Keyport Slide

I’ve tried using many key consolidation gadgets, including DIY to many indy projects, but most of them involve driving a screw or rod through the hole in the keys, and jamming them together via compression. If your goal is to simply have 10+ keys in your possession in the most compact way possible, that’s great, but I’ve found most of them to be quite unusable, in that it’s difficult for the correct key to be selected due to the lateral compression.

The KeyPort Slide 2.0 is the only product on the market that I know of that does all the following: consolidates your keys in a compact form that saves weight, relies on a locking and sliding action for ease of key retrieval/use, can incorporate your microchipped car key, and actually makes it easier for you to use your keys.

The KeyPort is small and lightweight. Even fully populated, it weighs around 1.5oz, and its size is 2.85″ x 1.27″ x 0.58″, and can fit in your jeans’ front coin pocket. The body is polycarbonate with Ultem 1000 polymer caps, which works out to be OK, as the rigidity of the structure depends on the key blades to some extent, though fans of anodized and brushed metals will be disappointed. Unfortunately, this compact size only allows for up to 6 keys, but again, the concept is around usability, not maximum capacity. (If your budget allows for it, you could buy 2.)

The KeyPort uses custom key “blades” instead of standard keys. This means that the large, heavy area where you hold the key and pass keyrings through is gone, greatly reducing weight. However, this means that you either buy $5 blanks and have them cut locally, or if it’s a custom key, send it in to have it converted. You’ll want to find a locksmith that is OK with handling these custom blades using their locksmith locator.

The KeyPort supports high security keys like Medeco, Assa, and Mul-T-Lock by converting them into blades for you. This is a unique service, and allows you to carry these otherwise gigantic keys in a compact format. The downside is that because high security keys cannot be duplicated, you must send the keys into KeyPort for conversion, which could violate your personal and/or professional security policies.

It’s worth noting that if you don’t want to send in your chipped auto key to be converted, your cost will skyrocket, because chipped auto keys usually cost quite a fortune. Your costs may vary, but the pricing I got was $25 for the blank auto blade, $25 for cutting an auto key, $150 for a new transponder, and $75 for programming it. That’s an additional $200! If you have a car key with a transponder, you can send in your spare, non-keyfob (likely valet) key and have them take it apart and convert it into a blade + transponder holder. (yes, a transponder holder uses up 1 slot). Unfortunately, due to liability reasons, they are unwilling to convert your car key if it is part of a keyfob. This was a bit of a bummer for me, as I actually had 2 keyfobs and 1 valet key, and did not care to give up my valet key, as I have to valet my car once in a while. However, they can send you a blank auto blade and transponder blade, so I had the key cut locally ($35; your costs may vary), and I harvested the transponder out of the the keyfob and superglued it into the transponder blade myself.

My setup includes a car key + car key transponder holder ($25), mini flashlight ($10), and 3 house keys ($5/ea). Such a setup would typically cost around $90, including local key cutting fees. Other options include a bottle opener ($6), 32GB USB drive ($40), and a barcode insert ($4) as well as custom buttons (price varies). My only gripe is that the locking buttons stick out a bit, and don’t require too much pressure to depress, so on occasion, I’ve found my keys unlocked. This is not a huge deal, but will drain your mini flashlight if you choose that option.

I didn’t order the bottle opener, as my pocket knife has one, and in general, I rarely need one. The transponder holder is actually a barcode insert, so I didn’t need another one. The mini flashlight was purchased with the hopes that I wouldn’t have to use another hand to pull out a flashlight, and for the most part, it’s worked out, but I’ve had it unintentionally turn on in my pocket a few times, and the batteries are not user-serviceable — you have to send it in to have it serviced for a nominal fee (~$5), though you could solder them if you know what you’re doing. The 32GB USB flash drive was appealing, but it seemed overpriced, and other reviews lamented over it somewhat slow (~20MB/sec) even for a USB 2.0 flash drive. For the same price, I was able to buy a 128GB USB 3.0 PNY flash drive that does 100MB/sec read/write, so with that big of a difference, I think it’s worth carrying another device.

Having the bundle of keys disappear from my pocket has been great. Surprisingly, being able to access my keys faster has been an even greater feature. Even with the high costs involved, I would do it again in a heartbeat.

A lot of questions about the Keyport are answered on their FAQ.

-- Kaz Mori  

Keyport Slide 2
Price depends on configuration



Alltrade Auto-Loading Squeeze Utility Knife

This is by far the best Utility Knife (box cutter) I know of. I have been using them for 12+ years.

1) They “fit your hand” very well – almost like custom made.
2) The blade comes out easily – just press the black leaver underneath.
3) The blade retracts easily and safely – black button
4) There is a storage area for new blades – behind the word Alltrade
5) The blades exchange easily and safely – yellow button. Simply press the yellow button and pull the used blade out. The new blade automatically loads when the device retracts.

Due to their sturdy construction, I can do “heavy duty” jobs without the device slipping.

-- Ed Flowers  

Alltrade 150003 Auto-Loading Squeeze Utility Knife
$12

Available from Amazon



Pyranna Plastic Package Opener

Who hasn’t struggled trying to open one of those heavy duty plastic product packages, or sliced their hands or fingers in the process? This inexpensive little gadget, which I’ve been using for the past few years, makes it much easier to get to your plastic-sealed merchandise. You could just use a hand-operated can opener but the Pyranna is more compact and ergonomic, and it wouldn’t be out of place in your desk drawer.

-- Peter Laird  

Pyranna Plastic Package Opener
$4

Available from Amazon



Chestnut Tools Hanging Scale

Many of the things I want to weigh are odd shapes and sizes. I can use rope, string, wire, etc. suspended almost anything from this digital-readout scale. I can weigh a fish by putting the hook between the lure and the fish. I have used this thing for about four years. It’s vastly superior to the Zebco De-Liar Fish Scale I have in my tackle box.

-- Scott Morgan  

Chestnut Tools Portable Electronic Scale
$13



Spud Bar

First, I don’t own this specific model, but this is most like the one I do own. The one I inherited three years ago was referred to as a pry/spud bar. I’ll be referring to it as a spud bar in this review. I wouldn’t recommend trying to dig a post hole with just a spud bar, I imagine it’s possible, but it’ll take you awhile and you’ll look silly. If you’re doing any kind of landscaping or burying any kind of post that isn’t supposed to be moving for a good deal of time, I’d make sure you have a spud bar at your disposal.

So what’s the purpose of a spud bar you ask? Well, if you’re digging in an area that has a fair amount of clay, your typical post hole digger is going to struggle to break up the clay to remove from the hole. But, if you force the wedged end of the spud bar into that clay a couple times and pry, should be a lot easier to remove the clay from the hole.

I’ve also use the spud bar to help clear gravel, roots, heck, I’ve even used it to help clear some concrete. My personal favorite use was when I used mine to pry/roll the ~300 lb. odd shaped rock to a new location in my back yard, friends still don’t believe I moved it myself. The flat round end allows the spud bar to be utilized in coordination with a mallet or sledge hammer to help wedge/drive it wherever you intend.

When it comes down to it, it’s just a shaped steel bar, a simple tool that if utilized correctly, can quite effective.

-- Samuel Sanders  

True Temper 69-Inch Post Hole Digging Bar
$27

Available from Amazon



Kelvin 23

I travel a lot, and I don’t always check a bag, which means the vast majority of multi-tools are verboten due to the knife/saw/other bladed instrument that they all seem to have.

The Kelvin 23 is different. It’s a 23-in-1 tool that’s compact and lightweight. I bought it on a splurge several years ago, and I’ve been happy ever since.

At around $25, it includes everything you need while you’re out and about:

  • A screwdriver, with 16 screw bits, Hex, Flat, Phillips, Square. It also locks at 90 degrees to give you more leverage when you need it and is magnetized to help keep screws in place
  • A hammer – while the ‘hammer’ part is nothing more than a flat round part on one end of the tool, it works surprisingly well for basic hanging needs
  • 6 foot tape measure
  • LED light
  • A level – being that the tool is only 5.25″ long,it’s not the most accurate level, but it does work in a pinch!

While it doesn’t have a pair of pliers included, other than that it covers about 90% of the stuff I do at home or need when I’m away. I’ve used it to hang pictures, put together Ikea furniture, tighten squeaky hotel beds, hammer things back into place and more.

I don’t end up using it often, but I do feel better just knowing I have some kind of multi-tool with me when I’m traveling!

-- Jeremy Pavleck  

Kelvin 23 Multitool
$25

Available from Amazon



Victorinox SwissCard

This small, flat, semi-translucent plastic card contains a sharp blade, an even sharper pair of scissors, a file, a tweezers, a toothpick, and a pen. They all slide into the card, and come free of it for independent use. The whole kit is the size of a credit card, and about three times as thick. It lays flat in my pocket and weighs very little. I use it daily. It prompts a smile most every time I do, and it’s a good conversation piece. Highly recommended and undeservedly under-popular.

-- Gru  

Available from Amazon



$8 Ikea Tool Set

I recently moved and somehow lost my tool box. I knew I would have to wrestle with endless amounts of disassembly, reassembly, and re-reassembly and so I bought an Ikea Fixa tool kit for $8.

My kids love using them because they can swap out screw driver heads, the tools fit their hands (I think they might be a tad smaller than traditional tools), and, because at this price point, I got two boxes so they didn’t need to share.

In our era of digital devices and power-everything, this tool kit was an example of K.I.S.S. working beautifully.

Contents: Contains: Hammer with separate rubber face, adjustable wrench, combination pliers, bit screwdriver with bits for slotted, cross-head, hex screws, awl.

-- Yen  

Ikea Fix 17-piece tool kit
$8



Gerber Artifact

We’ve all been there. You run out of the house for a quick errand and leave your everyday carry multitool on the table by the door. You’re not going to need it, right? I’ve been burned by this so many times it’s not even funny; clawing apart clamshell packaging in my car, scrounging for a coin to grapple with that flathead screw, breaking a fingernail whilst prying something, or worst, not being able to open that beer.

Because of all this, I’ve been a fan of the keychain tool family of lifesavers. For a long time, the Leatherman Micra was my go-to backup tool. It now belongs to the TSA. (I forgot to take it off of my keychain before a plane trip.) I wanted something that had a small footprint like the Micra but was TSA-friendly without sacrificing total usability.

Enter the Gerber Artifact. Two flathead screwdrivers, a pry-bar, nail puller/wire stripper, bottle opener, philips driver, and a holder for a removable EAB #11 hobby blade. (Pop it out before flying, buy a spare at any convenience store when you touch down if you really need it.) Paired with a small keychain LED light, I’ve got enough gear to tide me over in most situations.

The Artifact has lived on my keychain for about a year now. I’ve used every tool on it and found it equal to most any task I can throw at it. The bottle opener isn’t perfect, and the flathead drivers are a little too thick to grapple with some screws, but a little work with a mill bastard can solve that if it’s a problem. The blade rusts out pretty fast, but a $7 pack of spare blades solves that problem.

Bottom line, this tool isn’t your replacement EDC multi. But it will serve as a great backup and can be denuded of its airline-unfriendly blade in a hot second, meaning you’ll never be without a basic set of tools.

(For those who want to forego the knife component entirely, the Gerber Shard lives up to the task.)

-- Benzo Harris  

Gerber Artifact
$12

Available from Amazon



ROK Straps

They are way better than bungee cords. I use them to secure a bag to my motorcycle when touring. There are no hooks to scratch anything or “bend loose” as they secures with a loop in the strap itself. They are easy to use: attach, buckle, tighten.

When I first saw them at a motorcycle show, I thought yes, they are cool, but they are kind of pricey. I put it on my Christmas list and have used them this past riding season including several multi day trips. I now think they are easily worth it. They have uses beyond the motorcycle world… think anywhere a bungee would be used.

They offer several sizes for different applications. I use the model that adjusts between 18″ and 60′. It’s one-inch wide.

rok2

-- Ted VanderWall  

ROK Straps 18 to 60″ Adjustable
$22 for a twin pack

Available from Amazon