Many folks ask me what types of things they should put in their Bug Out Bag (BOB), and this is a hard one for me to answer. We all have different needs and different ideas about this. When I tell some of these folks what I put in my BOB, they question some of my choices. If they are smarter than I am, then why are they coming to me for advice in the first place? I don’t claim to be an expert in anything; I’m just a serious student in a lot of fields. However, over the course of the past 25 years as a writer, I’ve tested all kinds of products, including firearms, knives, camping gear, survival gear, and many other products. So, I feel I have a good grasp on what works and what doesn’t work. I carry a firearm every day, as do a lot of people. One never knows when we might need it. I also carry one or two knives each day. This comes with testing knives for articles. Ditto is true on the firearms. Each day I also carry a multi-tool, which is the tool I use most on a daily basis.
The original Swiss Army Knife, while a great idea, was never to my own satisfaction, and I’ve owned quite a few of these multi-purpose knives. To be sure, there are actually two official Swiss Army Knife makers. Of course, there are a lot of cheap (and I do mean cheap quality) clones of Swiss Army Knives out there. These clones simply are not worth a dime, if you ask me. I wouldn’t carry one or use one, and I have tested them. They are junk, plain and simple. The original Swiss-made army knives are very high quality. Still, they aren’t meant for hard use. I’ve had more than one literally come apart in my hand under hard use.
Enter the multi-tool, which are being produced by several different companies these days. Once again, buy quality. Don’t buy cheap junk for a couple bucks; they will only fail you when you need them the most. One of the leaders in the mutil-tool field is SOG Knives, and they are constantly coming out with new multi-tools. It’s hard to keep up with them. Most folks think, “Well, I already have a multi-tool. What’s new about this one?” There are many new features that someone should take into consideration. When I run across a new model of multi-tool that does everything my current one does and then some, it has my interest.
Enter the new SOG Power Play multi-tool. The Power Play is a smaller package; it isn’t a full-sized, overly large multi-tool. It falls into that “just right” niche, if you ask me. I’ve had large multi-tools in the past, and I only carried them for a short time because they were too big for my use. One of the main features on multi-tools are the pliers. Some are just plain-Jane, everyday pliers, while some have multi-uses, as the Power Play does. More on this later.
One complaint I have with many multi-tools is that you have to open them in order to access one or two of the knife blades. It shouldn’t be that way, if you ask me. When I pull out a knife blade, I want it fast and easy with nothing complicated. The Power Play allows you to access a straight edge plain blade as well as a fully serrated blade without opening the tool. Thats nice! I also like the SOG compound leverage when using the pliers. It doubles the gripping strength of the pliers, without doubling the amount of hand pressure you have to use, which is a great idea!
There’s hardly a day that goes by where something on my small homestead doesn’t need a repair of some type, from simply tightening a screw on a handgun grip to cutting wire to opening packages from FedEx, UPS, or the USPS. I don’t enjoy having to run back into the house when I run across something that just needs a minor repair and then having to dig through my tool box, which is always a mess, to look for the right tool for the right job. The multi-tool eliminates many of these back and forth trips into the house for the right tool. I’m not talking about overhauling the engine on my pick-up truck, but at times all that is needed is to tighten the clamp on a leaky radiator hose, and multi-tools have several different screw drivers that can get that job done.
Let’s take a close look at all the tools that are contained in the Power Play, and there are 18 of them listed below:
- ¼-inch bit driver
- 3-sided file
- Bolt grip channel
- Bottle opener
- Fully serrated blade
- Hex bit kit
- Jewelry driver
- Large flat screw driver
- Medium flat screw driver
- Needle nose pliers
- Phillips screw driver
- Small flat screw driver
- Straight edge knife blade
- Wire crimper
- Wire cutter
- Wood saw
Whew! That’s a lot of useful tools in some compact multi-tool, and keep in mind that these are quality tools rather than junk that will break easily. Also, should something break on your multi-tool from SOG, they will repair or replace it, period!
I really like the Hex bit kit that fits nicely inside the Nylon belt sheath. It slips right in, and all the hex bits are contained in a rubber sleeve so they won’t get lost. Now, of course, you aren’t going to replace a socket set with the hex bit kit; however, you can do many jobs with these small bits.
Remember all those survival knives from the 1980s that had saws on the blades? Did you ever really try sawing something with those survival knives that had the saw on the top of the blade? Most were useless. The saw on the Power Play is a real saw; you can saw some pretty large tree branches with it. If you want to win a competition with someone who brags about their hollow handle survival knife with a saw on the blade, see how fast they can saw through a 2X4 compared to how fast you can saw through it with the small saw blade on your Power Play. It’s no contest; you’ll win!
On more than one occasion, our can opener in the kitchen bit the dust when we needed it the most, and a multi-tool with the can opener tool saved the day. Ever have a screw come loose on your eye glasses? Yep, the Power Play can save the day and tighten that screw. There’s no need to go into all the uses of various screw driver bits on the Power Play; they all worked great. I like the fully serrated blade for cutting wet rope or polymer rope. Wet rope is tough to cut with a plain blade, and polymer rope is tough to cut all the time, but with a serrated blade it is no chore at all.
The pliers on the Power Play, at first glance, cause you to think they’re just a pair of simple needle nose pliers, but they’re far from it. There is also a wire crimper, which sure comes in handy when splicing wires together, and the wire cutter beats using the knife blade.
Now, while SOG advertises that the Power Play has 18 different tools, that’s not quite accurate, if you ask me. The Hex bit kit contains a dozen different hex bits, so by my count, that comes out to 30 different tools, if you include all the hex bits.
The Power Play is made in China, if that matters to you; it doesn’t to me. SOG won’t sell any junk, and they had it made in China for cost savings to the company and the end user. All the tools are made out of stainless steel for a lifetime of use and abuse. With all the features of the Power Play, SOG has managed to keep the retail price down at $89, and you can find it for less money if you shop around, too.
So, to answer one of the questions about what I have in a BOB, I carry a multi-tool on my belt each and every day, and I keep another one in my BOB. No one has yet to question my choice of a good multi-tool in my BOB. It should be in your BOB as well as one on your belt for everyday use. Check out the short video from SOG on the Power Play
As an aside, SOG also sent me their new “Traction” every day carry folder, and if you are in the market for an inexpensive folder that you can use and abuse, check out this neat little folder. It retails for a mere $26, and it is made by SOG! How can you go wrong?
– Senior Product Review Editor, Pat Cascio