Forum Index » General Lightweight Backpacking Discussion » Car Keys?


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Paul Wagner
(balzaccom) - F

Locale: Wine Country
Car Keys? on 05/12/2014 16:04:43 MDT Print View

Do you carry your car keys with you on the trail, or you do hide them at the car? There is no point to carrying extra weight, and car keys certainly fall into that category. I leave all of my keys in the car EXCEPT the car key itself. That goes in my pack.

Or do you really practice ultralight backpacking, and leave the car key artfully hidden somewhere so that you don’t have to tote the extra weight? (And no, please don’t tell me or anyone else WHERE you hide those keys…)

Of course, true ultra-lighters will either take public transportation to the trailhead…or buy a car with keyless entry!

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: Car Keys? on 05/12/2014 16:06:41 MDT Print View

I do pack the single key that will gain me access to my vehicle.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Great Lakes Bay Region
Re: Car Keys? on 05/12/2014 16:26:18 MDT Print View

I only have ever carry a house and car key in the "real" world so carrying 2 keys is not a big deal.

Roger Dodger
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: Wess Siide
Re: Car Keys? on 05/12/2014 16:35:58 MDT Print View

for vehicles with a trailer tow hitch, there are many products for a combination safe lock box in that little space.

here's the first one I searched.
http://www.hitchcovers.com/hitchsafe-trailer-hitch-receiver-combination-key-storage-lock-box-safe/

http://www.amazon.com/HitchSafe-HS7000T-Key-Vault/dp/B000I66JEM


Nothing is 100% safe. someone could sit there and try all the possible combinations. Then again, the car is unattended, so they can easily throw a rock through the window and hot wire it, or steal your stuff.

Edited by RogerDodger on 05/12/2014 16:41:55 MDT.

David Ayers
(djayers) - F
Re: Car Keys? on 05/12/2014 16:47:59 MDT Print View

My car happens to have a plastic 'valet' key that weighs only ~3 grams so I take that and hide the rest inside the locked vehicle.

TKB 1979
(ARIZONA1979) - M

Locale: DESERT SOUTHWEST
Re: Re: Car Keys? on 05/12/2014 17:02:17 MDT Print View

I'm not ultralight, but hang house key & car key from front belt loop. This is so they will clink together when I walk and the animal around the next turn will know I'm coming before I get there. I guess that's packing your fears? :)

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
keys on 05/12/2014 17:02:43 MDT Print View

My truck has a keypad for entering code to unlock doors.
It has never failed, but still "what if the battery goes dead somehow"

So I bring A key. Just not THE key. I wouldnt want to lose THE key. THE key is left in the vehicle , in a "hidden" compartment along with my wallet and housekeys.

The key I bring will only unlock the door. So Ive got 2 ways to get in the vehicle, and no risk of losing the key that will drive me home.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Car Keys? on 05/12/2014 17:11:53 MDT Print View

I'm less concerned about someone finding a key hidden on my car than that I might drop it along the trail (last did that in Hawaii a year ago, and had to do a mile roundtrip while the family waited in the rain) or lose my whole pack in some catastrophic river crossing. So I leave it on the car. Very handy if I should unexpected have to exit on another trail and call someone to pick up my car. Also, if companion (s) tire first, all my hiking buddies know I do this, so then can be warm and dry at the trailhead in the car.

Pro-tip when renting cars: They put the key plus a bulky plastic label and sometimes put BOTH copies of the car key on the same, un-detachable key-chain. Even around town, I want ONE key in my pocket (modern keys are the remote), not that whole bundle. So I travel with an extra split-ring key ring ($0.59). The first hardware store, Walmart or even supermarket I past, I go to the tool aisle, use nippers to cut their chain ring, put one key in the my pocket, and leave the rest of the stuff in the glove box until I return the car. Then I put it all onto the split ring. No one has ever said anything when I returned the car.

Mike Gunderloy
(ffmike) - M
Re: Car Keys on 05/12/2014 18:58:09 MDT Print View

I carry the car key in my pack. And that's it. Garage-door opener will get me into the house when I get home, so no point in a house key.

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: Re: Car Keys on 05/12/2014 19:16:40 MDT Print View

single key attached to the handy clip inside the inner pocket.

Glenn S
(Glenn64) - M

Locale: Snowhere, MN
Re: Car Keys? on 05/12/2014 19:44:10 MDT Print View

I figure trailheads are a lot like boat launches. Around here, they're often one in the same. Biggest concern is from break-ins and theft of contents, not the actual theft of the vehicle. An isolated, unpopulated area makes a prime target.

Following the old rule of not leaving valuables in your car, I don't leave the house with anything of value that I can't pack with me. Then I just stuff the car key in a fender well or something, sometimes I don't even lock the car door, let them look. It's better than replacing a broken window. Maybe they'd pop the trunk and heist my jumper cables, but that's still cheaper than a window, especially if it rains on top of it.

Stashing a house key outside your home isn't an uncommon practice, so that's already covered anyway.

Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
Re: Car Keys? on 05/12/2014 20:22:46 MDT Print View

Do you carry your car keys with you on the trail, or you do hide them at the car?

Both. One car key goes with me, tucked into a cuben-fiber wallet with ID, insurance card, credit card, permits, and cash, then that wallet is tied to the inside of the pack with a short length of Triptease. Much harder to lose that way.

On my truck is a spare key that always stays there, well concealed and hard to get to. After 25+ years of whitewater rafting, anything can get lost on the river, I want some way to get home.

As Glenn mentioned, I don't keep valuables in the car. I've had two cars broken into (one at a rafting takeout, one at home), and I've seen the aftermath of car breakins at rafting putins and takeouts, and at trailheads.

I'm not a big fan of leaving cars unlocked, unless it's a junker - too many people who will trash something just because.

-- Rex

Pete Staehling
(staehpj1) - F
Re: Car Keys? on 05/13/2014 03:22:05 MDT Print View

I wear the valet key on cord around my neck along with a Pico eGear light (.2 oz and usually my only light).

Roger Dodger
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: Wess Siide
Re: Re: Car Keys? on 05/13/2014 10:41:44 MDT Print View

AAA auto club will also make a plastic key cut-out in a credit card shape for wallet use, free of service for members.

it will get the door open, and the key will turn on the Accessories for radio, but newer cars will not let a non-metal key start the ignition, as anti-theft precaution.

It was intended as self-service to lower the cost for AAA to send a tow truck guy to slim jim a locked door.

Credit Card Key AAA

Edited by RogerDodger on 05/13/2014 10:43:58 MDT.

Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
RE: Car Keys on 05/13/2014 11:25:51 MDT Print View

Years ago the Eightmile Creek parking lot at the lower end of the Enchantments hike in Washington State was notorious for breakins (may still be).

A typical trip was to drive to the upper trailhead, drop everyone off, then one person drove to the lower trailhead and hitched a ride back to the upper trailhead.

My friend dropped us off, drove down and hitched back, but left his (old) car door unlocked with nothing of value inside. A few days later, sure enough there had been a bunch of breakins, but all they did to my friend's car as far as we could tell was check out the glove compartment. I guess they rightly figured that someone who left his car unlocked had nothing of value inside.

Much better than a broken window!

Jorge Falcon
(jorge.falcon) - F - M

Locale: CCS
Re: Re: Re: Car Keys? on 05/13/2014 11:32:13 MDT Print View

Plastic key? Haha! That's a clever idea, but it could potentially broke on trail or using it to open the car... I wonder if someone have made it using titanium (joke).

I normally take my key on a very light wallet with ID, credit card, some cash and health card. It's not a big deal.

Dena Kelley
(EagleRiverDee) - M

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
"Car Keys?" on 05/13/2014 12:06:47 MDT Print View

I carry my car key and house key on me. Vehicle break-ins are rampant at Alaska trailheads, so I don't leave a house key or a garage door opener in my vehicle. My car registration has my house address on it, I don't want to give any thief carte blanche to get into my house while I'm out.

I had my Jeep broken into last year. A thief had hit every parking area for miles, and busted out people's windows to steal their valuables. I had my soft-top on the Jeep and the thief was considerate and rather than bust a window or slash my soft-top, he just peeled the soft top back from the door and reached inside and unlocked it. He got caught and is being prosecuted (for something like 48 counts) but I do appreciate the fact that he didn't damage my vehicle. All he got from me is a couple bucks in change.

Edited by EagleRiverDee on 05/13/2014 12:09:06 MDT.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Seriously People..... on 05/13/2014 13:17:07 MDT Print View

I don't leave ANYTHING behind. I take my van's registration & insurance cards with me - I don't want anyone to know who I am if my car is broken into. I take my keys, wallet, mobile phone. The point is...before you go, slim it all down. Only carry your DL, a credit card and debit card, insurance card, and your car and house keys.

Who leaves a key outside their home?? I've never done that. Then again, I also have had alarm systems for the past decade, so if someone comes in, it is going to go off.

DO NOT leave your garage door opener in your car at a trailhead! All you need is that and the address on your registration and it is the easiest break in of your home.

I've had friends had their cars broken into badly and had to have their keys at home redone due to this. Would you want to go hiking and have a burglar show up at your home, if your wife and kids were home alone?

Seriously. People. Quit feeding crooks! Take your keys, your wallet and phone. When they get rewarded with your ID, they know it is worth it.

On the other hand, if you have never had to deal with criminal ID theft, carry on. I have. Anyone who has hiked with me has seen the laminated paperwork I carry due to this happening to me when I was around 17-18. It is beyond one of the worst things you can have happen to your self.

Glenn S
(Glenn64) - M

Locale: Snowhere, MN
Re: Seriously People..... on 05/13/2014 14:31:58 MDT Print View

"Who leaves a key outside their home??"

Well, a lot of people. There's plenty of info online about how to do this safely. Buried in a flowerbed, hidden in a brick retaining wall, fake sprinkler heads, or the commercially available hide-a-key rock, all come up with a quick search. Ok, that last one's kinda hokey, but the point remains, it's a common practice, although I don't think anyone keeps it under the welcome mat anymore, at least I hope not. Actually, you're not supposed to keep it anywhere within 15 feet of the lock that it opens. A garden shed with a combination lock on the door would be a good place. Of course they sell bolt on combination type lockers for keys, like the Realtors use, but that seems too obvious.

Stephen Adams
(stevemkedcom) - MLife

Locale: Northwest
Keys hidden on the car on 05/13/2014 15:47:27 MDT Print View

I leave my keys hidden on the car for a different reason than anyone has mentioned.
I usually hike with a friend and I am afraid if I get lost or fall over a cliff how will my friend be able to get out to get help with out the car key? Also on more than one occasion I have found other peoples car keys laying in the trail. I do not want to be one of those.