You can thank Land Line Magazine for the multipurpose tool showdown. They had a write-up on the Ztylus Stinger that really made sense. This little phone charger will also cut you out of your seat belt. Should you be in need of escaping through the window, the Stinger will also shatter glass.But seriously, are you going to take your flashlight/cellphone charger/usb power outlet tool and pound a tent stake with it? I don't think so. Click To Tweet
This is where the ridiculousness sets in. I found the Vehicle Emergency Escape Tool with Window Breaker & Seat Belt Cutter Car Safety Hammer listed on the same page as the little charger. Now you’ve got 7 tools in one. But seriously, are you going to take your flashlight/cellphone charger/usb power outlet tool and pound a tent stake with it? I don’t think so.
Let’s take a look at some of the other multipurpose gadgets that may or may not be handy. You be the judge. There may be a place for some of these, but I’m a realist. The more functions a product has, the less they will perform at a given task. We’ll get to trucking stuff, but let’s start at home.
For The Home
I spent some time working in an appliance center a few years back. This was a part time job, but it sure was fun. We also had a few goofy products to sell. For example, a line of microwave oven combos that featured items like a built-in coffee maker, toaster or other small appliance. They might have been a good choice for tight quarters, but the microwave was smaller, the coffee maker was only 6 cups and the toaster popped the toast out through the two slots in the front of the device. Yep! It shot toast at you.
How about the 3-in-1 Family Breakfast Station? It may make coffee, eggs, bacon and toast simultaneously, but only for one or two people. Maybe the rest of the family can have a bowl of Cheerios. Another one of my favorites is the microwave with the egg poacher mounted on the side.
The Home Improvement Market
As you know, we’ve been renovating our new home. The last item on the list was the ceiling exhaust fan. This is a necessity in a full bathroom with no windows. You’ve got to get the moisture from baths and showers out of the room. Otherwise mold and mildew will surface.
Oh, the modern technology available in these fans. Along with choosing the size, you can purchase a fan with lighting, heating, a Bluetooth speaker system, even a moisture detector. I opted for the fan and the light. We have a furnace and I don’t want to pair up my phone to use the bathroom.
That moisture detector almost had me. What a great idea. The fan knows when it needs to turn on and off. I was in the home improvement store with this sensor equipped fan in my cart when I decided to look up the reviews. I found one review that caused me to put the humidity sensing device back. “Great idea, but there’s no stink detector.”
The Best Of The Worst
Here are our worst of the multi-gadgets. We hope you don’t receive one for Christmas, although you may desire to give one.
The multipurpose ballpoint pens have to be among my favorite of the worst. I’ve found 3 categories that seem to fit the bill.
- Toolbox Pens. No, it’s not a pen for your tool box. It’s a pen designed to help you when you’re not near your tools, or just too lazy to walk to the garage. The 5 in 1 Aluminum pen contains screwdriver bits. a tough tip that’ll break glass and a built-in bottle opener. Anything bigger than a pair of sun glasses will require a trip to the garage. Forgot your keys? Just bust the glass with the tip of your pen, open a cold one and wait for the glass man to fix your garage window.
- Tactical Defense Pen. These offer some serious claims. Everything from knife blades to DNA collectors are in the descriptions of several of these. They slice, dice and break glass. They even collect finger prints. After digging into the descriptions, I’m pretty sure the DNA collection is taken by stabbing someone with the pen. The fingerprints would be collected when the opponent kicks your ass, then throws the pen back at you while laughing and walking away.
- Fishing Pen. I almost hate to list this one under worst. I actually like it. It’s nearly pen sized when collapsed. When the Lixada Fishing Rod Reel Combo Mini Telescopic Portable Pocket Pen is expanded, the rod is over 3 feet long. The tiny reel, hooks and other accessories come in a separate container. It does have other drawbacks. It’s a bit bigger than a pen and it doesn’t actually work as a writing instrument.
The Hatchet-Hammer-Pliers Gadget
The multi-function hammer has a hatchet, pliers and blade tools that are a prime example of doing nothing well. The hatchet and hammer heads will make using the blades cumbersome. With a the stubby 6 inch handle, pounding and cutting are questionable tasks. Coming in at well under a pound, a rock may make a better pounding device.
Five-In-One Rescue Tool
I wouldn’t be making fun of this one if I didn’t see it in a trucking magazine. Do you really think the cheater bar will work on a Peterbilt? It may be a fine ice scraper, but I doubt it serves the other 4 functions well. It looks like something your daughter might get as a gift when she’s headed off to college. It may be from a friend or a well meaning sister, but probably not from Dad.
And the list goes on. I could find dozens more, but I have to stop somewhere.
Buck’s Top Three Multi-Tools
I stand by my original premise. Any single function of a multipurpose device is never going to work as well as the device itself. That being said, the ability to carry everything you may need is limited. Who wants to turn down a great paying load because you have your 2,700 pound roller cabinet on board?
Let’s think about things we really could use in an emergency. I’m not focusing on food and water here, but tools to get through a breakdown, or getting stuck in dirt or snow. These are also things you’d probably take with you should you need to abandon the vehicle.
Hand Crank Radio With Flash Light And USB Port
I have one of these, and it’s always charged. If the truck has no voltage, I still have AM/FM radio. I also still have a way to recharge my smartphone. I used this radio nearly every day on the road. I could listen to local news while I had breakfast in the truck.
I chose this particular unit because of the 2000mAh charging ability. None of these crank out big power, but most are in the range of 500-800mAh in size. They’re also easy to take with you if you need to bug out from the truck.
None of these shovels are huge, but we aren’t digging a basement. We’re making a snow cave, scraping out in front of a tire or trenching. I chose this one because it’s tough, and it’s one assembled unit. None of this 6 piece screw together stuff. I’m also a big fan of carrying a short handled garden shovel in a big rig. I even carry one in my van.
The Leatherman and it’s competitors will rarely perform a function as well as the single purpose tool. But it will get you through in a pinch. The quality of the build is amazing, and they come with a protective case. Chose the one with the features you like. The choices are huge.
I do think it’s worth paying the premium for a quality name like Leatherman or Gerber. When you really need this thing to come through, you’ll be glad you paid for a good one.
Some Other Stuff We Like
We’ve all found a few other things while putting this together. They may not have made the best or worst list, but they’re cool.
Phone Stand Pen. No extra moving parts. No flashlight, screwdriver or blade attachment. Just a pen with a stylus tip on the top end. Oh, and the funny shape that makes it a phone stand. I can think of dozens of times I wish I’d had this.
Portable power source with air compressor and jumper cables. We are in the market for a new one of these. I want to find one with plenty of cold cranking amps, a light, a 120 volt invertor with outlet and a 12 volt outlet. USB ports would also be nice.
One issue I’ve found with most of these is the quick connection on the air hose. If the insides are plastic, your tire’s valve stem will wear it out. Don’t ask me how I know, but I’m thankful for Costco”s return policy.
Other Show Notes
Buck’s Top 3 Trucking News Stories
Bob Lutz says Tesla is going out of business. Motorauthority.com
Livestock haulers get 90 day exemption. Truckersnews.com
Fixing the broken trucking industry. Techcrunch.comShare This: