The Leatherman Tread: A most unusual gadget

Leatherman is the company that invented the successor to the Swiss Army knife, the multi-function pocketknife that contains an array of robust tools, including pliers, knives, wire cutters, screwdrivers and much more. Today they make dozens of models of all sizes, even one that is TSA compliant that omits the knife blade.

Over the years they’ve shown their ability to evolve their original design to include tools with more functionality in smaller sizes, with greater durability, and the use of new materials.

Now they may have outdone themselves. Leatherman just introduced a product that’s one of the most unusual gadgets I’ve seen. It’s the Tread, a man’s stainless steel link bracelet that contains 29 tools. The tools are not as wide ranging as those found in their other products, so the “29 tools” needs an explanation.

The tools include screwdrivers, Allen wrenches and box wrenches, each in a variety of sizes and each size counting as one tool. There are three sizes of Philips screwdrivers, four flat screwdrivers, and six box wrenches. There’s also a bottle opener, a cutter to open plastic clamshells, a glass breaker, and an ejector pin for removing your SIM card from your phone.

The Tread is constructed of 17-4 stainless steel, a material noted for its resistance to corrosion and hardness. Eight of the links contain 3 tools: 2 drivers and a box wrench. Each link connects to the next using two thin steel links attached using stainless steel screws that can be removed or tightened using a penny.  As a result, the bracelet is very flexible and conforming. The bracelet can be adjusted by removing links, albeit it with these links go some of the tools. For my relatively small wrist, I needed to remove two links.

While you’d think the bracelet might be heavy and awkward to wear, that was not the case. It didn’t feel much different from a large watch, and it never pinched or caught hairs in its links.

Each link is finished with a matte surface and there are no sharp edges. A folding clasp, similar in design to what’s on a watch, allows easy removal, and contains the bottle opener.

The Tread is one inch wide, so it’s appropriately named. It’s masculine with an industrial look. less attractive than most men’s bracelets. Those that commented on it never knew it was a multi-function tool, instead thinking was just a strange looking bracelet.

To use any of the tools, you remove the bracelet from your wrist and fold it back on itself to expose the tool you want to use. Sometimes the bracelet gets in the way, but it does provide good leverage when trying to loosen a screw or bolt.

Leatherman positions the product as a tool you can take anywhere, even on planes, that are really as close as your fingertips.

The Tread is not inexpensive. It costs $165 in stainless steel finish and $220 finished in black. From

by Phil Baker