Car thieves are getting smarter. Masterlock boxes are no longer safe and stashing your keys on your tire or in the bushes could very well end with you getting out of the water to find your car has vanished. What’s a surfer with an electronic car key to do? It’s actually simpler than you might think — just bring the key with you. Scary? We all know salt water and electronic car keys don’t mix, but with one of these waterproof pouches, they don’t have to. I got my hands on four waterproof pouches you can use to bring your electronic car key into the water, putting them to the ultimate test in the pounding surf of Ocean Beach in San Francisco. Don’t become a car thief’s next victim: bring your keys into the water with you with one of these great options, ranked in order of personal preference.
If you’re curious about how these key pouches stacked up against one another, take a look at our comparison table. And, if you’re not sure what to look for in a waterproof key pouch, check out our buyer’s guide below.
What Are the Best Waterproof Key Pouches?
Best Overall Key Pouch: KGUARD
Most Affordable: Aquapac Keymaster
Interesting Design: DRFT Waterproof Wallet
Most Indestructible: Keyfender
Best Overall Key Pouch
Ease of Use: 4/5
Comfort While Surfing: 5/5
The KGuard was easily my favorite car key pouch. It’s a literal pouch made of thick, durable silicone. You just pop your car key inside, cinch the top, and you’re good to go. Not much bigger than the car key itself, it fits easily into the chest zip of my wetsuit, where I secured it to the wetsuit’s key loop. While I was initially a little skeptical about the closure system, which led to a couple of panicked double-checks to make sure it hadn’t come undone, I soon grew to trust this nifty little gadget.
The KGUARD’s biggest downfall is that it’s quite difficult to actually get the key inside. Being made of silicone, the pouch is quite grippy, so popping the key in is more of a two-handed job that includes wrenching the thing open and shoving the key down its gullet. It became a lot easier once I got the hang of it and realized it was going to take a lot more than me using the product as intended to rip the durable silicone. Although you can’t see the buttons of your car key, if you memorize where they are it’s pretty easy to use the key while it’s inside the pouch. If you keep a little air inside when closing it up, it’ll float too!CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON
Ease of Use: 5/5
Comfort While Surfing: 5/5
Another great option, the Aquapac Keymaster has been around for years and has been trusted by many. The cheapest option on this list, the Keymaster boasts a foolproof and easy-to-operate closure system, a clear plastic pouch so you can see and operate the buttons on your car key, and it will float too. This also fit comfortably in the front zip of my wetsuit. I just folded it in half around the key fob so I could keep the hard plastic closure system horizontal.
This was where my main concern with the product came up. I couldn’t help but be a little paranoid that with hard use over time, (especially with me folding it in half to stuff in my wetsuit) some leakage might occur as the pouch itself is made of rather thin material. That being said, so far so good and I’ve used it on some bigger days when I was well and truly thrashed without a drop of water getting inside. James, a rep from the company who responded to me on Instagram, assured me folding the pouch shouldn’t be an issue. Another good option that avoids the folding problem and keeps your front-zip uncluttered is to wear the included leash around your neck with the pouch hanging down your back. A little awkward, but surprisingly less uncomfortable than it sounds.CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON
Ease of Use: 5/5
Comfort While Surfing: 4/5
The DRFT pouch takes a slightly different approach to storing your key with a neoprene sleeve that fits over your leg or bicep. A set of three ziplock seals protect your key while in the water, and the sleeve can fit over or under your wetsuit with an included velcro strap to cinch it down and keep it in place. Wearing it under a wetsuit can be uncomfortable, depending on the fit of the neoprene. For added security to make extra sure it doesn’t slip over your ankle and into the ocean, put it on your leash leg and it isn’t going anywhere.
The main problem I had with this item was the ziplock closure system, similar to the Aquapac. I found myself wondering how many attempts to open the ziplocks with cold hands it would take to bust one and let water in on the next use, but I guess that’s why there are three ziplocks and not just one. On another note, this probably isn’t the best option for shortboarders, as it can create drag when kicking into waves.CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON
Ease of Use: ?/5
Comfort While Surfing: ?/5
To be fair, I never did get my hands on the Keyfender to try out in the water. I reached out to the Keyfender team and was apparently sent a product to test, but never received it in the mail. Between international shipping during the pandemic and porch piracy around the holidays, I don’t fault Keyfender for the package not arriving, though I was pretty excited to give this product a shot. From the videos on the website, it looks simple enough to use. Just choose the right foam insert to keep your car key from rattling around inside and click the case shut. A clear plastic window on the outside lets you operate the car key buttons while it’s inside the Keyfender, and it floats!
The hard plastic case seems to be its greatest strength and biggest downfall. While it seems to be an absolutely bombproof case, it is pretty bulky, the main downside other reviews online pointed to. For some water activities such as SUPing or kiting this shouldn’t be too much of a problem, but in my situation where I’d be tucking it into the front zip of my wetsuit and then lying down on my surfboard to paddle, I was worried it might be uncomfortable. Less of a problem for other water sports. The Keyfender does come with a nylon armband which you can use to wear it outside of your wetsuit, but this seems like a less secure option, especially in bigger surf.CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON
|Key Pouch||Price||Overall Rating||Best For|
|Aquapac Keymaster||$26||4.7||Most Affordable|
|DRFT Waterproof Wallet||$39||4.3||Interesting Design|
What Makes a Good Waterproof Key Pouch?
While durability is something I always look for in gear, it’s especially important in a waterproof key pouch. All of the above pouches are waterproof, but some will stay waterproof longer than others, especially when you consider the hard use and corrosive salt water you’ll be exposing them to in the waves. Our top pick for durability is the KGUARD Waterproof Key Pouch.
Ease of Use
If you’re a regular in the lineup, a key pouch is something that you will be using often. As such, you’ll want something that’s easy to use, so you can get your keys in and out without a battle. Especially if you live somewhere chilly – numb post-surf fingers don’t work particularly well. Worth noting is that many of these cases – being made of soft material – allow you to operate the buttons on your electronic keys from inside, so you can warm those fingers up before trying to wrench the case off.
Comfort While Surfing
Have you ever surfed with a key on your person only to have it dig into you the entire session? Adding a key pouch to the equation increases the bulk of your key, and can make it a bother to surf with. Before purchasing a pouch, think of where you’ll be storing the key, if you plan on storing it in your wetsuit, choose a low-profile option like the KGUARD or Keymaster.
When looking for a key pouch, you want something that is easy to secure to your wetsuit or body. You do not want your key pouch budging during your session, so it’s super important that is has a reliable way to attach to you somehow.
Editor’s Note: For more gear reviews and features on The Inertia, click here.