Gerber Crucial Review
Cons: Flexible and rattly construction, limited feature set
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Crucial tool is a compact and simple tool for everyday carry and backcountry use. Its features are spartan and simple, to maximize portability and utility of those features it does contain. Some tools attempt to pack as much function as possible into a tool while others, like the Crucial, prioritize usability and portability over maximizing options.
The Crucial is a multi-tool, but it doesn't maximize the functions. Ergonomics, value, and portability are prioritized over a maximum number of features. The Crucial is pliers, blade, two screwdrivers, and a bottle opener. Virtually every other tool we tested has more functions than the Crucial. The Leatherman Skeletool has a similar feature set.
Gerber tools and knives are highly regarded, but suffer some construction issues. The Gerber Crucial has hinges and pivots that rattle a little and the whole thing flexes more than the competition. In heavy tasks, you will notice some give in the pliers and drivers. Torquing super tight screws with the Crucial drivers feels vulnerable. We didn't torque to failure, but it seemed imminent on a couple of occasions. Our lead tester used multi-tools in a renovation of his camper. Rusted screws tested the limits of all our new multi-tools. Of this robust crew, the Gerber Crucial is the most flexible.
The Gerber Crucial is as small as we would dare call a "full size" multi-tool. The deployed plier handles almost exactly fill a typical adult hand. The knife blade is definitely on the small end. The cutting edge of the knife is short, but we are thankful that it opens from the outside and the full edge is usable. Tools with knife blades that open from "inside" the folded plier handles are hampered by interference with the blade. Most tools are going away from this design, but a few hold out. In these other tools, the working edge of the knife blade is blocked near the handle by the handle itself. In some cutting tasks, this doesn't matter, but in others, it is very noticeable. The full length of the Crucial's 2.4-inch outside-accessed blade is usable.
Given the size of the pliers, the Crucial is quite portable. It strikes nearly the perfect balance of portability and usability. The Leatherman Skeletool strikes this same balance. Both weigh right around 5 ounces and have a secure and modern pocket clip. The pocket clip holds the tool up out of the random bits in your pants pocket. For rapid access, this is key. We like carrying the Crucial in all sorts of day-to-day situations.
If you need a lightweight, small multi-tool for minor tasks, this model holds a lot of value. From front- to backcountry, you'll find a lot of use for this tool without setting you back much cash.
We recommend the Gerber Crucial for routine use around home, work, car, and campsite. It won't hold up to more serious repairs and tasks, but its portability will have it always at the ready.
— Jediah Porter