Leatherman Sidekick Review

Leatherman launched the Sidekick as an economic option to their full size multitools. However at current prices the Sidekick has too many compromises and not enough value compared to the Wave and Charge. When it launched in 2011 the Sidekick was a great value at less than $30. Today the design is showing its age and there are better multitools at the same price point or spend a little more and get even better capability.

Today we are reviewing the features, build quality, and utility of the Leatherman Sidekick multi tool.

Leatherman Sidekick iso view

Leatherman Sidekick – First Impressions

Leatherman Sidekick tools fanned

Pick up the Sidekick and we immediately notice the difference compared to other modern Leatherman multitools. The Sidekick has a good heft and feels sturdy, but is not as refined as their other tools like the Wave+. Leatherman rounded the corners of the working surfaces in contact with your hands but there are some noticeably rough edges. Similarly, when you unfold the pliers the handles are rounded over but the rough finish and thinner stainless steel used in construction make it less comfortable to hold.

We don’t understand why Leatherman sells the Sidekick with a belt sheath but put a pocket clip on the Wingman. At 3.8 inches when folded and 7.0 oz the Sidekick is at the upper end what we find comfortable to pocket carry. The Sidekick works much better with the belt sheath. 

 

The 2.6 inch modified drop-point blade opens one-handed and has a regular straight edge. The saw is also outside accessible on the other handle. Both the knife blade and saw lock open and the liner locks hold securely while still being easy to close.

Unfolding the butterfly handles opens the pliers and we notice these do not have the Leatherman stamp near the pivot. If the pliers are lower cost, they still have Leatherman quality with precise alignment all the way to the tip. Different from most full-size multitools, the Sidekick pliers are spring action. Below the needlenose and regular pliers section are pinch-style soft wire cutters and a cutout section for hard wire.

Because of how the pliers fold into the handles, the tools on the inside must be shorter to make room. Each tool has a thumbnail hook for opening but we found it easier to simply push them open from the back, especially since they all clump together and come out at once. One handle holds the Phillips and medium flat head screwdriver tips while the other handle has the can/bottle opener with wire stripper, ruler, wood/metal file, small flat head screwdriver, and serrated blade. These tools have a slip joint with a spring detent but do not lock open.

Keep reading our detailed review for the Leatherman Sidekick  – and which multi tool we think is even better value for most users.

Leatherman Sidekick – Manufacturer Description

SIDEKICK® A pocket-sized multi-tool with spring-action pliers, a saw, two knife blades, openers and more.

A great choice for first-time users, the original Portland, Oregon multi-tool manufacturer is making you your very own Sidekick. This handy pocket-sized tool has all the features you need to get your project done, at a fraction of the cost. The handy, outside-accessible blades mean you can open the knife with just one hand and rounded handles make getting a grip around their spring-action jaws easy and very comfortable. Stainless steel and backed by a 25-year warranty; first choice, or handy second backup, you can’t beat the value of the Sidekick. Sheath and Carabiner included.

Leatherman Sidekick – Tool List

The Sidekick comes with 12 tools and 16 functions:

3.  Spring-action Needlenose Pliers

4.  Spring-action Regular Pliers

6.  Wire Cutters, spring action

13. 420HC Knife

15. Serrated Knife Blade

16. Saw

18. Wood/Metal File

22. Phillips Screwdriver

23. Medium Screwdriver

24. Small Screwdriver

27. Carabiner Tool

29. Hex Bit Driver

30. Ruler (1.5 in | 3.8 cm)

31. Lanyard Ring

32. Wire Stripper

33. Can/Bottle Opener

Leatherman Sidekick tool guide diagram

We are user supported and some of our links are affiliate links. We may earn a commission if you click through and make a qualifying purchase.

Features

  • Locking Blade
  • Outside-accessible One-hand Opening Knife Blade
  • Sheath and Carabiner included.

Leatherman truly engineers their multitools with careful thought into every design element. With the Sidekick they managed to reduce the manufacturing cost while keeping the utility. The tools also make efficient use of available space, nearly every tool serves multiple functions to minimize weight and added bulk.

Core Tools – Knife and Blades

Leatherman Sidekick tools fanned

It is no surprise that Leatherman uses their standard 420HC steel for the knife blade on the Sidekick. 420HC stainless steel is proven and gets the job done. Leatherman’s modified drop-point blade has a hybrid edge with a standard edge on the front half of the blade and the bottom half serrated. Straight from the box the blade deploys smoothly with the large thumb hole and liner locks hold it open securely. The blade position on the handle means you can only open it with your right thumb, sorry lefties.

Leatherman also included a small serrated blade on the Sidekick. The blade works well enough, but its location inside the handles means that you really must want to use it instead of the main blade.

Core Tools – Pliers and Wire Cutters

The Sidekick uses pinch style wire cutters designed for soft wire, it does not have a hard wire cutter. We cut 14 AWG Romex wire comfortably and even some small nails with the hard wire cutter. For a medium duty multitool the pliers are very serviceable and the spring action gives them a leg up on competitors.

Core Tools – Screwdrivers

The Sidekick is an economy tool and the screwdrivers are standard offerings. The medium screwdriver and Phillips screwdriver have 1 1/4 inch shanks for average reach and effectiveness. The small flat-blade screwdriver is at the tip of the file which means that access to any recessed screw will be impossible. 

Wire Cutters

The Sidekick uses pinch style wire cutters designed for soft wire, it does not have a hard wire cutter. We cut 14 AWG Romex wire comfortably and even some small nails with the hard wire cutter. For a medium duty multitool the pliers are very serviceable. 

Saw

The saw is a standard offering from Leatherman.

Files and Ruler

With only slightly more than an inch of surface, the wood/metal file is of limited use – as is the 1 1/2 inch long ruler.

Can/Bottle Opener and Wire Stripper

Leatherman uses a combination can and bottle opener to save space on several of their multitools. While serviceable, if you are a frequent user of the bottle opener you will find it annoying. The blade necessary for opening cans can also penetrate bottle caps if you are not careful but this is easily avoided with a little technique. 

The wire stripper on the Sidekick is a sharpened v-notch cut into the shaft of the can/bottle opener tool. Simply press the wire into the notch and rotate the tool around. This scores the insulation or you can continue and cut it completely. Then use the edge of the wire stripper to pull of the insulation from the wire. Easy and effective.

Quality Issues

Leatherman Sidekick full sized multitool folded

Leatherman looked for ways to reduce production costs on the Sidekick and stamped the body from a thinner sheet metal than their premium tools. The thinner steel combined with some almost-sharp edges makes it less comfortable to use and we could feel the handles flex under load.

Tools clump together and can be difficult to open.

Unfolding the handle to access tools and refolding for use – dated design is left behind by new tools on the market.

Strength

text

Corrosion and Discoloration

text

Variants of the Leatherman Sidekick

The Leatherman Sidekick is from the same family as the Wingman and they have very similar tools. The Sidekick has a non-serrated main blade, replaces the scissors with a saw blade, and swaps the package opener with a small serrated knife blade. Additionally, the Sidekick comes packaged with a belt sheath and carabiner tool while the Wingman comes with a pocket clip.

  • 831429 Sidekick
  • 831426 Wingman
Leatherman Sidekick carabiner tool

Leatherman Sidekick Review

Leatherman Sidekick iso view

Sidekick Summary

Pliers 4/5 Knife 4/5 Wire Cutters 3.5/5

One-handed: knife blade yes, pliers no

Carry method: pocket clip

Key Specifications

  • Blade length: 2.6 in modified drop point blade
  • Weight: 4.5 oz
  • Overall length: 6.0 in with knife open
  • Closed dimensions: 3.45 in x 1.3 in x 0.71 in*

*The body of the Freestyle is 0.54 in thick, maximum thickness of 0.71 in occurs at the pivot where the pocket clip is mounted

The Wingman comes with a pocket clip and not a belt sheath; at 7.0 oz, 3.8 inches long and 1.2 inch thick on the main body (not including the width of the belt clip and rivets) its on the upper end of what can be comfortable for pocket carry. We enjoyed the Wingman much more after removing the pocket clip and using a belt sheath.

The Leatherman Wingman multi tool keeps the tools you use most frequently on the outside for easy access – namely the knife blade and scissors. Right-handed users will appreciate the one-handed opening of the knife blade (sorry lefties); once opened the 420HC steel blade with lower half serrated is a joy to use. The knife blade and scissors are the only tools on the Wingman that lock in place, but during use we found our thumb would naturally rest on the unlock mechanism for the knife blade. No accidents yet, but accidental closing injuries are a painful lesson that we don’t want to repeat.

The box opener is handy if you already have the tool open or plan to open many boxes, but because it is not accessible without opening the handles we found ourselves just using the knife blade in most cases.

Pliers are the heart of any multitool and these are well made with a smooth movement and the tip of the jaws meet together properly – they are 9/32 in wide tapering to a 3/32 in tip over the last 3/4 in. The spring action works well and we haven’t experienced any binding or roughness, even after using the Wingman in a dirty, sandy environment with lots of small grit. Pinch-type wire cutters are effective for cutting copper wire and other soft metals, but we don’t recommend them for cutting hard wire.

The Leatherman Wingman is just that: your go-to tool for projects around the house, on the job, or at the campsite. A great stainless steel tool multi tool; the Wingman features an outside-accessible, one-hand opening blade and newly-designed spring-action jaws. With plenty of handy tools, and backed by Leatherman’s 25 year warranty, this is one amazing value.

We are user supported and some of our links are affiliate links. We may earn a commission if you click through and make a qualifying purchase.

Leatherman Sidekick vs Wingman

The Leatherman Wingman is identical to the Sidekick except for two changes. The Sidekick has a non-serrated blade and replaces the scissors with a saw blade. 

Leatherman Sidekick vs Juice

How does the Freestyle stack up against a more traditional pocket multitool design? Lets compare the Freestyle to another multitool in the Leatherman lineup – the Juice. If you don’t mind a shorter knife blade with a straight edge sheepsfoot design that doesn’t lock, and can spend the additional money, you should consider the Juice. More coming soon!

Leatherman Sidekick vs Gerber Crucial

Both the Freestyle and Crucial are marketed as minimalist essential multitools – but which one does it best? More coming soon!