Review: Gerber Dime Keychain Multi-tool

Staff Writer
A compact, useful and surprisingly rugged tool that fits in your pocket

When the first post-Swiss Army multi-tool (Leatherman's Pocket Survivor Tool) rolled out back in 1984, it was an incredibly utilitarian product—pliers, knife, screwdrivers, wire cutters, awl—intended for survivalists. Ever since then, multi-tools have evolved to be—ironically—more specialized. There are multi-tools made for climbers with rope cutters and nail clippers, hunters' tools that include gun cleaning gizmos, and campers get ones with crazy sharp saw blades for hacking up firewood. If the Gerber Dime is any indication, though, today's multi-tool is intended for a decidedly more domestic user—the frustrated consumer.

In fact, one of the marquee features of this pint-sized tool is what Gerber describes as a "unique blade designed to safely cut and score plastic packaging." Yes, it will open those frustrating-as-hell, impossible-to-open plastic clamshells that tend to ruin Christmas, birthday parties and all other gift giving events. It does a decent enough job of that, but a groundbreaking feature it is not. The knife blade can do the same without fuss, though perhaps not so safely.

Where the Dime really shines is its stout-for-their-size, spring-loaded needlenose pliers. I can't recall everything I've used them for (fire was involved on at least one occasion, judging by the soot stains), but I do know they're precise and have no trouble holding a tightly tensioned bicycle brake cable. They won't take a lugnut off your car, but they're great for small, on-the-go jobs.

The Dime measures 2.75 inches closed and weighs just 2.2 ounces, making it a truly pocket-sized multi-tool unlike the ungainly original Leatherman. Each of its six tiny tools—pliers, knife, scissors, file, flathead and crosshead screwdrivers—snaps firmly into place without a locking mechanism. And, to top it off, the bottle opener is always open... just in case.

Hits: Gerber managed to stuff a lot into such a small, lightweight package. The pliers are strong for being so small. Plus, there's a quick-draw bottle opener.
Misses: The Dime, with its handy plastic clamshell opener, came packaged in (you guessed it) a plastic clamshell. I nearly gave up before I even started. Some of the tools—the file and screwdrivers come to mind—are so stubby that it limits their utility in tight spaces.
MSRP: $22
Buy It ($14.90 at Amazon)