Gerber Tools – Not For Babies But Serious Outdoorsy Folk

Gerber tools leather sheath made in USA Photo by: Local Freshies®

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When I moved to the mountains, one of the first things I was gifted was a multitool. My father in-law taught me quickly that when it comes to adventuring in the great outdoors, a multitool is essential in ANY activity you’re doing. From mountain biking to backcountry skiing and even hiking, I always carry it with me. A great option to consider is something from Gerber Tools.

The Real Deal Holyfield

I’ll admit that when I first heard of Gerber Tools I thought they were somehow connected to the baby food company. Delving into their product line, it came as quite a shock that they’ve been around since 1939. In fact, they’re the second leading seller of multitools in the United States.


Back in 1910, Joe Gerber who was an advertising firm owner had a local knife maker create a set of carving knives as Christmas gifts. They were so popular that Abercrombie & Fitch requested more of them to be sold in their catalog. Over the years, they’ve continued to innovate including back in the 1980’s where they created the first true ultra light weight knife called the LST.

Still Made In The USA

Gerber Center Drive Plus opened
Photo by: Local Freshies®

Although Gerber was purchased by Finnish tool company Fiskars back in 1987, they’ve still kept their identity and soul including being the largest supplier of knives and multi-tools to the United States Armed Forces. To this day, they still manufacture quite a bit of their product line in their Portland, Oregon facility. Over 139 of their products are still made here using 686,000 pounds of steel annually.

The Big Boys In The Multi-Tool Game

In the multi-tool game, there are two names that are head and shoulders above their compatriots: Gerber Tools and Leatherman. From a product warranty perspective, Gerber gives you a lifetime warranty. On the other hand, Leatherman’s tools come with a 25-year warranty.

Gerber Center Drive

Gerber Center Drive Plus with leather sheath and tool bits
The Gerber Center Drive Plus with leather sheath and tool bits – Photo by: Local Freshies®

The flagship of the Gerber Multi-tool line is the Center Drive. In your hands, the tool provides confidence that it can take a beating and keep on ticking. To open and use the pliers, as well as some of the interior tools, there’s a one thumb button to press that easily slides the pliers out. The Center Drive comes with a nice sheath and a set of tumble-finished tools. These tool bits snap into the screwdriver, and when you don’t need them, they fit snugly inside its own sheath’s compartment.

Not Plan B, But A Real Tool

Compared to the Leatherman Wave, the spring-loaded pliers are a gift from heaven. You can crunch, crimp, and splice to your hearts content without fail. In addition, the screwdriver’s design pops up to allow the torque needed to use it as if it was a real standalone screwdriver. Lastly, as you’d expect, the long outboard blade is sharp and ready to cut anything you put in front of it.

Gerber Center Drive fixing bike wheel
Photo by: Local Freshies®

Getting the pliers to slide back into their metal cocoon takes a bit of finagling. It feels as though with some use over time this will get easier. Another disadvantage could be the weight and size of the tool, depending on what you’re doing. For those going backcountry touring or hiking 20, 30, or 40 miles, this extras beefiness may not be worth it.

In summary, it feels less like an alternative and more like a real tool. For mountain biking where weight is less crucial and there’s a higher likelihood of mechanical failure, this is a great option.

Gerber Suspension NXT

The old saying goes “use the right tool for the job” and Gerber tools are designed in that way. For a lighter version that’s a bit more pocket friendly, they have the Suspension NXT. The focus is on making it smaller and lighter but without sacrificing performance.

Small, But Takes On Any Task

Gerber Suspension NXT review
Image appears courtesy: REI

Compared to the Center Drive, this version flips open via a butterfly design to give you access to the pliers. Don’t worry. You still get the spring-loaded pliers to give you confidence when working on issues out on the trail. Despite being smaller than the flagship, the Suspension gives you access to over 15 different tools.

Due to its smaller size, lighter weight, and its vast assortment of tools, this is a great option for those that are ok with sacrificing a bit of functionality such as backcountry skiers or hikers. If that wasn’t enough, compared to Leatherman’s pocket Wingman, you can pick up a Gerber Suspension NXT for quite a bit less.

Gerber Armbar Slim Drive

Gerber armbar slim
Photo by: Local Freshies®

Sometimes you don’t need everything but the kitchen sink on hand. In those times, the Gerber Armbar Slim Drive is a good option. It comes with the basics, and that’s it. A two-sided 1/4” bit that flips between a phillips-head and flat-head. A sharp knife to cut through anything. And of course, a bottle opener because you deserve a beer after all that hard work you just finished.

Due to its ultra-thin profile, this is a great option as your daily carry in your pocket or even as your keychain.

If you haven’t noticed a theme, Gerber Tool’s product line is extensive. From the beefiest powerhouses to the minimalist offerings, they take the idea of a multi-tool concept seriously. They didn’t create one tool to rule them all but designed and crafted tools for YOUR needs. If you’re in the market for a new multi-tool, we highly recommend checking them out.

12 thoughts on “Gerber Tools – Not For Babies But Serious Outdoorsy Folk

  1. Carried a Gerber multi tool everyday for the last 15 years or so. Even saw the exact model I have on a survivalist no support nature show where it was the only thing other than clothes and shoes the person had.

    1. Go on line to Gerber and request a new one. I had on for over 20 years and requested a new one and received it free of charge in 4 days

  2. I was a Loyal Gerber carrier, I own 14 various versions, tried using the warranty and still no response. Emailed and no response. Ever since Fiskars bought them quality has went down. Regretfully I carry Leatherman now .

  3. The original suspension I personally consider to be Gerber’s best multitool.

    It’s a great price, and a great tool, and not too heavy, will do all the jobs you expect the tool to do, and the pliers are comfy when applying serious pressure.

    Mr L’Man, you could learn from this. My rebar is great too, but my god it pinches when snipping serious wire or giving it max pressure. Cos all the tools open after opening the pliers, your palm is dug into the edges of the frame.

  4. “David DeShazer says:
    March 1, 2022 at 12:43 pm
    I was a Loyal Gerber carrier, I own 14 various versions, tried using the warranty and still no response. Emailed and no response. Ever since Fiskars bought them quality has went down. Regretfully I carry Leatherman now .”

    As far as I know Leatherman doesn’t have locking blades like the Gerbers.

    I still carry my Gerber “Gerber MP400 Compact Sport Multi-Plier, Stainless [45500]” whenever my pants are on. Been over 15 years now. Never let me down.

  5. I use several Gerber folding knives and am impressed with most of their products. I have a NXT that I was very satisfied with until one of the screws fell out and I lost it. I tried to go to the web site to find a replacement. There was a notice on their site that they don’t sell replacement screws or any other replacement parts. Besides some discontinued knives for collecting, I am not sure if I would buy another Gerber product after this. It seems a waste. I got a Leatherman to replace it.

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