Practical Keychain Gear

Written on January 17, 2011. Written by .

Lot’s of functionality in a small pocket.

One day while I was in Osaka I noticed a compass marker embedded in the floor of a subway station. I thought it was a good idea because whenever you emerge from a particular subway exit for the first time, you never know your orientation.  I thought back on how much time I wasted in Japan trying to get my orientation, even when I knew exactly where I was on the map. It wasn’t just when I was leaving the subway either.  Sometimes I was leaving a big department store on a different side than the one I came in through. And many times it was just because I lost my orientation while walking the complicated network of streets. Whenever I lost my bearings, I almost always ended up asking someone for help. After seeing the compass marker in Osaka, I finally realized that it was time to get a compass.

Of course, a GPS system is a more powerful alternative, but it has some drawbacks. GPS devices are much more expensive and generally less convenient to carry around unless its built into your cell phone. But even if you have an iPhone, that just compounds the last issue, which is that GPS units run out of batteries. On the other hand, a compass and map system does just about everything you need, weighs very little, fits in your pocket, never runs out of batteries, and costs about $1. In Japan, you can find compasses at 100 Yen shops and get maps for free at any subway station or tourist area. I love GPS too, but you have to admit that a compass and map system is pretty impressive.

S-Biner for Shoes
Keeps keys snugly in place while I’m running. It’s better than a shoe wallet that allows the keys to bounce around.

I decided to mount a small compass to my keychain to make sure that I would always have it when I needed it. So I bought a compass for 100 Yen that worked great; I compared it to the marker in the subway and it lined up exactly. After this success, I started thinking about other things I wanted to be sure I always had available. So I took off to find all the ingredients for the lifehacker’s keychain. When I was done, this is what I had.

Generally speaking I like to be as minimalist as possible, but at the same time I like to be as functional as possible, and I think this gear strikes a balance between the two.

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1 Comment so far
  1. mspice February 12, 2011 10:20 pm

    Cool post! I must say though, I REALLY hate having anything extra in my pockets and almost always have my wallet, keys, phone, etc. in a backpack rather than my pockets. The light, in particular, would probably be a good idea to have. I wonder if there is a small, flat light with a built in compass.

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