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Car keys and salt water

Imagine yourself on a perfect day on a ideal spot. On a holiday with 25 knots, waves, sun and you brought all your kite gear. In your rental car. Oh what a feeling! But just when you are about to walk to the beach you realise you haven’t thought about where to put your car key. Full of electronics. Your friend did bring a pouch but when you look at the plastic bag you are in doubt. It seems to be made for it. But when you look at it more closely the closure system depends literately on a few millimeters of plastic that is pressed together.

Car keys and salt water
Car keys and salt water


The most obvious choice to keep your keys with you while kiteboarding is using a pouch. If this is a good choice for (electronic) keys that are vulnerable to water is a more difficult question than you would think. This is because there are so many pouches on the market. And they are not all as waterproof as a kiteboarder would need.

Pouches on Amazon
Pouches on Amazon

There are two things we can elaborate about it. One: yes we experienced it ourselves. A leaking pouch. Resulting in a broken car key. And a hour of drying to -luckily- get the immobilizer to do its job again. A 50 euro fine from the rental company and a lot of stress could have been prevented by using a better key holder. Two: A lot of people had the same issue.

Amazon reviews
Amazon reviews

Those leaking experiences -from often very disappointed and even angry people- can be read by clicking on the Amazon.com review 1-star ratings. Remarkably even IPX8 rated pouches have too many leaking examples to trust your key to it. In fact over 70% (12 out of 17 randomly chosen) of the pouches we checked for sale at Amazon seem to have leaking issues. Enough reason for us to avoid those pouches.

Testing Keebunga and Keyfender

So to be prepared for taking a car key with you while kiteboarding we tested two universal waterproof key holders: the Keebunga and the (new) Keyfender. Quite similar products but with some delicate differences. For example how it is produced (the Keyfender is made locally in Germany by disabled persons). Or the 10 euro price difference. Of course more important is how they actually function.

The Keyfender with a flexibel part to be able to use the remote inside
The Keyfender with a flexibel part to be able to use the remote inside

The Keebunga comes without a rope or key cord. It does provide an internal rope to hang your key. But to use it is often too much hassle. The Keyfender however not only comes with several options to wear it but also with cushions so your key won’t be moving around in the holder. The flexible window part in the Keyfender -really handy- makes it possible to use the Keyfender while it is still in the holder. Which isn’t the case with the Keebunga.

The Keyfender has a higher (8 over 7 for the Keebunga) IPX rating. This is an interesting detail because it means the Keyfender should be able to withstand more water pressure before it starts to leak. As we mentioned before we have seen pouches with similar IPX ratings which are not as waterproof as we need. So an IPX rating is a nice to know. But only actual usage can show if a product is really as waterproof as these ratings try to tell us.

The verdict

So what would we choose? Although we have a clear preference there is one more thing we need to address. Something which doesn’t show by just looking at them on a web page; the Keebunga and Keyfender both are bigger and fatter than you would expect. A bubble in your wetsuit will be visible. Like an impact vest it is something to get used to. Surfers would need to wear them on the back for obvious reasons.

The Keebunga has quite a delicate system to open and close. It has two folding clips which we don’t really like. Too fragile.

Fragile clips Keebunga
Fragile clips Keebunga

In fact right from the first time we used it the clips completely came off while opening or closing it. Putting them back on isn’t difficult. But it is annoying. The Keyfender on the other hand is a bit more difficult to open but at least it doesn’t fall apart. And yes everything stays perfectly dry inside. These facts including the ability to use the remote inside the Keyfender are the two major differences why we prefer the Keyfender over the Keebunga.


By far the best option is a separate -non electronic- key. But usually that isn’t something a rental company provides.

Safe solution; metal key separation from the electronic part
The safest solution; metal key separation from the electronic part

There are also several products to leave your key attached to your car. For example the 40 Euro Northcore Keypod. We didn’t test this product. The main reason for not testing it is that we don’t know anybody that is into the burglary business to test its major achilleshiel (everyone knows where your key is when you are out on the water). The possible theft of your car by breaking into a Keypod is something to worry about since it isn’t included in your car insurance.

List prices

Keebunga 40 Euro or £30 GBP www.keebunga.com

Keyfender 30 Euro www.keyfender.de 

Reaction from Keebunga:

We do offer a no quibble parts replacement service if users have any difficulties. And we are currently working on a more robust clip mechanism. Car keys come in many different shapes and sizes so we are also working on a more compact version. Mark 1 has been sized to fit as many keys as possible. The elastic tie enables you to permanently attached your key to the cap, which in turn becomes your key ring, so it’s easy to detached and assemble with the lower case.

Reaction from Keyfender:

There is one ore two things you could ad; visibility: Keyfender is colored to have a chance to find it back. striking colour. sizes:yes they they reflect the key sizes that we have on the market. Car keys nowadays get even bigger than smaller. But keyfender is less weight. accessories: foam pads, belt, lanyard and that little band that we deliver for attaching the key inside the case (that’s a hey there is this little wall with the hole) environment:keep the oceans clean and avoid plastic. that’s what we did with the package.