Review of the Leatherman Skeletool CX
Leatherman is considered by many to be the premier multi-tool manufacturer in America. They make a variety of multi-tools in several different sizes – each configured with a varying set of tools to be useful to different users and situations. One category of multi-tools I like to call “EDC” (Every Day Carry) or pocket-sized tools is extremely popular due to delivering useful capability in a package light and small enough to be easily pocketable. I don’t actually pocket carry a multi-tool (I’d likely fail should I ever meet Nutinfancy and he does a gear check on me…) – but I do keep one with me or close by at all times – I keep one in my car, one in my truck, one in my laptop bag for while I’m in the office, and one in my gun range bag. And I have a few strategically placed around the house. Why don’t I pocket carry one? Pocket real estate for one – I already have a lot of stuff in my pockets. But the Leatherman Skeletool CX is a multi-tool which just might make me rethink my pocket gear.
Let me get this out of the way right up front – the Skeletool CX is an absolutely beautiful multitool. It seems like something Steve Jobs would have designed – a perfect marriage of form and function. Minimalist simplicity. The Skeletool actually comes in a few variations, but the CX designation brings with it several premium upgrades over the standard Skeletool including a frame made up of DLC (diamond like coating) coated components, and some carbon fiber components, and a premium blade stock (154CM) for the knife blade. The combination of the contrasting black and stainless finishes throughout is quite visually appealing. The Skeletool CX weighs just 5 oz. – that’s lighter than the ZT 0562 knife I pocket carry daily by half an ounce. Both the size and the weight of the tool contribute greatly to that impressive weight, as to all of the milling that’s been done throughout the tool, from which its Skeletool name is derived.
In many respects, the Skeletool is the antithesis of the traditional Leatherman multi-tool, which endeavors to cram as many usable tools and features into the smallest package possible. By way of comparison and contrast, the Skeletool aims to provide more basic necessities in an ultra lightweight and minimal form factor. From the exterior of the tool, you can access the previously mentioned 154CM knife blade.
The blade is quite sizeable at 2.6″ in length – that’s only about .3″ shorter than the blade on the much larger and heavier Leatherman Wave. The blade steel is a perennial favorite of many knife enthusiasts and collectors and will ensure the Skeletool CX blade will go further between sharpening, as well as being resistant to chipping than most other knife blades out there. It’s easily deployed with one hand thanks to the Spyderco-like thumb hole, and is locked securely in place when deployed via a liner lock. It’s also a very attractive looking blade.
The only other useful functions to be found on the Skeletool CX when closed is the carabiner attachment point on the end, which also doubles as a bottle opener. You’ll also find a frame matching DLC coated pocket clip on the exterior which functions well.
Opening the Skeletool CX, you’ll find tried-and-true Leatherman pliers with built in wire cutters:
The pliers on the Skeletool CX aren’t quite as robust and hard use as some of the other larger Leatherman multi-tools. But they’re more than adequate for the kinds of minor tasks this tool was designed to handle.
Also accessible when opened is a Leatherman bit driver, similar to what’s found on other Leatherman tools like the Wave. The bit driver on the Skeletool CX is superior however in that it actually has a push button release that has to be depressed in order to release the bits in the bit driver.
The Skeletool CX actually comes with two interchangeable bits – the two-sided Phillips head shown in the photo above, and a two-sided flat head that’s cleverly contained within the frame of the Skeletool CS:
If two different flat heads, and two different Phillips heads aren’t enough for you (and they will be for many users) then you can purchase a Leatherman Bit Kit for even more bits which are compatible with the Skeletool Bit Driver, and Bit Driver Extension tool which can be used to extend the reach of the Skeletool Bit Driver, as well as making it compatible with an industry standard bit head. Both the Bit Kit and Bit Driver Extension fit elegantly within the nylon Leatherman sheath which comes with the Skeletool:
With the bit driver accessories, the capabilities of the Skeletool CX are so greatly extended, and the cost is minimal in terms of financial as well as space and weight that I consider all one necessary package.
The Leatherman Wave itself can be purchased for under $90.00:
The Leatherman Bit Kit can be purchased separately:
As can the Leatherman Bit Driver Extension:
In addition to this written photo review, I’ve recorded a video supplement on the ThruMyLens YouTube Channel:
For me, the Leatherman Skeletool CX is the perfect EDC multi-tool. My M-F life is primarily spent in an office setting where my need for a multi-tool is minimal, but when I need one it’s usually for minor cutting or adjustments which this took handles perfectly without the usual complement of unnecessary tools. It also has some higher-end features and capabilities that I find appealing (carbon fiber, 154CM blade steel) – sometimes it’s just fun to pull out and play with.
John B. Holbrook, II
John B. Holbrook, II is a freelance writer, photographer, and author of ThruMyLens.org, as well as LuxuryTyme.com and TheSeamasterReferencePage.com. *All text and images contained in this web site are the original work of the author, John B. Holbrook, II and are copyright protected. Use of any of the information or images without the permission of the author is prohibited.