The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Gerber Crucial Review

A simple, compact tool in which each feature is optimized for basic use and the whole thing is easily transported in a backpack or pocket.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $48 List | $26.73 at REI
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Compact, pocket clip, one-handed blade deployment
Cons:  Flexible and rattly construction, limited feature set
Manufacturer:   Gerber
By Jediah Porter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 17, 2019
  • Share this article:
56
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#11 of 15
  • Functions - 40% 5
  • Ergonomics - 20% 7
  • Portability - 15% 8
  • Construction Quality - 25% 4

Our Verdict

The Gerber Crucial is best compared to the Leatherman Skeletool. Both are optimized for day-to-day use with minimal features. Each has pliers, screwdrivers, bottle opener, and a knife blade. The Crucial is available in various colors and much less expensive, but the Skeletool is a little more robust in use. Another close comparison is to the Best Buy Leatherman Wingman. The Wingman is a bit more than the Crucial but much less than the Skeletool.


Compare to Similar Products

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.

Performance Comparison


The blade of the Crucial is accessible from the outside and has a hybrid straight/serrated edge.
The blade of the Crucial is accessible from the outside and has a hybrid straight/serrated edge.

Functions


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 aforementioned Leatherman Skeletool has a similar feature set. Even the Best Buy Leatherman Wingman has more features. The Wingman has scissors and a file. The diminutive Top Pick Gerber Dime is a fraction the size of the Crucial but adds scissors and tweezers.

The screwdrivers on the Crucial are small and limited in effectiveness  but work great for light duty tasks.
The screwdrivers on the Crucial are small and limited in effectiveness, but work great for light duty tasks.

Ergonomics


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 the Leatherman Crunch and Best Buy Stanley 12-in-1 hold out. In these two 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 blade is usable.

We dig the one-handed  external deployment of the Gerber Crucial's main blade.
We dig the one-handed, external deployment of the Gerber Crucial's main blade.

Portability


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.

Unobtrusive  compact pocket clipped carry of the Crucial.
Unobtrusive, compact pocket clipped carry of the Crucial.

Construction Quality


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 Crucial tool and its select  ergonomic selection of features.
The Crucial tool and its select, ergonomic selection of features.

Best Applications


This is an inexpensive tool for everyday carry and backcountry use. The few features are handy and the carry options and weight are delightful. As long as your work and play wardrobe allows for a discrete pocket clip on your pants, the Crucial will always be at the ready. If you are seeking something a little more useful than a simple pocket knife for backcountry repair purposes, the Crucial is a good choice. It is light enough to go along on human-powered adventures, but not useless in tougher repairs.

The carabiner clip of the Gerber Crucial also functions as  bottle opener. Yeah  we know this is a twist-off bottle cap.
The carabiner clip of the Gerber Crucial also functions as bottle opener. Yeah, we know this is a twist-off bottle cap.

Value


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.

Conclusion


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