Practical Prepper

Gerber Suspension Gets the Job Done



While walking through Wal-Mart, I managed to sneak away from my wife for a few minutes and head to the sports and outdoors section,  as I try to do any time I’m stuck in that store for any length of time.

I specifically wanted to look through the knife display as I wanted to get my hands on a new multi tool to keep in my car.

At Wal-Mart and I believe in generally any big box store, there are really only two options to choose from.

Either a you get a Gerber or you get a Leatherman.

I wanted to stay under $40.00 for a new tool (as per my wife)

So that further narrowed my options down to either the Gerber Suspension or the Leatherman Sidekick.

I opted to purchase the Suspension simply because the design was larger and it had a more ergonomic feel with curved handles vs. the straight handle of the Leatherman.   The major differences between the two are the suspension has smaller blades and does not have a metal file or a ruler etched into its side.  I have to say that overall I am impressed by the suspension tool, with a few exceptions.

The Good

-Large butterfly handle opens easily with one hand

-spring action plier/ wire stripper combo has a good strength and the heads line up perfectly

-The knife portion is extremely sharp (this was also a con for me as I accidently flayed my finger open within minutes of opening it)

– Has a nice array of tools on board

– Nylon sheath is compact and holds the multi tool tightly

– The Sheath also allows for both vertical and horizontal mounting on your belt.

-The gun metal finish with matte pewter colored tools looks great together

– The Secure locking mechanism keeps the open tools locked securely in to place.

– The flow through design keeps your hands from getting sweaty and losing grip on the tool.


The Bad:

-The large handle may not work for people with smaller hands (the tool is about ½” thick)

-The opening tools have thumb notches for both the serrated edge and straight edge knife blades but none on the other tools

-The inner tools are recessed and hard to get to

-The inner tools are extremely stiff to open

– The scissors are just terrible may be good for if you need to cut some paper to survive…  but that is about it.  This has actually been the case for just about all of the multi tools that I have seen.  That being said if you think you are going to need scissors in a crisis, carry a good set with you.

– Nylon sheath rides high when set in the vertical position and digs into my hip

-The Phillips head screwdriver is only really good for smaller screws as it is not a full sized Phillips head

-The locking mechanism is stiff and can be difficult to engage with one hand. (I assume this will loosen up as the tool ages and the springs loosen)

– the small blades are extremely sharp but they are not very long and make the saw blade tough to catch as you have to keep lifting it out of the groove.

A few other notes about the Gerber Suspension, It is quite a bit heavier than the comparable Leatherman Sidekick model.  The Gerber weighs a hefty 9 ounces and the Leatherman comes in 2 ounces lighter, at 7 ounces.

The Bottom Line:

Any multi tool I have used seems to be only geared at minimal or “in a pinch” use and all of them are prone to much quicker hand fatigue than if you were to use a standard tool.

I know I may catch some flak about buying the Gerber over the Leatherman mainly because the Leatherman is American made,  but when it comes down to it, you need to  get what suits you best.

I had no use for a metal file or a 4” ruler, granted the larger blades on the Leatherman are a plus but if I need a blade I have my pocket knife that I carry every day.  I also liked that the Gerber had  a locking mechanism on the blade as I have severely lacerated my hand from a folding knife slipping on me… Not a mistake I want to make again.

I do however  feel a little hosed as I purchased this for $40.00at the big box store and when I came home I managed to find it on amazon for around $26.00.

So if you plan on buying anything be sure and do your research.

Which multi tool you keep handy?

Check out these related articles on our site:

Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Pro Review

Has Gerber Redeemed Themselves?

Gerber Shard: A broken piece of a better tool?

Continue Reading


  1. William

    October 4, 2012 at 11:30 PM

    I have been carrying a Leatherman for over 13 years. It was a birthday gift from my father. I have also carried a Buck knife for 35 years, since I was 18 years old. I even carried it when I was a Marine as well.

  2. Roy LaPlante

    October 5, 2012 at 2:13 AM

    Leatherman curve, $80. retail. file sharpens friends knives, good to go upper end of the line as more durability is built in. Leatherman has great warranty service. unit comes back like new.

  3. AzdesertratMarine

    October 5, 2012 at 7:57 AM

    Great report on both the pros and cons of this tool.

    Ovwr the hears I have bought and been gifted more multi-tools then I caee r ok recall. My normal carry is the Leatherman Wave, however, I keep a Gerber that was given to me in the glovebox of my wifes car.

  4. Jay F.

    October 5, 2012 at 4:57 PM

    I have a Swiss tool that I carry in my work bay. Plus I keep a Leatherman Wave in my car and one in the truck. you just never known when you may need one.

  5. Mike Spears

    October 8, 2012 at 7:57 PM

    In my job I’ve used most multitools made, HARD, on multiple deployments in Afghanistan. Leatherman wave is conidered the gold standard of multi-tools. I’ve broken 2, one a blade, one the pliers. Both were replaced, no question asked. I finally figured out that I use the pliers and phillips head screwdrivers most and for me the SOG brand with the compound pliers is hands down the best made. I’ve never broken them but have “Lost”. 2 These things grow legs like a salamander. I replace them imediately Hint: to check out how well made any multi tool is open the pliers and look at how closely the ridges on the plier teeth fit together, a super close fit is the sign of a well made tool. If like me you need pliers with a great grip check out SOG. The “Gears” that give the compounf leverage look lightweight but they haven’t ever given me any problems, also get a 6″ crecent wrench and your toolbox is close to complete. Skip the cheap ones and spring for the real Crecent brand or Jensen. the cheap ones will round off a bolt in a heartbeat. If you can wiggle the moveable part of the head keep looking this is not a place to go cheap.

  6. Norma

    October 8, 2012 at 8:14 PM

    It will be interesting to see what others say. I don’t have alot of hand strength, due to old motorcycle injuries (don’t ask :), so I need one that can compensate for that. My hands are average size so a bigger tool isn’t necessarily a drawback.

    • andy

      January 27, 2014 at 12:02 PM

      I have/had many multitools, and the 2 I carry are either the newer style Leatherman Wave (with all locking tools/blades)or an old Buck Tool (sharpest blade I’ve ever seen on any knife I’ve owned).

      Leatherman has a 25 year warranty on their tools and most of their tools have not been out that long, so basically anything you send them for repair, they will just replace with a new tool. Even broken tools purchased on eBay 🙂 Occasionally they will send you a “refurbished” tool, but they look/operate as new.

      Buck does not make my exact tool anymore, but when it needed some blades replaced, they replaced those broken blades for free and sent the tool back to me. They also refurbed my Model 100 lockback knife for free. I thought they had sent me a new knife, it was so well refurbed!!!

      So, basically, to me, the warranty is as important to me as ergonomics and having the proper tools/blades for my particular jobs.

      Another thing to look at might be the SOG tools with the geared pliers. I’ve never used or owned one, but they have good reviews for making a solid tool. The gearing might make the use of the pliers easier for someone with hand issues. I’m just assuming the preceding in regards to ease of use, but it makes sense in regards to leverage. Some of SOG’s newer offerings have assisted opening blades. They mechanically lock closed, but when you unlock them, and then start to partially open a blade, a spring takes over and opens the blade the rest of the way. This is not considered a switchblade, so it is legal, at least it is here in oppressive NY!

      Lastly, I unlike a lot of other, like multitools which have the tools facing the “inside” when the pliers are closed. I want them to open only when I have the pliers of the tool folded open. I don’t have to worry about tools snagging on clothing and accidentally opening with this arrangement. Others like just the opposite, with the tolls available while the pliers are closed, for speed/ease sake. Not me.

    • Jason

      January 28, 2014 at 6:18 AM

      Norma, the SOG Powerplier may be a good choice for you as it has a compound joint that increases grip. It is also on the big end of multitools. A little background on me, I bought the Leatherman Mini many years ago when multitools were just getting going. I have own more than 15 of them for varios reasons. I like my SOG Powerplier and the Gerber Diesel the best as the plier handles do not cut into my hands.

  7. Craig

    October 9, 2012 at 12:07 AM

    I got the Leatherman MUT because it firearm tools. It’s a good multi but as you state some of the tools are hard to open also. Pricey but I feel its worth it.

  8. duggy dugg

    January 14, 2013 at 8:03 AM

    mine locks all blades ..the knife blade in each handle locks ..awesome weapon when fully extended cheap all stainless bought in athens …screw fell out…replaced it ..

  9. Mark

    January 27, 2014 at 10:09 AM

    I have a handful of these muulti tools that I bought fairly cheap under $15 or got free from various places. All are very good and haven’t fallen apart or anything.
    But the one recommendation I suggest is to get one with a rubber or similar type of coating on it. My favorite ones have a rubber coating and these will literally save your hands when using the pliers, etc. Without a coating the metal digs into the hand and really hampers when you have to strain fixing something or tightening/loosening a bolt, etc.

  10. KenDawg

    January 27, 2014 at 10:23 AM

    I have been carrying my Buck 360 multi tool for over 15 years. I’m a tradesman and have had to use it multiple times per week over that timeframe. Granted, in a heavy duty situation I would go to the truck and grab the right tool, but this little guy has saved me many footsteps over the years. Although it hasn’t been abused too bad, it still gets plenty of rough use and, except for some light wear, it still looks like it did out of the box. I also use it when camping, hunting and fishing. I never leave home without it!

  11. Jerry C

    January 27, 2014 at 10:54 AM

    Before becoming disabled I was a maintenance tech for a company that made laminated structural beams. Discovering a multitool was one of the highlights of that job. I started out with a Schrade and after the pliers broke in two, I went with a Gerber. It was alright but after a while it ended up breaking also. The Leatherman was ALWAYS cheaper but I figured you got what you paid for. After not being able to find a Gerber that would hold up to the job I needed it for, I broke down and decided to try a cheap ole Leatherman. What took me so long?? I was surprised at how sharp they were out of the box and over a period of time I learned that the Leatherman, instead of breaking, had a more springy effect. After I just completely wore a few of them out, I decided that American made just might be better after all.

  12. left Coast Chuck

    January 27, 2014 at 11:26 AM

    I started out with the original Leatherman which left a lot to be desired. The handles were at the wrong angle and none of the blades locked. I then switched to the Leatherman Supertool which was much better. The handles were at the correct angle to use the pliers and the blades locked. The next iteration was the Leatherman Supertool 300. That was the end of the line for me. IMO it was the best tool in their lineup and as is typical with U.S. companies, they have dropped it. I think you can still get it, but it is not in their regular lineup. Too bad The blades all locked. It came with a nylon sheath. It fits my hand perfectly and has all the blades I want, but not so many it is unwieldy. For light duty I also carry a Swiss Army knife that I have had for close to 50 years. It has lost the scales but for everyday use, it is perfect. And for g.p. cutting I carry a Buck 303 which is still in Buck’s line. Unless I am traveling by air which I try to avoid like the plague, these knives are in my trousers first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Russel Knives in Arkansas makes a little device called the fingernail. It was designed for and is perfect for opening those tough blades that have a nail slot. It is also very good for opening split rings when you want to add or take a key off them. In a pinch it will serve as a limited duty screw driver. I carry it in the Victorinox/Buck pouch daily also.

  13. William

    January 27, 2014 at 2:27 PM

    I use a leatherman OHT which is easy to open and all the tools lock open.I have one in all three G.H.B.’s (Get Home Bag)and all but one of the B.O.B.’s(Bug Out Bag). I will get another one for the remaining B.O.B. as soon as I get enough safety awards at work to pay for it.

  14. AZArchangel55

    January 27, 2014 at 2:39 PM

    I’ve been in livestock and the “trades” most all my life. Got a new “Leatherman” when they first came out…about what…40 some years ago?? Great tool at the time, but it was awful pricey!

    This Christmas I was looking to get the guys that I work with one, but I needed 10 units, kind of put “Leatherman” out reach. I did a lot of research and bought the “Gerber Suspension” at an on-line place for $20 something each. You get a lot of tool for the price, even at $40.00 it’s a nice piece!

    My guys loved them, and I notice most of them wear them every day.

  15. Larry Campbell

    January 27, 2014 at 2:56 PM

    First of all I can’t comment on the Gerber tool like Joe did since it was made out of the U. S. I have more respect for those who tend to buy U.S. knowing that they are helping to save jobs here. The other reason I won’t buy Gerber is that I was instrumental in designing and marketing the Leatherman tool. Tim Leatherman was a student of mine in and invention organization. I saw first hand the devious ethics of Gerber who actually stole the whole idea of the tool from Tim Leatherman. Mr. Leatherman had his tool, the first one like it ever, patented, but that mattered not to Gerber who started making a cheap copy of the Leatherman tool. Mr. Leatherman did not have the huge resourses that Gerber had. Mr. Leatherman tried to fight them, but was overwhelmed with their big money and high priced lawyers. He had little chance of winning. Gerber never stopped making the tool even though they had a cease and disist letter sent to them. Now the 17 year patent time has ran out so anyone can make them; and they have. So many cheap copies are gutting the market. It’s a shame that there have to be companies like Gerber who make it hard on smaller companies by stealing their ideas.

  16. Michael Hays

    January 27, 2014 at 3:47 PM

    I had a Gerber suspension and it broke under normal use I would go with the Leatherman or one of the Gerber 600″s might be a little more but they last longer.

  17. david smith

    January 28, 2014 at 5:46 AM

    I carry and use the leatherman super tool just about everyday. The great thing with it is the looking blades on all the fold outs, no pinching your fingers while trying to use it.

  18. Tim

    January 28, 2014 at 3:16 PM

    I own the Gerber Suspension and a Leatherman Wave. Both tools work as well as I would expect any top name multi-tool should, but through experience and use I have definitely picked a favorite. The Gerber now stays in my Range bag, and the Wave is part of my EDC. Just my personal choice.

  19. terdbergler

    January 29, 2014 at 8:12 PM

    Gerber for knives, Leatherman for multitools.

  20. richard1941

    January 30, 2014 at 12:23 AM

    I have a tiny Swisstek tool from REI. It has tiny pliers, small and large Philips, small and large slot, and cuts wire. This thing is so awkward, it is for emergency use only. I have it with me at all times on a lanyard with a small flashlight and my (encrypted) flash drive. Every time I used it, two things happened: I blessed it for being there, and I cursed it for pinching my fingers. I guess that is the best you can do without moving up to an Altoid tin kit.

  21. Phil

    January 31, 2014 at 10:36 AM

    Good write up on the tool. Between my hiking pack, hunting pack, my car, kitchen or bedroom night table, I always have access to one of my 7 multi tools at any given time.
    I have Gerber’s, Leatherman’s, SnapOn’s, and my most recent purchase, Shrade multi tool. It’s very long, provides more leverage than any other one I own, pliers are very strong, knife is very sharp, strong metal file, scissors are OK, great small tools for firearm maintenance and disassembly.
    Some of the small tools are tough to unfold at first, but they do get better as the tools ages. It also comes with a open framed folding 3″ blade, very sharp and very handy.
    For the price, 50$, you can’t go wrong with this tool.
    The sheath is very strong, vertical or horizontal and holds the tool very snug.
    I used it many times during last years white tail and trout seasons, it saved my butt a couple of times.

  22. Michael

    February 4, 2014 at 11:41 PM

    Otherwise, really, thanks for the write up.
    Very generous of you and your time.

  23. David Sandusky

    April 19, 2014 at 3:57 PM

    Would like to purchase more of your Everstrike-Match and would like knowing how I can do such?

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