Nature, Exploration, Tools and Weaponry, Bushcraft, History and Related Musings.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Of all my various tools and equipment, the item which sees the most frequent daily use is my venerable multi-tool, the Gerber Suspension.

This tool weighs a fairly hefty 8.8 ounces and its presence can be felt in a pant pocket without being cumbersome to the wearer. The Suspension comes with a black nylon belt pouch for carry, but I prefer not to use it. This tool has a heavily stylized look to it, with cutaways which give a glimpse at the implements inside. The contours make gripping the tool relatively comfortable and the cutaways lend a small amount of hold to a tool that lacks any real texture.

The Gerber Suspension features a total of twelve tools: Needle-nose pliers, round pliers, wire cutters, fine edge knife, medium flathead screwdriver, "flattened" phillips screwdriver, saw, serrated knife, bottle/can opener, small flathead screwdriver, and scissors. There is also a folding lanyard ring. Every folding tool locks firmly, using Gerber's neat Saf.T.Plus system. To release the lock, the user simply slides the notched bars on each side of the tool with a thumb and forefinger, then collapses the implement back into the frame. There are also helpful icons etched next to the lock release that illustrate which tool is hidden on which side.

The Suspension's pliers can be opened with one hand, as can both knives via incorporated thumb studs. Be warned, however, that it takes some force to flick the pliers open this way, and the user is likely to get a strong rap on the knuckles. Gerber has smartly placed a small amount of rubber lining on the inside frame, which prevents metal impact when closing the pliers.

Only two of the Suspension's implements are of questionable utility: the phillips screwdriver and the saw. Gerber has used a flattened design on the screwdriver, with a heavy tapering of the cross-pattern. This design gives very poor grip and encourages stripping of the screw head. I stopped using this implement altogether. The saw is also questionable because of its short length (less than two inches). While the aggressive teeth do an excellent job of cutting, the length severely limits this tool's usefulness. The small-diameter branches which the saw is capable of cutting will likely be quicker and easier to sever with a knife. The saw teeth are also prone to clogging and difficult to clean well. The substitution of a file would have made more sense.

Every implement opened with ease right out of the package, and has continued to function flawlessly over the two years that I've owned this tool. I have only oiled the "joints" once. Some of the implements have begun to form a tiny amount of surface rust which rubs off with a finger, but overall this tool has held up very well. The locking mechanism is as strong now as it was when new. The outside frame and markings appear untouched, despite heavy use. The knives on my tool are a bit scratched up, but the cosmetic damage has not minimized their utility. The blades hold a decent edge, but definitely require routine sharpening with daily use, particularly if cutting a lot of paper, cardboard, tape, etc. The scissor design uses a pin for tension (rather than a spring) and still works like new.

I've read other reviews complaining about plier weakness, but mine have performed extremely well. I've even utilized the pliers in situations that were not really fit for such a tool (where breakage would be more likely), and they've served admirably. I can only conclude that those other reviewers either received a lemon, or were using the pliers in a manner inconsistent with their purpose.

- Durability
- One-handed opening
- Respectable array of 12 implements
- Excellent locking system
- Price

- Poor Phillips screwdriver design
- Saw blade is too short
- Lack of file

This multi-tool can be had in the $20.00 range and, for the price, the Gerber Suspension cannot be bettered. It has a few design flaws, but features one-handed use, full locking implements, and great functionality.

93/100 - A


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