Friday, August 14, 2015

KeySmart Review

I do not need more shit in my pockets.  If you read this site you are probably in the same position.  The thought of adding yet another hunk of metal, another thing with a pocket clip, or another thing that can be accessorized is not necessarily appealing.  One's pants pockets can only take so much.  

Despite this, over the past three years the number of key holders and key organizers has exploded.  Led by the Key-Bar and fueled by a few big Kickstarter campaigns, key organizers are now an standard part of people's EDC.  I am torn about them.  On the one hand, the old split ring is a horrible design and something akin to a medieval torture device when trying to open it.  But the Key-Bar and a few other designs are just too big for me. 
In the middle between split ring small and Key Bar big, I found the BladeKey, a wonderful design and probably as minimal as you can get.  Its really amazing and it is something I would replace the instant it broke or got lost.  Its an essential part of my daily carry.  But the BladeKey has one drawback--its not expandable.  Sure there are three or five or seven key designs, but if you have a changing number of keys those aren't ideal.  For me, the married 16 years, at the same job 11 years, and 37 year old Dad of two, this isn't an issue, but for those of you with less time worn habits, BladeKey won't work.  But the KeySmart will.

Here is the product page.  This is the second iteration of the original design, designated as KeySmart 2.0.  There are a wide range of accessories from golf divot tools to bottle openers to USB drives.  There is even a titanium KeySmart.  Here is a written review.  Here is a video review.  Here is the review sample (sent to me by KeySmart and to be given away):


Twitter Review Summary: A great organizer for folks with a changing number of keys.

I have been using the KeySmart for about 45 days.  In that time I have gone to work, hung out on the weekends, done about a dozen day hikes (made possible by taking the KeySmart on vacation with me) and I have been very pleased with its looks and performance.  It does exactly what a key organizer should, but without the excess bulk of other options.   


The KeySmart comes to you as two pieces of metal, some plastic spacer washers, and a pair of Chicago screws (a screw on one side that fits into a threaded sleeve on the other).  Once assembled the entire thing looks something like a small dog bone.  It took me a while to assemble mine, not because it was hard (all you need is a flathead screw driver) but because I was trying to figure out the optimal spacing for my keys.  


After a half hour of fidgeting with it, I put everything together.  The next day, in the middle of the day, I realized there was a better possible set up, so I took the KeySmart apart that night and reorganized it.  I am not the only one person I know that was infected with a bit of OCD after getting a KeySmart.  Andrew Lang, cohost on GGL, also had the same feeling.  Its tempting because it always seems possible that with one more tweak you could get the KeySmart just a bit thinner.

The unit itself, once configured, looks and feels a bit like a SAK, with keys nestling next to and in between each other.  I found the plastic washers very effective at preventing clumping, allowing me to rotate a single key out of the KeySmart without disturbing any of the others.  I also found the dog bone shape very nice at giving me access to my keys.  

Overall, all of the parts were well made, went together nicely, and have held up in my pockets over the last month or so.  There is no way around it though--eventually the anodizing will chip off.  Your key organizer is basically in a slow mo tumbler all the time and so expect dings and nicks.  One thing that was extra nice--the edges of the KeySmart were gently rounded over making key retrieval easy and painless. 

None of these key organizers, even the Key-Bar and the Blade Key, have a solution to the problem of car keys, with their bulky fobs.  In those situations you basically have to attach them to the key organizer and live with them dangling around.  In the case of the Blade Key, I use a pair of Nite-ize #1/2 S-biners--one to connect the keys to each other and another to connect the connected keys to the key organizer.  


That set up worked okay on the KeySmart.  It was not, however, as flawless as it could be.  KeySmart anticipated the car key problem and included a small attachment piece, the "loop piece" accessory, in the KeySmart assembly.  It is, however, probably too small.   Even the smallest S-biners had a hard time fitting through.  A split ring of even marginal size wouldn't make it.  This gave rise to two problems.  First, it prevented the car keys from swinging freely and occasionally caused them to lock up into a giant key way, the very thing a key organizer is trying to prevent. Second, on one occasion, it caused the car key S-biner to open up and my car keys fell off the KeySmart.  I heard it happen, so I found my keys quickly, but it is a concern.  KeySmart could fix this pretty easily by making an attachment piece with a larger hole.  I am also certain there are many possible home remedies.  If I were keeping the KeySmart, I would make one.  

The ability to easily add and take away keys makes the KeySmart an ideal key organizer for someone that feels hamstrung by something like the Blade Key.  If you are a student or someone that swaps keys on and off alot, the KeySmart is probably the best and slimmest option out there.  I liked using my review sample quite a bit.  It was small, though not as small as the Blade Key, and very well made.  It is also quite inexpensive.  In short, it is one of the best key organizers I have tried.  

Add in the fact that it has a range of very useful and well-designed accessories, making it a system as opposed to a standalone device, and I think the KeySmart is one of the best options out there.  If you need expansion capacity and don't want bulk, this is it.   


  1. Having just lost a keychain and a wallet, I'm looking for some new options...

    Your review has me convinced on this one, but there are a lot of Amazon reviews complaining about the screw coming loose and the threads stripping - any problems like this for you?

    1. Mine did loosen up slightly. It was much worse when I removed the washers in hopes of expanding my useable space. I ended up buying longer posts and added the washers back in. About once a week I had to torque it down with a nickel.

    2. You have to tighten it every couple months but I've been using it for about 6 months and it works really well.

    3. I have both the KeyBar and the KeySmart, and loosening is a problem with both products. As suggested, simply tightening them occasionally will keep them in working order.

      Since you notice the looseness immediately upon using them, it's not difficult to remember to do so.

    4. You could also use loctite blue or teflon tape.

  2. Ameer,

    I've had the Orange keysmart since last winter, and I haven't had any issues with loose screws, or stripping threads.

    As for the anodizing, there's a small bit of chipping on the edges of the end with the attachment piece, but the thing still looks clean, bright, and orange. I love the dang thing.

    1. Thanks, Alex. A little bit of chipping won't bother me. I'll probably be ordering one of these.

    2. If you aren't already, keep an eye on Massdrop. They frequently run KeySmart batches at a substantial discount. Sometimes in two-packs of the aluminum, but they have also recently featured the titanium model as well.

  3. I've thought about getting this one or the OrbitKey( You do raise a good point about that type of design being non-expandable, but I'm tempted by the leather construction. The car key attachment seems to be a bit better as well.

  4. I had a spirited discussion with a guy about the Keybar versus the Keysmart. The forumite answer is "Bro, it broke when I broke a cinder block on it. Keybar all day long, lol. #HardUse"

    I gave the Keysmart a try and I liked it as a Swiss Army Knife-style key thingie, but I think I'm not a SAK-style key thingie sort of guy. The $3 red Lucky Line is my favorite way to carry keys right now.

  5. I've haven't had screws strip but I have had them 'unwind' around the threads, basically if you screw it down tight enough to stop the keys flopping around your extension screws will open out and start breaking down. At present I'm just paying the price and keeping plenty spares around.

  6. I'd love something like this to ease the monster that is my keys. They're such an ungainly clump, and I can't keep them in my pocket. Trouble is my house key(s) are all the massive mortise lock keys that look like they're from the Medieval times ( ), and don't really work well with this kind of solution. If I was able to change the locks on the building (which I can't since it's a rental) I'd get something like this in a heartbeat.

  7. I had one and looked it okay. But, it actually slowed down me getting to my keys. Things like keys that I don't particularly like...I want to use them for as little time as possible.

    What works for me is a loop of paracord. Keys go on a bite in the middle of the length. Overhand knot (with both pieces of cord together) just high enough to give them a little freedom and another further down. Basically, they're on the lanyard instead of on a split ring on the lanyard. They're easy to get to, relatively quiet, and lay flat in the bottom of my pocket.

    It's so simple, I wish I'd figured it out when I first started carrying keys.

  8. Mediocre product and HORRIBLE customer service. I bought a keysmart and a thumb drive. The thumb drive I received DID NOT WORK. I contacted keysmart immediately. Within a few days they responded back and told me that the thumb drive was not their problem and that I should contact kingston to take advantage of the manufacturer warrenty. This is not cool. They sold me a dud and then tried to pass the buck to another company when they simply should have just mailed me another $10 hard drive. I will never buy keysmart again.

    As far as the key holder goes... its only ok. It looks kind of ugly, it is a PAIN in the BUTT to add or remove keys. If you need to add a new key it will take you a while to disassemble and reassemble the unit. I would NOT BUY ON A KEYSMART and spend your money at another company who cares about their relationship with their customers.