TSA Approved Multi-Tool: Rules & Options

When jumping on board a plane, there’s no way around facing the Transportation Security Administration, or TSA. Notorious for confiscating all types of personal belongings, the TSA doesn’t mess around when it comes to safety. 

Knives and other sharp objects are a controversial topic when taking them on a plane. You should be very informed about what multi-tools are allowed on the plane. In today’s article, we’ll be discussing the TSA-compliant multi-tool rules and options.

The TSA rules for multi-tools

 On the TSA website, you can find everything that is TSA-friendly and approved for travel. After the 9/11 incident, the United States created the administration to keep travelers and citizens safe. Their rules have always been strict to the point that nail clippers were even banned at some point. 

Multi-tools are very helpful and handy objects to carry around. It is a multitude of tools included in one that is sometimes only a couple of inches long. It avoids using a hex or a hex bit with other tools included like a wrench, screwdriver, or even a bottle opener.

For master tools, the rules are just as harsh to be TSA compliant. However, the TSA website’s sections on multi-tool variations say they are allowed on either your carry-on bag or checked bag. They’re very picky with a pocket tool in the carry-on bag, but it’s a little more lenient for checked bags.

In general, sharp objects aren’t allowed to be carried on the plane. If the TSA sees you’re carrying a knife, a box opener, pliers, or specific scissors, they’ll be confiscating it. However, if you keep your pocket tool in your checked bag, in a sheath, or at least wrapped, you’re good to go.

People are sometimes concerned with certain things that are in a multi-tool. Things like a screwdriver, regular pliers, bottle opener, nail file, or tweezers can raise some concerns. However, the TSA website explains that a majority of the objects can be carried on hand, and all of them can be put away in checked bags.

TSA compliant picks

Today, manufacturers of multi-tools make it one of their goals to make their products travel-friendly, knowing how frustrating it can be when facing TSA.

Here is a list of compliant tools that will pass security checks.

1. Leatherman Style PS

As one of the unique master tools included on our list, the Leatherman Style Ps multi-tool is a  small but a handy friend. With its eight tools on hand, the Leatherman’s best features include its travel-friendly compliance and its keyring hole for simple carrying. 

The stainless-steel product also comes included with a 25-year warranty, practically a lifetime use. It is one of the only multi-tools with spring-action scissors that are TSA compliant. This makes the leatherman an exceptional tool.

2. Gerber Shard Keychain

The seven-in-one keychain tool is the lightest and smallest multi-tool on the list. The keychain is small enough to fit almost any keyring, only being 2.75 inches. It looks like a flimsy object, but its EDC gear makes it a great companion to travel with.

With a stainless steel bottle opener, pry bar, cross driver, wire strippers, and more, its small length is more than made up for with its functionality.

3. Gerber Dime Travel

A lot like the Leathermen, the Gerber Travel multi-tool is a fantastic TSA-compliant tool. It contains a bottle opener, needle nose pliers, wire cutters, scissors, flathead screwdriver, wire stripper, and more. 

The multi-tool is small, stainless steel, and fits in your pocket. It is travel-friendly as it does not contain a blade. The Gerber is our pick for the best-approved multi-tools out of this bunch of friendly multi-tools.

Honorable mentions

They’re a handful of other multi-tools that were not included on this list but are still great selections.  These tools are also great to carry and travel with when on a plane. 

  • Leatherman Pirahna 2
  • Griffin Pocket Tool
  • Lever Gear Tool Card Pro
  • Leatherman Micra Multitool

No guarantees

The person who decides if you’ll be able to take your multi-tool on board is security. They have the last say if you’re taking your tools on your trip or throwing it away in the trash box.

The controversial bit here is that your tool can be 100% TSA compliant, be on the list of TSA-approved multi-tools, and still be confiscated. If the TSA officer declares your object too dangerous to carry on board, then you won’t be having it on board.

When traveling and going through TSA, regardless of it being a multi-tool, as a good rule of thumb,  try not to carry tools or things that are :

  • Sharp
  • Explosive
  • Flammable
  • Pointy
  • Usable as a weapon

People who are caught with tools that fit into these categories have two options for their belongings; placing them into their checked luggage or disposing of them. If you cherish your tools, the best option here is to salvage them by putting them in your checked bags. 

Always be polite with security, as harsh as they may be, to get through with searches and move on with your day not to miss your flight. There have been many cases of long-length altercations at security checkpoints that have resulted in missed flights.

FAQs about TSA Approved Multi-Tools

What materials can TSA-approved multi-tools be made from?

TSA-approved multi-tools can be made from metal, plastic, or other non-metallic materials.

Is there a list of prohibited items that cannot be included in a TSA-approved multi-tool?

Yes, there are prohibited items that cannot be included in a TSA-approved multi-tool such as razors, blades longer than 2.36 inches, and pointed objects like ice picks and awls.

Can TSA-approved multi-tools have blades longer than 2.36 inches?

No, blades on TSA approved multi-tools must not exceed 2.36 inches in length.

Are nonlocking tools allowed in TSA approved multi-tools?

Nonlocking tools are allowed in TSA approved multi-tools as long as they meet all other requirements for size and prohibited items.

Does the size of the tool matter when determining if it is deemed acceptable by the TSA for travel purposes?

Yes, the size of the tool does matter when determining its acceptability for travel purposes as tools must be smaller than 7 inches long and 1/2 inch wide when closed in order to be allowed through security.

Play it safe

If you genuinely care about your tools, your best bet is to keep them at home or put them in checked luggage even if they’re approved for carrying. If you can’t go out without having your tools by your side, invest in another one to keep in your luggage.

Having to throw away your tools before having to travel is painful and completely unnecessary when taking the right precautions. Taking them out of your carry-on bag and putting them in your checked bags is the safest option you have to keep your tools. Make sure to check all the rules before leaving for the airport to avoid losing any other belongings before your trip. Having to lose an essential possession before hopping on the plane is unfortunate and heartbreaking.


About the Author

Trey is a lifelong hunter and avid camper. He lives outside Denver, CO with his wife Kaci and their lab mix Ziggy. They spend as much time as possible outdoors - hunting, fishing, and camping.

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