In one of my recent reviews on the Gerber Octane multi-tool, I mentioned that while the tools were pretty good, the folding knife was functional yet very disappointing. SOG, Benchmade, CRKT, Kershaw, and dozens of others make hundreds of excellent high quality stand alone folding knives. They set a bar that the few multi-tools of the world are having one hell of a time leaping over. New models of multi-tools like the Octane, Leatherman Skeletool, Victorinox Trekker, and Wenger Ranger are trying to become more like tactical folders with improved ergonomics, locking blades, better steels, and/or pocket clips. Yet, the knives are still lacking.
Having been so spoiled by our excellent tactical folders, its hard to take a hit on perfection and return to the lowest common denominator. Nor does it make sense to. That sharp edge is what we generally reach for first. Many times over the other common tools. On the other hand, even the best tactical folders are not very good for prying or tightening screws unless you like bleeding. So what does one do? Carry both? That's a lot of extra weight especially when you're carrying a gun, spare magazine, flashlight, and an offhand fixed blade. One compromise I've found is the Gerber Curve.
I recently picked up a Gerber Curve for my wife for about $15 from KnifeCenter.com. She is constantly forgetting it, so I'm taking it over for now and putting it on my keyring. It is small and simple, but surprisingly useful. The fingernail opening tools includes a tiny knife blade, flat head driver, a hybrid flattened Philips head driver, a small flat head, file, and a carbiner/bottle opener. The knife, flat heads, file, and the bottle opener are perfectly functional. I'm not sold on the Philips. It will do the job, but not in a great way. There are dozens of tiny pocket or key chain tools with similar load outs, but unlike the vast majority all the folding tools on the Curve lock. Also, the curve is oddly ergonomic. Not so much in the sense of being especially easy to use or hold. Rather its ergonomics make it comfortable to keep on a key ring in your pocket. Other tools like the SwissTool and even some Leatherman-style tools are very likely to tear up pockets or even scratch your leg.
The Curve is not massively full featured. It is extremely minimalist approach. The Yet, it can take care of most of the small tasks that I require from its tools at a modicum of weight. My favorite folding knives can stay where they belong. JP also gave a little review on this tool.