Amateur philosopher, writer
vans by the beach

Your car is probably safe at a remote break like this, but you never know… Photo: Tobias Tullius//Unsplash

The Inertia

There are a few conundrums that plague the modern surfer. How to have the right gear for any surf conditions without storing 20-plus surfboards, how to avoid being a kook when common actions such as strapping your board on your car with the fins at the back can label you as such, and what the hell to do with your car keys when you’re going into the water.

Before modern electric car keys, it used to be a lot easier, just lock up, and take the key with you. And while the conveniences of modern car keys cannot be denied (keyless entry being my personal favorite), when it comes to surfing, they’re a major pain in the ass. And to make matters worse, criminals know that this is a weak point, and have been exploiting that fact. With so many “solutions” to storing your keys on the market, and the cost of choosing wrongly clocking in at the price of your car, phone wallet and other personal belongings, we thought it would be a good idea to lay out all the options once and for all.

What Not To Do (Seriously, don’t)

Don’t put your keys on your tire, don’t hide them in the bushes, and definitely don’t lock them in a Masterlock key stash on your car. As I reported on in here back in October, these types of car-key stashes have been hacked, with multiple videos on YouTube displaying how a thief can break into one in under 30 seconds.


As for stashing your keys somewhere out of sight, it’s up to you if you want to risk being seen while stowing your keys. Probably a lot lower risk at remote breaks, but a massive no-no at more public areas like my home break in San Francisco.

Use an Un-Hacked Key Stash (Risky)

So what are your options? There are plenty of other lock boxes which allow you to leave your keys attached to the outside of your car, a few of which are listed in this article.

The Igloohome is expensive, but probably requires a PhD in Computer Science to hack rather than a thin piece of metal.

If your key uses remote entry though, make sure the lock box will block your key’s signal so someone can’t just open the door you just attached the lock box to. But remember, just because it hasn’t been proven a thief can break into one of these doesn’t mean they can’t – the lock boxes with code tumblers like the Masterlock boxes I’d imagine aren’t that much harder to pick than the Masterlocks. In my personal opinion though, leaving your keys in plain sight just screams ‘steal me’.


Take the Valet Key, Leave the Fob (Pretty Safe)
If you have a car with a detachable valet key, or a non-electric spare, you can lock the fob inside your car and bring the valet key with you into the water. If your car doesn’t have an easily detached valet key but can be manually opened from the outside, visit your local hardware store and they should be able to cut you a valet key to take into the water.

Electronic fob and detachable Valet Key.

However, many of you (myself included) with a push-to-start ignition have another pitfall to avoid. If someone were to break into my car with the electronic fob locked inside, all they would have to do is push the start button and they’d be able to drive away, no matter how well-hidden the fob was. But fear not! There is a solution. Ever heard of a faraday pouch? Named after the great physicist Michael Faraday, a faraday pouch blocks signals coming to and from an electronic device, such as your key fob. Place the fob in the bag, hide the bag, and you should be good to go. Silent Pocket makes a great faraday bag with a magnetic backing to attach it to hidden metal surfaces in/on your car, available here on Amazon.

Take The Entire Key With You (Very Safe)

Scary, right? Electronic car keys and water don’t mix, though why they don’t make key fobs waterproof is beyond me. Until they do, there are some great options on the market for taking your electronic car keys in the water with you – with the right equipment, this is a very secure way of storing your keys. With the wrong equipment, you’re risking dousing your car keys, instead of having your car stolen.

A waterproof pouch to carry an electric car key into the surf


I got my hands on these four options: The KGUARD, the Aquapac Keymaster, the DRFT Waterproof Wallet, and the Keyfender, and put them to the ultimate test in the heavy surf of Ocean Beach. The full review can be found here.

Leave Your Keys Somewhere Safe (Safest)

A killer option for those of us who have buddies that live close to the water is to leave a key at their house, but that certainly isn’t everyone. Simpl Surf is a company that is trying to change that. They provide rentable board and gear lockers just minutes from popular breaks in the Bay Area, and they’re looking to expand their service worldwide. I just chatted with Tomas, the founder of Simpl Surf, and he agreed that a key locker system would be a great addition to the higher-end services that they offer, and plan on integrating it into future locations. Until then, it might be time to start being friendly in the lineup (“Oh, you’re from around here? Thats awesome…”)


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