Introduction: Carabiner Keychain Mod: Stop Dropping Your Keys

Picture of Carabiner Keychain Mod: Stop Dropping Your Keys

I used to keep my keys on a standard carabiner, which I could clip to my belt loop.  Most of the time, that worked fine.  But every so often, when I unclipped the carabiner from my belt loop, one of the key rings would slip off without me noticing.  I had spare keys, so such events were really just a minor nuisance.  Then, I got a car with an (exorbitantly priced) keyless entry remote.

One day the inevitable happened, I reached for my keys and the ring with the remote was gone.  Staving off the panic, I assured myself that it would turn up.  Luckily, the lawn service at my apartment came across it a couple days later... after they ran it over with a riding lawnmower.

Staring at the mangled corpse of my absurdly costly key fob, I resolved to solve my key loss problem once and for all.  With the simple hack I describe here, I haven't lost a key since!  (Though I have yet to replace the remote.)

This project was made proudly at the i3 Detroit hackerspace.

Step 1: Supplies

Picture of Supplies

You'll need:
* An s-biner (two-sided carabiner)
* A key ring
* Some heat shrink tubing
* A heat gun
* Your keys

Step 2: Attach Key Ring

Picture of Attach Key Ring

I like to add a single key ring to the carabiner that all of my other key rings will attach to.  This is actually optional, but it makes it somewhat easier to add/remove keyrings.

Step 3: Place Heat Shrink Tubing

Picture of Place Heat Shrink Tubing

Cut a length of heat shrink tubing and slide it onto the body of the carabiner.  Then close the clip, and slide it back up over the clip.

Step 4: Apply Heat

Picture of Apply Heat

Heat up the tubing with the heat gun.  The tubing will begin shrinking and forming to the shape of the underlying clip.  Make sure to apply heat to all parts of the tubing until it stops shrinking.

Step 5: Finished!

Picture of Finished!

Now you can attach your key rings to the ring on the carabiner, and it is physically impossible for them to fall off!  Of course, this won't prevent you from misplacing the whole thing.


Yard Sale Dale (author)2016-04-24

NiteIze brand makes a double-carabiner with a little locking piece for the bottom one. It looked neat, but didn't make it one day. Weak spring!

I put my regular old fashioned D type carabiner clip over a heavy duty belt. It won't tear out a belt loop that way. I am looking for better quality carabiners now, though.

cobaltxxxfusion (author)2013-02-02

Word of warning if you have an older car with some wear, extra weight on your ignition lock can keep you from starting your car. Yes, no joke in some cases that heavy EDC will prevent you from starting your car, I learned this the hard way. Consider making copies and a good well hidden magnetic case on the car is the way to go. If you have power locks it is not if but when you lock your keys in the car. If the electronic fob cost is ridiculous then think about a trunk key if you can enter via the back seats. Also when you purchase a new car make sure you get a 2nd st of keys as part of the deal.

sarawelder (author)2012-06-08

lots of good ideas here. thanks everyone! wish I had read this before I lost my toyota keys and remote on a hike....too expensive to replace.

FrankBlourtango (author)2012-06-02

Bad idea hooking any of these devices to your belt loop to hold your keys. They can come off and they do. I lost my keys and a nifty spyderco knife. Never again will I trust a carbiner, snap link or anything like that to secure my keys

derte84 (author)2012-05-19

Comment in this instructable are ase valuable as the instructable. Great guys!

KraZyMiKe (author)2012-05-17

I solved this problem years ago when I was working in Coney Island (the last thing you want is to loose your keys while the rides are in motion).

Head down to your local hardware store and ask for O'Kay's KeySafe. This belt clip has a spring release and once your keys are on it they are there when you need them. I have never lost a set of keys using these and they last for years. Multiple sizes too!

Not exactly DIY, but it works.

notimeoff (author)2012-05-17

Great idea but is only a quick fix : 1 the shrink sleeve will not last long, 2 you can still ripe the belt loop off your pants.
I love "S biners" and I keep two on my pack with vinyl tubing ( from pet shop ) to holds them closed, but a better way to handle the key on belt problem is to get a "RAINE" "key ring holder With flap", and a welded SS ring ( pick the size you need from the hardware store)...remove the small plastic key clip from the flap and slide the SS ring onto the double Velcro belt loop, If you use a closed loop biner , or a "round eye snap" you will never loose your keys and still have them on your hip and the flap keep the keys from ripping and dirtying your pants.
NEVER USE CHEEP ALUMINUM BINERS. !.... My key's are my job so I never go cheep, I have four friends that have made this set-up and we all love it.

elplatt (author)notimeoff2012-05-17

Sounds heavy duty! I love the flap on that Raine key holder. I have noticed my pants wearing out from my keys.

The heat shrink held up surprisingly well on my last carabiner. I had it for about 9 months before the clip broke, and the heat shrink was still going strong. I'll bet your method would last years though.

notimeoff (author)elplatt2012-05-17

Here is some fast shots of the mod.and the keys and biner. I am making one for a friends are not to good but I am not at home with a good cam and lighting.

tsaman (author)2012-05-16

You know - If you were to just heat it until it was a little tight over the s-curve but still able to slip over the wider clip, you could have kind of a "slip-lock"...

Slide it down to lock it so things don't come loose accidentally.

I have one of these s-biners and keep my little swiss army knife on it.

It's great since I can clip the knife off when I want to use it without all the keys and junk attached, but sometimes it twists around and comes unclipped in my pocket!

This would certainly remedy that!

Great idea and nice writeup!

elplatt (author)tsaman2012-05-17

Thanks! Some other commenters have used flexible vinyl tubing to achieve the same effect.

etoswald (author)2012-05-16

You know most auto insurance companies replace "lost" keys for free without affecting your deductible.

elplatt (author)etoswald2012-05-17

Good to know! I'm going to have to ask about that...

jllz (author)2012-05-17

I couldn't live without my s-biners. Never had a problem with it. I love that I can hook it to my purse, dog lead, jacket buttons, tshirt neckline...just about anything. Never lost any keys off them but this is a good idea.

elplatt (author)jllz2012-05-17

Thanks! I definitely prefer them over the regular ones, although the clips do wear out and break eventually.

unsecretagent (author)2012-05-17

Useful hack. This gives me an idea though. Instead of rendering half of the S-biner useless why don't you try to drill a small hole on the flat spine of a regular carabiner and add your traditional extra ring there?

elplatt (author)unsecretagent2012-05-17

That would work too!

criggie (author)2012-05-17

I've had one of these for 15 years and have never ever lost it.

Only downside is I jangle if I run, but never losing a master key... priceless.

elplatt (author)criggie2012-05-17

That looks pretty handy actually, and I wouldn't have to clip/unclip my keys as often.

jjlwis (author)2012-05-17

I've used S-biners for a while now for both my personal and work key's.
I have encountered the problems where the s-biner slips out of the belt loop as well. (esp when loaded down with key's and large key rings)

anyway, for my fix, i used some stretchy electrical wire jacket. so that i could slide it over the open gate portion with enough overlap so my keys wouldn't come out again, but if I needed to take they key ring off, i just had to slide the sleeve down to open the "gate" .... it might take some tough fingernails to slide it off.. and some time to find the right size and strength and flexible wire covering.. but my keys have not come off for over 3 years now!

elplatt (author)jjlwis2012-05-17

It seems a few people have come up with a slide-lock type solution. Thanks for sharing!

kprichard (author)jjlwis2012-05-17

Sorry I didn't notice this post before I put up my solution. Great minds think alike! Looks like we both re purposed what we had laying around for the same project.

uberwald (author)2012-05-17

I solved this a slightly different way, though i may also borrow your method...  

elplatt (author)uberwald2012-05-17


kprichard (author)uberwald2012-05-17

Amazingly simple! Love it!

kprichard (author)2012-05-17

I have had a Nite-IZE Key Rack and loved it from day one. (Same brand as your S biner.)

I have replaced all of the plastic mini-biners with metal ones.  I have one key or fob per biner.  This is so handy. However, while the rack 
never came loose from my belt-loop, sometimes individual biners would be missing.  I have recovered them almost every time, but I got tired of the sick feeling losing car/home/office keys.  

My solution:  I had some fish aquarium air hose laying around.  I cut some short pieces that would fit on each mini s-biner.  This way, it can slip over the clipping mechanism and lock it.  When you need to remove a key quickly at the dealership or need to loan a key to someone, you just slide the hose away from the locking mechanism and it comes right open! (The air hose material gets a little dirty after a year or two but they are so cheap to replace.)

elplatt (author)kprichard2012-05-17

Nifty, I really like that! Thanks for sharing!

LaffyDuck187 (author)2012-05-17

you could just weld the two parts

elplatt (author)LaffyDuck1872012-05-17

Yep, that would definitely work! I've actually never welded, so heat shrink is a little more my speed.

Warren.Sensei (author)2012-05-17

Not bad. You still have the problem, as you mentioned, with dropping or misplacing the keys once removed from the clip for use.

What I use is a regular beaner-clip on each end of a lanyard, clipped to my belt loop. This way I can reach almost anything that I'm unlocking or the car ignition without ever actually detaching anything. I can easily unclip one or the other ends when necessary, of course (keeping the car on while I need to get out of it), but I can never drop them, lock them in the car etc.

elplatt (author)Warren.Sensei2012-05-17

That's a nice solution too!

old_code (author)2012-05-17

I'm going to have to try this; every time I tried an S 'biner, when I tried to get it off of my belt loop I'd open both clips and would lose keys. Finally stopped using them.

With shrink wrap, also, if you need to remove it for any reason, it's just a quick slit and it's done.

Very good re-purposing. Thanks.

elplatt (author)old_code2012-05-17

Glad you like it!

loveisweakness (author)2012-05-14

Clever solution to the problem, but I must say I've had my keys on an unmodified s-biner for quite a few years now (and I regularly clip other things like a water bottle or a flashlight on the key side) and have yet to have any issue that would require modifying it to keep my keys. Was this more of a "I've had problems with a regular carabiner and want to make 100% certain it won't happen here" situation or had you found the s-biner to be problematic enough it needed this modification?

elplatt (author)loveisweakness2012-05-14

I've actually lost some keys from an s-biner. This was my attempt to make something totally fool-proof, because I knew if there was a way to lose my keys, I would find it :)

dogsgomoo (author)elplatt2012-05-17

How smart and simple!

I've lost keys as well. The s-biner is great but it seems that if it's twisted at just the right angle, with the keys in just the right spot, the clip leaves enough room for them to slip off. I ended up using some tape to keep it 100% safe but this is much cleaner. :P

macingtosh (author)2012-05-16

parafoil (author)2012-05-14

I like your idea but a carabiner always gets stuck on my belt loop when I try to take it off.
I have used a "STANLEY Round Eye Swivel Bolt Snap" with the sliding closure for about thirty years with very few problems.
I admit though that I have never tried the nite-eyez s-biner you have used here, I have seen them at the Harbor Freight tool store and will pick one up next time I'm there...

jessyratfink (author)2012-05-14

Great idea - I have this problem too! Would have never thought to solve it that way.

elplatt (author)jessyratfink2012-05-14


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