Where a small pair of plier jaws is replaced with a larger set of scissors on small multi-tools, these can prove to be more useful to many hikers- many First Aid tasks then become a ‘snip’.
The most useful tools on trail will invariably include a small blade, small pair of scissors and a nail file. Some may baulk at the final item but footcare is all important on trail and having the ability to both trim and smooth nails goes a long way (potentially) to allowing a longer trail to be completed. A Victorinox Classic delivers all three of these tools in a smaller and lighter package and many hikers are content simply to carry one of those knives, but there are some great alternatives that provide a good deal more functionality.
A multi-tool for the minimalist, Snippet comes with an efficient and well-rounded toolset and a pair of SOG-sharp scissorsSOG
There have been a number of very good ‘keychain sized’ multi-tools available for many years. Some of these would be a great choice for use on trail where something more than the simplest trinity of tools is wanted. Three Points of the Compass is a particular advocate of many of the smaller multi-tools produced by Leatherman. Sadly, one or two of those have since been retired in favour of updated versions that haven’t necessarily fulfilled their aim. The smaller scissors produced by Leatherman, while ‘OK’, pale in the face of the small scissors found on much of the 58m range of Victorinox knives.
The Snippet multi-tool from SOG provides what are very possibly the best pair of scissors found on any small keychain sized tool. Released on to the market in 2019, they eschew the plier jaws more commonly found on mini multi-tools and not only provide good sharp scissor blades, but excellent scissor handles to compliment these. This is a small tool with folded dimensions of 69mm long, 22mm wide and 13mm deep, including its pocket clip. The styling is similar to a Leatherman Micra and its length falls between that and the Leatherman CS.
- Flat screwdriver- small
- Flat screwdriver- jewelery
- Bottle opener
- Nail file
- 5.5″ / 12cm ruler
- Pocket clip
- Keyring/lanyard loop
The Snippet’s hollow grind blade is short, just 44mm, with a 42mm curved cutting edge. There is lot of belly to the drop point and the spine is 1.50mm thick. Due to the short length there is not much flex to the blade when cutting but it will deflect sideways some 3-4mm with pressure. The blade is non-locking with not much in the way of ‘snap’ and this multi-tool wouldn’t excite much attention from UK law enforcement. There is a small nail nick to allow it to be opened.
Scissors are of a slightly thicker metal- 1.60mm across the spine with wide (35mm) opening jaws. These have excellent 29mm long cutting edges with an obtuse cutting angle that are fastened together with a torx screw, so can be dismantled for sharpening. Scissors are not sprung, and do not need to be as there are finger loops that open out from the handle as the tool is unfolded. This is a unique feature that you will not find on other small multi-tools, or large ones for that matter. These aid precision cutting and control. The finger loops do have a small folded section where they pass over the back of the thumb and finger to slightly improve comfort in use but I wouldn’t like to use them for an extended period or for really tough work as both finger loops and frame dig into the skin under pressure. But this review is looking at the Snippet specifically for backpacking application and as such, the loops are a plus only. There is little on trail that you couldn’t reasonably expect to cut with these. They will laugh at trimming skin, tape, thread, cordura and open meal pouches easily. Thicker materials such as closed cell foams, cardboard packaging, cordage and leather can, with effort and force, usually be managed. Be aware though that this is a small instrument and only ‘lighter plus’ tasks can reasonably be expected to be tackled without potentially damaging the tool. That said, the Snippet has a far better pair of scissors than were found on its precursor- the SOG Crosscut 2.0. One problem that can manifest itself with the short knife blade on the Snippet is that when used to chop food, the folded scissor finger loop does protrude from the handle and can get in the way of cutting flush to a surface.
The quality of the steel is better than you might expect on such a small and reasonably priced tool- this is 5Cr15MoV stainless steel. This tough steel incorporates Vanadium (V) which increases strength and wear resistance. The Molybdenum (Mo) content also increases strength and hardness while imparting some resistance to corrosion. This has a hardness of some 55-57 HRC so can be resharpened. This steel is used by many manufacturers to make kitchen knives and high-end scissors.
All of the fold out tools are accessed by unfolding the two halves of the tool. The scissor finger loops are somewhat in the way but nail nicks at the sides enable blade, combination tool, nailfile and large screwdriver to be unfolded. Opening the combination tool tends to drag open the toothpick alongside it, but if it doesn’t, that and the tweezers can each be scrolled out by running a thumb over small knurled plastic tabs situated at the end of each half. The toothpick is a hard plastic with a thin flexible end. I hate them, but there again, I dislike any toothpick found on any knife or multi-tool, which are simply inviting harbouring of bacteria. Three Points of the Compass is not a fan of plastic working parts, particularly soft plastic, on a multi-tool. These frequently degrade and can become either soft or brittle with time and many react badly if contaminated with petrochemicals.
The tweezers are permanently attached to the tool and swing round and out to be used. They are stainless steel, 35mm long with 3mm wide straight tips that do meet at the end when pinched. These would be improved by narrow or slanted tips for more precision work. They are also too flexible and I struggle to pull out a single hair from my arm without pinching the very end of the tweezer tips. The very similar tweezers on the Leatherman Micra will pull a hair with ease.
There is a curved nail cleaner tip to the 45mm long nailfile which has 33mm of cross hatched file surface on one side only. This will file nails and is as good as most usable nailfiles found on multi-tools. On the same handle side as the nailfile is a 40mm long flat-tip screwdriver. This is fairly large with a 6mm wide tip that is 0.75mm thick. This really isn’t capable of much torque however as the whole handle is put under stress with anything more than the lightest of jobs. I can feel the tool handles flexing when unscrewing screws. A shame that it won’t tackle heavier work as it is well positioned and it is possible to grasp the other handle and closed scissor tips, in T fashion, to impart plenty of torque. The final implement is the combination tool. This has a bottle opener which works after a couple of ‘bites’ of a cap, and a flat fine-tip screwdriver. At 1.60mm wide and 0.70mm thick, it isn’t really a fine tip and it doesn’t even come close to being fine enough for me to tighten the screws on my glasses.
The finger loops actually get slightly in the way when folding out the supplementary tools, especially the tweezers and toothpick, and it is a little fiddly to do so. Other than a ruler and a small lanyard ring that can swing out of the way if not used, that is about it. On the outside of the tool is a deep carry pocket clip which can be removed by extracting a single torx screw. In fact the entire tool is constructed with torx screws so can be totally dismantled in a matter of minutes.
SOG, or Studies and Observation Group as it was once named, was established in 1986 and have built a reputation for constructing carefully thought out tools. Their aim in bringing the finest precision scissors, combined into a micro pocket tool, has been realised. The well-appointed Snippet weighs 55.7g, or 53.4g with pocket clip removed. By comparison, the simpler Leatherman Style CS, which is also based around scissor jaws, weighs 41.5g. The inferior Gerber Splice, again featuring scissor jaws, weighs 66.2g. An earlier keychain multi-tool from SOG, the Crosscut 2.0, weighs 46.6g.
Other than a pair of very good scissors and a more than passable short blade, most of the Snippet’s tools are more like something released fifteen or more years ago rather than being the development from previous SOG tools that it is billed as. That is not surprising as much of the handle tools are very similar, if not identical, to the tools SOG included in its previous Crosscut (released c1998) and Crosscut 2.0 (released 2011). But look at the Leatherman’s Micra, that was released in 1996 and is still being made today. It is great to see competition in the small keychain multi-tool market. The finish on this tool is good with no rough edges and a lovely polished satin sheen to it. There are a number of Chinese made alternatives to the market leader Leatherman small multi-tools and more budget friendly Gerbers that are of woeful quality, this isn’t one of them. Three Points of the Compass likes this tool. But not enough to take it hiking. Instead it sits in a desk drawer ready to be pulled out for quick ‘snippet’ type tasks.
Three Points of the Compass has looked at quite a few knives and multi-tools that may, or may not, be suitable for backpacking, day treks or Every Day Carry. Links to these can be found here.