Keys are the necessary evil of EDC--that thing you must carry (at least for now) but you hate doing so. Many have tried to make it less evil and some have even tried to turn a negative into a positive. There are two approaches in my mind to this problem--reduce the form factor of the keys to something so small that it is innocuous or to add functionality until the utility of the entire set up outweighs the hassle of carrying keys. I am clearly in the first camp, using a tiny key organizer and two Nite-Ize S-biners and that is it. But if you are in the second camp, the Pivot system is worth a look.
Keyport’s first system, the Slide, is now in its third iteration and looks wonderful. Custom made keys and tools slide out of a little box, roughly the size of a Zippo (a bit thicker and not as wide, but you get the idea). It’s a key organizing dream. But it requires you to get custom keys made and while I hate keys, I am not sure even I could justify that cost.
Here is a place where you can buy the KeyPort Pivot. Finally, here is my review sample.
Twitter Review Summary: A clever design with lots of customizability, but two drawbacks.
The Pivot, unlike the Slider, allows you to use regular keys, but houses them in a binder of sorts. Attached to the outside of the key housing are slots for a number of tools. Additionally you can stow tools inside the Pivot housing, rotating them out just like you would with your keys. The entire unit is made of metal, but some of the exterior tools, like flashlight, are made of plastic. The Pivot itself costs $19.99, but like with razors, the handle is not the expensive part. KeyPort offers a number of tools to go with the Pivot including some from third-party brands, though many of the tools are KeyPort exclusives. Some of the tools are also cross-compatible with the Klecker iPhone case, specifically, the Griffin Stowaway tool.
The Pivot allows for two different sizes, in its slimmest form, it can handle a few keys. In its bulkier form it can hold six or seven keys and a tool or two. The Pivot can do this by having two sets of hinges. Additionally, the exterior tools can be swapped out for other tools or name plates (see the extremely handsome nameplates in the picture above). In order to swap these out you have to open up the Pivot itself and access pins inside the tool.
My review kit came with a knife, a light, a pen, two nameplates, the Griffin Stowaway one-piece multitool, some spacers, and some washers. KeyPort reached out to me to this review. I carried the Pivot exclusively for about five months. After that I switched off between the Pivot and my standard key organizer, the BladeKey. Unlike the Pivot, the BladeKey is an ultra minimalist design with a very small footprint and no accessories.
Compared to the split ring, which is what 90% of the world uses to hold its keys, the Pivot is obviously a huge step up, but then again, anything is a huge step up from the split ring. That said, I still like the BladeKey better, but with a big caveat—I am not someone that wants to take the second approach to making a keychain workable. I have spent years refining what I carry (and writing about it here and elsewhere), and as I am currently set up, the extra bulk of the Pivot does not serve me well. That said, if I were not absolutely obsessed with refining my carry, I probably would jump at the utility the KeyPort Pivot represents. It can truly be your entire carry in one smallish, convenient package. And, unlike something like the Victorinox Midnite Manager, it is not a design that is utterly and completely compromised. Thanks to clever designs and slim packaging, the knife really works as a knife, the light really works as a light, the multitool really works as a multitool, and the pen, while not great, can do some EDC writing (i.e. scribbling out a note or sign a check or two). As a complete package, for someone that has not focused on EDC like a monk in a monastery, the Pivot is excellent.
Individual tools were more useful than others. The knife, for example, worked well, as its placement on the side of the Pivot was ideal for good controlled cuts. The flashlight, likewise worked well, though it is a bit underpowered. The Griffin Stowaway was truly excellent, the best designed tool I was sent, but its placement on the inside of the tool limited its utility. The same is true of the pen, though, its stubby size made it difficult to write with under normal conditions. It’s really hard to use to for anything more than a signature. The USB thumb drive worked well on my desktop at home, but was truly awful on a laptop, again because it was carried inside the unit itself.
Over my many months with the Pivot there were two glaring drawbacks.
First, the external tools are not easy to get on and off, even when you follow the someone confusing visual aid instructions on the KeyPort site. The big issue is that there is no confirmation that you have sufficiently depressed the tabs necessary to remove the tool. In the end, I broke off one of the tabs and while the device itself still works, it no longer hooks on to the Pivot with any sense of stability. I would improve the instructions AND implement a colored tab system to let you know when you have depressed the tab enough to start sliding (a dab of white or orange paint in a strategic spot would be all that is needed here). Eventually I did get the hang of the process, but it was never nice and easy as there is a lot of force needed in a small spot and that force is accompanied by a screwdriver. Not a good combination.
Second, the Pivot’s overall construction was not ideal. The double hinge set up, which allows for expansion of the Pivot to add more keys, in the end, is a weakness. It introduces a good deal of movement into the key organizer and the end result is some flexing on the main sides of the unit. My Pivot became bent over time, even when I larded it up with spacers and extra tools to make sure I used the extra wide set up that, in theory, had no movement. I imagine that with double side panels, the Pivot would have even more stability, but, as I indicated, I broke one of my review sample panels. I could have put on a name plate, but that added to the bulk too much for me.
Though not a flaw, it is worth noting that when the Pivot is paired with key fob keys, which are basically a requirement to purchase a modern car, the entire package becomes quite large. This is a problem that no key organizer has figured out yet—from the KeyBar to the BladeKey to any of the products from KeyPort. None of them work all that well with key fob keys, though the ultra slim package of the BladeKey works best. It’s not the Pivot’s fault that manufacturers are insisting on using giant keys, but, as of 2017, no key organizer design has really solved this problem with any sense of elegance. Bluetooth car keys are coming (Jaguar implemented them on the F-Pace), but they are still a way off for the majority of cars making this issue one every key organizer needs to contend with, but none have really done so.
The Pivot is a very clever solution to the key wad problem. It offers a great deal of functionality in a small, easy to carry package. The side mounted tools were great, but hard to change. The entire unit was a little floppy because of the double hinge system. Finally, the set up, given its size, was not great with key fob keys. If you have no EDC or aren’t committed to honing your EDC, this is a great set up. If you already have whittled your carry down to a few very nice items, this offers nothing to you and might make your keys worse, given its size. The dual hinge design, while clever, is just not good. I would prefer fixed sizes or maybe a single size with the option to add tools in to even out spacing. As it is, it introduces too much play into the organizer and resulted in my review sample being bent out of shape over a half year of use.