The most useful non photographic items in my photography bag (Part 1)

Leatherman (PST II or Charge TTi)

I bought my first leatherman as a birthday present to myself in 1999 and it has been one of the best buys I can remember. The PST II (Pocket survival tool) is a non locking multi-tool, with 15 different tools. I have used it for 101 things in my time and it is still as practical now as it was 18+ years ago.

leatherman (1 of 4).jpg

1. 2.9” 420HC* Combo blade (non locking)
2. Needle nose pliers
3. Regular Pliers
4. Hard wire cutters
5. Wire cutters
6. Spring-action scissors

7. Tin opener
8. Bottle opener
9. Phillips Screwdriver
10. Flat head screwdriver (small)
11. Flat head screwdriver (medium)
12. Flat head screwdriver (large)
13. Diamond file
14. Wood/Metal file
15. Ruler (8”)

leatherman (2 of 4).jpg

Whilst the PST II is a great multi-tool it isn't perfect, the grip to use the pliers isn't particularly comfortable and whilst having a non locking blade, is practical from a everyday carrying perspective (not that I do), the fact that it can't lock can be a pain, when using various tools. Particularly the screw drive function.

Due to the design issues. I decided to upgrade my leatherman and went for the top of the line Charge TTi*** (again it was a birthday present). The Charge is a much newer design, it has more tools, is much more comfortable in the hand and has the option of changing tools.

leatherman a (1 of 1).jpg


1. 2.9” S30V** Knife (locking)
2. Needlenose pliers
3. Regular pliers
4. (replaceable) Hard wire cutters
5. (replaceable) Wire cutters
6. Electrical crimper
7. Wire stripper
8. Spring-action scissors (locking)
9. Tin opener (locking)
10. Bottle opener (locking)
11. 420HC* Serrated knife (locking)
12. Cutting Hook (part of serrated knife)
13. Saw (locking)
14. Diamond coated file (locking)
15. Wood/Metal file (locking)
16. Large bit driver (locking)
17. Small bit driver (locking)

18. Medium screwdriver (locking)
19. Ruler (8”/19cm)

leatherman (4 of 4).jpg

One important thing to note about the Leatherman Charge TTi, as with most modern Leatherman tools, it that the tool, including the knives lock. In the UK, locking knives are illegal to carry around if you do not have a good reason for carrying. So as a photographer, on a photo shoot, it would be legal for me to carry the Charge multi-tool. If during the shoot I had to go to a shop, I wouldn't be allowed to carry the Charge and could be arrested. This makes carrying a the Charge, or any similar multi-tool a big responsibility and the only time the multi-tool would be on my belt would be whilst setting up, doing the shoot and packing away.

Of course having the locking tool makes the Charge TTi much more practical and safer to use and with the big and small bit driver, I also get the option to add different tools (flat head, pozi, Philips, torx, hex bits).

Whilst the Charge is better than the PST II, in a couple of areas the older multi-tool does still have an advantage, it is lighter, the scissors are better and the leather case is far superior.

So as a general tool I would always advise a photographer to have a multi-tool of some sort.  I doesn't have to be Leatherman, there are various other companies, who make very good multi-tools but for me, Leatherman are maybe the best but be aware of the law if you do decide to buy a locking knife.

* 420 HC is the kind of stainless steel used
** S30 V is a powder made stainless steel, which will keep an edge far longer than the 420HC stainless steel.
***Whilst the Leatherman Charge TTi is the top of the line multi-tool, for most people I would probably recommend the Leatherman Wave+ which is very similar but without the S30V knife (a normal 420HC) and it doesn't have titanium (it is worth noting that Joe McNally uses a Leatherman Wave).