Sunday, July 1, 2012

Gerber Crucial Multi Tool Review

Update, April 2014: Click HERE for my thoughts on the Crucial two years after purchasing it.

Until recently, I haven't been a big fan of multi tools. You see, my first experience with these types of tools was years ago when I got one as a teenager. It was a cheap knockoff of a Leatherman multi tool. Due to the poor quality and the fact that I had to completely "open" the tool before I could use it (which was not a smooth process), I never gave it much use.

Recently, I've noticed that multi tool designs have made a lot of progress. For example, many now allow you to access the majority of the features, such as the knife, while the tool  is in a "closed" state. In my opinion, this makes them much more useful.

The Gerber Crucial multi tool has been on my wishlist for a few months now. For starters, most of its tools can be used while the overall tool is closed. The small size as well as the featured tools also caught my attention.

I found a good deal on the Crucial a couple weeks ago so I decided to get one.  Now, before I get to my review, I need to bring up a pet peeve of mine. In looking at other reviews, some people dinged the tool for not having certain features. First of all, with any multi tool, you shouldn't buy it if it doesn't have the features that you personally need. If you need a corkscrew, don't give this a bad review. Instead, look for a tool with a corkscrew! Second, multi tools inherently involve a compromise between size and functionality.  You can't have all the features imaginable and expect the tool to be small. Likewise, small tools might just focus on basic features.

Anyway, I would classify the Gerber Crucial as a small multi tool. When closed, this version features a 2 1/4" partially-serrated knife, Phillips and slotted screwdrivers, and fold-out carabiner (doubles as bottle opener). Aside from the carabiner, all of these tools lock into place. When opened, you get pliers (includes wire cutter). A removable pocket clip included as well.

Overall, I think this is a great implementation of what it's designed to be. For the most part, everything works well. My minor gripes involve the questionable usefulness of the carabiner and that the slotted screwdriver is difficult to deploy. I absolutely love how easy the knife is to open and use, all while the tool is closed.

Some reviewers have questioned the functionality of the Phillips screwdriver. In order to make everything fit, the screwdriver blade is flattened on one axis. I tested it out with a variety of screws, including sheetrock screws and a variety of wood screws. As with any multi tool, you're probably better off with a regular old screwdriver, but I don't think the flattened Phillips tip is going to pose a problem.

  •  Overall high-quality feel
  • Knife and other features are accessed while tool is "closed" and the action is very smooth.
  • Tool should not accidentally open or come apart.
  • Clip is removable.
  • Slotted screwdriver is a pain to open.
  • If carabiner is deployed, the knife opening/closing is rough (possibly even dangerous), but the carabiner doesn't totally obstruct the knife blade.
Worth noting:
  • The Phillips screwdriver is an unusual design but it appears to work well on most screws.
  • Usefulness of carabiner is questionable.
  • Knife is for right-handed people.
Bottom line:
I'm a big fan of the Gerber Crucial. For me, the size and features are just about perfect. The few cons don't amount to a big issue. If this tool has the features you want, I'd highly recommend the Gerber Crucial.

Buying options:
Gerber Crucial Multi Tool - Green


Shyra @ steel sheds said...

Well, I really find Swiss knife useful oftentimes. But this tool is cool. It is indeed a very good review. Although I wonder how much it cost?

Tom said...

hi CH, I like the article, however I am almost having the opposite dilemma as you had with this. I have always had Gerber tools, but the last one wasn't what I was expecting, so I am looking to change brands. I have been looking at getting a Leatherman Multi Tool, I'm not 100% sure which one, but I have been thinking of getting the Leatherman Style like this one. If I do buy it, I will give it a run for a couple of months, and let you know how I get on. A guest blog article perhaps?

Blogger said...

Hi Tom,
Leatherman is a good brand and they have lots of options. The version of the Style you linked to, the PS, is travel-friendly, meaning it doesn't have much in terms of a knife blade. You may want to reconsider if you want a knife.

Also, the Style is keychain size, so it's quite a bit smaller than the Gerber Crucial. A more comparable offering from Leatherman would be the Freestyle, Juice, or Skeletool.

Good luck picking a new multi-tool. I'd be interested to hear which one you get and how you like it. Thanks for the comment!

Tara @ hunting knives said...

@Tom - please do! I'd be interested to know how it holds up!

Tara @ hunting knives said...

Any word on how this is holding up? Just thought I'd follow up.

Blogger said...


I haven't been using the Crucial as much as I should. I've found that a small pocketknife satisfies most of my needs and I've been carrying that instead; however, I recently lost my pocketknife and I may switch to the Crucial for a while. I'll make note to update this post after some time.

Thanks for the comment!