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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
Gerber Crucial
Photo: Gerber
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Price:  $45 List | $45.80 at Amazon
Pros:  Compact, pocket clip, one-handed blade deployment
Cons:  Flexible and rattly construction, limited feature set
Manufacturer:   Gerber
By Jediah Porter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 22, 2019
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46
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#15 of 19
  • Functions - 40% 4
  • Construction Quality - 25% 3
  • Ergonomics - 20% 6
  • Portability - 15% 7

Our Verdict

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.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Gerber Crucial
This Product
Gerber Crucial
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award  
Price $45.80 at Amazon$169.95 at REI$79.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$99.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$129.95 at REI
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Star Rating
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Pros Compact, pocket clip, one-handed blade deploymentSophisticated, comprehensiveCompact, light, with multiple carry options, smart, effective toolsComprehensive, well-made, aftermarket accessories and carry optionsLarge, excellent construction, full-size functions, customizable
Cons Flexible and rattly construction, limited feature setHeavy, expensiveFew featuresProprietary bit driver, no pocket clip includedHeavy and large; limited portability. Proprietary bit driver
Bottom Line A basic, affordable multi-tool for simple tasks and light repairs. It is small for unobtrusive portabilityThe sky-high standard by which other multi tools are comparedClever and clean, with only a few tools, all of which are executed well for everyday carryAll you should need, with proven pedigree, at a forgiving priceThis tool pulls no punches: it optimizes for function at the cost of portability
Rating Categories Gerber Crucial Leatherman Charge+ TTi Leatherman Skeletool CX Leatherman Wave+ Leatherman Surge
Functions (40%)
4
9
5
8
8
Construction Quality (25%)
3
9
9
8
9
Ergonomics (20%)
6
7
10
7
8
Portability (15%)
7
6
8
5
1
Specs Gerber Crucial Leatherman Charge+... Leatherman... Leatherman Wave+ Leatherman Surge
Number of Functions 10 19 + bits 5 + bits 18 + bits 19 + bits
Weight (ounces) 5.1 oz. 8.8 oz 5.0 oz 8.5 oz. 9.5 oz with case 12.2 oz. 14.3 oz with case
Locking Tools? All but pliers and bottle opener All but pliers All but pliers All but pliers All but pliers
Pliers Type Needlenose, regular pliers, wirecutters. Spring-loaded Needlenose with wire cutters, crimper Needlenose with 2 wire cutters Needlenose, regular, wire cutters, hard-wire cutters, crimper Needlenose, regular, wire cutters, hard-wire cutters, crimper
Tools Accessible Without Deploying Pliers All Blades, saw, file Blade Blades, saw, file Blades, saw, file
Blades and Type 1 partially serrated blade 1 serrated gut hook type, 1 straight drop point 1 straight drop point 1 straight, 1 serrated 1 straight, 1 serrated
Scissors No Yes No Yes Yes
Number of screwdrivers 2 1 integrated. Many bits included, with more available aftermarket for proprietary driver 4 included, more available aftermarket for proprietary driver 5 included/integrated. More available aftermarket for proprietary driver 4 included, more available aftermarket for proprietary driver
File? No Yes, wood/metal and a diamond-coated file No Yes, wood/metal and a diamond-coated file Yes, wood/metal and a diamond-coated file
Saw? No Metal and wood No Yes Yes
Openers Bottle Can and bottle Bottle Can and bottle Can and bottle
Other important Features Ruler, cutting hook, wire stripper None Ruler Ruler, awl, wire stripper
Sheath Included? No Yes No Yes Yes
Other carry options Carabiner style clip, pocket clip Pocket clip, key ring Carabiner style clip, pocket clip Pocket Pocket
Closed dimensions (Length by thickness, in inches) 3.6 x 0.7 4 x 0.8 4.3 x 0.6 4 x 0.7 4.5 x 0.8
Open Length (Pliers) (inches) 5.5 in 6.2 in 6.2 in 6.3 in 7.1in
Open Overall Length (Primary blade deployed) (inches) 6.0 in 7 in 6.8 in 6.9 in 7.6 in
Length of Primary Blade Effective Edge (inches) 2.4 in 2.8 in 2.6 in 2.8in 3.1 in

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...
The blade of the Crucial is accessible from the outside and has a hybrid straight/serrated edge.
Photo: Rosie De Lise

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 Leatherman Skeletool has a similar feature set.

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

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.
Photo: Rosie De Lise

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 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.

We dig the one-handed, external deployment of the Gerber Crucial's...
We dig the one-handed, external deployment of the Gerber Crucial's main blade.
Photo: Rosie De Lise

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.
Photo: Rosie De Lise

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

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