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.
For years the Leatherman Crunch has been the only player in the folding, locking plier head category- many other companies like Kershaw and Schrade have tried locking plier tools, but none seemed to be that successful, leaving the Crunch the only one available to anyone needing a locking tool. Gerber has now thrown their hat in the ring with a locking plier tool, which also incorporates Gerber's traditional sliding head to boot!
First, here’s the writeup on the back of the Gerber Splice package: “Don’t be fooled by the Gerber Splice mini tool’s compact size. Carried in your pocket or attached to your key chain, you’ll be prepared for any situation that arises. With Fiskar’s scissors, flat & cross-point drivers, file, bottle opener, fine edge & serrated blades, the Splice mini tool will cover you when reaching for something more convienient than your tool box in the garage.”
Gerber Legendary Blades has been making knives and tools now for 70 years; hard to believe they have been in the market since before Leatherman was founded. Since Gerber released their first multitool (1991) they have been churning them out in an effort to keep them selves ahead of the pack. Gerber continues to innovate and gives us tools that we both thought were cool looking and some that made us wonder what they were thinking. Gerber went back to the drawing board and decided to create a tool from scratch that was very different than the usual Gerber product line. There seems to be a trend involving a lightweight tool that features a minimal amount of basic functions. Gerber has come through and brought a design which I feel will do the Gerber product line some justice.
Dubbed the Crucial the new tool features several basic features that you would use on a daily basis and cuts out the tools you probably wouldn’t need. At 5 oz the Crucial is quite a light tool, perfect for EDC (Everyday Carry) and right at home in your pocket. Featuring sleek curved handles which are both ergonomic and have a sense of flair, they house a number of simple tools to get most jobs done.