How Gerber Gear Crafts Quality American-Made EDC Knives
Made-in-the-USA blades from the Pacific Northwest.
It’s rarely easy to take the long road, to do things with more attention to detail, elbow grease and grit than one’s competitors, particularly when any aspect of USA-made production is concerned. Taking a bird’s eye view of what Gerber Gear is doing, nestled in the Pacific Northwest and making finely crafted EDC knives, makes the end result all the more impressive.
In an era when American-made carries plenty of weight (and a high degree of rarity), it’s a wise move to upgrade your everyday carry with a domestic brand you can trust, as Maxim found out during an exclusive summer tour of Gerber facilities.
Without a doubt, Gerber stakes its reputation on that sense of trust, dating back to its 1939 origins as Gerber Legendary Blades. Those decades of history culminated in the summer 2023 release of its new Assert folding knife, a textured-grip knife with the “perfect blend of ruggedness and finesse,” according to the blade brand.
The super-compact Assert, weighing in at just under two ounces, is one of a packed lineup of Gerber knives, multi-tools and accessories fashioned to a razor-sharp edge at its nearly 300-employee factory south of Portland.
Parts and pieces move from floor to floor and station to station with workman-like precision, merging the power of machine with the know-how of its floor staff, who inspect each product with a laser-sharp focus.
“The zero-waste facility in Portland builds products at standards to make sure that no matter the pursuit, the product will perform at the highest level,” said Keith Carrato, vice president and general manager of Fiskars Group-owned Gerber Gear. “Building products that people know and believe in drives us to continue innovating and making equipment so that everyone can pursue their passions.”
By zero-waste, that means that Gerber turns everything, even discarded knife sharpening shavings, into material to be used again throughout its processes.
One of the more intricate parts of the operation is its customization division. A glance through its boxes of customized knives (down to the opening studs, handle, blade lasermark and blade color) reveals an array of handcrafted gifts for bachelor parties, groomsmen and just about every special occasion in the book.
A stone’s throw from refreshing outdoor resources and stunning vistas, Portland is a fitting home base for a brand with similarly deep outdoor tradition. Gerber views itself as a purpose-driven, problem-solving company that just happens to make a variety of sleek EDC knives.
“It is an amazing achievement that someone can pick up a Gerber product to build a shelter in the backcountry and also find the right Gerber tool to work on a vintage car,” Carrato says.
Gerber Gear has all-American roots in spades, equal parts heritage-inspired and seriously cool (just witness 2021’s Fender Guitar x Gerber Gear collection, for instance).
Even EDC knife competitors like The James Brand don’t have the same pedigree in terms of American-made production (for instance, the first-ever USA-made knife from The James Brand just debuted earlier this month).
That means that no matter which way you turn, Gerber Gear looks to have a decades-long head start over other EDC knife brands when it comes good, old-fashioned, USA-crafted tools.
In conversations at the factory, the company also points to Pacific Northwest heritage brands like Filson as a source of inspiration, remaining proud of its shared tradition in the region.
“The natural environment around our headquarters drives us to continually innovate, and seems to be a place that helps build great brands,” Carrato says.
Alongside a bustling online business and flourishing sales via in-person retailers scattered across the country, Gerber Gear sells wares like a badass Pack Hatchet through rugged retailer Huckberry. Gerber’s collection certainly seems to be a natural pairing alongside Huckberry’s penchant for tough-as-nails, go-anywhere outdoor gear.
In fact, it’s as if your Flint and Tinder waxed trucker jacket was made to take place of pride when worn with a daypack outfitted with Gerber tools. Huckberry recently teamed up with Gerber Gear on an exclusive black-blade, Micarta handle knife. There’s plenty beyond just retail collaborations as far as the Portland brand is concerned, though.
The lush natural setting minutes away from Gerber provides a perfect haven to test out its products, garner inspiration and plot the heritage brand’s future.
“You can see and feel the quality and uniqueness that comes from building products in a place that demands performance,” Carrato says.
Indeed, about 20 minutes south of Portland, the company embraces its past by making pieces that are somewhat more old-school (like fixed-blade knives) and EDC-friendly, on-the-go options (like the Assert, a fully customizable knife that can be opened swiftly with one hand).
Searching high and low for quality and craftsmanship needn’t be a struggle, especially as EDC knives are concerned. The answer is often closer to home than one might think, and in this case, it can be found at Gerber Gear in the Pacific Northwest. Heed the call, add to your daily carry, and use these tools with pride, the company seems to say.