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 (http://www.schradeknives.com). It has an altimeter, barometer, digital compass, watch, whistle, mirror, flashlight, lighter compartment, screwdriver, knife, corkscrew, saw, and scissors. Jason Grech Decatur, Georgia

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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