Before I bought the Gerber Mini Suspension-P, I'd never owned a Gerber multi tool, so I wasn't sure quite what to expect. I've owned a couple of Gerber knives over the years and I was very impressed with them, and I'd had my eye on the Gerber Suspension multi tool for a while now. (The Paraframe is still, for my money, one of the best pocket knives there is.)
Then recently I saw the Mini Suspension-P at Home Depot for about $10. The price was right, so I took a chance and bought it. After carrying it and using it for a couple of weeks now, I have to say I'm a little let down.
It wasn't a planned purchase. I didn't even know it existed until I saw it in the display case at the Brigade Quartermaster on Ft. Stewart more than a year and a half ago. I liked the idea of having a small tool to carry on my keys, since the Gerber MP600 I was issued was too big and bulky to carry out of uniform. I purchased the tool for around $20. It has been on my keys ever since.
I have been aware of the Gerber Curve for quite some time now and was attracted to it for it’s organic shape, locking implements and minuscule size. I was just never able to justify paying $10 for the tool and $5 shipping. I found one while browsing in a Dick’s store about two weeks ago. Its the first time I’ve seen one in a store, and seeing it in person made me want it even more. I ignored the $15 price and bought it.
Locking pliers are a feature seldom explored by the multitool manufacturers, and not a tool I frequently need – but when you do need them, nothing else will suffice. Gerber entered the fray with the Grappler which features one hand deployable locking pliers (one fixed jaw and one movable one) with anvil style wire cutters. On the outside of the tool are four additional one hand opening tools, which means this was the world’s first full sized multitool where everything can be opened one handed, despite conflicting claims from elsewhere.
I’ve recently started getting a lot more specific about my tools and what I want them to do. My latest search has been for an outdoors focussed tool, something to reach for when things go awry whilst out hiking or camping. The first to arrive was the Bear Grylls Survival Pack which comprises a slightly modified Gerber Strata in a brand new sheath design, complete with flashlight and fire steel. Although this tool was reviewed elsewhere on the forum previously by a better photographer than me, I thought I’d share my own perspective on this rather interesting ensemble.
This Christmas I was gifted a black Gerber Strap Cutter Crucial combo from Beerplumber. He prefaced the tool being Gerber and I, being more of a Leatherman guy, was cautious but was not going to look a literal gift-tool in the plier teeth.
With all tools new and shiny, I would be optimistic about the form, looks, function and carrying potential. In this review I am going to attempt to address them all.
Plier based multitool fans should probably look away now- Gerber’s Fit multitool will probably not appeal to you at all. It is however likely to appeal to the masses of folks at big box type stores because of it’s functionality, reasonable cost and stylish aesthetics. Available in blue or orange it catches your attention the way few multitools have in the past. But, here at Multitool.org, pretty is as pretty does, so let’s get down to the nuts and bolts of this one.
When it comes to keychain tools, there are two distinct camps- the ones that try to pack as many features into a small package as possible, and the ones that put only a few, more effective features in. The thought behind both concepts is sound- by giving more features, it's more likely you will have what you need when you need it.By going with less features, you can minimize manufacturing costs and make certain that the tool will perform it's functions more effectively.
Form should follow function in a tool, and yet “pretty” tools seem to sell better. Gerber took that to heart when designing the Strata- it is certainly pretty enough to sit alongside Gerbers fashion models like the Suspension and Resolve, and yet it's tough enough to have a place on any handyman's belt. Even I dismissed this one initially, as it seems a bit fancy at first look, but given how many times I've been wrong before, I decided to give this one a closer look. The folks at www.RockyNational.com were only too happy to help me out.
With the modern trend towards minimalist tools and the success of Leatherman's Skeletool which dominates the category, Gerber initially released the Crucial, which met with lukewarm success. While it was a decent tool, it didn't give much in the way of competition. This year (2010) Gerber ups their ante with the introduction of the Octane, a tool that incorporates some of the things Gerber does best, along with some great new ideas.