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.
Gerber Crucial Review
Cons: Flexible and rattly construction, limited feature set
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|Pros||Compact, pocket clip, one-handed blade deployment||Sophisticated, comprehensive||Large, excellent construction, full-size functions, customizable||Comprehensive, well-made, aftermarket accessories and carry options||Compact, light, with multiple carry options, smart, effective tools|
|Cons||Flexible and rattly construction, limited feature set||Heavy, expensive||Heavy and large; limited portability. Proprietary bit driver.||Proprietary bit driver, no pocket clip included||Few features|
|Bottom Line||A basic, affordable multi-tool for simple tasks and light repairs. It is small for unobtrusive portability.||The sky-high standard by which other multi tools are compared.||The Surge pulls no punches: it optimizes for function at the cost of portability.||All you should need, with proven pedigree, at a forgiving price.||The Skeletool is clever and clean, with only a few tools, all of which are executed well.|
|Rating Categories||Gerber Crucial||Leatherman Charge TTI||Leatherman Surge||Leatherman Wave+||Leatherman Skeletool CX|
|Construction Quality (25%)|
|Specs||Gerber Crucial||Leatherman Charge...||Leatherman Surge||Leatherman Wave+||Leatherman...|
|Number of Functions||10||19 + bits||21||18 + bits||7|
|Weight (ounces)||5.1 oz.||8.8 oz||12.2 oz. 14.3 oz with case||8.5 oz. 9.5 oz with case||5.0 oz|
|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, regular, wire cutters, hard-wire cutters, crimper||Needlenose, regular, wire cutters, hard-wire cutters, crimper||Needlenose with 2 wire cutters|
|Tools Accessible Without Deploying Pliers||All||Blades, saw, file||Blades, saw, file||Blades, saw, file||Blade|
|Blades and Type||1 partially serrated blade||1 serrated gut hook type, 1 straight drop point||1 straight, 1 serrated||1 straight, 1 serrated||1 straight drop point|
|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||Yes, wood/metal and a diamond-coated file||Yes, wood/metal and a diamond-coated file||No|
|Saw?||No||Metal and wood||Yes||Yes||No|
|Openers||Bottle||Can and bottle||Can and bottle||Can and bottle||Bottle|
|Other important Features||Ruler, cutting hook, wire stripper||Ruler, awl, wire stripper||Ruler||None|
|Other carry options||Carabiner style clip, pocket clip||Pocket clip, key ring||Carabiner style clip, pocket clip|
|Closed dimensions (Length by thickness, in inches)||3.6 x 0.7||4 x 0.8||4.5 x 0.8||4 x 0.7||4.3 x 0.6|
|Open Length (Pliers) (inches)||5.5 in||6.2 in||7.1in||6.3 in||6.2 in|
|Open Overall Length (Primary blade deployed) (inches)||6.0 in||7 in||7.6 in||6.9 in||6.8 in|
|Length of Primary Blade Effective Edge (inches)||2.4 in||2.8 in||3.1 in||2.8in||2.6 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.
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