Leatherman Genus

Leatherman released three new multi-tools this year: Genus, Skeletool, and Skeletool CX. Although the Skeletool and Skeletool CX will not be available until 2008, the Genus was released on schedule. Most of the hubbub has surrounded the future availability of the Skeletool and the Skeletool CX but I am actually more excited about the release of the Genus multi-tool. Although Leatherman may not have invented the first pruner multi-tool, they may have  just perfected it.

Like it's predecessors, the Leatherman Hybird and Vista, the Leatherman Genus features a stainless steel bypass pruner. The first differences that you'll notice is that the frame of the Genus is constructed of anodized aluminum and does not fold. The sculpted frame of the Genus looks like a work of art and fits comfortably in the hand. In the past, nonfolding multi-tools (e.g. SOG ToolClip and Wenger SwissGrip) have not been as successful as folding multi-tools but those prior examples were based on pliers, not bypass pruners. For those who are used to carrying standard bypass pruners for work or gardening, the nonfolding design won't be unusual at all. In fact, the Leatherman Genus doesn't look much unlike a Felco bypass pruner. And like the standard Felco pruners, both the pruner blade and the spring on the Genus can be removed and replaced (instructions for removing them are located in the manual).

The Genus is a bit larger and heavier than its predecessors. The Genus weighs 11.2 oz (intermediate to the weights of the Leatherman Core and the Leatherman Surge). Here's a table comparing some of the specifications of the Leatherman Genus and it's predecessors:

Genus Hybrid
Folding no
yes yes
Locking Tools
yes no
Length 8.5" 8.13" (4.74" closed)
8.13" (4.74" closed)
Weight 11.2 oz.
8.7 oz.
8.11 oz.
Handle 6061-T6 Anodized Aluminum Non-Slip Plastic
Non-Slip Plastic
Pruners & Tools Stainless Steel (420HC Knife)
Stainless Steel Stainless Steel

The tools are accessed by pushing a button to unlock the handle and rotating the handle 180 degrees. It is likely that this design was intended to provide a comfortable grip for the pruners as well as easy access to the other tools. But the pruners are actually fairly comfortable to grip when the handle is rotated open. The grip is only slightly more ergonomic with the handle closed. The design does have an additional benefit. With the handle rotated open, the knife and saw blades face away from the handle. On the Vista and the Hybrid (as well as many of Leatherman's plier-based multi-tools), the blades and saws face the center of the handle.

Unlike it's predecessors, the Hybrid and Vista, the Leatherman Genus features implements on only one of its handles. However, Leatherman managed to cram many of the essential tools into just one handle. (Note: One of the handles on the Hybrid actually has extra space and is not completely filled with tools.) The Genus features a 420HC clip-point knife, a Phillips screwdriver, a combination flat screwdriver/sprinkler adjustment tool/bottle opener, and a saw. Using an unfolded bypass pruner as a handle for the tools is a bit awkward compared to the folded handles of the Hybrid and Vista but it's manageable.

Here's a comparison of the implements on the Genus and its predecessors:

Genus Hybrid
Stainless Steel Bypass Pruners
* * *
Soft Wire Cutters
* * *
Clip-point Knife *

Grafting Knife
Combo Edge Knife

Phillips Screwdriver * * *
Flat Screwdriver * * *
Saw * * *
Bottle Opener * * *
Sprinkler Adjustment Tool * *
Weed Remover
Bark Lifter


Choke Tube Tool

Open-end Adjustment Wrench *

Diamond -coated File *

The internal tools are similar in quality to those of Leatherman's other pruning-based multi-tools; however, the Genus's 420HC clip-point blade, Phillips screwdriver, and flat screwdriver are significantly longer than the blades and drivers on the Hybrid and Vista. The blades and tools on the Vista and the Hybrid were shorter so that the pruning shears could fold into the handles (the Genus does not fold). As an exception, the saw on the Genus is about 3/8" shorter than the saws on the Hybrid and Vista. But the saw does face away from the handle, allowing a longer cutting stroke.

The Genus also comes with a nylon sheath and a combination wrench / diamond file for adjusting and sharpening the bypass pruners.

Overall, I'm very impressed with the Leatherman Genus. It's beautifully designed and constructed. It deserves a place in a museum of design as well as a place on your tool belt. Unfortunately, there's about two feet of snow outside so right now I need a snow shovel more than I need a pruner. I haven't had a chance to give the Leatherman Genus a thorough workout yet but I'm looking forward to the opportunity. More to follow...

Link to the Genus on the Leatherman website

Beautiful design and construction
Pruners and Spring are replaceable
All tools lock

Doesn't fold up
Twice as expensive as Leatherman's other pruner multi-tools
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