For nearly a year I carried a variety of tools on a key ring that I attached to a belt loop using the Nite Ize DoohicKey that I previously reviewed. The set up pictured above is the most recent iteration, however, it has always possessed a similar design. The primary reason for this set up was to ensure that I had a few tools without adding bulk to my actual keys, as I had previously. I started with just a couple of tools and then slowly added and subtracted as time went on. I'll be honest, the primary criteria for these tools was that it needed to be key shaped with certain exceptions. Of course this wasn't some odd preference but simply came for the fact that I pulled the first few tools from my actual keys where I had wanted them to blend in. Because I already had this blending in theme going I simply continued it where I could so that at first glance someone might think that it was simply a set of keys. The obvious exceptions that you can see are the carabiner, lighter, and whistle. First, I really like the DoohicKey and wanted a way to attach my key ring anyways so it got to stay. The lighter and whistle simply don't have an alternative key style so these were great minimal options to keep a low profile.
For the most part this set up worked pretty well. I tended to use the flashlight, usb, bottle opener, and knife the most while other items were used far less frequently. Despite this usage I started fazing this set up out of my everyday carry a few months ago and simply don't carry it anymore. I had two main reasons for this. First, while I liked having these items readily available on my belt look I found that as I settled on this final iteration it became annoying to have something not only jingling around but also poking me as I sat. The second reason was redundancy. For most people in this community redundancy up to a certain point is a good thing. For the most part I subscribe to that view. However, after analyzing the way I used my tools I noticed that I had some options for change. I carry a few items on my person at all times. In addition I carry a bag to work which gives me plenty of options for carrying additional items. Just as an example lets look at my knife situation. During the time that I carried this set up I would typically have access to five knives for the majority of my day. First, there was this knife that hung from my belt loop for easy access when I faced small tasks. Secondly, I always carried some sort of folding knife in my pocket. Next, in my backpack I carried another knife as yet another backup. Lastly, I carried a small pouch filled with emergency items and tools that contained not one but two knives, a full sized folder and a small one as redundancy. That is just proper folding knives, that doesn't include a knife that would have been included on any multi tools like the one I kept in the above pouch or even the Swiss Gear tool on the same keyring. Of course, not every item was that plentiful but for the most part there was an excess of redundancy. After this analysis, I knew that I needed to make adjustments. While I liked this set up I knew that getting rid of the key ring tools would get rid of several of these issues I faced, and so away it went. Naturally I still had everything clipped together but it stayed unused clipped onto my organizer until just recently.
Now that you have a little bit of a back story lets look at the individual items and then I will let you know where I'm at currently with this set up.
Nite Ize DoohicKey 6X Key Multi Tool
Brand: Nite Ize
I reviewed this earlier so I won't spend a ton of time here but I really love this little tool. As I mentioned in the review the primary purpose was as a carbiner. However, it also got plenty of usage as a bottle opener and package opener. The only real thing to keep in mind is that just like all small multi tools the actual tools are going to be proportionally small. If this is the goal, like it was for me, then this certainly isn't going to be a problem.
Generic aluminum whistle
This is just a small aluminum whistle that I have had for years and honestly don't have a clue where I got it from. There are plenty of options online for a similar item the you can buy in a larger amount but ultimately end up being less that a dollar a unit. I will point out that this isn't the loudest whistle but it can put out some sound and will do in a pinch.
EDC Waterproof Lighter
Brand: Dream Bay
Price: ~$9 2-pack
This is a descent little capsule lighter. For a while I carried one from Survival Life, however I didn't like the size of it especially the large ring around the middle. I personally have never had to actually use one of these lighters other than just testing them out. One thing about this pack specifically is it does come with some extra wick, flint, and o-rings. It took a little while for me to get the wicks to light the first time, but ever since it has been able to light on the first or second strike.
To start with, this is another of those changes that I made after carrying the items around. Originally I carried a Bullet 02 from Slughaus and liked it, however at one point the back attachment ring came off and was lost so I had to come up with another solution. Naturally because I wanted as many items to be key shaped the KeyMate was a perfect fit. There are a few things that I really like about the KeyMate. First, puts out some really great light and the fact that it is rechargeable is a huge benefit. I also love that it is button operated as I don't really like twist lights. Lastly, I like that it has a clip so that I don't have to feed it onto the key ring like a normal key. The only downside is that the LED strip is down the back of the long section so it forces you to hold the light a little different as opposed to pointing like normal. I will say that it is a bit wide when compared to everything else but I think it is very reasonable and I could not expect much more.
SOG Key Folding Knife
Length Closed: 2.5"
Length Open: 4.1"
There is not much to say there, this is a great little knife that is perfectly suited for those situations that might not warrant pulling out a full sized knife. Just a word of warning, the blade is obviously small and doesn't have a massive lock so if you try and use it for something crazy it might not hold.
Generic Key USB
This is a generic key shaped USB. I actually carry one in my KeySmart as well, but don't remember where this is from. This one happens to be a little flimsy so I wrapped a little bit of gaffers tape around it so that it would stop bending and opening up. I personally have always carried at least one flash drive due to always needing one during school.
Nite Ize DoohicKey QuicKey Tool
Brand: Nite Ize
If you couldn't tell I tend to be a fan of Nite Ize. I'll be honest this tool was mostly on because of its shape. That being said I did use the small file like edge occasionally to smooth out my nails when they weren't even.
Swiss Tech Utili-Key
Brand: Swiss Tech
I have to say, this was one of my least utilized tools in the set up, I simply didn't need it very often. However, I really liked how quickly it was to access and the fact that it has an actual Philips screwdriver instead of just a flat head like most tools.
Well that is the break down. Like I said I stopped carrying these items on my belt loop. However, it doesn't mean that they are relegated to collect dust anymore. I recently attached them to a key chain in my work bag so that they are readily available. Honestly, it may seem like I am going back to excess redundancy but I started but reorganizing my work bag into a new system utilizing a Cocoon messenger bag (review coming soon). This got rid of several things and now if I ever need this set up I can quickly grab it from my bag and either attach it like the good old days or just slip it into my pocket. This is a great option for when I don't want to carry my normal gear and just want something organized, minimal, and compact.
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