Best Product – Ultimate Tool Gift Guide

A lot of people have written in asking for a list of cool tool suggestions and recommendations to help them with their holiday shopping. Gift guides are always a little tricky for us to put together, so we sat down, reviewed our notes and wishlists from the past year, and got to work.

The good news is that we came up with plenty of cool tool gift ideas. The bad news is that this gift guide will probably give you GAS (gear acquisition syndrome).

These are all products we own, have tested, or trust enough to recommend, and are the types of things we think most ToolGuyd readers would love to give or receive.

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We skipped over the trendy tools that pop up every holiday season and disappear a few short weeks later. You won’t find tool-related equivalents to tube socks and AA batteries here either!

Do you agree with our suggestions? Disagree? Let us know in the comments section!

Table of Contents

Hand Tools
Knives
Multi-Tools
LED Flashlights
Power Tools
Tool Storage
Garage
Everyday Gear (EDC)
Disaster Preparedness (aka Zombie Survival Gear)

Hand Tools

Gearwrench Gimbal Ratchet

Gearwrench Gimbal Ratchet Large

These new Gearwrench palm ratchets are unlike any others in how they swivel and pivot to provide easier improved access. Plus, they look like they would be great as part of a compact tool kit.

Price: $16-21 | BUY | Learn More

Westling Socket Organizers

Westling Machine Co Socket Holders

These high quality USA-made socket trays are top-notch. Not only do they work well, they look good too.

Price: $10-99 | BUY | Learn More

Facom Locking Pliers

Facom Slip Joint Locking Pliers

Facom’s locking pliers feature multi-functional jaws, a novel slip-joint adjustment mechanism, and a unique user-friendly locking method. They’re proof that different can be a very good thing.

Price: $29 | BUY | Learn More

Wera Zyklop Ratchet

Wera-Zyklops-Ratchet

The Zyklop swivel head ratchet is a cross between a screwdriver and ordinary flex-head ratchet, and is incredibly effective in low-to-medium duty applications.

You can start off with a single ratchet, or splurge on a complete socket set. Wera Zyklop ratchets, sockets, and accessories are about as good as they get.

Price: $50+ | BUY | Learn More

Knipex Pliers Wrench

Knipex Pliers Wrench

The Pliers Wrench is exactly what it sounds like. Parallel jaws, fast adjustment, compound leverage, and robust construction make this a much-loved tool with no equal. Knipex makes these in 7″, 10″, and 12″ sizes with coated and ergonomic grip options.

Price: $45-80 | BUY | Learn More

Mitutoyo Precision Tools Upgrade

Mitutoyo Digital Micrometer IP65 Rated

If you are using cheap no-name calipers, micrometers, or indicators, have they fallen apart or given you spurious readings yet? If not, consider yourself lucky. Mitutoyo is our favorite brand for precision and machinist measurement tools, when we could afford them.

Mitutoyo workshop staples, such as rulers and calipers, can be quite affordable at times. Mitutoyo gear is always on sale somewhere, check out our where to buy page for a list of industrial suppliers.

Price: varies | BUY | Learn More

Wera Bit Ratchet Set

Wera Bit Ratchet Set

Combine Wera’s bit ratchet set with one of their compact bit-holding screwdrivers ($8 and up), and you have the ultimate compact screwdriving set. The ratchet (~$26) and universal bit set (~$40) are both available separately as well.

Price: $60| BUY | Learn More

Engineer Compact Scissors

Engineer Tetsuwan Compact Scissors

Engineer’s compact scissors are small, pocketable, and the multi-functional blade shape is quite versatile. You can’t really hold these like normal full-size scissors, but the learning curve is short and gentle.

Price: $30-35 | BUY | Learn More

Engineer Twin Wrench Driver

Engineer L Wrench Bit Driver

L-drivers are useful for portable tool kits and working in tight quarters, and Engineer’s Twin wrench driver is the best we’ve ever used. Pair it with a compact bit ratchet and bit-holding screwdriver handle for unbeatable versatility.

Price: $45+ | BUY | Learn More

Vaughan Stealth High-Velocity Hammer

Vaughan Stealth High Velocity Hammer Milled Face

There are a couple of new high velocity steel hammers on the market that are designed to help you complete nailing jobs with less arm fatigue. Vaughan’s Stealth feels to be the best of the bunch, with a large striking face and good user comfort. Plus, they’re made in the USA.

Price: $35 | BUY | Learn More

Victorinox Bike Tool

Victorinox Bike Tool

This Victorinox-branded version of the PB Swiss Bike Tool comes with a 5mm hex key, a bit holder adapter, two tire levers, and an assortment of (8) screwdriver bits. It is one of the most compact and versatile bike maintenance and emergency tool kits we’ve seen. Although a bit pricey, the included Swiss-made tools might just out-live your bike.

Price: $45-50 | BUY | Learn More

Channellock Adjustable Wrench

Channellock Adjustable Wrench 8WCB

Channellock’s made-in-Spain (by Irega) adjustable wrenches are our absolute favorites. The cushion handles are grippy and super comfortable, the adjustment mechanism is smooth and strong, and the jaws open wide without the wrench being too large or bulky.

The 8″ model (8WCB) is a good place to start.

Price: $25 | BUY | Learn More

Felo Ergonic Screwdriver Set

Felo Ergonic Screwdriver Set

While we have a lot of favorite screwdriver styles that we like for different reasons, these Felo Ergonic drivers are absolutely the most comfortable we have ever used. The handles are built with firm but squishy cushioning beneath a rubbery outer layer.

Price: $32-42 | BUY | Learn More

Megapro Ratcheting Screwdriver

Megapro 13-in-1 Ratcheting Screwdriver

Megapro’s 13-in-1 ratcheting screwdriver (automotive version) is similar to the Channellock one we reviewed and love using, but works with standard-sized 1-inch 1/4″ hex insert bits instead of double-sided bits. It has a smooth ratcheting mechanism, comfortable handle, and a high quality feel.

Price: $33 | BUY | Learn More

Proto Full Polish Spline Ratcheting Wrenches

Proto Spline I-Beam Ratcheting Wrench

If we lost all of our combination ratcheting wrenches, we would immediately replace them with Proto’s newest I-Beam spline profile wrenches. These wrenches have anti-slip open ends that are engineered with a greater offset angle for easier access around obstacles. They are the best wrenches we have ever used.

Price: varies | BUY | Learn More

Knives

Mora Companion Knife

Mora Companion Knife Blue

Mora fixed blade knives have a strong following among bushcraft and outdoors enthusiasts, but are a great value for DIYers, pros, homeowners, hobbyists, and just about everyone else. For less than $20, you get a strong Swedish-made steel knife and a sheath.

We recently took a liking to the stainless steel model, which is available in a variety of vibrant colors.

Price: $15-20 | BUY | Learn More

Kershaw Leek Knife

Kershaw Leek Onion Knife Ergonomics

We consider the Kershaw Leek to be a superb pocket knife. It is very affordable, yet performs leaps and bounds better than many of the cheaper knives we’ve seen. The Leek’s blade opens via a spring-assisted mechanism, which allows for quick and easy deployment.

Price: $33 | BUY | Learn More

Benchmade Mini Griptilian (555HG)

Benchmade Mini Griptilian 555HG

The USA-made Benchmade Mini Griptilian is one of our favorite sub-$100 folding pocket knives. It has a high strength Valox plastic handle with stainless steel liners, and a nicely shaped hollow ground sheepsfoot blade.

We prefer the thumb-hole model with plain edge blade (555HG), and Benchmade also makes the same knife with a thumb stud option (556HG).

Price: $85 | BUY | Learn More

Zero Tolerance 0350

Zero Tolerance 0350 Knife

The Zero Tolerance 0350 is an assisted-opening folding knife built with an S30V tungsten DLC-coated stainless steel blade and textured G-10 scales. This is the knife to buy when you’re ready for a serious heavy-duty folding knife. It can handle the toughest daily cutting tasks and won’t let you down.

Zero Tolerance now offers this knife with a couple of handle, blade style, and blade finish options, but you typically can’t go wrong with the all-black plain edge blade version.

Price: $115-130 | BUY | Learn More

Zero Tolerance Rexford 0801

Zero Tolerance 0801 Rexford Knife

We own and have tested a lot of flipper-style folding knives, and find the new Zero Tolerance 0801 Rexford design to be the best so far. It deploys so smoothly, quickly, and effortlessly that we almost can’t believe there’s no assisted-opening mechanism.

A premium Elmax steel blade, beautiful titanium handle, and perfect fit and finish make this as much a gentleman’s knife as a heavy-duty workhorse.

Price: $192 | BUY | Learn More

Multi-Tools

Leatherman Wingman or Sidekick

Leatherman SideKick Multi-Tool Fanned Open

Leatherman’s “entry-level” Wingman and Sidekick multi-tools are proof that you don’t have to spend a lot for quality. Sure, they’re a little less featured and not as rugged as Leatherman’s higher-end models, but they’re plenty strong, durable, and versatile for everyday use.

We keep flip-flopping between the Wingman and Sidekick, but tend to favor the Wingman a little more as an entry-level tool. Unless you prefer the Sidekick’s tool selection, the Wingman’s lower price allows you to start saving for the next multi-tool.

Price: $25-35 | BUY | Learn More

Leatherman Skeletool CX

Leatherman Skeletool CX Multi-Tool Open

When we’re out and about, the Skeletool CX is our favorite multi-tool. It’s compact, lightweight, and features the tools we use most often – a knife blade, combination pliers, screwdriver bit holder, and bottle opener. A carabiner clip and pocket clip allow for multiple carrying options.

Not only does it work well and carry comfortably, it totally looks badass.

Price: $55-60 | BUY | Learn More

Leatherman Wave

Leatherman Wave Multi-Tool Open

We are often asked about which multi-tool we feel is the all-around best. Without a doubt, that would be Leatherman’s Wave.

The Wave is well suited for all types of users, and looks sharp enough to be given as wedding or groomsmen gifts. It even engraves nicely, thanks to an unadorned stainless steel handle.

Price: $55-65 | BUY | Learn More

Leatherman Super Tool 300

Leatherman Super Tool 300 with Tools Fanned out

Leatherman calls this a Super Tool for good reason. The Super Tool 300 features Leatherman’s largest and strongest pliers, and also user-replaceable wire cutting blades.

While this design is focused around the pliers, it also features a nice selection of knife blades and tools that are accessible when the handles are opened.

Price: $55 | BUY | Learn More

Leatherman OHT

Leatherman OHT Multi-Tool Spring-Loaded Pliers

Since its late-2012 launch, Leatherman’s OHT multi-tool has been so popular that a lot of distributors are still having difficulty keeping it in stock. The pliers deploy swiftly with just a flick of the wrist, justifying Leatherman’s naming this a One-Handed Tool.

Although technically designed for tactical users, we love the OHT’s quick and strong pliers, outside-accessible tools, and ease of use. It has become a workshop favorite.

Price: $70-75| BUY | Learn More

LED Flashlights

Fenix E01

Fenix E01 LED Flashlight Blue

Fenix’s E01 LED keychain-sized flashlight isn’t too flashy, nor is it very bright. It’s a 1AAA flashlight with incredibly long runtime, high durability, and waterproof construction. Priced at just under $15, the E01 provides great bang for the buck.

Price: $15 | BUY | Learn More

Fenix LD22

Fenix LD22 LED Flashlight

Some people might scoff at the thought of a $60 imported flashlight, and if so they probably have not yet tried a Fenix product. This 2AA LED flashlight is bright (215 lumens max), waterproof (IPX8), and reasonably compact.

In our experience, Fenix makes dependable products, and the LD22 is among the best EDC, household, and emergency LED flashlights we’ve come across.

Price: $60 | BUY | Learn More

Maglite Mag-Tac Tactical Flashlight

Maglite Mag-Tac LED Flashlight

When it seemed like Maglite was way, way behind the times, they came out with the Mag-Tac tactical LED flashlight. These flashlights are built strong, and they work remarkably well.

For about $55 on average, you get a superb 2x CR123 LED flashlight that provides reliable and consistent performance. The Mag-Tac doesn’t quite rival other brands’ tactical and high performance LED flashlights, but it comes close and at a lower price.

Price: $52-65 | BUY | Learn More

Foursevens Preon P2

4Sevens Preon 2

You could be forgiven for thinking that the Foursevens Preon P2 LED penlight is an executive flashlight, because it really is quite elegant in person. But underneath the hood this 2AAA LEd flashlight features high quality construction and materials, a high power emitter, multiple output levels and hidden special output modes.

With the Preon P2, you’re not just paying more for looks, you’re paying for premium quality and performance.

Price: $41 | BUY | Learn More

Streamlight Stylus Pro

Streamlight Stylus Pro C4 Edition

Prior to the Preon P2, our top penlight pick was the Streamlight Stylus Pro. Now, the Stylus Pro is still one of our favorite penlights. It is very robustly built, easy to operate via a clicky tailcap switch, and it throws a bright beam. If you are looking for an affordable workhorse LED flashlight that can be easily carried in your pocket or bag, look no further.

Price: $20-25 | BUY | Learn More

Zebralight H502 Headlamp

Zebralight H502W LED Headlamp

While the Zebralight H502W is technically a headlamp (it comes with a removable headband), we tend to use it more as a compact LED flashlight when traveling and working on certain close-up projects. The flood light design brightens up a wide work area, and the neutral white color is easier on the eyes. Colors of illuminated objects tend to be truer-to-life as well.

Price: $69 | BUY | Learn More

Power Tools

Dremel MM30 Multi-Max Oscillating Tool

Dremel MM30 Oscillating Tool with Quick Wrench

Dremel’s MM30 Multi-Max oscillating multi-tool is not the best model on the market, but it’s a decent performer that is priced at under $99. Even without a tool-free blade change mechanism, its stowable wrench provides for relatively quick blade changes.

As with other multi-tools, the MM30 can be used for cutting, grinding, sanding, and scraping applications.

This kit makes for an excellent first-time oscillating tool, and comes with enough attachments to start you off with.

Price: $99 | BUY | Learn More

Bosch 12V Max Cordless Tool Combo Set

Bosch 12V Drill Impact L-Boxx Radio Combo Kit

Bosch’s largest 12V Max cordless power tool combo kit also happens to provide the biggest bang for the buck. It comes with a compact drill/driver, impact driver, radio, (2) high capacity 2.0Ah batteries, and (2) L-Boxxes. It’s the best 12V starter kit we’ve seen, and should provide DIYers, pros, and homeowners years of great performance.

Price: $200 | BUY | Learn More

Ryobi 18V Airstrike Cordless Brad Nailer

Ryobi AirStrike 18V Cordless Brad Nailer

Ryobi is the first consumer brand to have packed pneumatic-like performance into a cordless brad nailer. It drives brads without requiring the use of an air hose or powder chargers, but don’t forget that the required Li-ion battery and charger are sold separately.

Price: $129 | BUY | Learn More

Bosch Axial Glide Miter Saw

Bosch GCM12SD Axial-Glide Dual Bevel Miter Saw

Sliding miter saws provide for great cutting capacity, but have one major disadvantage – they take up a lot of space. Bosch solved this issue in their axial glide miter saw by engineering it with compact compound pivoting joints that take the place of guide rails. The 12″ version is readily available and a 10″ saw is nearing release.

Price: $725 | BUY | Learn More

Tool Storage

Craftsman Heavy Duty Ball Bearing

Craftsman Red Griplatch DynaGlide Ball Bearing Rolling Storage

Ball bearing tool storage products are available at every home improvement retailer, but it can be hard to find good quality models at affordable prices.

In 2013 Craftsman impressed us with a new line of heavy-duty ball bearing chests and cabinets that feature Dynaglide drawer slides. Each drawer can hold up to 75 pounds in tools.

We have had good results with Craftsman’s red ball bearing storage cabinet, and presume that all of their Dynaglide products will perform similarly.

Prices start at under $200 and go up from there, depending on tool box size and number of drawers.

Price: varies | BUY | Learn More

Montezuma Portable Tool Box

montezuma-portable-chest

Montezuma’s portable tool boxes are compact solutions aimed at mechanics, technicians, and service personnel that need quick access to their tools. These iconic triangular-shaped tool boxes are available in different styles, sizes, and colors.

Price: $330 and up| BUY | Learn Moren

Facom Cantilever Tool Box

Facom Cantilever Tool Box Open

This Facom 5-tray cantilever tool box has been a favorite addition to our shop, but it can get a little too heavy when fully loaded. We have searched far and wide, but have yet to find a better cantilever tool box.

Price: $115 | BUY | Learn More

Garage

Gladiator Adjustable Height Workbench

Gladiator Adjustable Height Workbench 4-Foot Bamboo

We tend to be picky about workbenches. If it’s not built from 2x4s, then it had better be an absolutely fantastic workbench that’s worth every penny. Luckily, Gladiator’s adjustable height workbenches don’t disappoint. They’re available in 4-foot, 6-foot, and 8-foot sizes, with your choice of maple or bamboo butcher block top.

Not only are these workbenches rock-solid and capable of supporting heavy loads, they look quite nice too. Not that you or us care about that sort of thing, but it’s still nice to have.

Price: $400-600 | BUY | Learn More

Craftsman Professional Bench Vise

Craftsman Professional Vise

Craftsman’s 87018 professional vise is the best sub-$150 bench vise we have used thus far. Period. If you want something better, you’ll have to shell out three times as much for the Wilton bullet vise that the Craftsman design is based on.

Price: $110-120 | BUY | Learn More

Craftsman Anti-Fatigue Mat

Craftsman Black Workshop Anti-Fatigue Mat

Do you spend a lot of time standing in front of a workbench in your shop? Buy this cushioned Craftsman anti-fatigue mat, and your feet, legs, and back will thank you.

Price: $40 | BUY | Learn More

Akro-Mils Organizer Cabinet

Akro-Mils Drawer Storage Bin Cabinet

Well-organized workshops and garages will always be more efficient and enjoyable to work in than those in perpetual states of disarray. Akro-Mils metal-framed drawer cabinets are helpful for sorting and storing small parts, tools,  and hardware, and can be stacked on top of each other for greater organizational needs.

Multiple colors and drawer configurations are available, but the 20-drawer unit with gray plastic drawers is a good choice for most to start out with, and is also presently the most economical model.

Price: $72 – $130 | BUY | Learn More

Everyday Gear (EDC)

Titanium Spork

Snow Peak Titanium Spork

It’s a durable and lightweight spork made from titanium, what’s more to say? Make sure you also have a stout knife or can opener ($1.50 via Amazon) to open up canned goods.

Price: $9 | BUY | Learn More

Pentel Sharp Kerry Pocketable Automatic Pencil

Pentel Sharp Kerry Mechanical Pencil

The Pentel Sharp Kerry is like the Fisher Space Pen of pencils. Its cap serves double duty – it protects your pockets from the pencil tip, and also transforms the very compact and pocketable pencil to one that is comfortable to write with.

Price: $14 | BUY | Learn More

Fisher Space Pen

Fisher-Bullet-Space-Pen-Chrome

There are a lot of new pens on the market today that work with Fisher Space Pen ink cartridges, but the bullet-shaped Space Pen remains our favorite. The Space Pen is compact and pocketable, and its pressurized ink cartridge is designed to write in all sorts of conditions – under water, in the cold, and even upside down.

Price: $16+ | BUY | Learn More

Skinth OG Tool Sheath

Skinth OG Sheath EDC Tools

The Skinth OG tool sheath is what Batman would carry when he wants to leave his utility belt at home.

Price: $35+ | BUY | Learn More

Klein Bottle Opener

Klein Tools Bottle Opener

How cool is this – a bottle opener with a traditional Klein screwdriver handle! If you prefer coffee, tea, or hot chocolate over beer, they also make an insulated hot drink bottle ($19 via Amazon).

Price: $7 | BUY

Casio G-Shock Watch

Casio G-Shock Mudman Scorpion Watch

Casio’s G-Shock line of watches are designed to endure rough, tough, and demanding conditions. Our favorite is the G9300 Mudman (~$175), but less featured models are just as tough and start at $45.

Price: $45+ | BUY | Learn More

Disaster Preparedness Tools (aka Zombie Survival Gear)

Gerber LMF II

gerber-lmf-ii

Gerber’s LMF fixed-blade knife comes in two kits – an infantry bundle, and a survival knife bundle. Bothe versions come with the knife, a sheath with built-in sharpener, and multiple attachment options. The survival knife bundle comes with an added safety knife.

Stranded on a deserted island? This is the knife you’ll want to be at your side.

Price: $65-70 | BUY | Learn More

ESEE Izula Knife

ESEE RAT Izula Neck Knife

Maybe you don’t want a large and heavy survival knife, but something small and pocketable. ESEE makes excellent survival knives in all shapes and sizes. Our favorite so far for workshop use is the affordable Izula, which works well wrapped with paracord or with optional bolt-on handle scales.

Price: $45+ | BUY | Learn More

Stanley FUBAR III

Stanley Fubar Xtreme III Forcible Entry

The Fubar III is a 30″ utility bar that can be used for prying, board bending, or striking tasks. Between uses, store it with your other disaster preparedness tools. The consumer version is not quite as overbuilt as the professional forcible entry version, but it’s better than being left with only your band hands.

Price: $80 | BUY | Learn More

Trucker’s Friend All-Purpose Survival Tool

Truckers Friend Survival Tool

Although originally designed for trucker’s, the Trucker’s Friend emergency survival tool is packed with features other types of users might find handy. It has a curved axe blade, spanner wrench, hammer face, nail puller, tire chain hook, pry bar, and lever edge.

Price: $60 | BUY

Gerber E-Tool

Gerber E-Tool Folding Shovel

Gerber’s E-Tool is a folding spade shovel with a serrated blade on one side. It’s great for camping, backpacking, auto use, and other times when you need to do some light digging.

Price: $44 | BUY | Learn More