Editor’s Note: This piece was done in partnership with SYMPL Supply Co.
Electronic key fobs have given me more headaches at the intersection of daily life and surf life than any other tool I can think of. Half of our off-the-cuff storage options aren’t the safest: leaving them on a tire or tucked into the wheel well, tossing them under a lifeguard tower, or hiding them under a rock somewhere is just begging for a session of anxiety, constantly looking back to shore to make sure nobody’s driving off with your rig. I don’t trust lockboxes anymore. After learning how easy it actually is to break into most common lockboxes, that option stopped feeling reliable. A rash of robberies targeting popular surf spots in San Francisco not too long ago didn’t ease my doubts. Safe and reliable solutions for storing keys while surfing is important but it’s fair to say there isn’t a ton of options.
An obvious one for older key fobs was to take the valet key out and leave the electronic remote stored inside. The challenge with today’s key fobs, however, is that many won’t allow you to then lock the car from outside. That’s an intuitive safety feature to save us all from accidentally locking those keys inside any other time – not very helpful for surfing. Some late-model cars will just unlock themselves when a signal is received from the electronic key inside. A research team from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology even went out of their way years ago to prove that key fob signals can be hacked into.
Enter SYMPL Supply Co’s The Fobber, a tiny bag made to make that easy valet key trick a viable option. It’s a pretty straightforward tool: throw your key fob in the bag, store that bag somewhere safe and secure in your car, and bring the valet key with you. Because the bag blocks any signal coming in or out, your car can be locked manually as if you were bringing the electronic remote with you all along.
The SYMPL bag was designed by a company called Silent Pocket, which specializes in other dry bags, Faraday bags, and other storage options for keeping electronics protected. The Fobber bag, specifically, blocks 315 MHz frequency used for most North American-made cars and 433.92 MHz for European, Japanese, and Asian vehicles. It also blocks RFID and NFC signals.
While I have no idea how any of those signals work, I do know the bag’s afforded me another option for locking my car while surfing alone. It’s a discreet enough bag that’s easy to store away and fits anywhere I need it to. There’s been nothing complicated about using it, no activation, troubleshooting, or anything to turn on or off. If you can put a remote inside a bag, you’re capable of figuring out The Fobber.
As I mentioned, I don’t love the anxiety of hiding keys somewhere outside of my car or even storing them in a lockbox anymore. I constantly worry somebody could easily break the lockbox or a really determined person could casually watch me try to hide it, then swipe everything while I’m out surfing. Irrational fears or not, the worries make it tough to enjoy being in the water. Admittedly, the peace of mind the Fobber gives me while surfing has been great.