May 14, 2012 11:50 AM   Subscribe

What's the most useful or beautiful keychain you've ever owned?

I carry around about six keys, all of which I use on a daily basis. I'd like to have something on the chain to grab it with other than the keys - right now, there's nothing, and it gets very cumbersome pulling my keys out of my pocket. I need something that's slim enough to fit in my pocket (preferably something that I don't have to remove when I get on a plane, so knives of all sorts are probably out) that offers either something useful to have around, some way of keeping my keys more compact / less "spike-y" and/or looks aesthetically pleasing. What's the best way to rock your keys?
posted by Apropos of Something to Grab Bag (59 answers total) 71 users marked this as a favorite
LED flashlight ones can be pretty handy.
posted by XMLicious at 11:52 AM on May 14, 2012 [4 favorites]

I keep my keys in clumps on a carabiner. That way, if I'm in my car, I don't have to stop the car to grab my front door keys if I've left something in the house in a rush out the door. I can also lend out a set of keys quickly while retaining keys I need (giving someone my apartment key while at work, for instance).
posted by xingcat at 11:55 AM on May 14, 2012

there are these small wallet looking things with room for several keys inside, and nothing else, that might work.

Most useful keychain: one with a bottle opener.
posted by Neekee at 11:58 AM on May 14, 2012 [4 favorites]

2nding a little carabiner. Very handy when traveling, too - I can clip it a D-ring on my backpack and they're not in my pocket or rattling around inside.
posted by jquinby at 11:59 AM on May 14, 2012 for useful, the little tools at Atwood Knife are magnificent, but damnation they sell out in a hurry.
posted by jquinby at 12:01 PM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

I used to have one that was a bottle opener shaped like a large skeleton key and it was very useful and attractive.
posted by milk white peacock at 12:02 PM on May 14, 2012

I have a combination of tiny carabiners along a ribbon. The ribbon has a tiny pushbutton LED light on it; the ribbon is flat and tied in a big loop so I can find mine in a backpack. Tiny bottle opener needs to make it on there, though.
posted by cobaltnine at 12:03 PM on May 14, 2012

I'll second the skeleton key bottle opener keychain!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:04 PM on May 14, 2012

I have a brass carabiner that I love. Ebay is your friend!
posted by hellomina at 12:04 PM on May 14, 2012

The most useful keychain I have is a Gerber Shard -- it's a bottle opener, flat & Phillips screwdriver, wire stripper, and tiny prybar all in one. I've taken it on flights with no trouble.
posted by vorfeed at 12:04 PM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have a swiss army knife with a tweezer and scissors on mine. I use it a lot for this and that, except it is confiscated frequently, even if the blade is only a little over one and a half inches.
posted by francesca too at 12:06 PM on May 14, 2012

If you are interested in carrying your keys on a belt or a bag, this gorgeous (US designed and made) key holder/bottle opener currently on Kickstarter is super cool.
posted by cushie at 12:07 PM on May 14, 2012

I have this. I love it. It's a wine/bottle opener. It's come in handy many times and people always think it's cool. Only useful if you're a drinker though.

posted by ad4pt at 12:07 PM on May 14, 2012

Small circular leather fob with the address and number of Bucks County Folk Music Shop. It's really only useful if you perpetually forget where that is or how to contact them, and even then only for the couple months during which the print is still visible. Point is, I've had one of those fobs attached to my keys for almost a decade, and I've never lost my keys. In the same interval, I've been through four wallets.
posted by The White Hat at 12:07 PM on May 14, 2012

My lego brick keychain is great! I love how it is simple and playful at the same time. As for useful, I've seen people who mount a lego brick or small lego square to their wall, and plug-in their lego brick keychain as a keyholder for the wall. Genius!
posted by shortyJBot at 12:09 PM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Five things make the best keychain in the entire world:

1) The carabiner key
2) The Lucky Line Keyring: easy to add and remove keys, but never comes undone accidentally.
3) The Lacie Iamakey, slow but small and indestructable
4) the NiteIze S-Biner size #4: It is the perfect size to hang off a beltloop and into your pocket
5) the gerber shard as mentioned above, so handy.

I have spent years trying to perfect the keychain: this combination is as ideal as anything I have found.
posted by Freen at 12:10 PM on May 14, 2012 [54 favorites]

I'll second the Corter Leather Bottle Hook that cushie mentioned, and suggest the Rogues Gallery Anchor Key Fob that I like.
posted by wherever, whatever at 12:11 PM on May 14, 2012

I've always loved fake's story of starting his truck with a p-38 can opener.
posted by carsonb at 12:12 PM on May 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

A little USB flash drive keychain with a cap on the plug end. Great for way more things that you might first expect.
posted by Mizu at 12:12 PM on May 14, 2012

Perhaps let me explain my particular brand of ideal. Lightweight, small, indestructible, utilitarian, easy to add and remove elements, can be attached to my beltloop and fit in the backpocket of my pants, and most importantly, quiet.

If these are the things you are looking for in a keychain, the five things I listed above are the best that I have found, after extensive research and testing.
posted by Freen at 12:16 PM on May 14, 2012

I use a lanyard my daughter made when she was 8.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 12:17 PM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Nthing the carabiner. I love being able to clip my keys to a belt loop and avoid carrying a purse or losing my keys.
posted by dlugoczaj at 12:23 PM on May 14, 2012

My keychain is the handle of piece of sterling silverware. May be a southern thing but it's beautiful, easy to grab and unique.... I see them all the time her in the South but you can probably get online..
posted by pearlybob at 12:23 PM on May 14, 2012

posted by pearlybob at 12:24 PM on May 14, 2012

Best answer: some way of keeping my keys more compact / less "spike-y" and/or looks aesthetically pleasing.

This leather key holder on Etsy is nice looking.

best key chain accessory: mini led flashlight great for dark parking lots, and walking the dog at night.
posted by ljesse at 12:24 PM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

A Squirt P4 Leatherman. It's just the best little thing ever.
posted by phunniemee at 12:25 PM on May 14, 2012

Over the years I've been given, found or even occasionally bought all sorts of keyring paraphernalia. But I've gradually whittled it down to the perfect minimum of a plain ring with two keys and a trolley token. I may yet ditch the trolley token.
posted by pipeski at 12:25 PM on May 14, 2012

I have a small, stuffed monkey. Easy to find and grab in a full bag, squishes up in your pocket, makes you smile when unlocking the door.
posted by penguin pie at 12:25 PM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

I make these FPLP keychains. They remind me of my childhood.
posted by jen14221 at 12:28 PM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

I got a keychain similar to this coca-cola one as a freebie from somewhere, and it is great. Opens both regular bottle and twist-offs with ease, and the size is a perfect heft for a keychain.
posted by Grither at 12:29 PM on May 14, 2012

I have a BevKey. The seemingly unavoidable branding has thankfully worn down into illegibility and bare metal.
posted by zamboni at 12:31 PM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Just ordered one of the ljesse key holders, but Freen's answer is still breathtakingly amazing.

Now I'm just gonna nerd out over things I could be carrying in my pockets, which is like my second or third favorite thing to nerd out about.
posted by Apropos of Something at 12:32 PM on May 14, 2012

Oh, I loved the heavy brass tag keychain that I got from my high school alumni association at graduation. I lost it a year or two ago after using it daily for over a decade, and I miss it still. Now I have an aluminum bottle opener keychain shaped like a bear, but it's not the same. The brass tag was useless, but it was just the right weight and size and it was great.
posted by mskyle at 12:39 PM on May 14, 2012

Not much for looks, but I bought one of these when I went into the fleet in Feb 1975. Have used it everyday since--sometimes with as many as a dozen keys on it. I paid 39 cents for it so I figure in about 2 years I'll have gotten my money's worth.
posted by CincyBlues at 12:46 PM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

Been thinking about upgrading my usb drive to the patriot direct flex, as it is smaller and reviews seem to indicate it is faster. I don't know how sturdy it is though, which is one of the great strengths of the Lacie Iamakey.
posted by Freen at 12:51 PM on May 14, 2012

I have a 4-way screwdriver like this one, except that mine has a 4-H clover on it and belonged to my grandfather. If I lost my keys, I would be more upset about losing this than about losing the keys.
posted by snorkmaiden at 1:04 PM on May 14, 2012

Shoot, I've always coveted one of these.
posted by thinkpiece at 1:20 PM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best keychain I ever owned was a compass. Very handy when the sun's not visible.
posted by heyho at 1:21 PM on May 14, 2012

There's the infamous 808 keychain camera, #11.
posted by cribcage at 1:27 PM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have a keychain that is also a bottle opener. By far the most useful key chain I've ever owned.
posted by bananafish at 1:53 PM on May 14, 2012

I got Freen's S-Biner a while back, but found that when I slip the beener onto my belt, I'd inevitably also press the lower latch causing some of the keys to potentially fall off.

However, I whole heartily agree with the Lacie usbkey. It's been the best thing ever on my keychain (next to my car keys).
posted by jmd82 at 2:01 PM on May 14, 2012

My word of warning:

I like to carry a small multitool on my keyring. Very basic: pliers, screwdrivers, knife. It's very handy. However, every time I go to a government building, it gets confiscated. Jury duty, airports, traffic court, some sporting events, whatever. It sucks. Over the last 3-4 years I have probably lost about a half dozen. I did learn to not buy the nice Leatherman ones, and instead go for the cheapo $5 ones.

So be warned, anything that can be conceived as a weapon will be confiscated every time you go through a metal detector.
posted by I am the Walrus at 2:08 PM on May 14, 2012

Oh man. You will be happy to know there are entire websites and forums devoted to this stuff—I've spent hours geeking out on EDC (everyday carry).

I have two keychains, one with my keys, one with a few additional items (including knives and multitools). I leave the latter in the car (or in my checked bag when flying). While it may seem like I still have a lot of stuff on my main keychain, it's all so tiny, I barely notice it's there.

Main keychain
• Car key and fob
• House keys
Lucky Line Secure-A-Key
Super Talent Pico-C 4 GB
Pico Widgy Pry Bar
Stainless-steel whistle
TEC Accessories PicoPen
Valiant Concepts Stainless Steel EDC Pen
4Sevens Preon ReVO (stainless-steel version; discontinued)

Knife keychain
• Stainless-steel bottle-opener key
Lucky Line Secure-A-Key
Leatherman Micra
Spyderco HoneyBee SS
Exotac nanoSTRIKER Titanium
Swiss+Tech Utili-Key
UltraFire SA-R2

Also? A set of these shiny stainless-steel keychains, all polished up, put onto new lead-free, nickel-free 12mm split rings, and arranged in a nice box, makes a great groomsman's or bridesmaid's gift. I made each of my bridesmaids and chuppah bearers a set, and they started coming in handy almost immediately!

Oh, and those silverware keychains mentioned above? Etsy.
posted by limeonaire at 2:24 PM on May 14, 2012 [9 favorites]

... anything that can be conceived as a weapon will be confiscated every time you go through a metal detector.

The other side of this is my little 95p fish-shaped knife, which has so far been through Southampton, Heathrow and Lisbon airports, and three other metal detectors. But usually I do remember to put it in a checked bag, so that's not really a fair test.
posted by Lebannen at 4:11 PM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: limeonaire: "Oh man. You will be happy to know there are entire websites and forums devoted to this stuff—I've spent hours geeking out on EDC (everyday carry)."

I appreciate the mention of this (think I saw it on MeFi a while back), but what's kept me from following that stuff is the startling (to me, at least) number of weapons that appear in almost every photo. Are there any photo blogs like this with maybe less guns and such?
posted by Apropos of Something at 5:01 PM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

When I was in junior high, I found an emblem from a Cobra automobile in the gutter one day. I picked it up as a curiosity, but not too long after that I drilled a hole in it and put it in my keyring.

I still have that entire set of keys to this day, even if I never carry them and don't know what most of them are for anymore.

The more mystical side of me thinks that snake worked like a guardian for my keys. The more practical part of me knows that it was just fucking big enough that it was never going to go astray.
posted by hippybear at 6:03 PM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Are there any photo blogs like this with maybe less guns and such?

EDC basically comes in two flavours - suburban commando, and hipster. There are usually less knives in the hipster blogs.

I Am Packed
SuperFuture:: EDC saved my life (SC leanings)

Suburban Commando:
Candlepower Forums
EDC Tumblr
EDC Forums

For the academically minded, Living for the Global City: Mobile Kits, Urban Interfaces, and Ubicomp
posted by zamboni at 6:20 PM on May 14, 2012 [11 favorites]

This one is very job-specific, but it's really useful for me. I work at a college, and I'm in charge of the cable TV distribution infrastructure there. Troubleshooting cable TV problems involves -- surprise! -- tightening and loosening F-connectors all the time (for hooking up testing gear and that kind of thing). (By the way, "F-connector" is the standard term for the usual connector used on TV coax cables.) A few years back, I got this miniature 7/16" F-connector keychain wrench as a gift from the consultant who was helping us redesign the cable TV plant. It's about the size of a key, so it fits on the ring really nicely with all the other keys I need for work, and I end up using it every time I go out there to troubleshoot a cable TV problem.
posted by orthicon halo at 7:06 PM on May 14, 2012

Years and years ago a mate who was a US Marine gave me a Turk's Head knot key chain. I loved it so much that when it finally wore out I tried to tie my own but couldn't. Nowadays I've gone through several generations of Monkey's Fist knot keychains that I've tied... still working on the Turk's Head.

Basically a long length of cord with a big spherical knot on the end that dangles out of your pocket so you can grab your keys without rummaging. Google it and you'll find shopping results or learn how to tie your own (not that difficult).

Also lots of keychain solutions at County Comm.
posted by No Shmoobles at 7:49 PM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

jmd82: the key is that it doesn't attach to your belt, instead, you attach it to your belt loop, the one right on the side of your body. If used in combination with the lucky line keyring, your keys will hang in your back pocket, all lined up along the side of the pocket, never actually settling on the bottom of the pocket. Gravity keeps them straight and the S-Biner lines up flat against the side of your body. Since I've adopted this keychain, I've never had it come undone unless I wanted it to. (Looks for some wood to knock on....)
posted by Freen at 8:09 PM on May 14, 2012

I have a bottle opener on my keychain, which comes in pretty handy. I've also owned a small Leatherman, and although I didn't keep it on my keychain, I can imagine that (or a small Swiss army knife) would also be very useful.
posted by cameleon at 8:45 AM on May 15, 2012

Tiffany silver pen keychain. Beautiful and saved my ass a few times when you need a pen.
posted by The Whelk at 9:33 AM on May 15, 2012

Every respectable drummer has a drumkey on their keychain.
posted by monospace at 12:18 PM on May 15, 2012

I have this circle key caddie from REI and like the general design very well, although this specific example is not quite as sturdy as it needs to be (I had to replace the clip part when it snapped after a couple of years, and the split rings don't deal gracefully with uber-chunky keys like Kryptonite bike keys).
posted by Lexica at 6:39 PM on May 15, 2012

Leatherman Micra. Superuseful, and for a desk jockey like me, scissors are more useful than pliers. Great quality steel, and a 25 year warranty. Cheaper on Ebay - I got mine for $10 USD.

And, of course, it includes a bottle opener.

I have mine on a tiny carabiner, so i can unclip it when I get on planes. Actually, all my key things connected to a ring by these awesome tiny carabiners. If I go running, I just unclip my house key, and clip it to my shoe. Super convenient.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:21 PM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

+1 to caribiner. Clips on and off of anything.
posted by talldean at 10:17 AM on May 16, 2012

A hipster sorta-EDC photoblog I forgot about:
The Burning House

For a distributed approach, you can also search instagram and tumblr. (Currently, searching for EDC gives you Electric Daisy Carnival attendees.)
posted by zamboni at 10:41 AM on May 18, 2012

Every respectable drummer has a drumkey on their keychain

Similarly, as I child I often admired my violin instructor's chin rest key.

Also, I know at least three projectionists who have old aperture plates attached to their keys.

(I really like these "things members of X profession keep on their keychains" responses... perhaps another question for another day?)
posted by bubukaba at 1:01 AM on May 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

« Older Help me plan a road trip with kids.   |   Importing Old Home Movies Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.