Review: Leatherman Sidekick and Rebar

By CTD Blogger published on in Camping & Survival, General, Reviews

I have been a fan of Leatherman Multi-Tools since Tim Leatherman’s original multi-tool. That original tool was used so hard, it actually had to be replaced. Sure, I could have sent it back to Leatherman under their 25-year warranty, however karma prevailed and I happily slapped down another $40 for replacement. Over the years, I have purchased another dozen Leathermans and seem to have one stashed in every vehicle, pack, and tool drawer around the house.

By Major Pandemic

In the last five years, I have become a bit picky about what should be on a survival based multi-tool and what is just extra weight. I remember, some time ago, reviewing Leatherman’s then current lineup when the Sidekick and Rebar caught my eye. The primary reason was that they featured just the right combination of features in two distinctly different packages.

Leatherman Rebar opened to expose its tools

If you have something that needs fixed or built, it is likely the Rebar can get you there.

Fit, Finish, & Feel

From a spec and finish perspective, the two multi-tools are very similar. Leatherman’s typical high quality fit and finish is reflected in these solid stainless steel multi-tools. From a feel perspective, the intent of each tool is clear the moment you pick it up.

When comparing the Sidekick to the Rebar, the Rebar is a purpose built, hard use tool with thicker, stronger, longer tools, and a more substantial handle. The Sidekick is actually only .5-ounce lighter, but feels substantially lighter due to a more compact package. The Rebar gives you more substantial feeling full-sized locking tools. The Sidekick gives you a more compact package designed for more casual use, which can take the place of a pocketknife clipped to your pocket.

Features

There are features I believe critical to a general survival multi-tool including locking knife blades, bottle opener, can opener, lanyard ring, standard screwdriver, Phillips screwdriver, ruler, saw, small screwdriver, pliers, wire cutters, crimper, wire stripper, and file. These allow you to cut, fix, scavenge, and fabricate pretty much anything with the exception of something requiring an end mill and CNC machine—both the Rebar and Sidekick have these tools to some degree.

The mid-sized Sidekick really is a tool designed more for casual use with a overall size, tool size, and design that downsizes many of these tools into a package that is simple and easy to carry anytime and anywhere. The same quality and strength is there, however it is just in a slightly smaller package. The excellent feature of one-hand operation of the locking saw and knife blades in a feature I love on this tool, however it does generally make the sacrifice of a slightly bulkier tool. To prevent this on the Sidekick, Leatherman shortened man of the nested internal tools.

Leatherman Sidekick with tools open

The Sidekicks is still a full-featured multi-tool, but the tool sizes have been reduced a little.

In some cases it does not make a difference, however on the file and serrated knife, you do lose just a little utility. To increase the utility an attached pocket clip for tip-down carry of the one-handed thumb-opening utility blade. Also included with the Leatherman Sidekick is a slipcase for an executive type carry and carabineer tool, which I did not find particularly useful other than as a nice add on to my key chain. One of the features I know some will be excited over is spring loaded plier jaws, however I am not a fan as a big use for me is using the pliers as a third hand to hold a piece of wire for soldering or to tie a fly. With a rubber band over the handles, I can still use the plier for that purpose.

The Rebar is back to a size and full-sized tool function of the original Leatherman but just a bit thicker for a few extra features. The Rebar is all about packing more into a more compact package. What impressed me about this tool was how much was packed into the tool from a size and weight perspective.

Added to the original Leatherman’s features are a serrated blade, saw, awl with eyelet for sewing, replaceable wire cutters in the plier jaws, and non-spring loaded plier jaws— all tools lock open. This is the Leatherman I wanted back when the original was introduced and addresses every shortcoming. This is by far my favorite of the general purpose Leatherman’s for survival use. Sure a few more gadgets would be handy, however for general-purpose survival, ounce-for-ounce this is a new favorite companion when I have real work to do.

Final Thoughts

The Sidekick and Rebar really should not be compared side to side as they have different intents. The Sidekick is the convenience tool, which I tend to carry all the time either clipped in my jeans or slipped into my zippered jacket pocket. Should I need a tool when unexpected, the Sidekick is there with enough tools to get the job done.

The Rebar doesn’t have a pocket clip, or one-handed operation and is not a “convenience tool,” but rather a workhorse type tool. Without a doubt both can take about the same abuse. However, I like the fact that each tool is full sized and locking which is a significant safety and practical feature when I know the multi-tool will see hard use.

For a tool to use daily and toss into your jeans, the Sidekick is a great choice. For a bug out bag, survival kit, or toolbox, I would pick the Rebar. You cannot go wrong with either… after all they are a Leatherman.

Leatherman Rebar Specifications

Tools
Needle Nose Pliers
Regular Pliers
Premium Steel Replaceable Wire Cutters
Premium Steel Replaceable Hard-wire Cutters
Electrical Crimper
420HC Knife
420HC Serrated Knife
Wood/Metal File
Saw
Small Screwdriver
Large Screwdriver
Phillips Screwdriver
Awl w/Thread Loop
Ruler (8 inches/20 cm)
Bottle Opener
Can Opener
Wire Stripper

Features
Lanyard Ring
All Locking Blades and Tools
Stainless Steel Body
Stainless Steel Handles
Black Oxide Version Available
25-Year Warranty

Measurements
4 in. | 10.16 cm (Closed)
6.7 oz | 189.94 g (Weight)
2.9 in | 7.36 cm (Blade Length)

Leatherman Sidekick Specifications

Tools
Spring-action Needle nose Pliers
Spring-action Regular Pliers
Spring-action Wire Cutters
420HC Knife
420HC Serrated Knife
Wood/Metal File
Saw
Small Screwdriver
Medium Screwdriver
Phillips Screwdriver
Ruler (1.5 in)
Bottle Opener
Can Opener
Wire Stripper

Carabineer Accessory
Hex Bit Driver and Bottle Opener

Features
Lanyard Ring
Removable Pocket Clip
Stainless Steel Body
All Locking Outside Blades
Leather Sleeve
Stainless Steel Handles
25-year Warranty

Measurements
3.8 in | 9.7 cm (Closed)
7 oz | 198.4 g (Weight)
2.6 in | 6.6 cm (Blade)

Leatherman Rebar with case set on a rock

The Rebar is full sized and includes a simple but durable nylon sheath for everyday carry.

Leatherman Rebar open to expose the pliers

The Leatherman Rebar is a flagship heavy-duty multi-tool.

Leatherman Sidekick with carabineer and leather carry pouch

The Leatherman Sidekick includes a leather carry pouch and rather handy carabineer.

What’s your favorite Leatherman? Share it, or your favorite Leatherman moment, in the comment section.

Gas maskMajor Pandemic is an editor at large who loves everything about shooting, hunting, the outdoors, and all those lifesaving little survival related products. His goal is simple, tell a good story in the form of a truthful review all while having fun. He contributes content to a wide variety of print and digital magazines and newsletters for companies and manufacturers throughout the industry with content exposure to over 2M readers monthly. www.MajorPandemic.com

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Comments (9)

  • bill

    |

    I never had much use for multi tools since the tools provided are just usable. I have the side kick and used it for a few months this year. I like that the two tools I bought if for are accessible without opening the needle nose, the plain edge knife and the saw. its’ price was $45.00 and discounted $6.50 making it 38 bucks. it’s well built. I also have a Ozark trail from wallyworld, it is about a 1/2 inch larger handle wise and the saw and plain blades about 1/3 inch larger. it’s wire cutters fit and cut well, the sidekicks doesn’t. the Ozark trail cost $8.95 this year. they both do what I bought them for very well. the plain edge knife and the saw

    Reply

  • Stan

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    I have carried a made in USA Gerber multi tool since 1991. It has never failed. What the leatherman lacks is a scissor tool. It comes in quite handy for trimming, cutting fishing line, and fine thread, and has remained sharp all these years.

    Reply

  • mike

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    Anyone truly interested in comparing tools should also check the Swiss Army version of the pocket/holstered multi-tool. All of its tools are accessible WITHOUT deploying the plier.

    Reply

  • Marty

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    I have hade the sidekick for years and love it. Will have to check out the rebar. Just a note on your dimensions and weight, you mention in article the sidekick being .5 oz lighter but in your specs at the end of the article you have the rebar weighing less. Good article overall!

    Reply

  • Kevin

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    I have carried a Leatherman since they created their very first multi-tool. It was great, but not as good as the ones now, at least where comfort was concerned. That fist tool was taking years ago by the wonder TSA! That gave me cause to purchase my next Leatherman, the first incarnation of The Wave; which I still have and still carry every single day.

    Just like Dave, I, too, have purchased quite a few additional Leatherman multi-tools and I too have several Sidekicks; which, again, like Dave, are stashed in backpacks, bags, cars, etc., and they are great products. Great for the casual everyday use or the backup tool.

    I have been eyeing the Rebar as a possible replacement for my Wave, but since it doesn’t have any one-handed features, I may not carry that one every day. I can’t tell you how many times I have had one hand full and needed a blade quick. The Wave is always on my hip in it’s sheath. I grab the tool, open a blade and take care of business. I think the Rebar would be a tool I would keep in my EDC bag, because it has a few extra features not offered on the Wave.

    I have said many many times, if McGyver had carried a Leatherman, he could have ruled the world,,,,, or at least helped build it. haha

    If you have never purchased or even held a Leatherman, you are doing yourself a great injustice. I couldn’t do half the things I do on a daily basis without mine. I literally carry it like the old American Express commercials used to say, I don’t leave home without it!

    Buy a Leatherman! You’ll be glad you did. Might get the bug like Dave and I and have to by several.

    Thanks for reading.

    Reply

  • Brooks A. Mick

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    Some contradictions and confusion: 1) You don’t find the carabiner very useful but then it is labeled “a handy carabiner.” 2) In “final thoughts” you SEEM to say the Rebar has locking tools and imply the Sidekick does not since you are contrasting the two. In the main body, it appears the Sidekick tools do lock. 3) Looking at the specs, I have it sorted out!

    Reply

  • Carl

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    I have been an avid fan of Leatherman since the first multi-tool came out. I’ve tried many of the tools since. My all-time favorite was and is the ‘Pulse’. I was in a service trade for forty years, and not a day went by that I didn’t reach for that tool. I liked the Pulse so much, that when someone in Seattle sold them on ebay at a discount because they had “microsoft” engraved on them, I bought a bunch of them. I’ve given away a lot of them, but I will never be without one…..

    Reply

  • Billy

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    Good review. When my Gerber Diesel was stolen last year, I was looking to get a replacement, but instead of getting another Diesel (which I really liked) I decided to go with the Leatherman Sidekick and I’m glad I did.

    Reply

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