Quick, empty your pockets.
If you happen to be outside the house, you’ll likely have at least three items: a wallet, phone, and keys. We’ve already talked about credit-card knives that fit into wallets and the iPhone multitool case, but that leaves us with keys.
Since your keys are always within reach whenever you’re outside the house, they’re a natural place to attach essential tools.
If you’re looking to make your keys even more useful, we’ve assembled this list of tools that fit right on your keychain.
Some of the tools we first wrote about when this was published in May 2015 have gone the way of the dodo, so we decided to give this list an update.
The Gerber Shard is a small and easy to carry piece of steel that doesn’t overwhelm with functions. The small tool has two screwdrivers, a pry bar, a nail remover, a bottle and can opener, a scraper, and whatever else you can get out of it.
The tool is 2.75 inches long and made of stainless steel with black titanium coating.
Victorinox Classic SD
Perhaps the best-known multitool ever is the Swiss Army knife. The Victorinox Classic SD is not only one of the best-selling Swiss Army knives but it is also small enough to fit on your keychain.
This multitool doesn’t have the 30 tools found on the larger models, but it does have the essentials. Just a few of the tools are a small blade, nail file, screwdriver, scissors, tweezers, and toothpick.
When closed the tool is 2.5 inches. It also comes in a variety of colors and designs.
The K-Tool from Kershaw has a cool design in the shape of the “k” in Kershaw’s logo. It has a bottle opener and some corners that work as screwdrivers.
While it is easy to see this as only a giant (well, small actually) billboard for Kershaw, it is surprisingly functional.
The DoohicKey, which is an annoying name to type out, has been around for a while and frequently gets mentioned on these lists and for good reason. For only $5, you get a basic but very functional tool that comes with a pry bar, ruler, screwdriver, wrenches, and more.
There are a few iterations of this, but the original is the best.
Seat belts save lives. There’s no question about that. But when a car has flipped over and the belt has trapped you inside a burning vehicle, the seat belt can be a death trap.
That’s why designer Ray Kirk set out to make his own emergency strap cutter with the CRKT K.E.R.T. (Keyring Emergency Rescue Tool).
The tool can quickly cut through a strap to save your life or a stranger’s. There’s also a hex wrench, bottle opener, and oxygen tank opener.
Swiss+Tech specializes in making small multitools. Some of their items are hit or miss, but the Utili-Key hits all the right spots. There are very few tools that actually look like keys (except for the SOG Key Knife but that’s only a knife).
The Utili-Key is a six in one tool with three screwdrivers, two knives (kind of), and a bottle opener. It’s easy to take on and off and easy to open and close. Unfortunately, there’s no pry bar.
The Mullet is the newest addition to this list. Despite its sully name, the tool is nondescript and highly useful. It has 11 functions, such as a cap lifter, screwdriver, and pry.
SOG MacV Tool
The SOG MacV Tool is keychain tool similar to the K-Tool. Instead of being in a K-shape, the tool is in the shape of the original skull from the MACV-SOG group (which the company takes its name from). There are 12 components to the tool, including screwdrivers, wrenches, a nail puller, a pry bar, and more.
The Gerber Dime is a full-blown multitool that’s modeled in the style of the Leatherman. It remains a beloved multitool that’s small enough to fit on a keychain but still be functional enough to be used on all types of tasks.
The Dime is less than 3 inches when closed and only a little more than 2 ounces.
Kershaw PT-2 Tool
Kershaw added two keychain tools to its lineup in the PT-1 and PT-2. We gave the latter the edge because it has more functions at eight. It has a bottle opener and cap lifter, a pry bar, two screwdriver tips, a wire scraper, and 3 sizes of hex drives.
It comes in at under an ounce.
Boker Plus Minibar
An earlier version of this post had the Boker Plus Vox Access Tool, but it seems to be unavailable (hopefully just temporary though). Instead of putting something you couldn’t get, we replaced it with the Boker Plus Minibar.
It looks and functions similarly to the VAT — with a prybar, screwdriver, and more. However, it is a bit bigger with a small and pointy protrusion on one side. It can still make a good keychain companion though.
The Brewzer is as simple as they come. The small tool is really just a bottle opener and pry bar. It weighs a half an ounce and is made of stainless steel.
While it is simple, it works quite well and you can use it in ways not advertised too.
A third CRKT on this list? Yes.
The Columbia River brand takes its keychain tools seriously. They’ve put out a lot of these and there have been quite a few misses, but the Viva is a hit. Designed by the great Liong Man, the Viva is less of a rescue tool (a la KERT) and more of a pry bar/multitool.
Victorinox Midnite Manager
Yes, I already have a Swiss Army Knife, but the Midnite Manager is a different beast. When you don’t want to carry a bunch of extra tools, a flashlight, and a pen, the Midnite Manager is your solution.
It has a small LED light, a pressurized ballpoint pen, wire stripper, scissors, screwdrivers, and more. It is thicker than the Classic SD, but it is more robust in the toolset it offers.
With a 19-in-1 design, the MicroMax probably offers the most bang for its buck in terms of space. It might be a bit too bulky for the keys, but by god it has a lot of tools.
There are six screwdrivers, various wire tools, a hand drill, a bottle opener, rulers, hex wrenches, pliers, and more. And it fits right on the keys! Some have complained about quality control issues, so your mileage may vary.
Bonus: KeySmart Tools
Finally, there’s the KeySmart. The KeySmart itself isn’t much of a tool, but it holds all your keys in a cool little package. But, you can also accessorize the KeySmart to include a bevy of tools, such as a folding knife, screwdriver, pliers, and golf divot tool.
The more you put on this, the bigger and thicker it gets, but there’s no denying the usefulness of the KeySmart on your keychain. It also allows you to have a more organized key set that doesn’t include a bunch of tools jangling about.