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Gear Guy

Do I get one do-everything tool or separate tools?

I guessing that the tool that Bradford Hmar was looking for in a recent question is the Schrade I-Quip ( It has an altimeter, barometer, digital compass, watch, whistle, mirror, flashlight, lighter compartment, screwdriver, knife, corkscrew, saw, and scissors. Jason Grech Decatur, Georgia

A: Yes indeed, Jason—several alert readers surmised that it was the Shrade I-Quip, and I'm pretty sure that's what Bradford's query was about. And it does have all those things mentioned. Price: $250.

Schrade makes pretty good stuff, so now that I know the gadget's provenance I wouldn't dismiss it out of hand. Still, I question the "all-in-one" status claimed for the I-Quip. It's actually two units—an electronic module with the altimeter, compass, watch and so on, and a hardware module with all the pointy things. They're joined together with a locking mechanism and you split them apart to use one or the other. Plus, it's not real conveniently sized. It won't fit on a wrist, which is where an altimeter is most useful. It won't fit (comfortably, at least) in a pocket, which is the place for a knife. So it's on a lanyard around your neck (ugh) or in the pack pocket where reaching it is a hassle. Bottom line: I commend Schrade for ingenuity, but stick with my earlier opinion: Buy a knife or multi-tool, compass and altimeter in separate pieces, and use them as such. Besides, you could buy all three of those devices and pay less than the I-Quip. Examples: The Suunto Altimax ($169) takes care of altimeter duties while also keeping time and waking you up. Gerber's Compact Sport ($37) handles cutting and prying duties nicely, while slipping easily into a pocket. And the Silva Landmark compass ($25) keeps your bearings nicely. Total: $231.

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