Surge of interest
PUBLISHED: 11:35 12 April 2016 | UPDATED: 11:35 12 April 2016
The editor referees round two of ‘the toughest multi-tool’ fight
A short while ago, I tested a new multi-tool from Gerber that claimed to be the strongest one on the market, and after I’d given it some serious abuse, I had to agree. The average multi-tool is great to fix small things, but simply cannot be that strong if the size is kept to a practical, portable limit. The Gerber MP1 stretched the performance envelope with some tough construction and improved materials. Its greatest advantage over the majority of competitors was a pair of combined pliers and wire cutters that were tough enough to cut fencing wire, something that would destroy most multi-tools.
I felt sure that Leatherman would counter-punch and I was right. The Surge looks like my everyday carry, a Leatherman Wave, but it’s a great deal larger; ½” longer when folded, and weighing 3½ ounces more. It’s definitely a big chunk of stainless steel in your hand. First contact gives that pleasing impression of something beautifully made and well thought out, which is why I’ve been a lifelong fan of the brand. The ergonomics are spot on, allowing righthanded people to access the 3” plain and serrated blades with one hand, and also to close them one handed, a feature I use literally every day.
Also accessed while the tool is closed is a pair of very substantial scissors and a holder that accepts replaceable saw and file blades. The latter is such a great idea. Saws get blunted and snapped all the time and being able to swap them for a fresh one is perfect.
Once opened, you can access screwdrivers and a can opener, plus another holder that takes proprietary driver bits, of which there’s a huge choice. The star of the show is the huge jaws of the pliers. Once glance tells you that Leatherman built these to take some pressure, but what really makes them special for me are the replaceable cutting blades that fit with a socket-head bolt. These are much harder and tougher than the steel the jaws are made from. I applied the same abuse to these that I’d given to the MP1, namely making 200 cuts on a length of thick fencing wire, and was immediately impressed at just how easily they sliced through. The handles of the two tools are similar in length, so it wasn’t leverage that made the difference. It must be the shape of the cutting edges, and the fact that the Surge uses a bypass action. Whatever the reason, this thing approached the performance of a workshop tool -which is stunning. I studied the cutting edges under a magnifying glass and could see no signs of wear at all. They say competition improves the breed, and this new Leatherman is by far the best multi-tool for tough jobs that I’ve ever tried, bar none.