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

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
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Price:  $40 List | $32.85 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Sturdy, comprehensive
Cons:  Bulky, heavy
Manufacturer:   Gerber
By Jediah Porter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 24, 2017
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47
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#14 of 15
  • Functions - 40% 4
  • Ergonomics - 20% 5
  • Portability - 15% 4
  • Construction Quality - 25% 6

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.


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Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Best Buy Award  
Price $32.85 at Amazon
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Sturdy, comprehensiveSophisticated, comprehensiveLarge, excellent construction, full-size functions, customizableComprehensive, well-made, aftermarket accessories and carry optionsCompact, light, with multiple carry options, smart, effective tools
Cons Bulky, heavyHeavy, expensiveHeavy and large; limited portability. Proprietary bit driver.Proprietary bit driver, no pocket clip includedFew features
Bottom Line A solid, affordable tool with what could be a “just right” set of features for you.As a top of the line product, Leatherman has equipped the Charge TTI with every imaginable tool, organized and optimized for compact function; in an extravagant move, they have wrapped it in Titanium.A large, heavy tool that does all you might need but is hard to carry around.A full-function tool from a great manufacturer at a reasonable price.A multi tool that optimizes ergonomics and portability at the expense of the feature count.
Rating Categories Gerber Suspension Multi-Plier Leatherman Charge TTI Leatherman Surge Leatherman Wave+ Leatherman Skeletool CX
Functions (40%)
10
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4
10
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10
10
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9
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9
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7
Ergonomics (20%)
10
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5
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8
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10
Portability (15%)
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4
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7
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9
Construction Quality (25%)
10
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6
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9
Specs Gerber Suspension... Leatherman Charge... Leatherman Surge Leatherman Wave+ Leatherman...
Number of Functions 10 19 + bits 21 18 + bits 7
Weight (ounces) 9.1 oz 8.8 oz 12.2 oz. 14.3 oz with case 8.5 oz. 9.5 oz with case 5oz
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, 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 2 straight blade and 1 serated 1 serrated gut hook type, 1 straight drop point 1 straight, 1 serrated 1 straight, 1 serrated 1 straight drop point
Scissors Yes Yes Yes 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 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? Wood Metal and wood Yes Yes No
Openers Bottle and can Can and bottle Can and bottle Can and bottle Bottle
Other important Features One-handed deploy blades Ruler, cutting hook, wire stripper Ruler, awl, wire stripper Ruler None
Sheath Included? Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Other carry options Pocket, Lanyard Clip Pocket clip, key ring Pocket Pocket Carabiner style clip, pocket clip
Closed dimensions (Length by thickness, in inches) 3.8 x 0.8 4 x 0.8 4.5 x 0.8 4 x 0.7 4.3 x 0.6
Open Length (Pliers) (inches) 6.1 in 6.2 in 7.1in 6.3 in 6.2 in
Open Overall Length (Primary blade deployed) (inches) 5.9 in 7 in 7.6 in 6.9 in 6.8 in
Length of Primary Blade Effective Edge (inches) 1.9 in 2.8 in 3.1 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. 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.

Performance Comparison


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  showing the tool itself and the included  rigid nylon case.
Gerber Suspension, showing the tool itself and the included, rigid nylon case.

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.

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.

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.
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.

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 the Editors' Choice Leatherman Charge TTI, Best Buy Leatherman Wingman, and non-awarded Gerber Crucial, 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 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.
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.

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 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 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, the Wingman is both more compact, lighter, and comes equipped with a built-in pocket clip. The Wingman receives much higher portability scores.

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

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.

Best Applications


For large-handed folks, that won't carry their tool for extended times or distances, the Suspension is an excellent budget alternative.

Value


A few tools in our test are less expensive, but almost all of them compromise significantly on features and quality. Only the Leatherman Wingman has more features for a comparable price. 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.

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


Jediah Porter