Leatherman Wave Vs Wave Plus

Multitools are a marvel of human ingenuity, enabling users to carry a miniature toolbox in their pockets. Among the leading names in this industry, Leatherman stands out, with their Wave and Wave Plus series being particularly noteworthy. These two models have long been the choice of outdoor enthusiasts, hobbyists, and professionals alike, thanks to their robust features and reliable performance.

The debate between Leatherman Wave and Wave Plus often arises among multitool users. The Wave Plus is essentially an upgrade of the original Wave, offering some additional features that the predecessor didn’t have. However, both models have their strengths, making the decision a bit more complex than simply opting for the newer version.

While the Leatherman Wave and Wave Plus share a common lineage, they offer slightly different experiences to the user. This divergence stems from the specific design elements, the set of tools they incorporate, and the minor, yet impactful, improvements that Leatherman introduced in the Wave Plus model.

History of Leatherman Wave Series

The Original Leatherman Wave

The Leatherman Wave came into the market in 1998, quickly garnering popularity due to its practical design and comprehensive toolset. It was a revolutionary product at the time, featuring outside-accessible blades and a compact form factor that was previously unseen in multitools.

Evolution to Leatherman Wave Plus

In 2018, two decades after the original Wave’s release, Leatherman launched the Wave Plus. The updated model kept everything users loved about the original Wave and added a few enhancements. The most notable addition was the replaceable wire cutters, addressing a common request from users.

Key Features of Leatherman Wave

Compact Design and Size

With its closed length of just 4 inches, the Wave is highly portable and perfect for carrying around in your pocket or on your belt. The ergonomic design makes it easy to handle and use, even in demanding conditions.

Built-in Tools and their Uses

The Wave comes equipped with 17 different tools, including various knives, pliers, screwdrivers, wire cutters, and more. This range of tools is one of the key factors behind the Wave’s popularity, providing versatility for a wide range of tasks.

Material and Durability

Made from high-quality stainless steel, the Wave is built to last. It can withstand heavy usage without any significant wear and tear, living up to Leatherman’s reputation for durability.

Leatherman Wave Old Vs New

Key Features of Leatherman Wave Plus

Upgraded Design Elements

Although similar in appearance to the original Wave, the Wave Plus introduces subtle design improvements. The most apparent change is the black oxide finish option, which provides a sleek, professional look to the tool.

Added Tools and Enhancements

The Wave Plus retains all 17 tools of the original Wave and adds replaceable wire cutters. These wire cutters can be removed and replaced, a feature not present in the original Wave, giving the Wave Plus an edge in longevity and adaptability.

Material and Improved Durability

Like its predecessor, the Wave Plus is made of stainless steel. However, with its removable wire cutters, the Wave Plus is even more durable, as users can replace the wire cutters when they wear out instead of needing a whole new tool.

Leatherman Wave Vs Wave Plus: A Side-by-Side Comparison

This section delves into the detailed comparison of these two standout models, focusing on their design, toolset, and durability. This information will help potential users better understand the differences and similarities, enabling them to make informed decisions.

Design and Size Comparison

The design ethos of the Leatherman Wave and Wave Plus is practically identical, mirroring their shared lineage. They both exhibit a closed length of 4 inches and an open length of 6.3 inches, making them compact yet comfortable to handle. Each weighs slightly less than 9 oz, striking a balance between portability and heftiness.

One notable distinction is the option of a black oxide finish on the Wave Plus. This variant provides a stealthy, sleek appearance, making it a fashionable choice for those seeking to match their multitool to their aesthetic preferences. However, it’s worth mentioning that the black oxide version might require a bit more maintenance to retain its looks.

Toolset Comparison

Both the Wave and Wave Plus come equipped with 17 varied tools, providing a multifunctional toolkit in a compact package. These tools include a range of blades (such as clip-point knife, serrated knife), pliers (needle-nose, regular), wire cutters, wire stripper, scissors, bottle and can opener, screwdrivers, ruler, file, and bit driver.

However, where the Wave Plus edges out is with its replaceable wire cutters. The original Wave featured built-in wire cutters, which, once worn out, rendered the entire tool less effective. In contrast, the Wave Plus allows users to swap out the wire cutters once they dull, effectively extending the lifespan of the tool and offering increased flexibility.

Durability and Material Comparison

Leatherman is known for its commitment to durability, and both the Wave and Wave Plus exemplify this trait. They’re both manufactured using high-quality stainless steel, ensuring resilience to wear and tear and longevity.

The Wave Plus takes durability a step further with its replaceable wire cutters. In the original Wave, the wire cutters are integral to the tool, meaning that if they become damaged or worn out, the entire tool’s effectiveness is compromised. The Wave Plus rectifies this by allowing users to replace the wire cutters, thereby ensuring that the tool remains fully functional for a longer period.

Detailed Analysis: Leatherman Wave

The Leatherman Wave is revered as a benchmark in the multitool industry, and for a good reason. Its blend of diverse tools, compact design, and durability make it a compelling choice for a broad user base. Let’s delve into some specifics:

Pros and Cons

The Wave shines with its comprehensive and versatile toolset, compact size, and robust durability. However, the lack of replaceable wire cutters and no black oxide finish option may leave some users wanting.

User Experience and Feedback

The Wave has consistently received positive feedback from users, praising its ease of use, versatility, and durability. However, some users have noted that the wire cutters can wear out with heavy use, impacting the tool’s overall functionality.

Best Suitable Use Cases

Given its diverse toolset and compact design, the Wave is ideal for everyday carry, camping, hiking, DIY projects, and even professional use in certain trades.

Detailed Analysis: Leatherman Wave Plus

The Leatherman Wave Plus builds upon the solid foundation of the original Wave, enhancing it with a couple of key features that improve its overall usability and durability. Here’s a closer look:

Pros and Cons

The Wave Plus offers all the advantages of the Wave, plus the added bonus of replaceable wire cutters and the option of a black oxide finish. However, it is slightly more expensive than the original Wave, which might be a deciding factor for some.

User Experience and Feedback

Like its predecessor, the Wave Plus has been well received by users. The replaceable wire cutters have been particularly praised, solving one of the few criticisms users had of the original Wave.

Best Suitable Use Cases

The Wave Plus is ideal for the same range of activities as the Wave. However, with its replaceable wire cutters, it’s an even better choice for those expecting to use the wire cutters frequently or for heavy-duty tasks.

Who Should Choose Leatherman Wave?

If you’re seeking a reliable, versatile, and compact multitool that won’t break the bank, the Leatherman Wave could be the right choice. Its comprehensive toolset makes it suitable for a wide range of applications, from everyday tasks to outdoor adventures.

Who Should Choose Leatherman Wave Plus?

If you value the option of replaceable wire cutters and the option of a stylish black oxide finish, the Wave Plus is worth considering. While it’s slightly more expensive, these additional features offer increased longevity and aesthetic appeal, providing excellent value for money.

How to Maintain Your Leatherman Multitool

Proper care and maintenance of your multitool are vital to ensure its long-lasting performance. Here are some tips:

  • Regularly clean your multitool using a mild solution of soap and water. Rinse it thoroughly and dry it completely to prevent rusting.
  • Lubricate the moving parts with a suitable lubricant to ensure smooth operation.
  • Sharpen the blades as needed to maintain their cutting efficiency.
  • If you own the Wave Plus, remember to replace the wire cutters when they become dull or damaged.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Leatherman Wave Plus worth the extra cost over the Wave?

The answer to this largely depends on how often you plan to use the wire cutters and whether the black oxide finish appeals to you. If these features are important to you, then the extra cost of the Wave Plus could be well worth it.

Can I carry my Leatherman Wave or Wave Plus on a plane?

As per TSA regulations, multitools with blades are not allowed in carry-on luggage. So, you’ll need to check your Leatherman Wave or Wave Plus in your suitcase.

Are Leatherman Wave and Wave Plus tools easy to open?

Both the Wave and Wave Plus feature Leatherman’s signature outside-accessible design, making it easy to deploy the tools even with one hand.


Choosing between the Leatherman Wave and Wave Plus isn’t a straightforward task since both models offer excellent functionality and value. The decision ultimately boils down to personal preferences and specific use cases.

The Wave stands strong as a proven multitool that caters to a wide array of needs, offering reliable performance at a competitive price point. On the other hand, the Wave Plus, with its added features, caters to those looking for enhanced durability and the freedom to customize their tool over time.

In essence, both the Leatherman Wave and Wave Plus represent the brand’s commitment to quality, durability, and user-centric design. Whichever you choose, you’re investing in a versatile and reliable tool that’s designed to help you navigate the challenges of everyday life and outdoor adventures alike.

I'm Justin, co-founder of AllofKitchen and your knife and steel specialist. My extensive experience ensures accurate and hands-on advice on every topic. Turn to me for insights on selecting the best knife or maintaining your steel tools to perfection. Knives aren't just tools; they're an extension of the chef, and I'm here to guide you to the perfect fit.

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