Leatherman is a brand founded in 1983 by the mechanical engineer Tim Leatherman, in Portland, Oregon.
Concept and origins of the brand
During a journey with his wife through Europe, he noticed the number of little daily issues one could encounter while travelling: from fixing a pipe in the budget hotel rooms, to reinforcing their old car. Of course, he had a classic scout knife, but it did not meet all the needs.
The initial idea of Leatherman was to create “a boy scout knife with pliers”. Not so innovative in appearance, first. Once back to the US, he started to work on this simple idea, that was actually not so easy to achieve. After years spent on designing and testing, he came out with his first patented prototype: “Mr. Crunch”, which then led, three years later again, to his first product: the Pocket Survival Tool (P.S.T.), that he sold remotely through mail catalogues.
By 1984, just a year after the birth of his brand, he had already sold 30.000 items and grew rapidly year by year, reaching the impressive number of 20 million items sold in 2001, less than two decades after he started his business, which made Leatherman one of the main pioneers of multifunction pocket tools in the world, sold across more than 80 countries.
The baseline concept is simple: to offer one tool that would replace a whole toolbox, meets all your needs in any circumstances, and fits right in your pocket.
Still produced in Oregon until today, the Leatherman tools take pride in the sturdiness and reliability of their products. To achieve that, Leatherman has implemented several strategies that seem to pay off quite nicely:
Keeping the production as local as possible, to keep perfect control of the quality through all the supply chain
Choosing the best material for each product, not only for the durability of it but also to keep meeting all the demands that evolve day by day, such as weight, oxidation, strength, etc.
Always improving the ergonomics and optimizing the handiness of each tool: it is not enough to insert a plier in your boy scout knife, to make it useful. The fusion must be designed to offer the best comfort during use, and the best efficiency in the meantime.
Can you really rely on your pocketknife? Can you trust your multifunction tool to achieve any tasks, or would you rather bring additional tools with you, just in case? Do you think you can compare the performances of your pocket tool to a complete toolbox full of gadgets? Would you fix your car with your scout knife, knowing your safety depends on it? Would you count on it, when you go camping with your family, or rough it in the wilderness?
With the Leatherman multifunction tools, your answer will be basically: “yes, of course, I rely on it, why would I need any other tool? It would be absurd to burden myself with other tools when I have the best ones in my pocket!”
In this case, the ingenuity of the design, the quality, and the toughness of one single product gives a whole new level of meaning to the “less is more” philosophy.