We’ve all been there. You run out of the house for a quick errand and leave your everyday carry multitool on the table by the door. You’re not going to need it, right? I’ve been burned by this so many times it’s not even funny; clawing apart clamshell packaging in my car, scrounging for a coin to grapple with that flathead screw, breaking a fingernail whilst prying something, or worst, not being able to open that beer.
Because of all this, I’ve been a fan of the keychain tool family of lifesavers. For a long time, the Leatherman Micra was my go-to backup tool. It now belongs to the TSA. (I forgot to take it off of my keychain before a plane trip.) I wanted something that had a small footprint like the Micra but was TSA-friendly without sacrificing total usability.
Enter the Gerber Artifact. Two flathead screwdrivers, a pry-bar, nail puller/wire stripper, bottle opener, philips driver, and a holder for a removable EAB #11 hobby blade. (Pop it out before flying, buy a spare at any convenience store when you touch down if you really need it.) Paired with a small keychain LED light, I’ve got enough gear to tide me over in most situations.
The Artifact has lived on my keychain for about a year now. I’ve used every tool on it and found it equal to most any task I can throw at it. The bottle opener isn’t perfect, and the flathead drivers are a little too thick to grapple with some screws, but a little work with a mill bastard can solve that if it’s a problem. The blade rusts out pretty fast, but a $7 pack of spare blades solves that problem.
Bottom line, this tool isn’t your replacement EDC multi. But it will serve as a great backup and can be denuded of its airline-unfriendly blade in a hot second, meaning you’ll never be without a basic set of tools.
(For those who want to forego the knife component entirely, the Gerber Shard lives up to the task.)