After a recent day of training I was looking for a multipurpose hand-tool that could be used for low-grade breaching use and general field use. We ran a scenario where a small robust tool would have been quite handy. Sure, I’ve got a full-size Zak Tool halligan in my breaching kit and it gets the job done when called upon but it’s big and locked up in the cargo box of my truck. Plus, I’m not humping that thing if I’m just out for a walk in the desert. This brings me back to the search for a useful multi-purpose hand-tool. I love the historical significance and just lethal coolness of a tomahawk but wanted something that was more suited for brute force, prying and breaching. One of the tools that I came across was the Trucker’s Friend, made here in the U.S.A. by Innovation Factory.
As implied by the name, the Trucker’s Friend was built to meet the needs of the professional truck drivers out there. It has job specific features such as a Tire Chain Hook and Wire Twist; things that would come in handy if you make your living keeping America running. For the rest of us, it’s the other features that make the Trucker’s Friend a real useful tool.
When I got the Trucker’s Friend in the mail, our senior editor kept referring to it as my battleaxe.
It comes with a Hammer and Nail Puller, Axe Blade, Pry Bar and Grapple Hook. Think of a Swiss Army Knife the size of a hammer with a lineage to medieval implements of warfare and you’re close to describing the Trucker’s Friend.
Let’s look at the specifics of the Trucker’s Friend. It is 19.25 inches long. It weighs in at a handy 2.4 pounds and its business end is made of a heat treated cast alloy steel blade. It has a very solid fiberglass handle topped by a “Shock Absorbing PowerGrip™.” The blade is also hailed as being fully resharpenable. The company that makes it, Innovation Factory, also backs it with a lifetime no hassle, free replacement warranty. In the era of one year limited warranties and customer disservice, it is refreshing to see a company that is willing to stand behind a rough-duty hand tool with a promise like that.
So let’s get into its performance. I can begin by saying that the axe blade is plenty sharp straight from the factory. Some of you might like a razor edge but the factory edge is sharp without being prone to quickly dulling. It was a nice balance. The tool is comfortable in the hand and doggonit there’s something to that shock absorbing grip.
I chopped some wood that was laying around my yard, split some smaller pieces of firewood and did a little bit of yard cleanup by cutting down some small trees (not pictured). Any difficulty I had was poor form and no fault of the tool. There is sufficient heft to the blade to give you solid kinetic energy in your swing.
I was a little skeptical of the pry bar, which is at the top of the tool. It has a small lip where the chisel edge stops. I feared this would interfere with a positive set into the surfaces you were prying, but it never did. Because the tool is inline you don’t have the angle present in purpose built prybars, but the overall utility more than makes up for any lack of function present here.
If I had one quibble, it would be the hammer face. It isn’t flat. That is to say there is a slight dome to it, meaning your strikes don’t find the sweetspot of the hammer face as easily as they do on the claw hammer you have in your toolbox. But I think back to the comparison to a swiss army knife. Is a swiss army knife blade the best knife there is? Would its saw blade perform as well as a hand saw? Of course not. What makes the swiss army knife concept so successful is the belief that the best tool is the one you have with you. The Trucker’s Friend fits that theory. The hammer takes a bit of work to get used to but you can drive nails with it just fine. The nail puller was a huge success. The circular geometry of the tool pulls nails like a dream.
When I got the Trucker’s Friend in the mail, our senior editor kept referring to it as my battleaxe. There really is an aggressive “I’ll split your skull, sonny” look to it. In fact, in part of the literature Innovation Factory mentions one of the uses as self-defense. I know I would think twice about taking on someone armed with something that looked like it could decapitate you and build a tree-house afterwards.
The practical uses for the Trucker’s Friend are really limitless. If you’re camping you can find half a dozen things the tool will do for you. If you’re doing yard work or exterior home repair this would be a good utility tool to wander around with. Looking back, as a young infantryman doing “cordon and search” operations this would have been great for breaking locks and blanket lockers open. Currently my Trucker’s Friend is being run through the wringer by a volunteer fire department that will be demolishing a couple of condemned houses. I’ve no doubt the Trucker’s Friend is going to come out the other side ready for whatever rough task I find.
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