Gerber Suspension Multi-tool Review

I love multi-tools, and they have come a long way since my first basic Leatherman Pocket Survival Tool in the 80’s. I am always on the lookout for the ‘perfect’ tool for my own everyday carry- that magical balance between size, weight, tool options, and functionality that just works for me. My current ‘everyday carry’ multi-tool is the Leatherman Juice S2 and I am about 85% happy with it.

The Gerber Suspension is a fairly large tool with a solid steel body and a large selection of tools. I knew its size would count against it in this contest, but even if it was not a good ‘everyday’ tool, I would still be able to find several good uses for it so when I found one on sale, I snagged it quickly!

The tech specs for the Suspension are pretty nice:

  • Overall Length: 6″
  • Closed Length: 3.5″ (My actual measure was closer to 3.75″)
  • Weight: 9oz.
  • Handle Material Stainless Steel
  • Components: Needle-nose pliers, wire cutter, fine edge knife, serrated edge knife, saw, scissors, crosspoint screwdriver, small and medium flat blade screwdrivers, can opener, bottle opener and lanyard hole.

Besides all that, the main knife blades have an easy-open tab that allows one-handed opening with just a little practice. All of the little tools have a release mechanism. You need to pull the release tab on both sides of the handle for the best results, so it is not so much a one-handed close. The main pliers are spring-loaded to open automatically. As a nice bonus, the tool can be taken completely apart for tinkering or cleaning… if you are brave and have the right size Allen wrench.

 

Gerber Suspension on top, Leatherman Juice C2 on bottom

 

Tools in closed position

The overall tool is solid and hefty. Wiggling the handles reveals a little play, but it does not seem to be a problem. Opening the tool to the main pliers is easy, and can be done one-handed in a pinch. The main pliers are the somewhat typical modified needle-nose most multi-tools use now- long skinny tips, a semi-circular grabbing section, and wire cutters at the base. They seem plenty tough and have worked well for everything I have used them on.

The plier handles can be a problem with multi-tools- comfort, pinching, leverage and more affect the usefulness of the pliers. The Suspension handles are spring-loaded to open to the tool’s max- 5″ at the furthest points. Even closed, it is 2.5″ from tip to tip of the handle. This may be awkward for someone with smaller hands, but the handles are so smooth and comfortable that this probably would not be a real problem. My Juice actually has shorter pliers and handles, and opens wider but there is no contest- the Suspension offers the stronger pliers and stronger gripping forces.

The tools in the Suspension are all solid and most follow classic Gerber design, like the rather ‘plump’ scissors. They are all accessible when the tool is closed, which is sort of a mixed blessing. In general, ‘external’ tools like this are easier to access, but the handle does not work quite as well with the tools, while ‘internal’ tools are only accessible when the pliers are open, but they usually work with the plier handles better. For example, the internal tools in the Juice are more in-line with the handle and you can use the handle fully open for length, or with the handle in a 90 degree configuration for more torque. You can certainly do this with the Suspension as well, just not as smoothly or comfortably as the Juice.

 

Suspension tools close-up

For a 3.75″ long tool, the knife blades seem rather short with just under 2″ of cutting edge. The main blade is a ‘sheeps-foot’ with a straight cutting edge which is a decent general purpose design, especially at this size. It has a quick-open tab set-up for right-hand use, and uses the same locking mechanism all the tools use. The serrated blade is about the same. The Juice’s main ‘spear-point’ blade is 2.5″ long in a tool barely an inch longer and feels much larger in proportion.

The other tools have big thumbnail notches that are easy to use for the most part and open easily enough that it does not threaten to rip off the nail, which sometimes happens in my smaller, tighter Juice. The 2″ saw blade is tricky to use since it is so short, but the can opener/bottle cap lifter blade is great! Typical nice Gerber scissors with great leverage, but only 1/2″ long cutting surfaces. The Juice’s scissor blades are 1″ at the cutting edge. The Juice’s scissors win for light duty stuff, but the more powerful Suspension scissors can handle tough jobs easier.

The screwdriver blades are slightly offset to work with the handles. There is a small flat blade just under 1/8″ wide but a bit thick; a decent 3/16″ wide flat blade that is still a bit thick but could probably double as a light duty pry bar; and a ‘flattened Phillips’ that works with an optional adapter that holds standard hex bits. The Juice bits are generally smaller and work with the tool’s handle a little better- possibly just because of the difference in bulk.

Both tools offer a lanyard hole. The Suspension’s is large enough to run a 1/8″ cord through, the Juice’s is, predictably, smaller. On both tools, lanyards can get in the way in actual use. It blocks part of the Suspension’s scissors’ handle and gets tangled with the Phillips bit on the Juice. I use the lanyards to let me carry the tool in my back pocket and easily pull it out.

The Suspension’s case is a nicely designed ballistic nylon case shaped to hold the tools and can ride horizontally or vertically on a belt or strap.  There is an optional tool kit that fits on the Philips bit of this and many other Gerber full-sized tools that adds a lot of versatility.

In actual use, this is a nice tool most of the time. It is about the lowest price ‘full size’ multi-tool offered by the big brands, so there is a trade off- strength is accomplished by using heavier materials. I find that I am always aware of its bulk and weight. It ‘feels’ bigger than any other multi-tool I have used even though I have used several that were physically larger. On the other hand, you can crank on the Suspension in ways that would wreck the Juice and many other multitools I have owned. This thing may not cost much more than a low-end multi-tool, but it is as tough as any Gerber tool I have ever owned.

I may not choose to carry the Suspension every day (it ripped through a pocket the day I tried it!), but it would work well anywhere you need a decent assortment of tools and weight is not the primary issue. It has earned a place of honor in my ‘carry along’ tool kit at work, backing up other tools and offering helpful options.

 

Product Information

Price:$37.99 msrp
Manufacturer:Gerber Legendary Blades
Retailer:Amazon.com and others
Requirements:
  • None
Pros:
  • Solid, well-built
  • Good tool selection
  • Good tool design
  • Powerful pliers
  • Low cost
Cons:
  • Heavy
  • Bulky
  • Small knife blades
Posted in: Gear, Outdoor Gear, Reviews

{ 15 comments… add one }

  • Headley_Grange May 2, 2011, 4:05 am

    Illegal to carry in the UK due to locking blade.

    1
  • thenikjones May 3, 2011, 4:06 pm

    Not neccessarily, youjust need “good reason”. Now, the final arbiter of whether you had “good reason” will be a judge/magistrate, but if you are at work, or being active, you should be OK. Being caught with it in a pub would not be good, but a non-locking blade will be frowned on there, too.

    2
  • Headley_Grange May 3, 2011, 6:24 pm

    Nik – you’re correct, but given that a criminal record would lose me my job it’s not worth ever carrying one if I have to rely on a judge to decide if I’m breaking the law. I generally comment on these to warn innocents of the risks. A friend of mine was directed by a judge when on jury duty to find a decorator guilty of carrying a knife – he had left a stanley knife in his car but because he was not actually working or on his way to work at the time he was guilty- that’s when I stopped carrying my Spidey co-pilot. I asked a copper what would happen if I were hill walking and wild camping in Scotland and got stopped on the M6 on the way there and and they found a lock knife; he said that given the hysteria about knife crime, most coppers would nick me and leave it to the judge to decide if camping is a good enough excuse. For me it’s just not worth the risk.

    It’s a stupid law and I generally comment on these gadget reviews if I see them in the hope that the knife manufacturers will do something about it. If someone’s going out tooled up to cut someone then the fact that carrying the knife is illegal won’t stop them. Prosecuting an old bloke for having an Opinel in the glove compartment for picnics doesn’t help anyone.

    3
  • kryptik May 3, 2011, 7:24 pm

    You need a “good reason” to carry a knife with a locking blade? How about so the damn blade doesn’t close and cut your fingers off while you’re using it? Sounds like a good reason to me. These freaking anti-weapon laws are growing outrageous.

    Regarding the article, the Gerber looks nice, but I’ll stick with my Leatherman Charge ALX. I love that multitool, and carry it daily.

    4
  • Mark Adkins May 4, 2011, 1:29 am

    @ Headley- Thanks for the political commentary! :)

    @ Kryptik- I’ve never had a Charge ALX, and at $76, probably won’t any time soon sadly. It looks like a nice tool, but there are several good choices in that price range.

    5
  • kryptik May 4, 2011, 7:28 am

    I’m a bit hard on my multi tools. My work finds me in all manner of environments that are hostile towards any type of tool, especially a multi tool. My first was a Gerber, because I thought the Leathermans were just too expensive. The Gerber lasted almost a year and a half before giving up the ghost. I bought the Leatherman Wave, and after 9 years it still looks and works like the day I bought it. I recently picked up the Charge ALX, just because I liked the appearance a little better than the Wave, but they are essentially the same tool. Two others I work with also started with Gerbers, and ended up carrying Leathermans. They may be a little on the pricey side, but based on my experience, you definitely get what you pay for. I suppose if you are just using them for basic tasks in controlled environments, it would be difficult to justify the extra cost of the Leatherman. Good review of the Gerber, though. I definitely like the way those Gerbers look. I just prefer the way the Leathermans work.

    6
  • Mario Zammit July 16, 2011, 6:17 am

    Once you grab a Leatherman Surge, your search for multitools ends there !

    7
  • john b November 5, 2011, 1:37 pm

    Decent design, horrible quality. I bought one and it broke two different ways within the first 5 uses.
    While using the blade one part broke and now it over extends.
    I didn’t use it in a way that shouldn’t be expected and if I used to much force for this tool it wasn’t any more force than I have used with plenty of other knives.
    Second failure was trying to use the other blade, and the nob for thumb opening broke off during opening.
    The metal on this thing is too brittle and cheap quality.

    8
  • Steve December 4, 2011, 12:25 am

    I have had a multi-tool for around 3months, and mine broke within the first use. I was using a blade to open a cardboard box, and the small metal bar stop, that keeps the knife from bending past the vertcal position, broke off. I didn’t overly apply pressure, nor did I use it in a manner unexpected. Just cheap material, bit I like Gerber products. So I will live with a little dissappointment

    9
  • Mark Adkins December 4, 2011, 3:26 pm

    @Steve- you may want to contact Gerber- they are usually pretty good about customer satisfaction.

    10
  • Dannie Heckmann October 21, 2012, 2:31 am

    My gerber multi tool has broken And i would like to know if can be fixed I reseved it for mt 60 burthday and the first time I used it the nedel nose plyers broke I need to know where I can send it back to to be fixed please dantana01@msn.com thank you

    11
  • Mark Adkins October 21, 2012, 3:11 am

    As mentioned in an earlier reply, you can contact the company at their website and see wht they say.

    12
  • Chris December 12, 2013, 12:57 am

    Bought the Gerber Suspension a few years ago to take with me on a 7 Day Cruise. Did not want to take my more expensive Leatherman in case it was confiscated by cruise security. I never go anywhere without a multi-tool. I actually have become more fond of this tool over the Leatherman. Everyday use now for over 3 years. Scissors to this day are amazingly sharp, and will do larger tasks better than you’d think, they work so well I use them as a nail trimmer to catch those pesky hang nails. Knife blade although short, is up to the job, also holds an edge very well, and has locking blade, could easily perform the task of skinning a small animal, or something as mundane as box opener. I’ve used the saw several times, and I would give it average to above average for that size, screwdriver, and phillips seem up to the task every time I have called upon them. Pliers, and wire cutter also very good. Feels very good in the hand, and really I wouldn’t change a thing. Compared to my Leatherman Wave, I would say the weight is comparable, but only half the price. If I lost my Suspension today, I would replace it hands down, if I lost my Leatherman Wave, probably not, the Suspension does everything I want it too. Hope that helps!

    13
  • Chris December 12, 2013, 1:04 am

    Wait! I would change one thing. The file. I would make it more like the Leatherman Wave’s file, and then it would be the perfect tool!

    14
  • kevo October 28, 2014, 2:54 am

    One thing I have yet to see talked about. At the base of the wire cutters on the suspension there is a small (hole) it serves fairly well as a wire stripper. Didn’t notice until I lost and replaced my first one. Really like this tool. Get compliments/questions all the time.

    15

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