I’ve never considered a multi-tool an essential part of my outdoor gear. I’ve been locked in to my Duncan Trio for so long that considering a different knife as part of my essentials was near heresy. But as I look back, not only has my multi-tool went with me on nearly every camping, canoeing, hunting and fishing adventure of the past several years, it has proven itself to be one of the most useful tools that I carry. Based upon this epiphany, I highly recommend the Gerber Suspension multi-tool to any outdoorsman planning their own adventures.
Part of my initial complaints concerning multi-tools was that they do a lot of tasks but none of them well. If I needed a pair of pliers, I’d open my toolbox and get a pair of pliers. I have much better screwdrivers, much better knives, better scissors – you get the point. Even though this may be a true observation, I’ve yet to see anyone carrying a large Craftsman toolbox full of heavy tools on a trip to the backwoods. And as it turns out, most of the tools on the Suspension actually work quite well.
Spring Loaded Needlenose Pliers
The pliers are small enough that they perform well in scenarios where “needlenose” pliars are needed. Yet they are designed well enough that you can apply significant torque to them. I have used them to remove countless swallowed fishing hooks, to grip tiny hooks while I tie fishing line to them, and to do expedient repairs on mountain bikes and fishing poles.
Fine Edge Knife
The fine edge knife is an excellent blade. It is somewhat awkward to get used to with the large handle. However, the edge has been the sharpest and longest lasting edge that I have ever owned. It sharpens quickly and its design allows for tedious as well as larger cuts.
Serrated Edge Knife
I generally shy away from serrated edges on knife blades as they are harder to sharpen than smooth blades. However, the serrated blade on the Suspension has cut exceptionally well for years and has yet to dull.
Other than to see how well it works, I have little use for a saw in the outdoors. Based on my early experiments, it works well. But I have found no practical use for it.
The scissors on the Suspension work incredibly well. Users should remember that they are not large scissors and aren’t designed to do large scissors work. However, they excel at small cuts and uses. Even though I’m not recommending that they be used for first aid, I can attest that they also work well for minor cuts on dead skin.
The “Phillips” screwdriver doesn’t excel when compared to my set of Craftsman screwdrivers at home. However, they have been a blessing to have when I needed to repair fishing reels.
Small and Medium Flatblade Screwdrivers
The “flat-head” screwdrivers work well and are also quite useful at prying and scraping.
The can opener works well. It requires a lot more effort to use than a larger can opener. However, in the backwoods, where packing room and weight are scarce, the Suspension holds its own and has opened countless meals for me in the past and will likely continue doing so in the future.
Bottle openers are bottle openers and the one on the Suspension is unremarkable. It works.
My only real complaint with the Gerber Suspension is the nylon case. Within a few months of purchasing, it began unraveling and has torn to the point that I can’t wear it on my belt any longer. It has since found a home in my fishing vest. However, it was much more convenient when I could carry it on my belt. As I researched for this article, I noticed on the Gerber website that they have a lifetime warranty. I sent my comments to them tonight before I completed this post and will post an update if they honor their warranty and replace the nylon case.
Overall, I highly recommend the Gerber Suspension multi-tool as it will prove itself incredibly useful in nearly any backwoods outing.
***Authors Update: Gerber did honor their warranty and provided me with a new carrying case free of charge. ***
***UPDATE – On May 19th, 2013, SmoothingIt.com will be giving away a free Gerber Suspension Multi-tool! Click here for details.