The classic multi-tool has been a camping favorite ever since the Swiss Army Knife was first manufactured in 1891. Variations and upgrades of this tool have been released over the years, often with mixed results. Enter Gerber Legendary Blades, which has been producing knives, multi-tools, and outdoor gear since 1939. We got hands-on with their 11-tool Stake Out tool to see if it meets the lofty standards of the original multi-tool classic. We got our hands dirty with this compact tool.
Packaging and Presentation
The Stake Out comes in an attractive black package with orange lettering, displayed in a plastic bubble on this package. The package does a good job of highlighting the multiple uses of this tool, including a back that highlights each tool in detail. So far, so good. However, we got very frustrated trying to open this package. Now, we get the idea of tamper-proof packaging, but this was a bit much.
The cardboard required heavy-duty scissors to cut through, though we initially tried peeling the back off. There was a clear separation between the front and back of the package, and we thought it would be easy enough to peel away. Well, 10 minutes later, we’d pulled out our biggest pair of scissors to cut through it. Even then, the plastic bubble was hard to open. Thankfully, we finally got it out.
Materials and “Feel”
Once we got the Stake Out free, we gave it a good once over and gauged how good it felt to sit in the hand. It’s not a big tool, coming in at just 4.4 inches. That’s small enough to easily fit in or on most backpacks with the simple carabiner. Surprisingly, it weighs only about three ounces, so carrying it doesn’t feel too heavy. In spite of its light weight, the stainless steel feels solid and durable.
We particularly liked how well it fits into the hand, no matter the size. If you have bigger hands, it might be a little small for you, but people with small or average hands will find it very easy to use. Overall, this didn’t feel like a cheap or chintzy tool. It might not have the most weight or heft, but it feels good to use in general. But comfortable usage is worth nothing if the tools aren’t any good.
A multi-tool lives and dies by the diversity and quality of the tools. The Stake Out competes well with most when it comes to diversity. You get 11 unique tools, which is on par with what you get with most similar products. While you don’t get pliers or a screwdriver, you’ll hardly miss them because this is an outdoor or camping kit. But do the tools you do get live up to expectations? Let’s find out.
Like the other tools on the Stake Out, the scissors were easy to deploy and close and were sharp enough for regular outdoor use. The only problem with them was the small handle and blades. The handle might be awkward for bigger hands, while the blade might require making multiple cuts.
We like that they included a ruler on this tool, especially because they added both metric and standard measurements. However, the tool’s small overall size limits you to three inches or just over six centimeters. That limits its usage pretty heavily and makes it seem almost pointless.
Tent Stake Puller
This tool took a little finagling to get off and on the bolt that keeps it in place, which made it slightly frustrating to use. That said, once you got it out, it stayed deployed very well and was large enough to hook onto just about any tent stake. Even better, it works like a charm and gives you plenty of leverage.
The saw on this tool is serrated with two rows of teeth. That gives it plenty of cutting power and more than enough for your typical outdoor action. For example, it should cut easily through your fishing line, rope, and binding twine, and even work well when cleaning a fish.
The included carabiner gives you enough room to slide the Stake Out onto a belt loop or around a strap on your bag. It has medium give, meaning it shouldn’t be too hard to open. The bottle-opener at the rim of the carabiner works fine, but the carabiner itself can get in the way when using it.
The awl sits right next to the saw and features a sharp point that’s perfect for puncturing items. It was sharp enough to cut instantly through camping cardboard but could also be used for puncturing other items. The Ferro striker on the back easily created sparks when struck for firemaking.
Here’s the main draw of this tool. Easy to open and close, this knife has a smooth action and a sharp blade that cuts through many items with ease. Frankly, it’s so good that you might be tempted to ignore the other specialized tools.
Be careful when using these tweezers because they actually come right out of the tool! Thankfully, they’re easy to use and work well when handling any fishing line, threading a needle, or pulling a sliver out of your thumb. Just make sure you don’t forget where they are stored!
There’s an easy-to-miss file just beneath the carabiner opening that works well in many outdoor situations. It is a bit shorter than we like from our files, but the gritty surface is more than strong enough to handle your basic filing needs.
We really liked the $55 Gerber Stake Out. It has a strong collection of stainless-steel tools that work well. Not all of the tools were made equal here. The rulers were nice in theory but almost useless in practice, while the tent stake puller was harder to deploy and lock than we wanted. But the main tools (the knife in particular) make this a great option for your outdoor adventures.