Saturday, November 19, 2005

Travelling Companion

Dear reader, you may be forgiving for thinking, from reading my earlier posts, that all my gadgets are electronic and digital by nature.

Nothing could be further from the truth. A great many of my gadgets are electronic, but let's not forget one of the few essentials I tend to carry everywhere. Ladies and Gentlement, I present to you The Leatherman Squirt.

This is one of the smallest Leatherman tools, yet it is built using the same exacting standards of its bigger brothers. The precise nature of the opening mechanism provides wonderful feedback as the handles snap into position and the clever spring arrangement requires close inspection if you are the slightest bit interested in how the tool is engineered.

Now, I say this with some regret, but this is a better tool than an equivalently sized pocket knife from Victorinox - the blades are heavier duty and more finely machined. Don't get me wrong - I love my Swiss Army Knife, and for years carried the bulkly but infinitely useful Swiss Champ, but I've grown to respect the Leatherman tools over time as being a lot better for a lot of jobs a lot of the time.

On many Leatherman tools, and those from other manufacturers, you'll see a pair of pliers as the main tool that is presented when you snap the handles back. I'm the first person to geek out on a well engineered plier, but on a small keychain sized tool, it's scissors that you want. I've blunted these a bit by using them to cut copper wire, but they are every bit as effective as the main blade in the sharpness stakes.

These scissors are relatively large given the size of the tool and I find them essential when travelling.

The other blades on the tool are equally well engineered. The main blade may only be 4cm long but is razor sharp. There is a finely made 1.5mm flatblade driver as well as a chunky 5mm driver which doubles as a bottle opener - essential. There is another blade, which although flat, is designed to remove cross-head screws. There is a blade with a nail file and gouge for cleaning under the nails. Finally, cunningly hidden, there is a tiny pair of tweezers, much as you'd find on a typical Swiss Army Knife.

I travel a lot and carry this with me most times. I say most times, because I'm often away for only a few days and travel very light. In these instances, it sometimes isn't worth the hassle and time checking in a small amount of luggage for the sake of one tiny blade. And it's not worth risking getting it confiscated by security if I forget I'm carrying it.

So, more often these days, I leave it at home. Thanks, Osama.

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