Friday, May 24, 2013

GearPull Review

I have long thought of myself as a minimalist in many regards.  I am not a fan of Baroque music or Jazz Fusion.  I prefer the simplicity of a Winsdor chair to the modern HG Giger looking office monstrosities.  And I like a very specific kind of gear.  No sheathes, no lanyards, no silly doodads, just good, simple gear.

But sometimes you want a little more...

I love the Alox Cadet.  It is one of my very favorite pieces of gear ever but geez I could really go for a pocket clip of some sort.  Short of a full on mod there is no real easy way to drop one on the Cadet.  But lots and lots of people that had the same problem that I did, went into the shop and solved the problem.  The entire "pocket hook" product genre came out of an innovation by custom knife maker Deryk Munroe.  Munroe's absolutely exquisite custom knives were too beautiful to mar with a pocket clip and so he designed the Munroe Dangler.  Here is the original Dangler:

Murone's design evolved over time into a truly amazing OPMT design, the Mega Dangler:

Image courtesy of the Awesomer.

After the Munroe Dangler, Tec Accessories came out with a very inexpensive pocket hook, the P-7 suspension clip, seen here:

Image courtesy of Tec Accessories.

All of these are good, but I always thought it would be nice to have one that carried more stuff.  Not a ton more, but just one more thing.  The pairing of a flashlight and a small pocekt knife on a pocket hook of some sort would be awesome.  That represents my EDC like 95% of the time, so a pocket hook that could carry both would be ideal.

Enter the GearPull.

The GearPull is still in testing stages and it will be released via a Kickstarter that begins in June.  Campaign will go live sometime before the 2nd week in June.  The items will ship in October.  There will be at least three different materials available--C110 Pure Copper, C464 Naval Brass, C770 Nickel Silver, CP2 Titanium.    Here is a shot of the GearPull from its maker, in a variety of metals:

I was contacted by Gamble Staempfli, the GearPull's maker, through EDCF.  Here is his website, which has the GearPull on it, among other things.  He asked if I could the GearPull, which can properly be seen as the evolutionary next step in the pocket hook market.  Here is the review sample on its own:


The design of the GearPull is quite simple, as are all pocket hooks, but there a few touches that take it to the next level.  First, the pull tab is quite well done, allowing for instant, thoughtless extraction.  Second, the overall design is very light thanks to a series of holes.  These holes also provide the GearPull with an interesting aesthetic.  I would note that the spacing between the hole and the edge of the GearPull is just about right, making attachment of split ring devices relatively easy (or at least as easy as possible given the limitations of the split ring in general). 

The GearPull is actually quite small.  It is also featherlight, clocking in at .52 ounces.  Here is a comparison to the Zippo:


And here is a profile shot to show you its thickness.


Finally, here is a shot of the GearPull loaded up with two of my favorite pieces of gear, the Aeon Mk. II and the SAK Cadet:


In the two weeks or so of using the GearPull almost exclusively I noticed a few things.  First, people loved it when it came up on the Twitter feed.  Second, it works exceptionally well, truly great, in thicker material pants.  Blue jeans, my TAD Gear Pants, and other similar material works well.  Here it is, riding in my pocket:


In lighter pants, like dress slacks it did not do too well.  Finally, I never had it work its way out of my pocket.

The overall fit and finish of the prototype I was sent was quite good.  All of the holes were aligned, all of the edges eased or chamfered, and the clip itself was perfectly shaped and angled.  The tab was also well done.  Nothing was substandard in the least.

One concern I had was the gear bumping and scratching each other.  Admittedly I chose two really hearty pieces of gear, so this is perhaps not a perfect test, but in the two weeks I used it, there were no problems with scratches or dings.  I would image that less durable stuff would show some wear as the items hang very close together.  You can probably add three more items to the GearPull beyond what I had pretty easily but that would likely compound the problem.

Another concern I had was the entire GearPull + gear would sway and swing uncomfortably in the pocket.  This proved to be the case, but only with very thin pants material, something like dress slacks.  In jeans and other, similarly thick material, there was no problem whatsoever.  This might seem like an issue, but really, how often do you need something like this with dress slacks?

The overall appearance of the GearPull was something that inspired polarizing feedback.  Gear geeks like us LOVED it.  Each post on Twitter resulted in quite a few comments back.  Clearly this is something that we will like.  But for others it seems like a bit of gilding the lily.  My wife commented a few times on not understanding why I needed this (and let's be honest very little of our gear purchases fall into the "NEED" category).  Then she explained that it seemed silly to carry something that enabled me to carry other things.  I handed her her purse in response.  Still, I can see her point.  You are carrying something that enables you to carry other things and many of the things I carried on this were smaller than the GearPull itself.

But if you put aside your EXTREME minimalist impulses for a second you realize that the entire GearPull + torch + Cadet, as I set it up above, weighs in at roughly three and half ounces and offers a load of utility for very little weight.  This is an accessory for your gear, make no mistake, but it is an awfully useful, well made, good looking accessory.  But like the best accessories, the GearPull is a utility force multiplier.  It is not simply that you add the utility of your light to the utility of your knife, the GearPull makes both handier for being together in one, physically attached package.  For all of the awful light/blade combos out there, ones where the two are actually built together, few, if any, perform as well as the pair I had above attached to the GearPull.

One final note, there are some instances in which the GearPull added to the item, such as giving you something extra to hang on to with the itty bitty Aeon, and other places were it took something away, like making tools slightly less accessible on the Cadet.  In the end, after two weeks, I found that these generally balanced each other out, but if I had to make the call I would say that it was not perfectly even--adding versus subtracting.  In tight spaces, like fixing a door knob with the Cadet, the GearPull did hamper it's use to some small degree and this was more of a pain in the ass than the additional length was a help.  It is not a huge negative, something like helpful 4.5 out of 10 times versus harmful 5.5 out of 10 times.   Additionally, the GearPull never completely shut down the Cadet, and I am sure other pocket hook devices would have had the same problem, but it is something you should know.

Overall, this is an interesting addition to the carry options available to folks.  This is an object of beauty, good design, and impressive craftsmanship.  It may not be strictly necessary, but it is quite nice.  Aside from awkward carry in slacks, this thing is a dream in the pocket and my gear didn't look worse for wear residing on it for two weeks.  If this offends your minimalist sensibilities, try it for a few days, and I fairly convinced that you will like it.  Plus, it looks awesome in pocket dump pictures.  Watch Kickstarter, another sweet EDC gadget is on its way.    


  1. I will back this project. I have wanted one of these for a while and this looks to be the best of the bunch.

    1. I love the Alox Cadet. It is one of my very favorite pieces of gear ever but geez I could really go for a pocket clip of some sort. Short of a full on mod there is no real easy way to drop one on the Cadet.

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  2. I think the design is quite nice. However, I like the extra little bit of utility of my Mega Dangler (I've also got a short lanyard with a bead on the MD so the draw is very nice).

    I'm also not a big fan of the holes. It does have an interesting steam punk aesthetic to it with the holes. Though, I'd prefer the simplicity of no holes (save for the lanyard hole and 3 holes for actually carrying stuff).

  3. The plastic tab ruins the aesthetic of an otherwise great project. It also seems unnecessary: I have a P7 clip and the curvature of the clip itself allows me to grab it between my thumb and index finger and remove it from my pocket. It does appear that the plastic clip is removable.

  4. Hi all, thanks for your comments. I'm Gamble Staempfli, the designer/fabricator. Just to clarify, the holes are necessary in that they reduce the weight by about half...and yes the pull tab is optional and removable. It won't even be offered as part of the rewards in the Kickstarter campaign because of its subjective nature. Thanks again!

  5. While I'm at it I should probably also address the utility issue. While it would have been possible to include an integral bottle opener or bit holder/spanner, I made the decision not to because for me, the add ons do more to detract from the aesthetics of the piece than they give back in added utility. To each his own.

    Tony thanks again for your balanced and fair review!

  6. My preferred pocket dangling gear hanger is an old pen (cap) that I drilled some holes into. Works a treat, very discreet. Retention is as good as the pen you cannibalise (usually not that great).

  7. The mega dangler seems hard to come by. Any experience with the Pickpocket from Pangea Designs?

    1. I know that question was for Tony, and I don't own the mega or the Pick Pocket so I cant speak to that, but I just wanted to respond and say that The PP is fundamentally different from the GP. With the PP the attachment points/spanners sit vertically, with the GP they are side by side. With the pickpocket the clip is perpendicular to the attachment points, with the GearPull they are parallel.

  8. Here's mine. A little longer than I would like, but works as a cap lifter and money clip too.

  9. In response to Gamble, I really hope you'd consider making a mini version. My edc consists of a quantum DD and a lm ps4 both of which would be dwarfed by the enormity of your current gearpull. If you could do that, you have my word that I would back your project on kickstarter for the four material variations you have.
    Otherwise, it is simply too big for my applications. Thanks again for developing a great product and I look forward to your response / ideas.

    1. It doesn't actually dwarf the DD. check gambles picture above.

    2. Thanks Tony. My personal opinion is that a tool to aid retrieval of a tool shouldn't be larger than the tool itself. And a tab which serves no other purpose other than a pocket clip should be limited in terms of its carry size. I really like the idea and design but I also think that it can perform the same function in half the size.

      (The retrieval and loading on the pocket clip presents only a linear load on the top bent section of the clip. The surface of which is along a curved portion which is strongest. The other load, also on the bent portion, is when the clip is clipped on to something. This loading, though repeated, is low. This is why I think the pull can be further downsized.)

    3. Thanks Pat, A smaller version is a possibility in the future. But the current model will be the only one offered in the upcoming campaign. You raise some other interesting points worth addressing. I used to hang a bunch of stuff off of the diminutive P-7, the problems I kept running into were 1.) Anything more than 1 item would wad/bulk up when stowed, and 2.) When out of pocket, the clip itself would get lost among the carried items and would then have to be fished out before returning it to rest over the cuff of my pocket. I wound up making a hanger for the P7 which gave me three level attachment points so as to spread out the items carried, this way they always sat next to each other and flat against my leg, rather than in a clump. With that mod I carried my DD, a split pea, and a tiny "Ultimate Pen Knife" by Ag Russel. That carry trinity; knife, light and fire worked really well for me and the GearPull was conceived as a way to scale up that idea, so that one could carry larger items in a similar way.

      Man, now is when I wish my post on this at EDCF wasn't deemed a threat and subsequently deleted. I covered all this more thoroughly there.

      I have to agree that technically, this could function the same and be smaller, at least in length. The thing is, for me this is the perfect size. As you suggest, it comes down to opinion. Maybe in the end I just prefer the look of a larger dangler and the feel of deep pocket carry. Those are a aesthetic problems. Which is not to say that I believe function should follow form. With all the gear I tested, the size of the GearPull was rarely an issue with regard to the functioning of the carried items.

  10. Personally I find this product a little prissy. I like my EDC to be less, I dunno, Rococo.

    It's interesting that your wife didn't dig it. My thought was that while a guy's Man Card wouldn't necessarily be revoked outright for wearing this, still, the officer would probably have cause to stop you and ask to inspect your card, then assess some points against it and a moderate fine.

    I had my wife look over this review & the pics. She said she didn't like the look when the gear items and the clip were "too matchy matchy" in color and finish. The pic of the Cadet and the Aeon was OK. She suspected the Gearpull might get in the way of using the tools on your Swiss Army knife.

    She added that the Gearpull would be useful for a woman to attach to the outside lip of her purse, to avoid having to rummage through all the stuff in the purse to find a couple of commonly accessed items.

    Anyway, just a couple of data points. I live in the South in a non-hipster-rich environment, so maybe I Don't Get It. It doesn't strike me as burdensome to just reach down in my pocket and retrieve a knife or a light.

    1. Hey thanks for the comments. I'm really happy your wife could weigh in on this. A dangler is a niche item for sure and if I'm going to succeed on a place like KS I have to appeal to a larger audience than just the dudes on cpf and edcf, and the like. This will definitely also be billed as an accessory for a womans purse. My wife said the same thing and she should know because the amount of time she spends looking for her keys down there is crazy. Sometimes she just shakes the whole purse to see if she can hear them in there. If I gave my wife one of these danglers the challenge would be getting her to remember to hook it on rather than just toss the whole thing in and be at square one again.

      Regarding Sak tool interference, yes if you are using split rings and want to get to some of those tools it will be harder than if you use mini gate clips and detach before use. As Tony suggested, this is a limitation endemic to all the Danglers out there.

      At first, I used split rings, but now I'm liking the 20mm McGizmos (#1). Detaching takes between 1&2 seconds and obviously having the tool separate from the dangler gives you it's full utility when necessary. And for the record McGizmos will not accidentally detach from the unit! The GP is too thick and the gate radius too small.

      I'm surprised she didn't like the matchy matchyness of some of my examples. Personally I'm pretty compulsive about matching the metals, but I guess that's obvious.

  11. The GearPull is now live on Kickstarter!

  12. Was going to get one, but they really are out of my price range. Very nice looking product.

    1. Hey thanks for your comment, I'm sorry you find them too pricey. I struggled over the cost for a while because I know that once you get over $50 you pretty much price out a whole demographic! I'm offering these at the cheapest I can while still making it all worth my while. In the end one can always say "but it just a bent piece of metal!" ....but there is so much that goes into these. The primary cost is my labor. I suppose if I had wanted to really shoot for a huge profit margin I could have had these produced over seas. I've had multiple solicitations from Chinese companies who make this kind of thing all the time since the campaign launched. I admit its been tempting to think about that kind of product. But this is going to be made here by me and my local collaborators. I'm enough of a perfectionist to know there is no way anyone can produce as nice an item as I can right here in my studio. Obviously maintaining that kind of control over the quality of the finished product will cost me a few backers here and there, maybe a lot, and that makes me sad. In the end though its worth it if I meet my goal. Fingers crossed on that one.

      When thinking about the price maybe it would help to consider too that you are indirectly supporting a resurgent movement of manufacturers and individuals who are committed to producing things in the US. Don't get me wrong, Im not an isolationist and there is definitely a place for overseas production, but this isn't it. Besides that would make me an administrator and nothing more, this way at least I can actually get into the shop and do some honest work;-)

  13. A little late to the party, but...

    Tony, have you looked at the niteize eclipse, marketed at county comm and others as the Self Locking Clip? It's a pocket clip that uses 3m adhesive to stick to... whatever. EDCForums reviews have said it stick during to Alox SAKs for years, at least.

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  15. For those who like the GearPull, there is a second generation unit currently funding on Kickstarter. I hope you'll check it out:

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