With car thieves on land and a watery grave awaiting your key at sea, what’s a wo/man and their board to do? There are quite a few ways to safely stash your stuff so your session isn’t filled with dread. To anyone who claims modern cars are unstealable I remind you that chop shops, ominous cargo ships and joy riding are still issues in many places in the world.
In any case you’ve probably got gear you’d like to keep safe. I bet you don’t want to return to any friendly strangers napping on your backseat either. So where to hide keys when surfing or paddleboarding? You can avoid coming back to a car that’s been cleaned out (not by a detailer) or disappeared entirely. Use our guide to determine which level of trickery appeals to you.
Key hiding guile by level
1. Hide your keys unsecured in the wild
Classical key hiding technique involves leaving the keys “hidden” on a tyre. This is not advisable because anyone can see you do it. Even if you’re parking someplace 100% remote there could be key stealing monkeys around and it’s best not to tempt fate.
The school of neoclassical key hiding abandons this innocence for trickery and irreverence. People hide their keys in rancid tube socks, diapers or other bits of modern day detritus. They plant them in dunes, on the beach or in their truck beds. This is all fine and well notwithstanding the risks of rubbish collectors or anyone with a nappy fetish passing by.
2. Use a lockbox
This is a slight step up in security because it involves some form of actual lock. Some people hide magnetic lock boxes on their car, others actually drill in a combination lock box. In either case this is an easy thing to conquer whether you are a mildly-skilled thief or monkey with a screwdriver.
3. Recruit a collaborator on land
Depending on your relationship status and ability to trust other human beings this may be the easiest or the hardest route. If you’ve got someone sitting on the beach while you are on the water a human key cozy is a grand solution. If you’ve cruised any surf forums on the topic you may have found different definitions of what this entails. We aren’t promoting any specifically.
What’s around the area where you usually park? If there is a coffee shop, bar or super hip retro video rental place and you are a beloved regular there it might be worth asking them to hold your keys.
4. Take your whole fob with you
The easiest solution is to take the whole fob with you. A small dry bag stuffed down your wetsuit works nicely for this. We recommend placing the bag on your back under the zipper. Make sure the bag doesn’t fall out of your suit as you zip it up. It might not be comfortable and it may look like you’ve got a weird growth but this works for many people.
If you prefer board shorts, find a pair with a cargo pocket that closes with strong Velcro or a zipper. Better still, find a pair with a closing pocket and an elastic key cord. That way you can find a dry bag with a loop and put it on the elastic cord. Your fob will be dry and attached to your person with 2 levels of security this way.
5. Hide your fob & take a valet/spare key
Many key fobs can be disassembled to separate the manual key portion which is called a “valet key” in some places and a spare in others. Depending on your car, the metal portion of the key will have different powers. Sometimes they only open the door other other times they’ll work on the door and ignition but not the glove box or boot.
Most of the time opening the door without the fob WILL set off your car alarm. It’ll stop once you start the ignition so if you need the fob to start the car be sure you can get to it before causing too much fruckus.
Double check the specifics with your car’s manufacturer. Some models automatically disable electronic entry again till the ignition is started. If this is the case with your car there is no need to resort to putting the key inside a faraday bag or equivalent to prevent key surfing.
Keep the key on a necklace, in a pocket or anyplace else on your person that works for you.
If your fob is too jazzy to take apart or you just don’t want to do it, have a dealer cut you a key that opens the door only.
When doing any of these things be sure to hide your fob well within your car. Don’t leave it anyplace visible or obvious like the seat or in an open glove box. Thieves may be tempted to smash a window the old fashioned way.
Some people take this to the next level by installing a locking key box inside the car to secure the fob. Feel free to go nuts by wrapping the key in foil before placing it inside the lock box. I’m not sure how well this works but if you are on the neurotic side it will probably feel good.
So what’s the best key storing method of all? Barring some form of method 5 a lot of people might say it’s to get a slightly threatening 1980’s van. The kind that looks like only a homicidal maniac would drive it. This vintage also has the benefit of operating with a simple metal key that you can loop on a necklace and paddle away with while being cheap and easy to replace. As many people will point out, in these times a nice crusty van is also a good fall back plan. You might not have known this but #vanlife is huge on instagram so it’ll be great for your image too.
Do you have any other key storing methods? We’d love to hear them so please leave in the comments below!
A Big Bluefin Thank You
All the surfers and paddlers who have pioneered the key storing methods above over the years so we didn’t have to test each one.