Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The #1 Most Important Car Camping Gadget

The Hide-A-Key. You'll thank me!

For families who leave behind the conveniences of home and plan adventures that take them off into the wilderness, there are any number of essential gadgets for light travel and scout-like resourcefulness. However, if—like us—you stuff your car with  oversized pots, pans, foam mattresses and seltzer makers, there is one gadget that you may want to consider...

A Leatherman? A headlamp? GPS? Nope. The most important car camping gadget you’ll ever own is a little doohickey called ... a Hide-A-Key. That might sound ridiculous, but trust me, if you ever lose your car keys when you’re camping, you will be so happy you bought this little gadget you may even send me flowers. (Roses are nice.)

So What Is It?
There are many different types and brand names for Hide-A-Keys (they are actually called keyholders, Hide-A-Key is one brand) - but they are all the same thing. A Hide-A-Key is a little box with a strong magnet on one side. You put a spare car key in it and stick it to the underside of your car. It costs about two dollars. That’s right, two bucks. And you can buy it at any hardware store.

Why Do I Need One?
I’m sure that you would never lose your car keys. Me neither! But consider this: Pete once went camping in Joshua Tree – a National Park in the middle of the Southern California desert – and in a total fluke accident the end of his ignition key broke off. He had to hitchhike to the nearest town and get the nice people in the hardware store to create a new key from the pieces! You don’t want to go through anything like that, do you? Me neither!

Where Do I Put It?
Every car is different, but pick a place close to the muffler, so you’ll remember where to find it. Reach under and find a nice, flat place to stick it on the chassis. That’s all.

Are They All The Same?
Pretty much, but if you have an oversized key, you’ll need an oversized Hide-A-Key, so bring your key with you to the hardware store to get the perfect fit.

Have fun camping, and I hope you don’t lose your keys! But if you do, and you have a Hide-A-Key (and I really hope you do), I’ll be right here waiting for my flowers. (Lilies are also nice.)

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  1. Very pragmatic! And useful in many occasions. What if you're not the car owner but just passenger? Should I make sure the driver has one of these devices?

  2. Well, you could suggest it. Tell Pete's story and pretend it's yours. Otherwise, you could bring a lot of cash for when AAA wants to charge you 5$ a mile (or whatever) to come fetch you in the boonies.

  3. Another good trick is to have someone beep your car to unlock it via the cell phone. It doesn't work with ALL cars but I've done it with mine and Snopes backs me up! http://www.snopes.com/autos/techno/keyless.asp

  4. Thanks for the comment, Christina! Yes, that's genius! And it seems to work with any car that has remote keyless entry. (Our doesn't, of course!) :)

  5. After reading this last week guess what I did last Friday before setting out on my weekend adventures? Got duplicates made of my car key and a magnetic hid-a-key which is now under my car :)

  6. @Maggie! Can you guess how happy that makes me? We have one, too. We also have one stuck to the fridge. Call me paranoid.

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