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10 tiny tools and gadgets I keep on my keychain and why

Looking for useful gifts for dads or grads? If your loved one likes to be prepared for anything, you can't go wrong with these handy EDC essentials.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor
A selection of tools on a keychain.

My keychain essentials.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

I own countless multitools and other gizmos, but I've lost count of the number of times I've needed something and it's been left at home or in the car because it's just not possible to have a toolbox dangling off my belt.

Yet what I do have with me most of the time is my keychain -- and, as it turns out, it's the perfect way to EDC (Every Day Carry) useful bits and bobs.  

Also: Need a multitool? These are the only two brands I recommend and why

 In fact, my keychain is the one bit of kit that I get asked the most questions about. 

People are often surprised at the things I carry around. I guess most people just carry their keys on their keychain. Weird.

Here's a tour of what I carry on my keychain. Don't feel you need everything. Remember, the beauty of this approach is that you can customize your EDC to suit your needs.

1. KeySmart Air

KeySmart Air

The KeySmart Air is the core of my keychain. (It's 43% right now on Amazon Prime, for a total price of $23.) This device acts as both the main key loop and also as a way to attach an Apple AirTag to my stuff, so I don't lose my entire keychain.

If I didn't need the AirTag carry feature, I'd probably go for the KeySmart Mini (yes, I like KeySmart gear). If you are a Tile user, the KeySmart Max is a good alternative.

2. YubiKey 5C NFC

YubiKey 5C NFC
Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Hardware security keys are a high-tech, high-security alternative to using text messages and two-factor authentication (2FA) to log in to websites. 

Also: I added a hardware security key to my MacBook, and it made my logins faster and safer

This security key from Yubico features both USB-C and NFC, making it suitable for most modern devices, from computers to smartphones and tablets.

3. KeySmart MultiTool, 5-in-1

KeySmart MultiTool

This tiny multitool fits inside the KeySmart Air.

It's a box opener, a mini pry bar, a mini ruler, a flathead screwdriver, and a Phillips head screwdriver - and only $10. 

4. KeySmart Safe Box Cutter

KeySmart Safe Box Cutter

This handy box cutter is made from tough polyamide plastic and is a safe way to open letters and packages.

Also: 3 security gadgets I never leave home without

However, I use this device in a different way, and find that it's a handy pry tool for opening electronic devices without damaging the plastic shell of the device.

5. KeySmart NanoScissors

KeySmart NanoScissors

These are retractable, portable, and lightweight scissors that are designed to fit into KeySmart accessories. They're perfect for cutting threads and fingernails, snipping tags, or slicing zip ties. 

6. Nite Ize S-Biner SlideLock

Nite Ize S-Biner SlideLock
Nite Ize/ZDNET

This stainless steel S-Biner SlideLock has two gates with sliders that lock securely in place. I find these locks perfect for things that need to be easily removed from the keychain, and they're far simpler to use than split rings.

7. Lumintop EDC Pico

Lumintop EDC Pico

This tiny rechargeable flashlight has a runtime of 4.5 hours on low-power mode, it's constructed of tough aircraft-grade aluminum, and is water and dust-resistant to IP68.

Also: The brightest flashlights of 2024

Unlike most tiny flashlights that are controlled by a myriad of complicated button presses, this device has a twist cap -- twist to get a low-power beam, twist more to get a high-power beam.

8. Gear Aid Glowing Keychain

Gear Aid Glowing Keychain
Gear Aid/ZDNET

This glow-in-the-dark tag makes locating keys a lot easier. The tag is waterproof up to 50 meters, dustproof, and weatherproof. You can also use it for night fishing!

9. KeyUnity Carabiner Clip Multitool

KeyUnity Carabiner Clip Multitool

This compact multitool keychain has seven functions built into the carabiner:

  • Flathead and slotted screwdriver
  • Seven-size hex wrenches
  • Bottle opener
  • Pry bar
  • Scraper
  • Keyloop
  • Measuring ruler

10. SIM Tray Tool

SIM tray tool

I regularly need a SIM tray eject tool, so now I carry this one on my keychain. 

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