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In a world where anything can happen, you want to be prepared to get out of a jam or play hero. Leatherman is a company that has been leading the way for multi-purpose pocketable tools and when I found out about their latest invention, the TREAD, I was pretty intrigued. In this thorough review, I take one out for a spin on my latest trip and give my honest feedback on whether this lives up to its promises and whether you should buy one.
What if you could have a tool that you can wear around your wrist and have at the ready at any time? What if you could have almost every tool at your disposal for any situation?
Introducing the TREAD
The TREAD is pegged to be the ultimate survivor’s tool and it’s on point in so many ways. It’s all about “anytime, anywhere”. It’s built like a watch but is fully customizable. Each link in the bracelet has tools built-in and what Leatherman allows you to do is pick the ones that matter to you and connect them the way you want it.
Granted, this is probably a guy thing but it’s as stylish as it is functional. It comes in a black chrome or satin silver finish. Wear it as a statement piece. Since it’s on your wrist, it travels with you and everywhere you go so whether you’re at work, camping in the wilderness, or walking the city streets, you have all the tools at your disposal for whatever job.
The TREAD comes in a simple watch-like box where you lift the top cover to reveal the tool nestled in black foam.
How does it work?
So how does this link business work? Do you need to go to a watch guy to remove, add, and reorder the different tools? The beauty of this tool is that you can use any coin to twist the screws that join each of the links together. A metal bridge connects adjoining tools on each side. All you have to do is unscrew the appropriate ones to remove the link, re-assemble and then you’re good to go. I needed to do this when I First opened the TREAD because my wrist is smaller. I picked the tools I wanted to keep and removed two links. Somehow they’ve designed this so that you don’t need too much force to tighten the screws while still allowing the links to move freely. At first I was a bit worried that there might be a chance of the screws of coming off but none of the screws that I touched were looser than the other ones after a week of use.
The build quality
There’s no denying that this thing is incredibly well built. Each link is made of 17-4 stainless steel that is both incredibly strong, corrosion-resistant, and lightweight. When you have this in your hands and on your wrist, there’s a clear sense that this thing is built to last and durable to the rigors of daily abuse. On top of that, Leatherman has their 25 year guarantee so you’re pretty much covered if anything goes wrong.
Why you would want one
So this is the million-dollar question here. Cool concept but would you actually use the tools? It’s a valid question but this really applies to any multi-tool. This is more of something where you never really know when you might need it. With a potential 29 number of tools at your disposal, you can use this so many different situations. If you look at the diagram below, you can see all of the tools that the TREAD has. Over the course of the week that I had the TREAD on my wrist, I was able to make use of it for:
- Opening beer bottles
- Tightening bolts
- Opening packaged boxes and opening up plastic packages
- Swapping SIM cards from my iPhone
- Screwing in Phillips head screws
Beyond the ways that I used it, I loved the fact that there was a glass breaker tool built into this so if you were ever in a jam and needed to break through glass in a car, bus, or train.
One of the things I really wanted to know was whether the TREAD was airport security safe. Well, I tried it and it sure is! I went through airport security with the TREAD on my wrist with no problems. The x-ray scan didn’t produce any issues and I wasn’t questioned what it was since it doesn’t have any sharp edges. From a travel perspective, it really depends on how you want to use it. I can see this being a tool for the every day on the go where you don’t necessarily have access to a toolbox and need something quick. As I mentioned earlier, the SIM card tool is certainly handy when you’re on the road. As for the bottle opener, when don’t you need one?
Comfort and wearability
Wearing the TREAD, it actually felt very natural to have on my wrist day to day. It was just like wearing a watch and was easy to clasp on and off when needed. It never really got in the way except for the one or two odd times it would catch a little as I put on my jacket. It didn’t feel too bulky or heavy either.
How it could be better
Lack of watch – I ended up using it more than I thought I would but what I kept thinking would be a big added feature is if there was a watch built into this. As it is right now, you have to decide to wear this over your watch unless you’re okay with wearing something on both wrists. I have seen some users incorporate an Apple Watch with the TREAD so the possibility is certainly there.
Ergonomics – What you have to keep in mind is that this is a multi-tool after all and ergonomically, using the individual tools won’t feel the same as if you had a proper screwdriver let’s say. You end up having to play around with the straightening up the links, finding the right grip in your hand and using the tool at potentially a different angle than you’re used to. That’s not to say it isn’t usable but sometimes it does feel awkward and takes time getting used to. That being said, the length of the TREAD when flattened is significant enough that you can get a good grasp and apply a good amount of torque to make it easy to tighten whatever it is you’re working with.
More survival tools – I think the big fundamental thing I had to wrestle with was whether I would be willing to wear this every day in the off chance I might need it for an unforeseen situation. Thing is, how often do you need tools beyond a Phillips or flathead screwdriver? To me, I would love to see more survival tools like the glass breaker. What if there’d be a way to incorporate things like tweezers, flashlight, lock-picking kit, compass and magnifying glass? The trick of course is how do you incorporate all of that without compromising the style.
For anyone that is wants to be prepared at any time, this is the tool for you. Be at the ready at moment’s notice while staying stylish at the same time. This means that you don’t need to fumble through your bag or pockets for a traditional multi-tool. It’s a statement piece around your wrist but at the same time becomes part of your daily life like a watch that you don’t realize is on you until you need it and for that, I give the TREAD high praise. It’s one of a kind on the market.