Gerber Gear Instant Knife
TEST SERIES BY LARRY KIRSCHNER
INITIAL REPORT - September 19, 2012
FIELD REPORT - January 13, 2013
LONG-TERM REPORT - March 3, 2013
asklarry98 at hotmail dot com
5' 9" (1.75 m)
205 lb (92 kg)
I've been an intermittent camper/paddler since my teens, but now that my kids are avid Boy Scouts,
I've caught the backpacking bug. I typically do 8-10 weekend hikes per year, and have spent time over
the past few years backpacking the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico and canoeing the Canadian wilderness. I like to travel "in comfort", but I've shrunk to medium weight, and continue to work toward going
lighter and longer. With all of my investment into these ventures, I expect my wife and I will continue to trek
long after the kids are gone…
September 19, 2012
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Gerber Legendary Blades
Year of Manufacture: 2012
Country of Manufacture: China
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.gerbergear.com
MSRP: USD $49.00
4.07 oz/115 g website
3.4 oz/96 g packaging
4.0 oz/113 g
3.18 in/81 mm website
3.33 in/85 mm packaging
3.2 in/81 mm
4.57 in/116 mm website
4.43 in/113 mm packaging
4.5 in/115 mm
7.75 in/197 mm
0.43 in/11 mm
The Gerber Legendary Blades (also known as "Gerber Gear", or just "Gerber") Instant Knife is "tactically inspired'
general purpose knife for the outdoors. The blade is made of 7Cr17Mo steel, which internet research suggests is a
fairly standard Chinese alloy made with 0.7% carbon and 17% chromium. The handle of the knife is made of layered
G-10 composite with a tactile finish for enhanced grip at a reduced weight. (Note that all photos in this report were
taken on the background of a 1 in/2.54 cm square grid.)
The knife itself is designed with Gerber's "Assisted Opening 2.0 Mechanism." This mechanism consists of a thumb
stud (found on either side of the blade) and a spring which assists with opening the knife. These features make
it simple to open the knife with one hand using mild pressure from the thumb. Once open, the blade locks in place
and cannot be closed without depressing a button in the handle, the so-called "thumb plunge lock."
There is a
pocket clip on one side of the knife. Although Gerber does not state this design, the clip is positioned such that
the knife can be worn on the right hip and opened easily with the right hand. If worn on the left hip, the knife
would need to be flipped over in order to be opened.
As shown in the photo, the Instant has a partially serrated edge at the base of the blade. The point of the blade
has a "modified drop point." I'm not really sure what this is supposed to mean, but the base of the blade is about
0.25 in/3.5 mm thick' near the top, this tapers rapidly to a fine point.
INSTRUCTIONS and WARRANTY
The packaging for the Instant indicates that warranty information can be found on the website. The website reads
Gerber warrants to the consumer that this product will be free of defects, in material and workmanship for as
long as you own the product. This warranty does not cover damage due to rust, accident, loss, improper use, abuse,
negligence, or modification of or to any part of the product. Normal wear and tear is not covered under the
warranty. If the product failed while being used as it was intended to be used, we will service under the warranty.
At Gerber's option, defective product will be repaired, replaced, or substituted with a product of equal
INITIAL IMPRESSIONS and TRYING IT OUT
The Gerber Instant seems like a solid general purpose knife. I played around with opening it one-handed, and I
can confirm that it is easy to fully open with one hand. When clipped to my belt, I can pull it off my belt and
open it without looking at it. Once extended, the blade lock is engaged and I do not feel there is any danger of
the knife closing unexpectedly.
I'm not that familiar with this type of knife, so I was a little concerned about injuring myself when trying to
close it. The spring that is used in opening the knife does present a little resistance to closing, although this
is small. When I push the button, the blade slides easily closed until it hits the resistance of the spring, which
is at about the halfway point, as shown in the figure.
I have found it easiest so far to use two hands carefully
to close the knife, although I have also experimented with using one hand and closing the knife against a tree or
a chair. This method is also easy. Once closed, I also do not feel that the knife will open unless I push it.
I took the knife with me on a 10-mile/16 km dayhike on the Wildcat Hollow trail in Gloucester Ohio. I clipped it
on my belt on my right hip. As it turns out, it sat underneath the hip pad of my backpack, although I didn't really
notice it there, which I thought was a good indication that the knife is quite compact. When I stopped for lunch,
I used the knife to open up some packages for lunch. It cut through foil and paper as if it were butter.
EXPECTATIONS for the Gerber Instant Knife:
I'm expecting that this knife will cut anything I put near it, which is why I intend to be quite careful with my
fingers. However, I don't think I'll have any problems with it opening or closing unexpectedly, so I'm looking
forward to using it as a major piece of utility gear on the trail.
THE STORY SO FAR
- Sharp, strong blade
- Easy to open right-handed
- Compact knife fits easily in hand
Back to Top
- Not designed well for lefties
January 13, 2013
Over the past few months, I have taken the Gerber Instant with me whenever I have been on the trail. This has included:
In addition to these uses, the Instant lives in a handy place in my kitchen, where it is
usually the first tool I select when there is something to cut. This might be an envelope,
string, twine, packing tape, wrapping paper or other similar items. I don't use it for food,
though (I have a whole set of 'regular' kitchen knives for that).
- A weekend 7 mi/10.2 km backpacking trip in October to Wildcat Hollow, in Glouster, Ohio.
Weather was intermittently rainy with overnight temperatures that were colder than expected,
reaching a low of 32 F/0 C
- A weekend camping trip (with about 1 mi/1.6 km backpacking) in Newark, OH. It was fairly
warm over the weekend, with highs around 50 F/10 C and lows around 40 F/ 4 C, although I stayed
overnight in a cabin.
- An overnight camping trip to Marengo, OH, that was another cabin camping gig.
On my trip on the Wildcat Hollow Trail, it rained a decent amount during the afternoon,
so making a fire was a bit of a challenge. Aside from opening up the packaging
containing my meals, I used the knife to make some 'fuzz sticks' to help start the
fire. Basically, this involves stripping off the wet bark and making wood shavings,
some of which are collected and some of which remain on the stick. Both parts helped
get our fire going so we could dry out a bit.
I also used the knife to cut some
parachute cord in order to hang our raintarp from some trees. This typically involved
me holding the rope and/or the tarp with one hand and using the knife with the other one. I
found that it was a snap to flip open the knife one-handed, and with just a bit of
practice it was easy enough to close it one-handed. Usually, this involved pushing it
closed against a rock or tree, but I also used my leg when needed.
I found the knife had no trouble cutting anything on which I tried it. It was more than
strong enough to make wood shavings, and I felt the blade was sturdy enough that I
wasn't worried about it breaking.
As I mentioned in the Initial Report, wearing the knife on my belt didn't work out too
well on the trail, as it sat under my pack's hipbelt. However, I stashed it easily in
a side pocket in my backpacking pants, where it was quite handy.
The other times I used the knife, it functioned similarly, which is to stay it worked
well. No problem cutting anything, and always easy to open and to close. Whenever I was
done with it, just a quick wipe with my bandanna and it was ready to stash back in my
My only concern with the knife is a nagging worry that the knife might open unexpectedly.
I state this concern based on the fact that it has happened once already.
I was transferring the knife from
one pocket to the other and I accidentally dropped it. Although I was not in the process of trying to open the knife,
the blade sprug open when it hit the ground. Fortunately, there was no harm and no
foul. I will point out that I have dropped the knife a few other times, but it only opened the one time.
WEAR AND TEAR
The knife blade shows some slight discolorations from use, but nothing significant.
I have not sharpened the blade, and it still cuts things quite easily.
The handle has the same matte black finish as when I first opened it.
To date, the Gerber Instant has done everything I would expect out of a backpacking
knife. The blade is sharp and effective at cutting everything I have tried. The knife
is compact and easily fits in my pocket, or I can wear it on my belt if I am not
backpacking. Importantly, with just a bit of practice, I have easily been able to
open and close the blade with one hand. The sturdy construction makes me think I
won't have any trouble with it lasting, at least for the foreseeable future.
Back to Top
March 3, 2013
FIELD CONDITIONS AND EXPERIENCE
Over the past 2 months, I have only been on one trip, a weekend trip to Newark, Ohio for some cold-weather camping in February. I had another
planned to the Cleveland area for January, but we got snowed out.
In February, it had rained the night before we went, so the ground was wet. Fortunately, it was cold enough at night (25 F/-4 C) that it froze
and wasn't muddy. Daytime temperatures got up to 42 F/5 C so it got a little mushy but wasn't bad. As shown here, it was cold enough that
there was still ice on the rocks, but warm enough for water runoff during the day.
Over the course of the test, I have gotten quite adept at handling the knife with one hand. I now am quite comfortable opening
and closing it with my right hand while I hold whatever needs cutting in my left. Although I'm right-hand dominant, I use my
left a lot, so I tried opening and closing the knife left handed. Opening the blade works the same with either hand,
so that was no problem. The blade can also be closed left-handed, although the action is slightly different, because the safety
lock (unlike the thumb stud) is only on one side of the knife. In my right hand, I push the safety lock with my thumb. In my
left hand, I use my index finger to push it. I have tried to show this in the photo below:
When on the trail, I usually carry the knife in a pocket, rather
than clipped to my belt. I have this habit because I don't like the feeling of the knife under my pack's hipbelt. I have worn it
clipped on my belt when not backpacking, and have had no problems with that. I just like the consistency of knowing which pocket
to reach for if I want the knife.
In terms of the knife's function, my experience in February was fairly similar to what I saw during the Field Report section
of the test. The knife works extremely well for typical camp chores like opening packages, cutting rope, and so on. It is also
quite effective at stripping bark from small branches and making shavings.
Also as noted in my Field Report, I had an instance where I was seated at a picnic table for dinner and the knife fell out of my
pocket. When it hit the ground, the blade flipped open. Luckily, it didn't fall on anything, because the blade is sharp enough
that I worry about cutting through my tent, or even my foot!
After using the knife for 4 months, it still seems nearly as sharp as when I started using it, on both the straight and serrated
parts of the blade. The opening mechanism remains smooth and easy.
Overall, I found the Gerber Instant Knife to be an excellent knife for the trail. At 3 oz, it carries a decent amount of weight.
However, it's a great tool to have in the backcountry, as it has easily cut anything I have tried so far. I expect that the Instant
will be standard piece of gear in my backpacking kit.
Things I liked about the Gerber Legendary Blades Instant Knife:
Things that could be improved:
- Sharp and multifunctional blade
- Easy to open and close, and can be done one-handed
- Blade may open when knife is dropped
Thanks to Gerber Legendary Knives for continuing to provide their knives for testing, and to BackpackGearTest.org for giving me
the chance to participate in the evaluation process.
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Read more reviews of Gerber gear
Read more gear reviews by Larry Kirschner