- Instant Knife
Series by Bob Sanders
Report: September 25, 2012
Report: January 6, 2013
Term Report: February 28, 2013
Background: I went on my first backpacking trip as a
Boy Scout at the age of 16. Over the years I have hiked the
Wonderland Trail in Washington and section hiked parts of the
Florida Trail, Appalachian Trail, Colorado Trail and 740 mi
(1191 km) of the Pacific Crest Trail. I continue to backpack and
hike year round in the Colorado mountains. I have evolved from a
heavyweight backpacker to a lightweight backpacker and sometimes
reach ultralight weights. My three day fall/winter solo
adventures (using a tent) have me hovering around a 17 lb (7.7
kg) base weight.
ft 1 in (1.85 m)
lb (95 kg)
The Gerber Instant uses a Assisted Opening 2.0 mechanism that
allows the blade to be opened with one hand. It has a textured
G-10 composite handle giving it a great grip. On the back is a
thin clip that allows the knife to be carried in a front pocket
for all day use.
The specs differed from the packaging to the website. I
decided to list the website specs as I felt they would be the
most current and easiest to change.
- Blade Length: 3.18 in (8
- Measured Blade Length
3.25 in (8.25 cm)
- Closed Length: 4.57 in
- Measured Closed Length:
4.57 in (11.6 cm)
- Overall Length: 7.75 in
- Measured Overall Length:
7.8 in (19.81 cm)
- Weight: 4.01 oz (113 g)
- Measured Weight 4.02 oz
- Steel Type: 7Cr17Mo
- G-10 Handle
- MSRP: $49 US
I have to say right off the bat that
I really like this knife. I'm not a big knife person but when it arrived
I took it out of the package and it felt great in my hand. I opened it
for the first time and it really sprung open. It opened very fast and
with some authority. For the next hour I sat on the couch and played
with the knife. I would open and close it several times, sit it down and
find myself picking it back up and opening and closing it some more. It
just really felt comfortable in my hand. There is a good amount of
resistance to the release when I push my thumb against the thumb stud.
It was stiff at first until I got used to it. After opening the blade
3-4 times I got a feel for how to hold the handle in the palm of my hand
to get the best pressure against the thumb stud.
The grip has an excellent texture and
there is no feeling that the knife will slip. The grooves, or cut outs
in the handle also seem to enhance the grip. The knife is well balanced
and I always felt like I had control of the knife.
I especially like the all black
finish. We will see how long the black finish on the blade will last.
The blade can be opened with either
hand but the pocket clip is not reversible.
The knife appears to be well made and
it feels very sturdy. The blade locks in the open position firmly with
no play. The only flaw in workmanship is what appears to be a blob or
smear of glue right next to one of the screw heads along the top edge
(See Photo Below). I can't be 100% sure it is glue other than it is
shiny compared to the matte black handle.
On top of the blade and the top front
of the handle are some grooved thumb notches. These allow my thumb to
sit on top of the knife and get a great grip. It also keeps my thumb
from sliding forward. This really increases the overall grip on the
knife. The locked blade is released in the open position by pushing the
silver "Thumb Plunge Lock" on the side of the handle. The blade releases
smoothly and drops a little more than half way (See Photo Below).
Closing the knife has some options. The knife can be closed with my
other hand, I can reach up with my fingers and pull it closed or simply
press the back side of the blade against my pant leg to close it. I find
myself closing it with my thigh most often. The blade is quite sharp so
I will need to be careful when closing.
The knife has a great pocket clip. The knife is not too big so it fits
in my pocket quite comfortably. I stuck it in my pocket and went to
run errands. Even sitting and driving I never noticed the knife. I
didn't even remember I had the knife with me until I went to bed and
took my pants off.
Like I said at the beginning, I really like this knife. I may find
myself having it with me all the time. The half straight, half
serrated blade will find lots of use. A serrated blade just does a
much better job of cutting things like rope, cord, and freeze-dried
- All black finish, very
- Light weight, I would not
carry a knife bigger or heavier than this
- Compact size, fits my hand
- Lightning fast opening, it
really is instant
Locations and Test Conditions:
Since receiving the Gerber Instant Knife I have basically carried it
everyday in my right front pocket. Many days the only time I touch it
is when I go to bed and I remove it from my pocket. Though it has come
in handy on those days when I do need a knife to open boxes or trim
something. I have even used it at home in the kitchen when it was just
easier to pull it out of my pocket and use it rather than reach for a
kitchen knife. A quick rinse under the faucet and a swipe with the
dish towel and back in my pocket it goes.
Trips include 2 quick overnight backpack trips to my favorite stomping
grounds in and around Brainerd Lake area in the foothills west of
Ward, Colorado. Elevation is 10,000 ft (3,050 m) and the temperatures
were cold with highs in the low 30's F (0 C) and at night it got down
to 18 F (-8 C). Mostly used for opening freeze dried meals and other
kitchen duties. It did come in handy to shave some kindling for a very
small fire I made to help take the chill off before going to bed.
There was snow on the ground and I did use a fire ring.
I also went on a car camping trip with family for 3 days 2 nights at
Jackson State Park here in Colorado. The weather was pretty nice with
highs in the 50's F (10's C) and lows in the 30's F (0 C). The knife
saw a lot of use that trip. Everything from meal preparation to
shortening and attaching new guyline for the tent and sharpening
points on sticks for smores and hotdogs.
I have also been on 4 day hikes during this testing period. All hikes
were in the foothills near Boulder, CO. Elevations ran between 5,000
to 8,000 ft (1,500 to 2400 m) and the temperatures were in the 40's F
(4 C). I brought the knife with me every hike and mostly used it for
lunch slicing cheese and sausage. I also used it to slice and core an
apple but the knife is so sharp that I was slow and cautious so I
wouldn't cut myself. I can remember thinking to myself this knife is
extremely sharp and kind of large for these simple tasks. I did spend
a few minutes thinking about what other tasks I could use it for. A
defensive weapon did come to mind. It is large enough and impressive
looking in your hand to intimidate any would be attacker. I'm sure a
bear would care less.
This knife is much larger than any knife I have ever carried on a
dayhike or overnighter. I usually get by with just a tiny single blade
Swiss Army pocket knife with a tiny pair of scissors. I have to admit
I did miss the scissors for cutting things like moleskin for blisters.
I did use the knife to cut squares but rounded corners were not
The knife has remained very sharp. I have not sharpened it yet and we
will see if it even needs it by the end of this test.
One of the things I was concerned about was the lack of a lock to keep
the knife from springing open unexpectedly or while clipped inside my
pocket. Neither of these things have happened and I have not noticed
the knife loosening up any. I have also noticed that opening the knife
with one hand is the better option vs using both hands. The knife
springs open rather abruptly because of the assist mechanism and if
I'm not holding the knife securely with both hands the blade can
spring open into the palm of my other hand. The only time it did that
I got jabbed in the palm by the point. It didn't cut me but I realized
afterwards that one handed was the way to go. As time goes by the
knife just feels more comfortable in my hand. Flipping the knife open
instantly with the push of my thumb makes me feel like a teenager with
a switch blade while I mumble to myself "You want a piece of me".
The knife appears to look brand new. Nothing seems to be worn or
rubbed anywhere. It probably needs a good washing as I did notice some
food particles and dust balls down inside the handle.
The Gerber Instant Knife has become a daily companion in my front
pocket and a nice addition to my hiking/backpacking gear. I will keep
using it daily and finding additional knife duties while on the trail.
- Lighting fast one-handed
opening - instant bravado!
- Combo blade
- Comfortable, non-bulky in my
Locations and Test Conditions:
I have continued to carry the Gerber Instant knife everyday in my
right front pocket. For the unforeseeable future I believe it has
found a permanent home there.
I have completed 4 more day hikes and one quick overnighter to round
out this test. The day
hikes were in the foothills near Boulder, CO. Elevations ran between
5,000 to 8,000 ft (1,500 to 2400 m) and the temperatures were in the
40's F (4 C). I brought the knife with me every hike and mostly used
it to prepare lunch.
I also took it with me on a
2 day 1 night backpacking trip to Lefthand Reservoir in Colorado. The
weather was pretty nice, sunny with the high around 35 F (2 C) and low
was 10 F (-12 C). The knife was mostly used for lunch and dinner prep.
Pretty boring trip for knife usage though it did an outstanding job at
Most of the usage came from just having it with me on a daily basis. I
used it for opening packages, trimming things, cleaning my nails,
prying open lids and just simple use of a sharp edge. I honestly found
more uses on a daily basis than I did while hiking or backpacking.
My final observations are based on the fact that I really like this
knife. I have never before carried a knife with me everyday
and now I do. It fits my hand well and I have used it for a multitude
of tasks. It made me think about what I did before I had a knife with
me on a daily basis. I guess I just made do or found a different tool
for the task. I have not sharpened the knife yet and it still seems to
have an edge on it. I'm sure it will need a good sharpening
The one feature of the knife that I have decided I could really do
without is the instant open feature. It is really cool and a fun
feature but is really not needed and if it was missing I don't think
it would bother me. For me I think a locking feature would have more
The Gerber Instant Knife has become a daily companion in my front
pocket and a nice addition to my hiking/backpacking gear. I will
continue to carry it with me on the trail and even though I would not
normally carry a knife this heavy, since it rides in my front pocket
the weight just becomes a non issue. The black finish on the blade is
only now showing very slight abrasions from normal use.
- Combo blade
- Comfortable in my hand
- No locking feature to keep the
blade from springing open
This concludes the test and I would
like to thank BackpackGearTest.org and Gerber for the opportunity to
test this knife.
Read more reviews of Gerber gear
Read more gear reviews by Bob Sanders