Hikers and campers seeking a tool-laden, full-function multi-tool can choose from a variety of different models.
But if you exclude cheap, bargain-basement models and those with tool assortments that are simply inappropriate for hiking and camping, you can whittle your choices down to a handful of options pretty quickly.
If price is no object, you’ll likely focus on something like the Leatherman Signal. But those on tighter budgets will undoubtedly start looking at the roughly comparable Gerber Suspension-NXT.
Let’s be clear: This tool cannot compete with the Signal in head-to-head fashion. But that’s not what Gerber is trying to do with this model anyway. They’re just trying to market a capable yet affordable multi-tool that’ll get the job done.
Let’s find out if they accomplished that goal, shall we?
Gerber Gear Suspension-NXT: The Basics
The Suspension-NXT is essentially an updated version of the Gerber Suspension, and it is designed to be easier to carry on an everyday basis.
To that end, Gerber made the Suspension-NXT about 2.3 ounces lighter and 1.75 inches shorter than its predecessor. This smaller package is sure to be welcomed by hikers and backpackers, as well as anyone who needs a lightweight, everyday carry tool.
And speaking of portability, the Suspension-NXT also features a pocket clip, which the Suspension lacks.
This was likely an effort by Gerber to address the problems with the sheath that comes with the Suspension. Simply put, the sheath that comes with the Suspension is cheap and breaks readily — a fact borne out by the numerous complaints left by Suspension owners. So, Gerber slapped a pocket clip on the NXT and skips the sheath. If you want a sheath for it, you’ll have to buy your own.
The Suspension-NXT also features a different tool assortment than the older model.
The primary differences are as follows:
- The Suspension had a serrated blade and a plain-edge blade, while the Suspension-NXT only features a single, combination blade.
- The Suspension-NXT comes with a ruler, while the Suspension does not.
- The Suspension has a saw blade, which Gerber dropped for the Suspension-NXT.
- The Suspension-NXT comes with a small, medium, and large flathead driver, but the Suspension is missing the medium driver.
There are also a few other changes, such as the handle design. Frankly, we prefer the handles on the Suspension to the Suspension-NXT, as they’re much more comfortable in the hand. In addition to the slight differences in shape (which make a pretty drastic difference in terms of comfort), the handles splay out a bit to far for our liking.
But at the end of the day, whether you’re comparing the Suspension-NXT with its predecessor or other multi-tools in this size class, one thing is for certain: This multi-tool provides a nice combination of tools, weight and price.
Gerber Gear Suspension-NXT: Specs & Features
Setting aside comparisons to the Suspension, the Suspension-NXT matches up well with most other full-function, everyday carry multi-tools. In fact, it’s pretty light and compact compared to some others.
Gerber Suspension-NXT Specifications
- Weight: 6.7 oz.
- Closed Length: 4.25″
- Open Length: 6.25″
- Blade Length: 2.25″
- Width: 1.75″
- Overall Thickness: 0.875″ (including clip)
Gerber Suspension-NXT Important Features
- Pliers are spring loaded
- All tools lock
- Handle tools are all accessible while closed
Gerber Gear Suspension-NXT: Included Tools
The Suspension-NXT boasts a pretty impressive assortment of tools.
Unlike some other budget-friendly multi-tools, there aren’t really any glaring omissions, aside from perhaps a saw blade. It’s also lacking things like fire starters and cord cutters, but Gerber is clearly marketing this to the everyday-carry crowd, rather than hikers and backpackers.
That doesn’t mean it won’t work well for outdoor enthusiasts; in fact, we think it works quite well for hiking and camping trips. But it is important to keep the manufacturer’s intended use in mind when assessing its tool assortment and other factors.
This is the tool list, according to Gerber:
- Needlenose pliers
- Regular pliers
- Wire cutter
- Plain / serrated combination blade
- Real cross driver
- Small flathead driver
- Medium flathead driver
- Large flathead driver
- Can opener
- Bottle opener
- Wire stripper
- Lanyard point
- Pocket Clip
The lanyard point and pocket clip shouldn’t count as proper tools, but they appear in Gerber’s product literature. However, to the brand’s credit, they characterize the Suspension-NXT as having 15 tools in places they list the specific number.
Our Experiences with the Gerber Gear Suspension-NXT
We actually initiated our review of the Gerber Suspension-NXT the same day we started checking out a few other low-priced multi-tools. That worked out pretty well for the Suspension-NXT, as it blew the others away.
Seriously, while it certainly isn’t our favorite multi-tool for hiking and camping, it is really good in most respects.
Right out of the box, it felt more solid than any of the other budget-friendly models we tried. And it comes with a number of features (such as locking tools and the ability to access all the tools from the outside) that are absent from most low-priced alternatives.
We started putting the Suspension-NXT through our standard testing protocols. Let’s look at how each tool came through:
- We found the needlenose pliers to be useful and strong. A number of other users managed to break their pliers during normal use, and we wouldn’t be shocked if these broke at some point, but thus far, it held up fine for us. The tips are slightly thin, but needlenose pliers must be thin — it’s the entire point.
- The standard (pipe grip) pliers worked as intended and afforded a very secure grip. That said, if you really need to squeeze something, your hands are going to hurt thanks to the design of the handles.
- The wire cutters are functional, if not spectacular. They feature a anvil-style cutting surface, rather than a bypass design, which we found disappointing. However, it seems that Gerber leans this direction for many of their products, so it’s to be expected.
- The combination plain/serrated blade was adequate but definitely didn’t impress us. For starters, we’d have preferred if Gerber has just skipped the serrated blade. They likely include this combination blade as part of the upgrading process — the Suspension includes two blades (one is serrated and the other features a plain edge blade), but they wanted to cut that down to a single blade for the Suspension-NXT. Additionally, the blade is pretty small and wasn’t very sharp out of the box.
- We hate the way you have to access the Suspension-NXT’s scissors. But, once folded out, the scissors are pretty impressive. They’re spring-loaded, which is incredibly helpful and user friendly, and they’re pretty well-built too.
- The cross driver is excellent. It is a “real” cross driver, unlike the flat versions included with some tools (such as the Nextool Mini Flagship Pro). We’d urge caution regarding the amount of torque you apply to it, as a few users complained that it snapped off. But it seats securely in screw heads and works well.
- All three flat head drivers work well. Further, we found the size range to be about perfect. The large flat driver could be a little longer, but that’s a minor problem.
- The can opener is pretty good, and it’s surprisingly sharp. The bottle opener works, but it’s situated pretty close to the multi-tool’s handle, which can make it hard to use. We’d prefer if the entire combination tool were a bit longer.
- The awl is one of the best tools on the entire multi-tool. It’s longer than the awls on many other models, the point is quite sharp, and the edge is actually sharp enough to serve as a blade in some contexts (such as opening cardboard boxes). We also love that it locks into place — a critical consideration for tools used to puncture things.
- Some users may lament the fact that the Suspension-NXT only comes with one file (many similar multi-tools feature a coarse and fine file). However, we tend to think that any file work you perform on the side of a trail will be pretty rough in nature — you aren’t going to be trying to polish a knife blade with this. So, we liked the file enough. Plus, the reason it only has one file is because the backside features a ruler, which may be handy on the trail. And we really like that it features metric and imperial units.
- The wire stripper included with the Suspension-NXT works, but honestly, if you regularly need a wire stripper, this isn’t the multi-tool for you. It’d help you fix a wiring issue on the trail, but it’s not going to offer the kind of precision contractors or handymen need.
Aside from the proper tools included with the Gerber Suspension-NXT, it also features a lanyard point and a pocket clip.
The lanyard point does what it’s supposed to do, but we love that it was a slightly larger hole than you’d think, which makes it easier to rig up. Additionally, because of the place in which it is situated, it actually makes the plier handles sit in your hand more comfortable. We doubt Gerber had that in mind when designing it, but the benefit stands nonetheless.
The pocket clip is perhaps the most discussed aspect of the Suspension-NXT — and usually not in a good way.
Lots of users complain that the Suspension-NXT’s pocket clip is flimsy and easy bends out of place. We didn’t find this to be the case, but we’d be inclined to remove it anyway.
We did concur with many other users who complained about the stamped logo on the pocket clip — it just looks terrible. Note to Gerber: Skip the cheap stamp next time.
The Gerber Suspension-NXT: Pros & Cons
There are a number of things to love about the Suspension-NXT, but we did find a number of flaws with it — especially considering how much we liked it overall.
Perhaps this should not be surprising, given its price point. This thing is shockingly affordable for such a lightweight yet tool-heavy model made by a major player in the multi-tool space.
Just check out the things we liked, as well as the things we wish Gerber would address, below:
Gerber Suspension-NXT Pros
- Surprisingly affordable
- Provides great value for the tool list
- Nice combination of tools for the weight
- The cross driver works quite well
- The pocket clip is convenient
- Tools are accessible from the outside
- All three flat drivers are great
- The tools all lock into place
- The multi-unit ruler is pretty nifty
- The scissors are easy to use once open
Gerber Suspension-NXT Cons
- The manufacturing quality is fair at best
- We’d prefer no serrations on the blade
- The blade should be sharper
- The handles splay too far for comfort
- The tool-opening tabs are hard to grip
- The finish is inconsistent
- We hate the way the scissors open
- The tool lock release is hard on fingers
That’s more negative points than we typically list for a tool we liked overall, but we think it is important for users to understand everything before hitting that “buy now” button. This multi-tool’s price point undoubtedly gets many people excited, and we just try to ensure our readers won’t be disappointed or blind-sided.
User Reviews: What Do Others Think of the Gerber Suspension-NXT Multi-Tool?
We clearly liked the Suspension-NXT, despite it having several flaws, which we’ve pointed out above.
But are we outliers? What do others think about it?
As it turns out, the reviews are overwhelmingly positive, though a not-insignificant number of customers did share some complaints.
Let’s start with the positive:
This is by far the best multi tool I have ever owned, for the price this is a steal. The DIYer in your life would love this and it’s affordable.
Amazon Reviewer Rusty
This tool overdelivered, it’s got a bunch of things, it’s very sturdy and all the bits lock so you don’t accidentally fold it back on yourself, it’s a fantastic tool for anyone looking for a reliable multitool to carry!
Amazon Reviewer Donovan
One of the surprising things we noticed is how many users came back to leave positive comments long after they’d left an initial review. Take this one, for example:
3 Month Use Update: used the NXT as my EDC for quite a while now and even took it up mountaineering. It’s doing pretty well for EDC and basic campsite tasks (it lack a saw but we know that already). It’s lightweight and sturdy construction is a solid plus for day to day use and 48 hour treks where not a lot of wood working is needed. I use the pliers, scissors, flathead most often.
Amazon Reviewer Sarge II
Perhaps most impressively, several users purchased more than one Suspension-NXT. Some even came back to the NXT after trying more expensive brands.
I’m on my second one because I managed to lose the first. I replaced the first one with a Leatherman, and ended up coming back to this because it’s such a better tool.
Amazon Reviewer Amanda S.
And as you’d expect, there were plenty of users who praised the Suspension-NXT’s price:
You can’t go wrong with a $30 gerber
Amazon Reviewer MB
But not everyone liked it, and there were a lot of negative reviews. Many, such as the one below, complained about the tool’s durability:
Update: The pliers cracked after a little more than 2 months and only my 3rd or so use of them (you can see how clean they are in the picture). I was trying to bend and snap the small piece of metal that you find inside of a windshield wiper blade and I squeezed the handle too hard causing the plier piece to crack into two. I’ll be sticking with Leatherman tools from now on.
Amazon Reviewer Raymond
Others echoed these sentiments:
The two sides don’t allign and the build is quite flimsy. The tools are incredibly stiff and difficult to take out.
Amazon Reviewer Syed Hasan Askari
But many users had mixed feelings, such as this reviewer who liked it enough to give it a 4-star rating, while complaining about the lock release:
It’s sturdy and has most tools you’d need on it, the locks that hold tools open are pretty tough to get unlocked though. Folded a thumbnail trying to get it shut
Amazon Reviewer Cade Warner
Another interesting thing is how starkly different some reviewers felt about the Suspension-NXT than we did. Take this one, for example:
For $25 it was not too expensive but falls short versus some other tools by manufacturers such as ROXON or BIBURY which are equivalently priced. These other makers, though not as widely known as Gerber, offer a better tool for a lower price.
Amazon Reviewer Kwan L. Lowe
We conducted a review of the BIBURY Multi-Tool ourselves and came to the polar opposite conclusion. While the BIBURY is the best sub-$20 multi-tool we’ve ever found, it isn’t even in the same galaxy as the Gerber Suspension-NXT.
Bottom Line: Is the Gerber Suspension-NXT Worth It?
Given that it costs less than 30 bucks, we simply have to consider the Suspension-NXT a good purchase for budget-conscious buyers.
It only costs about $10 more than the most affordable options on the market (such as the BIBURY, mentioned above), yet it stands head-and-shoulders above most bargain basement alternatives.
We wish it were more durable, though it’d almost certainly stand up to any light- or medium-duty task you through at it on the trail.
It comes with a pretty impressive slate of tools, but several of the components have minor to moderate issues. The blade is pretty small and lacks an impressive edge, the tools are hard to open, and it doesn’t come with a saw blade, which is pretty useful for hikers and backpackers.
If price isn’t a factor, you’ll be much better off picking up a high-end model that’s specifically designed for trail use.
But for those with budgetary constraints and an upcoming trip on the horizon, the Gerber Gear Suspension-NXT is a good choice that’ll help you make the most of your time on the trail.
Having examined the Suspension-NXT in person, we now understand that it is a capable, if not outright impressive tool. We also understand how Gerber has managed to keep the price so low — they’ve obviously cut some corners in terms of materials and craftsmanship.
But enough about us — what do you think about the Gerber Suspension-NXT? Have you tried it out? What do you think about the build quality? Would you purchase one again?
Sound off in the comments below!