Gerber Shard and NiteIze Doohickey are two of the most popular one-piece multi-tools. It is astonishing how these small pieces of metal that you can attach to your keyring can provide so much value. These two multi-tools are often considered to be the most value-for-money keyring multi-tools that you can have. But which one is better between the two?
After using both for years, I can say that there is no clear favorite. Both tools have their specific advantages and disadvantages. But one thing I can assure you is that both are well built, and will last long. And even if you lose them, they are easy to replace as the price is low and availability is high.
While comparing these two multi-tools side by side, it always comes down to the features each of them provides, and to some extent, their design. Read through, and you will probably find one more suited to your needs than the other.
|Features/Functions||Gerber Shard||NiteIze DoohicKey|
|Hex Nut Wrench||No||Yes|
The above table should give you a pretty good idea about which one of these immensely useful keyring tools will best fit your needs. However, there are a few things about both these tools that need to be discussed in more detail.
Common Tools in the Shard and the DoohicKey
Like most other one-piece multi-tools, both the Shard and the DoohicKey has a pry tool, flat head screwdriver, and a bottle opener. For most folks carrying a one-piece multi-tool in their keychains, these three are more or less the most used functions.
In both the Shard and the DoohicKey, the pry tool and the flat head screwdriver are basically the same tools. In the Shard, there are in fact two flathead screwdrivers of different sizes. Whereas in the DoohicKey, there is one big flat screwdriver. Both function as expected.
Both the shard and the DoohicKey have a cap-lifter type bottle opener. The design is almost the same in both, and they do work. The only thing about this type of bottle openers is that they bend and deform the cap when opening. But this is ok, as only a dedicated bottle opener can be expected not to damage the cap. In fact, the bottle openers in bigger multi-tools (including Swiss Army Knives) also work similarly.
Tools Specific to Gerber Shard
One of the highlights of the Shard is that it has a Philips Screwdriver. This is not usually seen in most one-piece multitools. I was a bit skeptical about whether this would work.
Granted it cannot replace a dedicated screwdriver with a long handle, but for those minor tasks like tightening or loosening an exposed screw, it works excellent.
What else do you expect from a screwdriver in a keychain tool anyway? In fact, the Philips screwdriver may be the one function that can tilt your decision in favor of the Gerber Shard.
Gerber calls the Philips screwdriver in the Shard as Cross Driver. I guess this is because its design is meant to fit some flathead screws as well in addition to Philips head screws.
The wire stripper and the nail puller are basically the same tools. It is a small triangular opening between the two flathead screwdrivers. The inside edge of the triangular opening is sharpened to aid wire stripping. With some effort, I was able to strip the plastic out of a thin wire with it. I assume the sharpness of the edge will wear off if used frequently.
I haven’t used the Shard for pulling nails out of the wood yet. This end of the Shard is a bit curved so that you can exert more pressure while pulling out nails. I guess it may work sometimes. However, considering the size of the Shard, do not expect to do any heavy-duty nail pulling with it.
Tools Specific to NiteIze DoohicKey
The main distinguishing feature of the DoohicKey is the carabiner clip. This one feature of the DoohicKey makes it possible to attach it to almost anything.
You can attach it to your keyring, or to the outside of your backpack, or even to a belt loop of your trousers.
The doohicKey has three hex bolt cutouts of size 1/4th, 5/16th, and 3/8th of an inch. These are meant to act like a hex wrench.
A hex wrench is not a very common tool in multi-tools. I never got the opportunity to use this, and I doubt you will be able to exert much force given the small size of the DoohicKey. But I have heard people make good use of the hex wrench, so it probably works as expected.
What I found works considerably well is the box cutter. In fact, this is not a separate tool but one corner of the pry tool/flathead screwdriver which has been sharpened a bit. While it is not razor-sharp and will not cut your palm or fingers, it works great on those packing tapes on boxes.
The fairly plain design of the DoohicKey allows it to incorporate rulers on its straight edges. It has engraved markings of a 2-inch ruler on one side and a 40-mm ruler on the opposite side. These do come pretty handy sometimes.
Differences in Build Quality, Appearance, and Carrying Comfort
Both the Shard and the DoohicKey are made of stainless steel and have good build quality. With their intended usage, I doubt they will get damaged very easily.
By design, the Shard looks and feels more solid. This is because it is slightly heavier (and also a bit longer), and apart from the big lanyard hole, it is just one solid piece of metal.
The DoohicKey’s carabiner hole is much bigger, and the carabiner clip is probably its weakest point. However, I was surprised to see that the DoohicKey is actually thicker than the Shard.
The Shard and the DoohicKey are so different in appearance that if you like one for its looks, you will probably not like the other. The Shard has a distinctively tactical look, and I haven’t seen another one-piece multi-tool that looks anything like the Shard. It almost feels like something that Batman would use (remember the Batarang?). The DoohicKey has a plain looking traditional design, and I have seen other one-piece multi-tools that look similar.
Both the Shard and the DoohicKey can be attached to the keyring. But the DoohicKey is so much easier to attach and detach due to its carabiner clip. It also sits more comfortably in the pocket with the other keys because of its flat design and lack of pointed ends.
The same cannot be said of the Shard though with its slightly curved design and pointy ends. The prying end with its two flathead screwdrivers, and especially the pointy Philips screwdriver on the other end, does make their presence felt sometimes inside the pocket.
The Shard and the DoohicKey are available in black as well. However, I tend to avoid those as the black color does come off with time and usage. The metal-colored ones look almost new even after years of use (well, at least mine do).
Both the tools are marketed as airline safe or TSA friendly. I have heard many stories of passengers successfully taking these tools with them during air travel. However, I would be skeptical of such claims. No airline officially declares any specific multi-tool as TSA approved, and your chances will depend on the country, the airline, and the whims of the TSA staff on duty on the day of your travel.
My advice is, if you cannot bear to lose your multi-tool to the airport security, do not carry it with you. Put it in your checked luggage. If you really want to take your chances, be mentally prepared to lose it. The good thing is that both the Shard and the DoohicKey are pretty cheap and hence easily replaceable. The price keeps on varying somewhere between $4 to $10 for both.
As far as one-piece multi-tools go in their usability, practicality, and value-for-money, the Shard and The DoohicKey are pretty much up there in the list. However, the differences in design and functionality will probably make one more suitable to you than the other. My preferred keychain multi-tool has been the Victorinox Rambler for a long time now. But I do carry the Shard or the DoohicKey occasionally in my keychain.
The Gerber Shard, of course, draws more attention to it owing to its design, and overall I think it is a more popular tool with Gerber being such a big and well-known brand. But I have seen admirers of the DoohicKey too. Like many others, I prefer attaching the DoohicKey to my backpack rather than my keychain, since I already have another pocket tool in the keychain.
If I had to choose one or the other, it will be a pretty difficult choice. But I guess the Shard will be better suited for my kind of usage, as I see more Philips head screws around me than hex nuts.
However, if I already have another tool with a Philips head screwdriver in it (like the Victorinox Rambler), I think I would prefer the DoohicKey with its plain flat design and carabiner clip.
If in doubt, you can always get both of these awesome tools. They are quite affordable, and there is a pretty good chance that you will love both of them.