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As a product reviewer (and frequent online shopper), I open an almost embarrassing amount of boxes. At a certain point, scissors just don't quite cut it, and something a bit sharper and more portable becomes a must-have. After three years of living with the Gerber EAB in my pocket, I can't imagine how I ever lived without it. And as you head into the frenzy of Prime Day shopping and the ensuing online orders you might make in the years to come, a similar upgrade (or gift for someone else) might be a worthwhile investment that will run you less than $20.
While it may not be as multi-purpose as a more traditional pocket knife, the Gerber Exchange-A-Blade (or EAB) box cutter allows you to swap standard utility blades into its compact, sturdy folding housing. It features a safety lock to keep it from closing on your hand while you cut, and a little pocket clip that can double as a money clip, if you want to carry a few bucks with you. More than 4,300 reviewers on Amazon gave it a 4.7-star average rating.
Plenty of people have discovered the inadequacy of scissors in cutting through boxes and other packaging, and while many move to full-on tactical knives — which becomes a hobby on its own — I only needed something that would do this one job well and take up as little space as possible. The Gerber EAB is incredibly small, only about three inches long and one inch wide — about the size of my car key but noticeably thinner. It unfolds to about 5 inches, which is more than enough for a sturdy grip while you cut.
Once you use one of these to open an Amazon box, you'll never go back to using traditional scissors. The sharp blade cuts through tape like butter, and has even come in handy when breaking down larger boxes to fit in our recycling bin — not to mention it’s probably safer, since you don't have a dull scissor blade pointed in the air while you cut with the other end.
I actually own multiple EAB knives, with one permanently assigned to my pocket and the others stashed in various drawers around the house. At a relatively affordable price, there's less reason to avoid buying multiples. There's also a "Lite" model with a slightly different form factor.
Gerber's Lite model is a bit wider than its standard sibling, with a slightly more hollow frame that allows for a 0.2-ounce reduction in weight — which is easily noticeable when holding the two side-by-side. The usable portion of its blade, however, is slightly shorter.
While you can get a classic Victorinox swiss army knife that's even smaller, the EAB's biggest advantage lies in its swappable blades. Since it takes any standard or contractor grade utility blade, you don't have to worry about sharpening it regularly. When one gets dull or damaged, just unscrew it from the housing, pop a new one in, and keep going. (This is also handy if you travel with carry-on luggage, since you can pop the blade out, then pop a new blade in when you reach your destination.)
The EAB takes just about any utility blade that fits the standard shape, but if you want something as thick as the original blade that comes with it, you'll want one of Stanley's extra heavy duty blades. You can pick up a 100-pack for a reasonable price, and it'll probably last you a good, long while.
You can, of course, explore any blade options you want. There are serrated blades that'll fit inside the EAB, carbide-lined blades that claim to last five times longer than traditional options, and so on. In the age of Amazon (the onslaught of online shopping otherwise), it's an absolute must-have in any toolkit.