Whether it’s due to market forces or some sort of natural order, multi-tools typically fit within one of two basic categories.
Some are “full-sized,” while others are “micro” or “keychain-sized.”
Generally speaking, hikers and backpackers will be best served by a full-sized model, while micro multi-tools are typically relegated to the everyday carry (EDC) category. They’re meant to live in your pocket and help you handle a variety of mundane daily tasks.
But there are a few micro multi-tools that feature enough high-quality tools to be of use on the trail — and the Gerber Dime clearly sits atop that pile.
You probably don’t want to rely on it completely for a six-day trip through the backcountry, but it’s capable enough for Saturday morning hikes, afternoon trips to your favorite fishing hole, or tossing in your kayak’s storage compartment.
Read on and learn why we have fallen in love with this nifty little guy.
Gerber Gear Dime: The Basics
Let’s be clear at the outset: The Gerber Dime is intended to be an everyday carry tool. It is not designed to meet the specific needs of backpackers.
Gerber flat out says as much, calling it “a daily companion for any task.”
But with all of that said, it’s still super helpful on the trail.
The pliers are substantial enough to lend a legitimate hand in any number of applications, like bending fishhooks or picking up hot pans. The blade is sharp, capable and up to any size-appropriate task you may face. And the “retail package opener” makes a decent cable cutter for small-diameter things.
For that matter, campers within walking distance of a cooler will likely find the convenience provided by the exposed bottle-opener to be worth the (modest) investment alone.
But it just can’t hang with purpose-built multi-tools, which are literally designed to meet a nature-lover’s needs. If that’s what you want, check out the Leatherman Skeletool or Leatherman Signal (depending on whether you care about weight or tool assortment).
These pliers probably aren’t big or strong enough to crack large nuts, the blade isn’t really large enough to properly filet a trout, and the scissors are going to be worthless for anything besides paper or maybe braided fishing line.
But no micro multi-tool is capable of doing these things. They’re specifically designed to fit on a keychain — that limits their size, strength and scope.
And that’s the context in which you need to think about the Dime. But it sure does perform well in this context.
It’s lightweight, well-built and small. It’s even comfortable to use.
Well, as comfortable as a miniature multi-tool can be, anyway.
Simply put, no other keychain-sized competitor can compare to the Dime, whether you’re looking for an EDC or you want a backup multi-tool that’ll handle some, if not all, tasks.
Gerber Gear Dime Specs & Features
The Gerber Dime has a fairly impressive tool assortment for a micro multi-tool. There are a few odd omissions, but there are also some neat features its competitors lack.
- Weight: 2.2 oz.
- Closed Length: 2.75”
- Open Length: 4.25”
- Blade Length: 1.38″
- Width: 0.875″
- Overall Thickness: 0.5″
- Bottle opener is exposed even when closed
- Butterfly opening
- Includes a set of tweezers
Gerber Gear Dime: Tools Included
Regular readers know that we often disagree with the tool lists provided by multi-tool manufacturers. There are a few who seem to under sell the list of tools, but more commonly, manufacturers try to inflate the number of tools that are featured.
Gerber doesn’t really do this, and we more-or-less agree with their tool list.
The only exception is the lanyard ring — we don’t really think of that as a proper tool.
- Needle nose spring-loaded pliers
- Wire cutter
- Plain edge blade
- Retail package opener
- Bottle opener
- Small flat driver
- Medium flat driver
- Coarse file
- Fine file
- Lanyard ring
Our Experiences with the Gerber Gear Dime Multi-Tool
We ordered quite a few hiking multi-tools in a short period of time, and we were more eager to try some of them out than others — and that definitely included the Dime.
We started by taking it out of the box and then weighing it and taking some basic measurements. Our numbers all matched the manufacturer’s to a reasonable degree of accuracy, so we started trying out all of the tools.
Most of them worked reasonably well considering the overall size of the tool.
- The pliers are fairly small but effective. They’re spring-loaded, which is nice, and they feel strong enough to do the kinds of things you’d reasonably expect of them. The limiting factor in their value is actually the overall size of the unit — the handles are kind of small, making it slightly tricky to get a good grip on things.
- The wire cutters built into the pliers are capable of cutting through very thin wire, but they won’t handle thick wire at all.
- The knife blade is sharp out of the box, though it is small. We’d consider it a cleaver-style blade, but others would probably call it a sheepsfoot blade. Either way, it’s not ideal for puncturing things, which may or may not be a good thing. You aren’t going to whittle a rocking chair with this thing, but it’s capable of cutting paper, cardboard, fruit, or similar items. You could probably use it to cut up dinner if need be.
- The retail package opener is fantastic at what it does, and it slices through plastic packages or box tape like butter. We hoped that it would slice through paracord, but it’s just not up to the task. In fact, it made a mess of the cord, so you’ll need to use the knife blade for this kind of work.
- The spring-loaded scissors are easy to use, though they’re really small. They can cut through paper and perhaps braided fishing line, but they won’t even pretend to cut paracord.
- The medium flat driver is sturdy, but it’s so short that it is tricky to use. The small flat driver is probably going to be useful for very small screws, but we honestly had trouble even finding something to use it on.
- The double-sided file is OK, but we wish both sides were coarser. And like the drivers, it’s so short that it’s difficult to use.
- The tweezers are surprisingly sturdy for being so diminutive. They’re pretty easy to access and put away (they sit in a small compartment that can be accessed without opening the tool. We found them adequate for picking up tiny things, and though we didn’t have the opportunity to test them on splinters, we imagine that’s what they’d be best suited for.
- The lanyard ring is definitely lightweight and thin. We don’t think it’d break under normal use, but we’d prefer if Gerber had used slightly heavier metal.
- The always-accessible bottle opener is honestly one of our favorite things about the Dime (and the feature that makes it a great EDC tool). You don’t have to open the tool to access it — you can just pull this thing out of your pocket and put it to use. It’s not the best bottle opener the world has ever seen, but it’s functional enough to get the job done. All that said, we wish the bottle opener was on the opposite end of the tool. As is, the lanyard ring gets in the way a bit.
Ultimately, we liked the Dime. Small multi-tools are never as useful as their full-sized counterparts, but they definitely have their place.
Unfortunately, the things we liked most about it — the retail package opener and always-accessible bottle opener — aren’t really at the top of most backpackers’ wish lists. Car campers may need bottle openers and package openers, but you won’t find these types of tasks common 12 miles deep into a forest trail.
And that means we would hesitate to rely on these for true backcountry adventures, but it’s a fantastic EDC option.
The Gerber Gear Dime Multi-Tool: Pros & Cons
Picking any product always involves tradeoffs, and the Dime is no different.
On the plus side, it is supremely portable. You’ll hardly notice this thing in your pocket, and we found that it works well on a keychain too.
The knife blade and scissors are both very sharp.
We also found the pliers to be fairly strong given their small size, and we love that the pliers and scissors are both spring-loaded. A few small multi-tools skip this feature, which makes them extremely unpleasant to use.
It also comes equipped with a set of tweezers. This is a bit unusual for true multi-tools; tweezers are usually something you’d find in Swiss Army Knives and knock offs.
But our two favorite things about it are the bottle opener and retail package opener. These things are more helpful in daily life than on the trail, but it’s still nice to have them.
On the flip side, we just found that the knife blade and scissors are too small. This is a common complaint among keychain multi-tools, and it’s just part of the deal — you just can’t fit big blades on a micro multi-tool. For that matter, the flat drivers and file are also too small.
Just to recap, some of the most notable pros and cons of the Gerber Dime include:
Gerber Dime Pros
- It’s incredibly small and light
- We love the exposed bottle opener
- Tweezers are a nice touch
- The retail package opener is handy
- Pliers and scissors are spring loaded
Gerber Dime Cons
- The knife blade is undersized
- It’s slightly difficult to open the tools
- Both of the flat drivers are very small
- The files could be coarser
- Less-than-ideal bottle opener location
User Reviews: What Do Others Think of the Gerber Dime Multi-Tool?
On balance, we like the Gerber Dime. But what about others? What do other folks like and dislike about this keychain-sized multi-tool?
Unsurprisingly, most user reviews were quite positive:
Screwdriver heads can handle a good amount of torque for such a tiny tool. I would buy another in a heartbeat.
Amazon Reviewer Z
I’m surprised how much they managed to fit in a tool this small.
Amazon Reviewer IsaiahPierce
One customer took the words right out of our mouths, regarding the retail package opener:
I bought this one to replace it and it is just as good as I remember the original being. The box opener is probably my most used tool.
Amazon Reviewer Benjamin
But not everyone loves the Dime, and several reviewers complained about various aspects of the tool.
I had to use the screwdriver of my Leatherman Squirt just to open each of the tools on the Dime!
Amazon Reviewer BuckeyeShopper
Today I used the pliers for the first time, and didnt even get on them hard and safe to say they broke.
Amazon Reviewer Hooligan
Bottom Line: Is the Gerber Dime Multi-Tool Worth It?
Ultimately, despite it’s numerous faults, we really like the Dime.
If you want a true hiking multi-tool, the Gerber Dime probably isn’t the ideal choice. It’s too small to perform a variety of tasks, and we wouldn’t want to depend on it on the trail.
But if you want a fantastic EDC tool, we can’t recommend it enough. It’s very small and light, and it comes with several tools that’ll be handy during daily life (the retail package opener and bottle opener are worth the cost of the tool in our opinion).
It’d also serve as an excellent accessory tool on the trail. You could keep your actual multi-tool in your pack, while this one rides around in your pocket, providing a handy way to deal with small tasks.
Ideal for camping trips and everyday carry, this 12-function multi-tool only measures 2.75-inches in length and weighs only 2.2 ounces.
Have you ever tried the Gerber Dime? What did you think of it? Did you find it too small like we did? Did you enjoy the retail package opener and bottle opener as much as we did?
Let us know about your experiences in the comments!