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Gerber Suspension Multi-Plier Review

A solid, affordable tool with what could be a “just right” set of features for you
Gerber Suspension Multi-Plier
Photo: http://www.gerbergear.com/
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Price:  $41 List | $31.55 at Amazon
Pros:  Sturdy, comprehensive
Cons:  Bulky, heavy
Manufacturer:   Gerber
By Jediah Porter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 22, 2019
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37
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#20 of 21
  • Functions - 40% 3
  • Construction Quality - 25% 5
  • Ergonomics - 20% 4
  • Portability - 15% 3

Our Verdict

Gerber has a solid, successful tool here. They are up against stiff, established competition in this category, and deliver a great product. We scoured the market for the best of the best, and have been evaluating tools for years now. The Suspension is Gerber's most refined tool, and hits a sweet price point. There are better tools and cheaper tools, but at this price the Suspension is a solid competitor. Only our Best Buy winning Leatherman Wingman edged out the Suspension as the top value. Interestingly, Gerber sells this same exact tool with just basic cosmetic differences and calls it the Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate. They are exactly the same in design, function, and materials, with the Bear Grylls being more expensive. For large-handed folks, that won't carry their tool for extended times or distances, the Suspension is an excellent budget alternative.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award  
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Pros Sturdy, comprehensiveTitanium handle, S30V steel blade, modular portability, full functionsCompact, light, with multiple carry options, smart, effective toolsComprehensive, well-made, aftermarket accessories and carry optionsVersatile and comprehensive outdoor tool kit
Cons Bulky, heavyHeavy, expensive, squashed bit driverFew featuresProprietary bit driver, no pocket clip includedSpecialized components, independent parts can get lost
Bottom Line This is a good value and well built, with almost all the functions we look for in a multi-toolThe 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 priceFor outdoor adventures and wilderness survival considerations, we don't know of a better tool than the Leatherman Signal
Rating Categories Gerber Suspension Multi-Plier Leatherman Charge+ TTi Leatherman Skeletool CX Leatherman Wave+ Leatherman Signal
Functions (40%)
3
9
5
8
7
Construction Quality (25%)
5
9
9
8
8
Ergonomics (20%)
4
7
10
7
7
Portability (15%)
3
6
8
5
7
Specs Gerber Suspension... Leatherman Charge+... Leatherman... Leatherman Wave+ Leatherman Signal
Number of functions 10 19 + bits 5 + bits 18 + bits 17
Weight (ounces) 9.1 oz 8.8 oz 5.0 oz 8.5 oz, 9.5 oz with case 7.6 oz, 8.7 oz with sheath
Locking tools? All but pliers All but pliers All but pliers All but pliers All but pliers
Pliers type Spring-loaded pliers Needlenose with wire cutters, crimper Needlenose with 2 wire cutters Needlenose, regular, wire cutters, hard-wire cutters, crimper Needle nose, regular
Tools accessible without deploying pliers All Blades, saw, file Blade Blades, saw, file Primary blade, saw, sharpener
Blades and type 2 straight blade and 1 serated 1 serrated gut hook type, 1 straight drop point 1 straight drop point 1 straight, 1 serrated 1 hybrid straight/serrated
Scissors Yes Yes No Yes No
Number of screwdrivers 3 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 2 included. More available aftermarket for proprietary driver. Even more availalbe aftermarket for limited-function, standard 1/4 inch driver socket.
File? No Yes, wood/metal and a diamond-coated file No Yes, wood/metal and a diamond-coated file No
Saw? Wood Metal and wood No Yes Wood
Openers Bottle and can Can and bottle Bottle Can and bottle Can, bottle
Other important features One-handed deploy blades Ruler, cutting hook, wire stripper None Ruler Knife sharpener, ferro spark striking rod, whistle, 1/4 inch socket.
Sheath included? Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Other carry options Pocket, Lanyard Clip Pocket clip, key ring Carabiner style clip, pocket clip Pocket Pocket, Pocket clip, carabiner clip
Closed dimensions (Length by thickness, in inches) 3.8 x 0.8 4 x 0.8 4.3 x 0.6 4 x 0.7 4.5 x 0.6
Open length (pliers, in inches) 6.1 in 6.2 in 6.2 in 6.3 in 6.8 in
Open overall length (primary blade deployed, in inches) 5.9 in 7 in 6.8 in 6.9 in 7.1 in
Length of primary blade effective edge (inches) 1.9 in 2.8 in 2.6 in 2.8in 2.6 in

Our Analysis and Test Results

Gerber's first entry to the plier's based multi-tool business was the slide-to-engage style Gerber Multi-Plier 600. The 600 is unique, but a bit unrefined. The Suspension is a "balisong" style tool, folding open to reveal the pliers. As such, it is less unique in the marketplace. Otherwise, the Suspension is more refined and has more tools than the older 600.

Performance Comparison



Gerber Suspension, showing the tool itself and the included, rigid...
Gerber Suspension, showing the tool itself and the included, rigid nylon case.
Photo: Jediah Porter

Functions


All the tools we reviewed here have multiple functions. Some are ubiquitous, like pliers, blades, and screwdrivers. In terms of these features, we compare quality. Others are less common, like scissors. For these items, simply presence vs. absence is the primary determining quality. For some, scissors are necessary and sorting our selection by those with scissors automatically narrows the field. The Suspension has scissors.

The Suspension with tools deployed. Clockwise from top: Pliers...
The Suspension with tools deployed. Clockwise from top: Pliers, serrated blade, can opener, small straight driver, scissors, wood saw, phillips driver, medium straight driver, straight blade.
Photo: Jediah Porter

Ergonomics


In our experience, as well as in reviews elsewhere on the web, the rounded design of the Suspension make it one of the more user-friendly tools in our test. Additionally, like the best scoring tools we reviewed, tools of the Suspension are accessible without deploying the pliers.

Finally, like some of our favorite multi tools, both blades of the Suspension are equipped with thumb catches for one-handed opening. For the frequent blade user, especially he or she that is right-handed, this attribute is very much appreciated.

Like modern pocket knives, as well as a few of our tested multi...
Like modern pocket knives, as well as a few of our tested multi tools, the main blade of the Suspension can be opened one handed. For frequent use of this handy tool, one-handed deployment is much appreciated.
Photo: Jediah Porter

Construction Quality


We had no issues with the durability and construction of the Suspension. This is as much a testament to our rigorous pre-screening of products as it is to the interest these tool companies take in making solid products. Consumers of multi-tools expect rugged performance, and the manufacturers deliver it. We then select products that represent the best of the best before closely comparing them. At no point in the testing process did we experience any issues with the Suspension. We have heard reports of people having issues with the spring-loaded pliers binding up, but in our extensive use, over multiple years now, this did not bother us.

Portability


Most of the tools we tested come with belt sheaths. This is an automatic bump in the tool's portability score. The Suspension comes with a basic nylon and velcro case. Beyond the presence or absence of a sheath, we look for other carry options (like a pocket clip or key ring- the Suspension has neither of these) and size and weight. Regarding mass and volume, the Suspension is near the top of the heap. Only a few tested tools are heavier, and the dimensions are just above average. For large-handed people that will carry the Suspension on their belt, this size and weight are decent. If you wish to carry your multi-tool in your pocket or on extended human powered adventures, others are more compact, lighter, and come equipped with a built-in pocket clip.

The Suspension comes with a fold-out key chain loop, but putting...
The Suspension comes with a fold-out key chain loop, but putting keys there can interfere with the use of some of the tools.
Photo: Jediah Porter

Value


A few tools in our test are less expensive, but almost all of them compromise significantly on features and quality. The Suspension is an excellent value, in that it will last a long time and has the features that most normal users are looking for.

Conclusion


We dig the Suspension. It is useful, well-built, and has the most commonly employed tools. It is an excellent value. The only catch is that Leatherman, with their price-point Wingman tool, offers a smaller, lighter, more feature-rich product at an even lower price. We evaluate every product at OutdoorGearLab on individual characteristics and then generate an overall score by weighting the different characteristics. In overall scoring, the Suspension and identical twin Bear Grylls Ultimate tool are at the bottom of the chart. In a select subset of the available products, a subset we choose to represent the top of the heap, something has to score at the bottom. However, as compared to the entire market, the Suspension is still in the upper echelon.

Gerber Suspension multi tool shown in an average adult male hand...
Gerber Suspension multi tool shown in an average adult male hand, for size calibration.
Photo: Jediah Porter

Jediah Porter