Hands On with the Leatherman Tread

There has been a lot of talk about the Leatherman Tread since it was announced. This is a bracelet/wristband style gadget that has various tools built into the links, like screwdrivers and hex wrenches (among others). I actually had the opportunity to get my hands on an early model, since Leatherman is based here in Portland.

Behold the prototype, in all its mismatched screw glory.

I spoke with their PR person who had both the stainless and the black versions for me to check out. They are definitely solid feeling, and substantial to hold in your hand. However, after a short time of having it on my wrist, I didn't really notice it. To look at it on my wrist, it didn't seem any bigger than a large watch or other bracelet I would wear. It's something I would not mind wearing every day.

That substantial build comes in handy if you actually need to use the Tread. Fold it flat and it's a solid "handle" for whatever link you want to use. It feels comfortable to hold and I didn't get to try it on anything but it felt like I would really get some torque if I needed it. Another nice feature is that the links are customizable, so if you want to remove one for size, you can remove that hex wrench you don't need, or adjust the order if you want them in a certain place.

You could really hex a flathead with one of these. Or something.

Also in the image above you can see the sides of the links. They are, not coincidentally, the exact size of Leatherman bits so if you have additional hardware you want to use from Leatherman, it's no problem. This is precisely the sort of thoughtful design that sold me on Leatherman products a long time ago. (How long ago? It was a foregone conclusion that my bridesmaids would get Leatherman Micras when I got married fifteen years ago, and I was a fan way before that.)

Inspiration for the Tread came from a Leatherman designer's trip to Disneyland, where his knife kept him from getting into the park and he had to take it all the way back to the hotel room and come back. Aside from getting through Disneyland security, it was also designed to meet all the requirements the TSA has listed as restrictions for what is allowed on a plane. This of course doesn't mean it might not get confiscated since that sort of thing is always at the discretion of an agent, but on paper it shouldn't be a problem.

As for the links themselves, I mentioned they are customizable and you can assemble the Tread in any order you prefer. It's just a matter of a couple of screws to make an adjustment. What's nice about this is that Leatherman is already looking at other options for what would be good to have on your wrist, so there's a good chance if what you want doesn't exist now, it certainly could at some point in the future.

One of the already announced additions to the Tread is a timepiece, turning the Tread into a watch (if that's your thing). In speaking with Leatherman, it sounds as though Leatherman is excited to see the Apple Watch too, because it might offer another timepiece option for the Tread. Consider that for a moment: If Apple allows third parties to make bands for the Apple Watch, the most useful thing to put on your arm could include the other most useful thing to put on your arm.

Action shot on my arm. Surprisingly comfy and not super heavy.

This will be available from Leatherman's partners like REI or Cabela's as of May 1st, with the announced retail prices being US$150 for Stainless and $200 for Black. To get the timepiece will have to wait until September 1st. Having seen it in person, I can recommend it to anyone who might be interested in such an accessory. Whether because a full size Leatherman is too bulky for your pocket, or you're just out of space on your utility belt, the Leatherman Tread is a good choice.