Leatherman released the first multitool in 1983. Called the PST (pocket survival tool), it was 14 tools in a small compact form. Since then, Leatherman has innovated the PST and created a full line of multitools that come in different sizes, materials and with different tool combinations.
When Leatherman introduced the Wingman, they paired it with the Leatherman Sidekick. The goal was to create a USA-made multitool at an affordable price. Because multitools are used for everyday life in both indoor and outdoor settings, these sister multitools were made to focus on either (1) urban survival or (2) outdoor survival.
Uses for either the Leatherman Sidekick or Leatherman Wingman include:
- Use as your primary EDC knife
- Keep one ready to go with your camping gear, survival go-bag
- Have one as a back-up to your EDC blade
- Keep in your Extended EDC, stored in your vehicle
Side by side comparison
Here is a quick side-by-side comparison of the two tools.
|Purpose||Urban survival tool||Outdoors survival tool|
|Size||3.8″ closed||3.8″ closed|
|Weight||7 oz||7 oz|
|Spring-Action Needle-Nose Pliers||x||x|
|Spring-Action Regular Pliers||x||x|
|Spring-Action Wire Cutters||x||x|
|420HC Serrated Knife||x|
|420HC Combo Knife||x|
|Ruler (1.5 in | 3.8 cm)||x||x|
Both the Wingman and the Sidekick are medium-sized multitools, similar in size to the Wave model. What sets both of these models apart from their equally-sized counterparts is the price.
Leatherman introduced both back in 2011 to specifically offer an affordable multitool that stands up to the Leatherman name.
Let’s take a closer look at their differences and similarities.
With the Wingman having an outdoor focus and the Sidekick having an urban focus, it’s the subtle differences in these two EDC multitools that are important to note.
Looking at both EDC multitools, the differences are:
- Wingman: Combo 420HC blade
- Sidekick: Plain edge 420HC blade
Both primary blades externally accessible, so you don’t have to open the EDC multitool to access them and are made out of 420HC steel. The Wingman’s primary blade is a combo blade with the last ~40% of the blade being serrated in a scalloped pattern. The Sidekick’s primary blade has a plain edge, making it easy to sharpen.
This high-carbon (HC) form of 420 stainless steel works well with high production tooling. 420HC’s strength is optimized in Leatherman multi-tools by heat treatment and has been successfully field-tested for over 20 years. It can get banged-up and used but then field sharpened so you can get back to what you need to get done. It’s also rust-resistant, confirming it as a good choice for a “set and forget” survival backup tool.
Leatherman has some tools with more premium steel (like the Charge) but 420HC steel is a good, all-around serviceable metal. It will take an edge, but won’t hold it forever (which, no steel will…some just longer than others). Leatherman’s 420HC blades tend to run a bit harder and have a thicker edge, which helps keep it sharp longer.
Both the Sidekick and Wingman’s primary blades are a little less than half an inch shorter than the primary blades on Leatherman Charge TTI and Leatherman Wave (2.3″ instead of 2.9″). These are Leatherman’s budget line of mid-size multitools, but something to keep in mind as you comparison shop.
For a multitool that is primarily a pair of pliers first and a blade second, the Leatherman’s 420HC steel makes a great EDC pocket knife option.
Comparing the Wingman and Sidekick, they have different secondary tools:
- Wingman: Scissors
- Sidekick: Serrated 420HC blade
The scissors of the Wingman are larger than other multitools and the addition of the scissors give a huge jump in the usefulness of the tool. We’ve covered before reasons why you should add scissors to your EDC and having them in a multitool can easily expose how often you use them.
They come in handy for so many situations and we found the Wingman’s scissors solid and easy to use. They lock in place, just like the Primary blade, and are easily opened with either hand.
The Sidekick has a saw in place of the scissors. Although we find the scissors more useful in most EDC applications, it makes sense to have a saw in an outdoor-themed multitool, even though we still use scissors for cutting cord, repairing gear, and other applications when spending time outside. The saw will not replace the effectiveness of a larger dedicated saw but can come in handy in an emergency or for small work projects.
Clamshell opener / Serrated knife
Within the interior, there is a set of additional implements, which vary slightly on the two models.
- Can opener
- Bottle opener
- Wood/metal file
- Small screwdriver
- Package opener
- Can opener
- Bottle opener
- Wood/metal file
- Small screwdriver
- Serrated blade
- Lanyard loop
The Sidekick has removed the package opener and replaced it with a serrated blade and added a small lanyard hole.
To access the tools there are push-through slots to quickly get to them.
The package opener on the Wingman is a fantastic tool for EDC. It allows you to easily open boxes and the clamshell packaging. By using this handy tool, you lessen the risk of damaging the items that you’re trying to open. It comes in handy.
The serrated blade on the Leatherman Sidekick does not lock but is very firm and easy to use. It pairs with the included saw and combo blade, so it adds another cutting option. The added lanyard loop gives you the option to add a lanyard to your EDC multitool but it tucks away if you carry it in your pocket.
As you’re probably realizing, the Wingman and Sidekick are sister tools and have more similarities than the differences we talked about above.
Locking primary tools
The primary knife on both tools will lock into place. With a “liner-lock” style tab, you can not only open the primary blade one-handed but keep it locked into place.
The scissors and saw are also engaged on the outside of the tool and lock into place using the same “liner-lock” type lock.
Both the Leatherman Wingman and Leatherman Sidekick ride really well in the pocket, if you choose to carry it as part of your Primary EDC. Unlike other multitools on the market, the needle-nose pliers are completely covered when closed, so there are no sharp points to poke you as you go through your day.
The integrated pocket clip is solid (and removable!) and you shouldn’t experience play or wobble with it and since the edges are rounded, wear and tear on whatever pocket you carry with is minimal.
The primary function of both EDC multitools is the spring-loaded pliers. Even for a value EDC multitool, these pliers are easily the shining star of both the Sidekick and Wingman.
They are finely tapered, ground at the tip to clamp tight, and spring-loaded, making them easy to use one-handed.
The screwdriver interior tools are non-locking Philips driver and medium screwdriver.
The Philips could go a bit deeper, but you’d be surprised how much you can reach with it being a 2D version.
If you don’t have a Leatherman Wingman or Sidekick, they are a great value for the money. You can’t go wrong with either choice, but hopefully, the guide above helps make the decision a little bit easier.