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It’s pointless to suggest that multi-tools are occasionally overhyped — of course they are. They’re gimmicks on gimmicks running around, and everybody has one. But no matter how over-the-top the marketing shtick, it does work. Take Gerber’s Bear Grylls Survival Pack. It’s a multitool paired up with a flashlight and a fire-starter wrapped up in a nice case. But for a gimmick, it’s still pretty solid.

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Like a lot of you, I own a big honkin’ digital SLR. But as any photo pro will tell you, the best camera is the one you actually have with you. That’s why I take most of the photos you see in my posts with my point-and-shoot, a Canon S95. It’s a great little camera with a big ‘ol F2.0 aperture and a larger-than-most sensor that can turn twilight (or the inside of a dark shop) into usable light. But every camera has its limits, and to take great night shots I often find myself turning whateverthehell I can find into a tripod to extend the exposure, drop the ISO, and collect that light.

That’s why this upcoming Gerber multitool grabbed my attention. As you can see above, two arms fold out below it to turn the knife into an instant point-and-shoot-sized tripod, perfect for setting your camera on a railing to take night shots or (in my case) propping it on a truck hood to grab a timer shot of myself using a tool.

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Gerber’s Gator Machete also doubles as a saw — you can use the machete for normal bushwacking, or if you run into some downed wood blocking your way, flip the knife over and use the saw blade.

Gerber makes the head and handle out of high carbon steel and then wraps some rubber around the handle to give it a tactile* grip. The 25.7″ long knife has a 18″ blade and weighs 18oz. They include a nylon sheath either to protect the blade or to protect you from the blade — take your pick. Gerber’s Gator Machete retails for $30, but you can find it for under $20 before shipping.

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If you’re looking for a nice, daily-carry Stockman, you might enjoy this Gerber. And Amazon’s currently offering it for just $20.10 — about $5 to $10 less than we find it normally priced elsewhere. Like virtually all Stockman-pattern knives, this one includes a large clip-point blade, plus a smaller drop-point and sheepsfoot. Unusually, this Stockman includes a lock-back, though we suspect only the clip point locks. (If you own one and know for sure, drop us a line.)

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This was going to be a simple post comparing the Gerber Artifact with the Mini SuperKnife as a keychain knife/tool. As I started gathering details, it was turning into a Gerber vs. Gerber post: Gerber was acquired by Fiskars in 1986, and in 2005 Fiskars Brands acquired Superknife and integrated it into their Outdoor Recreation division, Gerber Legendary Blades. One big happy conglomerate…

Anyway, I decided to add a couple more similar-sized tools alleged to fit on a keychain, and solicit your opinions. From right to left in the picture (not to scale): the folding blade SOG Micron, 1.5″ blade length and 3.44″ overall length when opened, costs around $10. The Mini SuperKnife, 1.77″ long closed and 2.95″ long opened, is a small folding utility knife that costs about $5. The Utili-Key, 2.75″ long, goes for approximately $7 (TM mentioned this device 7/24/08, 5/1/09, and 8/20/09). The Gerber Artifact, 3.5″ long closed and 4.8″ long opened, is available for $6-7 (TM had a 9/15/08 post on the Artifact).

What’s your choice for a small keychain knife/tool: A knife-only option, or a pseudo multi-tool?

SOG Micron Via Amazon [What’s This?]
Mini SuperKnife Via Amazon [What’s This?]
Utili-Key Via Amazon [What’s This?]
Gerber Artifact Via Amazon [What’s This?]

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Soon all new cars will come with tire pressure monitoring systems, and a lot of vehicles have ’em already. Maintaining another computer and mechanical system will bring another set of challenges to professional and backyard mechanics — four sets of wireless, battery-powered sensors all spinning at highway speeds sounds like problems in the making.  GearWrench’s Tire Pressure Monitoring Kit will help you with these maintenance tasks.

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Designed to be part of your basic camping gear, the 15″-long Gator combo axe by Gerber packs an axe and a razor-sharp 6″ saw in one 1lb 12oz package.

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Earlier this year Gerber released the Artifact mini-tool.  Coated with titanium nitride, this eight-function tool measures just 3-1/2″ when closed and weighs about as much as two quarters.  What’s unusual about the Artifact is that instead of having a built-in knife, it uses #11 hobby blades.

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If you’re in the market for Gerber’s Deluxe Mine Probe Kit, one of two things is probably true: A) You’re underpaid, or B) you need to move. People who remove unexploded ordnance work mostly on their bellies, inching across the battlefield, constantly in danger. For these serious people and their serious work, Gerber makes some precision mine probe tools to replace that old KA-BAR.

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Superknife Ultra Shear

If there weren’t already enough ways to lose a digit, Superknife makes the UltraShear — an anvil-style cutter reminiscent of pruning shears. Unlike garden-variety pruning shears, when UltraShears dull, you can replace the blade with a standard utility blade.

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