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.
Gerber Suspension Multi-Plier ReviewPrice: $44 List | $26.84 at Amazon Pros: Sturdy, comprehensive
Cons: Bulky, heavy
Bottom line: A solid, affordable tool with what could be a “just right” set of features for you.
Weight (ounces): 9.1 oz
Locking Tools?: All but pliers
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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. There are surely some who wish Gerber would make a sliding style tool like the 600 that had the refinements and close tolerances of the Suspension. In the meantime, we have the Suspension to evaluate. Across the board, it is best compared both in features and price point to our Best Buy winning Leatherman Wingman.
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.
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.
As noted above, overall, the closest competitor to the Suspension is the Leatherman Wingman. They are similar in price and tie one another regarding functions. The biggest advantage of the Suspension is that it has a wood saw, while the Wingman has none. Otherwise, the features are roughly the same. The scissors and blade on the Wingman are slightly bigger than those on the Suspension, and the Wingman has a file while the Suspension has none.
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 the Editors' Choice Leatherman Charge TTI, Best Buy Leatherman Wingman, and non-awarded SOG Pocket PowerPlier, 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.
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 belt 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 one tool is 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, the Wingman is both more compact, lighter, and comes equipped with a built-in pocket clip. The Wingman receives much higher portability scores.
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.
For large-handed folks, that won't carry their tool for extended times or distances, the Suspension is an excellent budget alternative.
A few tools in our test are less expensive, but almost all of them compromise significantly on features and quality. Only the Leatherman Wingman is both less expensive and has more features. 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.
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.
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: June 24, 2017
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