Leatherman’s Tread takes the concept of an EDC (Every Day Carry) multi-tool in an entirely new direction with virtually unlimited potential. There have been numerous less than successful attempts at functional jewelry that you wear as a pendant and there’s no shortage of keychain-sized tools, many of which can be hung from the neck. However, the Tread’s 25 tools ingeniously incorporated into the links of a stainless bracelet may be almost as revolutionary as Tim Leatherman’s original Pocket Survival Tool (Click on image to right for higher resolution).
Leatherman President Ben Rivera, formerly chief designer at Leatherman, was inspired to create an alternative to a traditional multi-tool after an uncomfortable and inconvenient experience at Disneyland that left him without his Leatherman Skeletool. Rivera related that he “was unwilling to give it up (at the gate), so they made me take it all the way back to my hotel room (with security following him the entire way). I knew there had to be another way to carry my tools with me that would be accepted by security.”
The somewhat intricate links are precision manufactured using a Metal Injection Molding (MIM) process. Compared to the typical 300-series stainless typically used in jewelry, watch bands and the like, the 17-4 stainless steel can be heat treated to harden the steel so it will hold up to the rigors and abuse the tools will see. The bracelet is available in either natural stainless steel or with a DLC (Diamond-Like Coating) black finish.
The links are easily exchanged or removed as needed using a coin or, perhaps, your normal Leatherman tool. Regardless, the all-important and essential bottle opener will always be available, integrated into the fold-over clasp (which is adjustable in quarter-inch increments). Leatherman anticipates creating optional links with additional tools and tool combinations that will allow a Tread owner to customize their bracelet to suit. The potential tool options are virtually unlimited and as soon as we started examining the Tread many potential new tools came to mind.
To use any tool, the appropriate link is selected and then the remainder of the bracelet squeezed together becomes the handle.
If there’s any drawback to the integrated tools, it is the short length of the screw and hex drivers. With a 1/4″ drive socket in one of the links, that drawback can be alleviated by carrying a few standard 1/4″ drive bits and possibly an extension. No doubt Leatherman will soon make such a pocket kit available, similar to the bit kits for their regular multi-tools.
In an era where men’s wrist jewelry and watches often make a motorcycle drive chain look petite, the Tread is unlikely to raise an eyebrow. Rivera told us that he’s been flying with the prototype worldwide for a year with no issues. The Tread isn’t a flyweight bracelet, but at 5.3 oz (150g) is unexpectedly light, due in part to the voids and such created by the integral tools. Titanium would be lighter, but it would also be more expensive by an order of magnitude.
The Tread QM1 replaces a couple links, leaving 19 tools, with a Leatherman-designed, Swiss-made watch with a quartz movement. Its scratch-resistant sapphire crystal is in keeping with the likely abuse the tool may see. The watch snaps in and out of its stainless carrier and it’s not difficult to imagine it being replaceable with a variety of watches and smart watches down the road. Again, the possibilities are darn near limitless.
The initial list of tools incorporated into the Tread are:
Cutting Hook, Bottle Opener, Carbide Glass Breaker, 1/8″, 3/16″, 1/4”, 5/16”, 3/8” and 10mm Box Wrenches, 3/32″, 3/16”, 1/4″ and 5/16” Screwdrivers, #1-2 and #1 Phillips, 3/32”, 1/8”, 3/16”, 1/4”, 5mm and 6mm Hex Drives, #2 Square Drive, 1/4” Socket Drive, Oxygen Tank Wrench, Pick/Sim Card Tool
The stainless Tread will have a MSRP of $150, the DLC version will be $200. Leatherman says the Tread bracelet will be available Summer 2015, followed by the version including the watch in Fall 2015, at $500 for stainless and $600 for DLC.
We only had a brief opportunity to play with the Tread at SHOT Show, so we’ll have to reserve any real-life impressions until we get one to play with at length. Stay tuned…