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Gerber Balance Jaw Tool Green

I was never a Boy Scout, but I still like to be prepared. That's why I keep a Gerber Balance Jaw Tool in my jacket pocket.

I've used other multi tools in the past that felt bulky and clunky, but the Gerber Balance Jaw Tool feels smooth and compact. It fits into the palm of my hand perfectly. Gerber has done a great job of designing a tool with rounded edges that's comfortable to hold and easy to push into a pocket.

The Balance Jaw Tool is also designed to minimize fuss! If I want to use the pliers, I can extend them from the base by sliding a small knob with my thumb until they pop out of the top. Viola! And I have instant pliers and one-hand operation. Love that.

This design also means that when the pliers are retracted, I have a nice palm-sized ergonomic handle when using the other tools, which include a blade with both smooth and serrated cutting areas, two screwdrivers (small and medium, each with Phillips and regular heads), and a pair of scissors. The Balance Jaw Tool also has a small tweezers that I've used to remove splinters.

I seem to use the screwdrivers often--most recently, to replace some light switch covers in my house--and have been impressed by how solid the tools feel. The heads of the screwdrivers don't wiggle around when in use but are also easy to remove (one end is a Phillips head, the other is a regular screwdriver end) when I need to switch heads. One of the screwdrivers also has a bottle opener on it, which has come in very handy on camping and road trips.

Some multi tools can be flimsy, but I really like the feel of the Balance Jaw Tool. Because it feels good in my hand and is solidly built, I don't have a lot of wasted effort where I'd be working against the tool. So far, it's been up to every job I've asked it to do.

Finally, I like that just about the entire tool, with the exception of a very small piece of plastic in the top hinge, is metal. And I like the bold carbon and green colors of the handles.

Bottom Line: I've been very happy with the Balance Jaw Tool; it's solid and it's very handy for all those little jobs that come up. This would be a great Mother's Day or Father's Day present. —B.M. (May 2012)

BUY ONLINE: $58, on sale for $41.99 at Amazon.

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When hiking or camping, always carry the "10 Essentials":

Extra clothing, extra food and water, lighter or water-proof matches and fire starter, map in waterproof envelope, compass, pocket knife, sunscreen and sunglasses, flashlight or headlamp, first aid kit, emergency shelter.

Source: Seattle Mountain Rescue and Seattle Mountaineers.