Swiss company Daysaver has been on a bit of a tear with its innovative and ultralight multi-tools since first hitting the scene with a highly successive Kickstarter campaign in September 2020. Three years on, the original Essential9 has seen a redesign – it’s now called the Essential8 and is no longer made by PB Swiss – and it’s been joined by a supplemental multi-tool called the CoWorking5. For as clever as Daysaver’s designs have been, though, the brand’s options for carrying those tools directly on your bike have arguably been a bit lacking.
Fellow Swiss brand Milkit, however, has partnered with Daysaver to create the whimsically named Hassle’off, bundling the Essential8 and CoWorking5 together with a few additional mobile repair tools into a weather-resistant case that’s expressly designed to mount on to your bike. It’s very well done, and while it’s not exactly inexpensive, it’s actually surprisingly good value all things considered.
Someone was very good at Tetris
Daysaver makes a weather-resistant case for its Essential8 and CoWorking5 that measures a very compact 106x47x16 mm and weighs a scant 91 g, all loaded up. However, it’s designed to fit only those two tools and nothing more, there’s no convenient way to attach it to your bike, and it strikes me as a little pricey at US$100 / €93 for the case and tools (Aussie and UK pricing is TBC).
In contrast, the Milkit Hassle’off offers a similarly convenient all-in-one form factor, yet with more functionality and a case that’s still remarkably compact at just 110x49x17 mm and 132 g, including mounting hardware and optional add-ons. Inside are the same Essential8 and CoWorking5 multi-tools from Daysaver, which together offer 13 different functions: 2/2.5/3/4/5/6/8 mm hex keys and a T25 Torx driver on the Essential8; and a chain breaker, tire lever, spoke wrench, Presta valve core tool, and spare link holder on the CoWorking5. On top of that, Milkit adds its own tubeless plug fork and some tiny scissors to cut off any excess plug material, and there’s even storage for a few extra plugs. All in all, the Hassle’off is quite the densely packed little brick.
The Hassle’off can be tossed into a pocket like the Daysaver bundle, but Milkit ups the ante in that department, too. Two holes (that are sealed off from the rest of the case) allow it to be bolted to standard bottle bosses or a dedicated tool kit mount, and you can also add up to two aluminum rails for strapping on additional gear (such as a CO2 cartridge and inflator, mini-pump, or spare tube). Milkit has even added a little magnet on the top of the case to hold the Daysaver’s spare bits so you’re less likely to lose one out on the road or trail.
Despite all that – and relying on another supplier for the bulk of the tools – the Hassle’off is somehow barely more expensive than the Daysaver bundle, retailing for a surprisingly reasonable €99 (pricing and availability for other regions is TBC).
I can’t imagine Milkit is making much money off of this thing.
Ok, so the Milkit Hassle’off is a marvel of packaging. But how well does it work? Pretty well, actually, although it certainly isn’t without its quirks.
Escape Collective resident tool geek Dave Rome has written plenty about the Daysaver tools already, and I’m not sure I have much to add here. The basic design of the Essential8 is rather ingenious, offering the convenient (and very useful) form factor of a standard L-key, but with cleverly designed interchangeable and reversible bits so you’re effectively carrying an entire set in one wrench, like the Russian nesting doll of Dave’s dreams. Those teeny, tiny bits can be a little fiddly to use in the field – especially in inclement weather, if you’re wearing full-fingered gloves, or in a rush – and if you’re not adept at identifying various sizes at a glance, there can be some trial-and-error before you find the one you need. Once you do, though, that highly practical L-key design provides enough leverage for most jobs, the bits are accurately sized, and it’s more intuitive to use than most Swiss Army-style folding multi-tools.
The CoWorking5 isn’t quite as useful as the Essential8, but then again, it’s not meant to be, either. Both need to be used together to operate the chain tool, with the CoWorking5’s tire lever doubling as a handle on one side, and the Essential8 used to drive the pin on the other. The combo may be very light, but Daysaver has done a great job of incorporating a decent amount of leverage to the arrangement. It makes quick work of even the most stubborn of mushroomed pins (at least assuming you’re running a 9-to-12-speed chain) so you can then install the spare master link that’s securely held on the tire lever body with the embedded magnet. Keep in mind the CoWorking5 isn’t meant to drive pins back into a chain, although it could be crudely used for that task in a pinch.
The chain breaker feels surprisingly sturdy, and the stainless steel body feels like it’ll last for ages. And any concerns I had with the 3 mm hex head used to drive the pin have already been addressed by Daysaver, as it’s about to be replaced by a sturdier T25 head instead.
Even the tire lever feels pretty decent, made of an impressively flex-free fiber-reinforced plastic and featuring a nicely shaped scoop to get under particularly tight fits. I wouldn’t use it in an everyday setting, of course, but for emergency use, it gets the job done.
The Milkit-designed tubeless tire plug works well, too (as I discovered after pinch-flatting a tire during the Breck Epic earlier this summer). Unlike most conventional tubeless plug forks, the Milkit one incorporates a slight twist so the plug is a little more likely to stay in place as you remove the tool. And the side-loading format is easier to re-load with a second plug than conventional forks (as I also had to do that day).
The included spring-loaded scissors are a nice little add-on, quickly snipping off any excess plug to prevent paint rub, while the hollow body is big enough for two additional large-sized bacon strips or five smaller ones (or one big and four small, as I ended up preferring).
Similar to the process of getting everything loaded back into the case, accessing some of the Hassle’off’s tools can be a bit of a, uh, hassle. The Daysaver tools slide out easily enough once you flip out the case cover, but the tire plug parts are tougher to access if the case is mounted underneath a bottle cage (especially if you’re wearing gloves). Getting the scissors out is especially tricky, but thankfully that’s arguably the least time-sensitive component (unless you need to quickly grab a spare plug, that is).
As impressive as the Hassle’off is in terms of packaging, most of my gripes nevertheless lie with the case design.
There’s a bulge in one corner designed to accommodate the thickest part of the Essential8/CoWorking5 bundle, and while I applaud Milkit for obviously trying to keep the case as small as possible, the asymmetrical shape can be awkward to mount on some frames. It’s virtually a guarantee you’ll need to use the included spacers, so I wish Milkit had just designed the case so you didn’t have to bother.
Milkit also claims the case is “waterproof and dustproof”, though it most certainly is not impervious to water. I’m not entirely sure when this happened, but some water got into case at some point during testing, and there are now a couple of small spots of minor corrosion on the Essential8 body and bits (Daysaver has since apparently made its “corrosion resistant” stainless steel more, uh, corrosion resistant).
The mounting holes aren’t reinforced as much as I’d like, either. I like my bottle cage bolts fairly tight, but if I torqued them as usual with the Milkit Hassle’off installed, the case was sufficiently squished that it was hard to slide the tools out. I resorted to a more modest torque and some blue Loctite instead.
Finally, the supplemental rails on the case are handy, but I didn’t end up using them exactly the way Milkit intends. Two rails are included with each Hassle’off, along with one Velcro strap with a built-in plastic base that slides on and off the rail. The strap is as conventional as it gets, but the fit of the sliding base is sloppier than I’d prefer. It’s secure enough to hold a CO2 cartridge and inflator or a mini-pump, but the not-quite-snug fit makes for an irritating rattle. I instead used my own strap to attach a CO2 cartridge and inflator directly and more tightly to the rail.
And the winner is …
I’ve always loved products that are clearly designed with compactness and functionality in mind, and to that end, the Milkit Hassle’off is a hit. Despite its minuscule form and low weight, it packs an outsized amount of capability so you’re unlikely to left stranded on the side of the road or trail with a simple mechanical. And Milkit’s decision to lean on Daysaver for the most critical multi-tool portion of the kit strikes me as impressively wise given the overall excellence of the Essential8 and CoWorking5 bundle. The fact all of this is available at a surprisingly reasonable cost is a very pleasant bonus.
Although I find certain aspects to be a little quirky (such as the Tetris-like arrangement inside the case, and a few details of the case design itself), the Hassle’off overall is a seriously impressive little kit that I’ll invariably reach for again if/when I decide to tick off another backcountry mountain bike race.
More information can be found at www.milkit.bike.
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