Leatherman’s new Sidekick and Wingman multi-tools are lower-priced “entry-level” tools aimed at first-time multi-tool buyers and users looking for a backup tool. The Sidekick is priced at $40, and the Wingman at $30, which seems pretty reasonable, especially with the tools being made in the USA.
2013 Price Update: Sidekick is ~$30, Wingman ~$25
I was able to get my hands on a Sidekick sample to review, and tried to be as comprehensive as possible. If I left anything out, or if you have any questions, leave a comment below.
When the Sidekick sample arrived, the first thing I did was look it over to see where Leatherman may have cut costs. After all, this is a “value-priced” tool, right? After a good few minutes of scrutiny, I could not find anything that screamed out “compromised quality.”
The Sidekick feels solid and well-built. It weighs in at 7.0 oz, and is 3.8″ long when closed. Both handles open smoothly to present the pliers, and the knife blade and tools deploy just as fluidly. Inner tools lock in place with a with a satisfying and reassuring click.
Leatherman knew exactly what they were doing when they designed the Sidekick and Wingman tools. “Entry-level” is an appropriate description, but only in regard to the tools’ low price point, not their quality. Once the target audience, first-time multi-tool buyers and those upgrading from generic import models, get a taste for Leatherman quality, they’re definitely going to be hankering for more.
Leatherman Sidekick Knife Blade
The liner-lock plain-edge knife blade is 2.6″ long and made from 420HC steel. Its usable cutting edge is actually about 1/4″ shorter than its stated length, but that’s not a big deal. For comparative reference, the Sidekick’s blade is slightly shorter and thinner than the one on Leatherman’s Skeletool. While the knife blade can be deployed with one hand via its elongated thumb-hole, I find it easier and more comfortable to use two hands.
Update: Loosening the pivot machine screw ever so slightly with a T10 Torx driver improves the ease at which the knife can be deployed one-handed. I didn’t like how loose this made the knife feel, so I tightened it back up. Loosening the blade is not recommended.
With use, opening the knife one-handed does seem to be getting easier, or it at least it seems to be getting easier.
The combination pliers have a spring-action, and are quite nice to use. Both the regular and needlenose gripping zones are grooved well with no visible burs or defects. The edges of the tool’s handles are rounded and provide a comfortable grip even when squeezing them tightly.
The wire-cutter is comprised of two triangular cutting edges that meet at the center (forming an X shape). They’re not very sharpened (nor should they be given the design), so they tend to crush smaller wires before cutting them, and require more effort to cut through thicker wires and nylon cable ties. Still, they’re functional and get the job done.
Saw Blade and Inner Tools
- wood-cutting saw (liner lock): sleek and appealing design, well-sharpened teeth, and performs as well as the saws on Leatherman’s higher-priced tools
- short serrated knife: usable length, nothing to complain or write home about
- 1-3/16″ ruler (part of a 3-in-1 tool): could be handy, but may be a bit short
- small screwdriver (located at tip of ruler): great size and shape, works well
- metal file (opposite face of ruler): too short for rapid material removal, but good for emergency deburring
- can opener & bottle opener: can opener could be sharper/more pointed, but works well enough
- v-groove wire stripper (side of bottle opener): comes in handy in a pinch, and is sharper than anticipated
- Phillips screwdriver: 3-dimensional (!!) and works very, very well (I only tested it on non-damaged screws)
- large slotted screwdriver: wider than I typically use, but may work well for light prying tasks
Inner Tool Latching Mechanism
The inner tools snap into place by a slip-joint-like mechanism that can be described as a spring-steel cam-action latching detent mechanism. There’s no manual lever that must be pressed to unlocked the tools as with some other Leatherman multi-tools. To close and return a tool back into the handle you simply need to apply a bit of pressure to overcome the spring tension. While not quite as secure as a positive-locking system, the detent stop works very well in holding tools straight.
Carry Methods & Accessories
You can wear or carry the Sidekick via its removable belt/pocket clip (which looks to fit up to ~1-3/4″ belts), lanyard loop, or leather pouch. The leather pouch has two grommets which can accommodate the included mini-carabiner, or similarly sized accessory or keychain carabiners.
Speaking of which, the included mini-carabiner is actually quite nice in itself, and features a bottle opener and 1/4″ hex wrench. It’s a neat accessory that I really hope Leatherman will decide to sell separately in the future.
Leatherman describes the Sidekick and Wingman multi-tools as “entry-level,” but they’re certainly designed and built far better than this suggests. I am quite impressed with the Sidekick’s design and how well it performs, and definitely recommend it.
If you’re looking for your first multi-tool, are fed-up with the cheap flimsy one you bought (or were given as a gift), or are looking for a backup for a larger or higher-end tool, you should definitely consider giving the Sidekick or Wingman a try.
Buy Now(via Amazon)
More Info(via Leatherman)
The Wingman is quite similar to the Sidekick, and features a partially serrated and plain edge combination blade instead of the Sidekick’s plain blade, scissors instead of the Sidekick’s wood-cutting saw, and a “package-opener” hook instead of a serrated knife. The Wingman also lacks the Sidekick’s leather pouch and carabiner accessory.
Check out our Sidekick vs. Wingman comparison for more details about these differences.
Thank you to Leatherman for providing the sample for this review unconditionally. Review samples are typically returned, donated, or in some cases retained for further testing or benchmark and comparison purposes.
I want one! I was considering picking up a Skeletool or Wave as a Christmas gift to myself, but this looks perfect for my needs. Plus since it costs less than what I planned to spend, I can also spring for the new Style you just posted about.
I use Leatherman Charge, and I love it. On my belt everyday, used regularily, great tool bit system great quality. A definite must for the tradesman!
Stuart, nice write up!
I love your tool reviews.
I occasionally work out at the Leatherman campus in Portland, and I have to say it is a nice clean company that puts our local Oregonian and Washingtonian citizens to work. I also think their products are fantastic, and will soon be writing a review myself on my website, OneGuyReviews.
WTF does “clean” mean in this context?
Thank you for the usefull review!!
I purchased this tool today and i must say, its my first real multi tool that i have ever owned!
Really awesome little tool!
I went to cabelas to buy a gift and left with the sidekick in my bag as well. love this thing. feels solid. decent tool selection. the biggest buying points for me was how comfortable it is in my pocket (I don’t even know its there) and the price. after holding the display model I did a double take when the salesman told me the price. I had to check for the “leatherman” name on the side. it’s a great compliment to the 300 I already have, but which i find is too bulky to carry comfortably, and so gets left in my backpack. I also like the carabiner, but it’ll spend most of its life in my backpack, along with the 300.
this ones a winner. I don’t write reviews much, but for the money I can’t recommend the sidekick enough.
After reading this review I decided to go get myself my very own sidekick as a nice back-up multitool. My first impressions of this tool were extremely high, but on further examination I noticed that if I grab one handle and try to move the other with the smallest bit of effort the handle will move about 1 16th of an inch. This isn’t a huge factor but it is a little bit annoying since when I grip it sometimes I can feel the handles “shift” in my hand. Does the sidekick you reviewed have the same bit of play in the handle? If not then I will just go exchange the one that I have for one without said defect – since overall I really like this basic multitool and find it to be a great value. Thanks for the help!
Tim, the Netherlands
Good job on this review Stuart!
I bought myself a Sidekick today. For some years now I wanted a Leatherman, but the prices kept me from buying one. I payed 55 Euros, and the other models start from 120 Euros and up. So great price, and great quality too!
I always used Buck knives and Victorinox Swiss army knives on a daily basis, but they all lacked pliers and a wire cutter. So this little gizmo could very well be my new multi purpose tool for all of my daily chores from now on.
The two knife blades and the saw blade are nice and sharp. The overall disign looks good and feels sturdy. The only thing I miss is a proud little stamp saying ‘Made in the U.S.A.’
The Sidekick is great except for the wire cutter blades. They do not touch each other to provide a clean wire cut. I must fiddle and re-cut several times to seperate a length of wire. A piece of writing paper width exists with no contact on the cutter edges- or the paper. If i double the piece of paper, it will drag and cut to that width only.
What’s the little circle tool for on the inside I can’t figure it ouy
Keyring or lanyard loop.
The wire cutter on my Wingman won’t cut plastic zip ties, and the scissors won’t cut string. A waste of $29.99
Nobody I’ve spoken to knows what the little + and – dents are for on the screw drivers.
+ is to denote it’s meant to be used on Phillips head fasteners, and – for slotted fasteners.
I own the sidekick model and have had it for several years. My question is the Phillips and the smooth knife blades have become damaged through use, does Leatherman guarantee this product for life’s? If so how can I get a replacement or fix to my Sidekick? Thank you for your support.
Leatherman tools have a 25 year warranty. Damage through use might be covered.
Their warranty info page has all of the info you need to get started, or you can contact them for specific advice.
I’m in with Sidekick (one unit is on the way-Amazon), awesome review of product too. My only concern is that the short serrated knife blade doesn’t look as it locks in position…
Can be an issue if one is not careful!
This is true, I noticed it too, but if it tries to collapse and fold up the travel is limited by the design of the tool so it may not cause bad damge but maybe only a nick.
Also thanks to the OP for the review.
Thanks for the great and detail review