Review: Leatherman TREAD wearable Multi-Tool (29 tools)

subwoofer

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May 5, 2010
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Author's Statement for Transparency and Disclosure
The test sample/s featured in this article have been provided for technical testing and review by the manufacturer. Test samples are retained by the reviewer following publication of the completed review for the purposes of long term testing and product comparisons.

All output figures and test results published in this review are the sole work of the reviewer, and are carried out independently and without bias. Test results are reported as found, with no embellishments or alteration. Though best endeavours are made to maintain the accuracy of test equipment, the accuracy of these results is not guaranteed and is subject to the test equipment functioning correctly.
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The idea for the TREAD came about following Leatherman’s CEO Ben Rivera being stopped by Disneyland’s security for carrying a Skeletool. This started the design process which resulted in the first usable wearable multi-tool which should also be ‘security friendly’.

When he returned from his trip, Rivera started wearing a bike chain bracelet to see how it would feel. As the idea took shape, he brought his idea to the engineers at Leatherman who helped make it a reality.

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Taking a more detailed look:

For what will become obvious reasons, the presentation of the TREAD is very much like a watch.

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No bits and pieces in the box, simply the TREAD and a leaflet.

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The packaging keeps the links from rubbing against each other as the TREAD comes on a foam mount.

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Fresh out of the box.

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The clasp is an ingenious combination of a sprung ball detent retainer and a tool.

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A closer look at the clasp fastener on which there is a small version of the Leatherman logo.

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Jumping straight to what the TREAD is all about with one tool deployed and ready to drive a Philips screw.

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Out of the box the TREAD includes all the tools and links. Like this it is a little on the large side.

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You can adjust the size of the TREAD by removing links. There are only two sizes of link which change the size by either 3/4" or 1” (including the link bars). Most of the links are 1”, with only the one smaller size link.

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Looking at the TREAD, adjusting it might seem slightly ironic as you need a screwdriver to undo the link screws. However, cunningly, Leatherman have made the slot in the screw the right size for a small coin such as a 1 cent coin. This has the added advantage of using a copper screwdriver so making it impossible to mar the screw head.

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Let’s run through the adjustment process…

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To start with take out two screws to open up the bracelet. Then start to remove the screws for the link you are removing.

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What you need to do when resizing is to pick the link you are going to do without. For me I started with the largest flat screwdrivers, which is why I opened up the bracelet at this point.

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While we are on this subject, we had better have a look at the links. Link #1 is the small sized link and has the two small slot screwdrivers and has ‘Leatherman’ on the outside.

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Link #2 has a 3/16 slot screwdriver, Philips PH1-2 and 1/4 box wrench. Also note the clasp’s square driver bit (R2) bottom left in the photo.

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There is no Link #3 in this sample instead we skip to Link #4. This has a small cutter, pick for mobile phone SIMs and a scribe. Underneath the pick and cutter is the clasp’s 1/4" square drive for small sockets.

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With no Link #5 we move onto #6 which has a 1/4 and 5/16 slot screwdrivers and a 3/8 box wrench.

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Link #7 has 1/8 and 3/32 Allen keys plus a 3/16 box wrench.

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Link #8 has 3/16 and 1/4 Allen keys (which are taking on a ‘flat’ appearance) plus an Oxygen wrench.

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Link #9 goes metric with 5mm and 6mm Allen keys and a 10mm box wrench.

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Link #10 stays metric with 3mm and 4mm Allen keys and an 8mm box wrench.

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No link #11, so we skip to #12 which has PH1 and PH2 Philips screwdrivers and a 6mm box wrench.

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Then we have the clasp. In the middle is a bottle opener.

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The clasp also has the previously mentioned 1/4" socket driver and R2 square driver.

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Just showing the 1/4" socket driver with a socket fitted.

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Pause for breath….


OK and back to the resizing. This is the final configuration I had to go with; going to the next smaller size involved removing the small link, at which point the TREAD was overly snug and got much too tight when I got hot.

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Though it doesn’t show the tool in the centre of each link, here is a quick overview of all the bits.

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Multi-tools have come a long way thanks to Leatherman, here we have old and new multi-tools with 25 years between them.

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Troubleshooting

This is a new section I am adding to mention any minor niggles I came across during testing, in case the information helps anyone else.

Though technically no issues were encountered during testing, I did find it necessary to take off a few sharp corners (more on why in the ‘in use’ section).


I had to break out a selection of files from a standard needle file, diamond needle files and a DMT Diafold sharpener to work on pretty much every single screw. The slot cut into the screw head has sharp edges and corners which I needed to ease.

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The edges of the clasp also had a bit of a tidy up.

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None of this was absolutely necessary but for me improved comfort and usability significantly.

As per the description of this section, this information is provided in case anyone else finds a similar 'issue' that might be fixed in the same way.



The TREAD in use

You can view the TREAD in different ways. It might simply be ‘Man Jewellery’ or genuinely an Every Day Tool. How well you get on with it will also depend on several factors, from the actual size of your wrist, to if you are happy wearing something reasonably heavy on your wrist (like a big diver’s watch).

First of all though, just look at what you are carrying on your wrist with the TREAD (the adjustable wrench represents an Oxygen wrench), so the burden, if it is a burden, may just be worth it.

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Leatherman are working on a watch for the TREAD to be a strap for. This has always seemed the most logical approach to me as a watch wearer, as with no additional burden my watch strap suddenly becomes useful.

In the meantime though we have the TREAD as shown here, and for me the main issue has been of fit. Leatherman state it can be adjusted to 1/4" increments, but this is not true. There are two link sizes, 1” and 3/4" which are indeed 1/4" different. So if you substitute one of these links for the other it will be a change of 1/4". However this relies on those two links being available , which they are not always going to be. Take the example, that for me to wear the TREAD I consider the two small screwdrivers as essential. This means I have to keep the 3/4" link in place so can now only adjust the size in 1” increments. This is a very coarse adjustment.

Unfortunately this coarse fit adjustment has led to several issues. Firstly the tread now sits onto my hand when my arm is down, and secondly, but more importantly it now clashes with all long sleeved tops and jackets.

In the previous section I showed the filing I did. The reason for this was that the TREAD’s sharp corners were not out of the way near my wrist, but instead rubbing on any long sleeve I wore. I was not prepared to shred my sleeves, so had to take action with the files. If the fit had been closer to my wrist, I don’t think this would have been a problem at all.

So moving beyond this, when the weather was warm enough not to wear long sleeves, the TREAD was much easier to live with and I was able to make it part of my EDC.

At first it might seem awkward and odd to have a flexible screwdriver handle, but the Tread works surprisingly well in the hand allowing you a firm grip.

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I might be wrong, but I feel the TREAD is really only for light duty jobs, and if winding up the force you need to be careful not to over stress the links and bend the jumper bars.

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The two smallest screwdrivers are my most used part of the TREAD. But being on the only small link has two consequences. First is the limited size adjustment by having to keep this one link.

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The second is that the blade can only be moved out to the side and not as much as the other screwdriver bits, limiting access.

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Access is another consideration. If the screw head is recessed at all, the bits on the TREAD will not reach it, so the TREAD is only suitable for surface mounted screw heads.


With all of that said, the TREAD is oddly alluring and both demands to be worn and to be toyed with like an ‘executive toy’. Its true usefulness will be entirely dependent on how often you need access to any of the tools on the TREAD. I can personally go days or weeks without needing any of these, but then go days in a row constantly needing various tools (however I did find the small cutter incredibly useful even when I didn’t need any of the other tools). If you use any of these tools daily, I’d say the TREAD is an absolute winner in terms of convenience. It also has a seriously manly bling factor and has people doing double takes as they realise it really is a working tool.

Leatherman has said it is working on improving the fit and on a watch face to go with the TREAD. These additions/improvements will take the TREAD to a new level of integration and usefulness.



Review Summary

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Things I likeWhat doesn't work so well for me
______________________________________________________________________________________________
Always on you toolsSize adjustment is too coarse to get a good fit
User can choose which tools to keepScrew heads and clasp have some sharp edges
Doubles as ‘Man Jewellery’Possibility of overloading with the larger tools
Airport security safe (so far)
Replaces up to 29 tools (depending on wrist size)

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Str8stroke

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These are too cool. Did you hear the story behind the inspiration of these? The Head Hancho of Leatherman was going to a theme park, like Disney or something, and he wanted to be able to have a multi tool that he could bring in that would be able to go through security. Claims he goes nowhere with out a multi tool. So he brainstormed this jewel to be TSA and Disney security safe. Pretty neat tool & story I thought.

Good review. BTW: your pics look great.
 

subwoofer

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May 5, 2010
Messages
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Location
Hove, UK
These are too cool. Did you hear the story behind the inspiration of these? The Head Hancho of Leatherman was going to a theme park, like Disney or something, and he wanted to be able to have a multi tool that he could bring in that would be able to go through security. Claims he goes nowhere with out a multi tool. So he brainstormed this jewel to be TSA and Disney security safe. Pretty neat tool & story I thought.

Good review. BTW: your pics look great.


Check my intro again...Disneyland is in there ;)

I love the idea. On one return trip (it was not noticed on the outward journey) I have been 'allowed' through airport security with a modified Crunch (with the knife blade ground away) that I had forgotten was in the bottom of my bag. 'tools' are not allowed, but this is a bracelet - with usefully shaped corners of the links :twothumbs
 

CLHC

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Great write up once again. I've been eye[ing] this specific LM product. Thank you for sharing!
 

RickZ

Newly Enlightened
Joined
Sep 24, 2015
Messages
173
More advanced materials need to be used for it to be more useful. Long term tests repeatedly show pieces braking and drivers bending to the point of unusability. Although I found it cool, I would need a titanium version solid with super steel pieces and even nickel/ cobalt /titanium superalloy pieces, of course, instead of the already steep price, materials I'm talking about would push it close to 1,000US. Another option to keep it cheap is replaceable parts like links or whatever, but that would still be a problem.
 

subwoofer

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
May 5, 2010
Messages
2,498
Location
Hove, UK
More advanced materials need to be used for it to be more useful. Long term tests repeatedly show pieces braking and drivers bending to the point of unusability. Although I found it cool, I would need a titanium version solid with super steel pieces and even nickel/ cobalt /titanium superalloy pieces, of course, instead of the already steep price, materials I'm talking about would push it close to 1,000US. Another option to keep it cheap is replaceable parts like links or whatever, but that would still be a problem.


I think the problem is mainly unrealistic expectations. This is a bracelet with some tools in it, it is not a SNAP-ON tool kit. If you over work it, it is is going to fail.

Having cheap replacement links would be great, along with some more variation in link length and tools to allow a better fit.

Great concept and I hope there will be a V2, V3 etc with improvements in the design. Without a V1 being out there and being used by pioneers, its design will never get better.
 
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