Pocket carrying keys can be a real pain (literally) with them often sitting uncomfortably right where you wish that new flashlight you’ve been pining for would be. Alternatively, hanging keys from your belt comes with audible feedback notifying you they’re still there (i.e., insufferable jingling). The KeySmart 2.0 was designed as an answer to the age-old keychain dilemma, but is it the right one? Read more for my review of the KeySmart 2.0.
The KeySmart 2.0 transforms your mess of keys into a sleek, portable solution in a way traditional keychains can’t. With the KeySmart, most standard-sized keys are layered on and sandwiched between aircraft aluminum handles about two stainless steel posts, which allow the keys to swivel in a “Swiss Army Knife” fashion. The base model fits up to five keys. Fewer keys require small spacers in the assembly, while six or more keys require an additional expansion pack. The frame can also house those popular Kingston DTSE9 USB drives in the space of two key slots. Because it has to accommodate a varying number of keys of different shapes and sizes, the KeySmart necessitates tight tolerances and superb fit and finish. Luckily, the post threads are clean, the logo is etched with laser precision, the anodization is even, and the machining overall is simply handsome. I wouldn’t expect less from a product handmade in Chicago.
However, even with good machining, there is some play about the posts when swiveling keys, due to the simpler design approach: you can (or in my case, need to) fine tune the friction in the swivel by how much you tighten the post during assembly. If too loose, the attached keyring loop tends to swivel on its own, and if too tight, it sticks to the adjacent key when it’s deployed, sometimes making orientation awkward when holding what’s on the rest of the keyring. It’s imperative that you assemble correctly and to your liking — too tight becomes inconvenient and too loose also risks losing your keys. As a result of the user-set friction, a satisfying click of keys locking into place when stored or deployed is sadly absent. Nonetheless, the KeySmart does a good job of keeping keys in one place, and keeping them compact. It can accommodate even the bulkiest keyring and cuts down on jingle significantly. The frame is slightly concave from the sides, exposing the outer ridge of the key to act as a pseudo nail-nick for easier access. I would have liked some custom-fit blank keys without the “head” of the key for a cleaner look as the head isn’t really needed for torque when housed in the KeySmart.
The KeySmart will feel like a single larger key on your keyring for the most part, but otherwise it operates slightly differently and may take some getting used to. Instead of untangling a messy keyring to get the key you want, you’ll have to retrain that muscle memory to simply swivel the right one out. The rigidity and added length of the frame might make your keys fit awkwardly or with difficulty in certain places, e.g. with the extended version at the ignition, or even the standard model unlocking a front door behind a screen door. Yet, nothing seems drastically unfamiliar or wildly inconvenient when using the KeySmart — it just does what it was meant to do in a smart, elegant way. Your keys are accessible in one place when you need them, and quietly out of the way when you don’t.
With all of these features, I’d say the KeySmart does provide an answer to the dilemma of pocket carry vs. belt carry. In the pocket, it avoids awkward bulge and its smooth handles and slim profiles make it easier to store and retrieve. It’s probably a better option for those with car key remotes — simply attach one to the included loop. On the belt, it’s much quieter and less likely to scratch upholstery or poke into your hip. I would opt for the KeySmart if it replaces at least four keys or so. Using it for two or three small keys would make the added bulk more apparent and might not save as much space as you’d think. It also just felt more accessible to have a few keys on a split ring instead of having to use two hands to swivel one key (out of two) from the KeySmart to use it. With more keys, the organization and space-saving is much more apparent and worthwhile.
Everyday Carry Score: ★★★★☆
- Simple, efficient approach to storing multiple keys silently
- Excellent fit and finish on a slim, easy-to-carry-frame
- Accommodates most keys and expandable to meet needed configuration
- Keyring loop, split ring, and blank keys included in the box
- Very finicky posts — achieving perfect friction is imperative for accessibility and retention of keys
- Potentially less practical for fewer than four keys
- Not easily operated single-handedly
Aside from ultra minimalists, I think the KeySmart system would benefit anyone’s EDC. It makes a great addition to a keyring system or it can capably replace one altogether — but it’s up to you to make sure you assemble it in its best configuration. At under $20, it’s a good value and not much of a risk in the rare event it doesn’t ultimately benefit your carry. You can choose from seven colors and configure your KeySmart at the link below: