designed to hold together and carry excessive amounts of weight.

I’ve already been in a situation wherein I need to cut my paracord into shorter lengths, and without this little technique, I learned way back it would have been quite a messy endeavor.

How to Cut Paracord

The first important thing you need to prepare is fire. Thankfully, most multi-tools also offer you the ability to start a fire without a lighter with the use of one of its functionalities or with a steel wool, a battery, and some cotton balls (I’ll go into more detail in a bit). You should also have a small candle as the flame of a candle is far easier to focus on the paracord.

How to Cut Paracord USES THE MULTI-TOOL

Once you have a fire source, slowly place the part of the paracord you wish to cut above the flame. Place it half an inch above the flame. Now, this is where it gets a bit tricky. You have to wait until the paracord starts to produce a sheen. This indicates that the paracord is starting to melt. Don’t allow the paracord to develop bubbles as it can lead to a rather messy cut.

Now, once the paracord has developed a sheen it is time to make the cut. You can use your multi-tools knife or scissor functionality. I recommend you use the scissor as it is easier. Simply snip the shiny part of the paracord and there you have it, an easy and clean way to cut the paracord. If there are some frays in the area that you cut you can reheat the tip to ensure it becomes robust.

2. Fire Starter

There are many ways you can start a fire with the multi-tool. One way is to use the magnifying glass alongside some dry and raw flammable material like grass, branches, and leaf to name a few. The thing is that this only works when it’s daylight and you have access to the sun. Not so much help when it’s already nightfall.

How to Start Fire with your Multi-tool

Now, there are multi-tools that have lighter capabilities but these are the new generation models. What if you have the classic multi-tool in your possession? There is also a nifty way to start a fire but you need to bring some specific items. All of which will take up next to nothing in regards to carrying capacity.

How to Start Fire with your Multi-tool

What You Need:

Step 1: The first step is to take your steel wool and twist it into a twine about half an inch long. Put the steel wool inside your tinder which the cotton ball mixed with some small pieces of paper.

Step 2: Now, get your handy multi-tool and open the can opener all the way. Also, open the bottle opener but only half-way through.

Step 3: Take your battery and place it in between the openers. Make sure the flat part is touching the bottle opener. Close the can opener so that it will touch the other end of the battery (the nub part).

Step 4: After you’ve completed your makeshift electrical conductor you simply need to place the steel wool and tinder combination to the nub part of the battery. You will notice that it will start producing sparks. The tinder will then quickly catch fire and there you have it, a way to start a fire!

3. Can Opener and Bottle Opener

How to Use the Can Opener

The multi-tool also offers a variety of helpful every tool that you will most likely need when camping. It has a can opener functionality that will be of great use if you will be bringing some canned goods during your camping trip.

THE MULTI-TOOL with Opener and Bottle Opener

But if you’re used to an electric can opener then the old-fashioned can opener found in multi-tools might look strange to you. Well, here’s a quick rundown on how to properly use these types of can openers.

First thing’s first, you will need to locate where the can opener. The can opener looks similar to the bottle opener as both have a J-shaped design. The difference is that the can opener has a longer “lip” or the bottom curved part of the J.

Now place the lip of the can opener on the exterior part of the can. The lip acts as a hook that helps the can opener’s sharp edge deliver enough force to puncture the can. Once you have punctured through, you simply pull the can opener up and down like a saw as you move around the can.

Good way to Use the Bottle Opener

You should now be able to differentiate the difference between the can opener and the bottle opener. Well, the bottle opener is extremely easy to use. You just need to hook the bottle opener onto the cap of the bottle. 

How to Use the Bottle Opener

Place the longer part on top while using the curved shorter part to hook the bottom part of the cap. Just lift the bottle opener to force open the seal of the bottle cap.

How to Clean a Swiss Army Knife

Of course, for your multi-tool to remain reliable at all times it is important that you take care and maintain the tool regularly. This means that you need to clean the tool regularly of after each use. 

How to Clean a Swiss Army Knife

This will ensure your multi-tool will be able to last for a long time and keep corrosion problems at bay. Below are some tips on how to clean swiss army knife properly.

Avoid Using Damaging Chemicals and Items

What might be great cleaning compounds to other items may not be as effective for your swiss army knife? In fact, you should avoid using these chemicals when cleaning your swiss army knife as it can damage the construction and quality of your multi-tool rather than protect it.

Chemicals/Products you need to avoid cleaning your multi-tool:

Note: You should also avoid cleaning your swiss army knife using a dishwasher.

Now, before cleaning your swiss army knife you need to first determine what maintenance it actually needs. Does it need a simple clean up? Do you need to sharpen the scissors and knife? Are the tools difficult to open and need some oiling? Is there rust build up?

before cleaning your swiss army knife you need to first determine what maintenance

Once you have determined the problem it is time to take the specific necessary steps. One important factor you need to ensure is at hand before cleaning your swiss army knife is a bottle of good quality oil. You should also make sure that the oil you will be using for your multi-tool is odorless, tasteless, water resistant, food safe.

Here are other items that you need for cleaning your multi-tool:

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    Soft cloth or rag
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    Isopropyl alcohol
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    Screwdriver (flathead and Phillips)
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    A small container that you can use to completely submerge your multi-tool in your cleaning solvent/alcohol.

Clean the Swiss Knife Step-by-Step

The first step you need to take is to remove excess grime and dust off of the corners of your swiss army knife. You can use a toothpick to reach hard to reach places. Remember to take out all removable tools like the toothpick, tweezer, etc. Afterwards, take your small container and fill it with just enough cleaning solvent so that the multi-tool is fully submerged.

Clean the Swiss Knife Step-by-Step

Submerge your swiss army knife for about half an hour max. This is important as alcohol can cause corrosion to your knife faster than water. Once it has soaked the alcohol for about half an hour, take it out and thoroughly wipe it clean using the rag. Use the whetstone to sharpen the knife and you’re done!

Here’s a quick little video tutorial on how to properly clean your Swiss army knife:


If you are currently looking for a dependable multi-tool then I suggest you head on down to my list of the best multi-tool article. That article will dive in further to certain qualities you need to look for as well as a shortlist of the best multi-tools in the market today.

As for a recommendation, I’ve been using the Leatherman Wingman Multi-tool as my go-to outdoor survival gear for its simplicity and reliability.

If you have anything to add to the discussion please feel free to comment down below!

Kevin Smith

About the Author

Kevin Smith

Ahoy there! The name’s Kevin Smith, the proprietor of this little travel and outdoors blog. The outdoors has always been a passion of mine since I was a kid as my parents were avid campers themselves. They taught me everything I know when it comes to camping, hiking etc. and I would like to do my part by imparting my know-how to like-minded individuals who enjoy the same hobby as me. I started this website in the hopes of helping other people when it comes to answering questions, giving tips and recommendations focusing on the camping niche. Along with some close friends of mine, we are here to help you make the most out of your outdoor experience. Enjoy your stay and enjoy the wild side!

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