Leave the Big Wad O’ Keys Home!
Wad o’keys, fistful of keys, keys janitor style, we’ve all seem them, some of us even have them. When hitting the trail, leave this key ring full of trouble home. Recently, a member of our group lost their keys on a hike, causing much stress and worry regarding trail back-tracking in an effort to find them, how to get into their car, how to get home, etc. The key ring in question held car keys, the car fob for locking, unlocking, alarm, and remote trunk release, multiple house keys, bike rack key, and a few of the ubiquitous retail scan tags. The keys-a-saurus were claimed to be in a coat pocket (as they were too big to carry in a pants pocket), and suspected to have dropped out when the coat was removed and tied about the waist. The keys were never found and the hiker was driven home by another group member.
Take heed from this hard earned lesson. Replacing an automobile fob is an expensive proposition especially if the model has keyless entry and ignition. These fobs can cost hundreds, not to mention a tow to the dealer. Heck, even a “chipped” ignition key (will only operate the vehicle if the embedded chip matches the car’s firmware) can be close to $100. When driving to a trailhead and setting off for a woods ramble, take with you only the valet key to unlock the door, and hide the wad o keys somewhere in your vehicle.
Ideally, have a spare ignition key made, and take only that on your trek. Even the keyless ignition cars have that narrow key like strip of metal that can be detached, and carried or stowed comfortably.
One key should fit nicely into a pants pocket, or if carrying a pack, in a zippered pouch. To be extra fastidious, duct tape a spare key somewhere in your pack. No pack? No problem. Tape the key to your water bottle, knife sheath, or whatever your essential gear is for hikes. A carbineer attachment scheme is a distant second option, as heavy brush can cause the ‘biner to detach, not to mention belt loop failure.