Easy Preps to Put on a Keychain

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By the author of The Faithful Prepper and  The Prepper’s Guide to Post-Disaster Communications.

What is one item that you have on your person – not in a bag, vehicle, or at home – virtually 100% of the time as you’re out and about in public? Your keys.

I started thinking about this the other day, trying to drum up ideas of ways that I could add small and easy-to-carry preps to my keys without A) creating a brick and B) destroying the ignition in my truck. I ended up deciding on three small items that you may find of benefit to you as well.

Item #1: A bison tube filled with aspirin


A bison tube is a small metal cylinder that screws apart and is watertight. They were originally designed to keep medication handy, but they also make a notoriously difficult to find geocache as well. You can easily pick them up on Amazon for a few bucks.

The inner diameter of the tube is the perfect size for aspirin, so I plopped four down in there (with room for a few more). My thinking was this:

How many times have you been out and about when either you or a friend asks for a painkiller (the legal type, y’all)? Nobody ever does, and whoever it is that needs the medicine is left to suffer until they can make their way back to their home. This fills a need.

I also like the idea of being able to help somebody if they’re having a heart attack. Heart attacks are fairly common, and asking if you have an aspirin nearby is a common question of 911 operators when they suspect you’re witnessing a heart attack unfold in front of you. Aspirin thins the blood, helping to get oxygen to heart muscle if it’s a blockage that’s causing the heart attack.

Benadryl tablets are another item I will likely add in the near future to the bison tube perchance I came across somebody having an allergic reaction to food or a bee sting.

Item #2: A small flashlight 

I picked this little guy up probably around 15 years ago, and it still works just fine. If you’re trying to live life without a smartphone, you’ve likely come to realize just how handy the flashlight on the back of your phone is.

A lot of preppers carry a small Maglight in their pocket as part of their EDC kit already, but I felt this was a handy addition to put on the ring that didn’t take up a lot of space and could save a lot of headache in the future if you’re stuck in a spot where a little extra light is needed.

Item #3: A USB drive


I think there are a couple of awesome things that can be accomplished by making a USB drive part of your EDC gear. For starters, this can serve as a great backup source for important files you would normally keep on your computer or in your home should you have a break-in.

If you end up in a situation where you have to evacuate in an emergency (and you should totally read our free QUICKSTART Guide on emergency evacuations, by the way), and can’t make it back to your home before it’s time to head out, then this can save you a lot of stress and worry as well. There’s no need to run back home to grab your important files – you already have them with you.

The same goes for family pictures. A USB drive ensures that you always have your memories on your person.

And, of course, I also like the idea of a backup to my Archive of the Apocalypse, perchance something should happen to it.

What didn’t work

I tried to add a small knife to the keychain, but it turned out to be just too heavy. I think if I’d had a small Victorinox penknife, I could have gotten away with adding it without too much weight, but it’s recently disappeared (dang prep goblins), so I’m going without one here.

What else do I think would make a good addition?

There were a few other ideas that I didn’t have handy, but I think they would potentially make great additions here.

P-38 can opener

I think this shows a lot of potential. You should already make sure that you’re storing a can opener wherever you have an emergency food supply. It would be a shame to be sheltering in place (after a thermonuclear blast, for instance) and not have a means of opening up your canned food stores.

A P-38 can opener on your key ring could be an easy and effective means of backup, perchance your normal can opener breaks/prep goblins steal it.

Paracord monkey’s fist

I’ve been meaning to learn how to make one of these. A small segment of paracord wouldn’t add any burdensome weight to the keyring and could prove to be of benefit in a number of situations (you need to tie down something after your recent Craigslist purchase and are out of bungee cords).


These are the small, plastic/metal pointy sticks that a lot of girls who like running add to their keyring. You do exactly what you’d expect to do with these – stab things really hard.

It’s not a huge prep booster, but I do think it could be beneficial.

Yeah, you can carry more in a bag, but if you need to travel light or have a minimum of pockets, this is a good way to at least carry some stuff with you that you wouldn’t have on your person otherwise.

What are your thoughts? Have you added anything prepper-related to your keyring? Are there other items that you think deserve to be added here? Let us know in the comments below. 

About Aden

Aden Tate is a regular contributor to TheOrganicPrepper.com and TheFrugalite.com. Aden runs a micro-farm where he raises dairy goats, a pig, honeybees, meat chickens, laying chickens, tomatoes, mushrooms, and greens. Aden has three published books, The Faithful Prepper The Prepper’s Guide to Post-Disaster Communications, and Zombie Choices. You can find his podcast The Last American on Preppers’ Broadcasting Network.

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Aden Tate

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    • The third item is a credit card pocket survival tool, the fourth is a fire starter. You fill it with lighter fluid.

        • They can be used for sawing wood, scraping tinder from twigs, screw driver, etc. Go to Amazon.com and search for pocket survival tool. There are many different types, all with different functions.

  • I know that most modern cars no longer have the keys inserted into the ignition, but if you have an older model, like I do… Be careful about how much weight you are adding to your keychain.

    Too much weight constantly hanging on your ignition can damage it.

  • As a woman I carry a small pepper spray (defensive tool) a whistle (signaling or defensive), and a seatbelt cutter/window breaker (safety).

  • You mentioned the possibility of using some version of a Swiss Army Knife (aka SAK). The ideal pocket version I’ve found is the tiny Signature Lite model which includes a push-button triggered built-in light (you get to choose either a red or white light — ideal for finding keyholes in the dark), a built-in ball-point pen (for backup use), and a flat-blade screwdriver (which I ground down into a nail-file point that I use frequently). The quality of steel in that nail file is sufficient to scrape sparks from a fire-steel IF you grind a perfectly flat edge on the bottom that won’t fold upward when you press down and try to scrape. [The steel on the P-38 can opener is too soft to do such scraping.] That saves you from needing to carry a snapped-off two inch piece of hacksaw blade.

    I use a small chain to attach keys to that knife — that’s much better than a key-ring that can’t lay flat like a chain in one’s pocket. In addition I use a tiny folding multi-type screwdriver with two sizes of flats and two sizes of Phillips — unlike the single size system in any SAK.

    I also keep a tiny whistle in that pocket along with a washer-shaped high strength magnet on a string. The side that points northward when used as a compass is painted white (like snow at the North Pole) — very handy during overcast skies or at night when there’s no sun to give you directions in unfamiliar areas. And that magnet will never break … unlike the glass on a pocket compass.


  • My two favorites to keep on a Keychain are a Streamlight Nano and a Gerber Mini Suspension. The Nano costs around $7 to $9 and is one of the smallest flashlights on the market. All metal, so it’s tough and only an inch long, it puts out around 10 lumens of light.
    The Gerber Mini Suspension is a multitool about the size of a Zippo lighter. It unfolds to a small needle nose plier and wire cutter, and include straight and Phillips screwdrivers, an eyeglass screwdriver, can opener, tweezers, nail file and a blade.

    Both sets of our keys are set up with the Nano/Mini Suspension, so both of us always have at least that minimum of EDC on us.

    Good article and tips Aden.

  • The USB device: Encrypt it, and have a crazy long and complex password.

    As Bemused Berserker mentions, the only real tool I have really found useful that can be stowed on a key chain, the Gerber Mini Suspension.

  • I actually have 2 key rings. One is my car key and has only a tiny usb rechargeable flashlight and house key. The other keychain -never used in ignition- has duplicate car and house keys and a whole arsenal of emergency gear. Both never leave my pocket.

  • Useful add-ons are Night Ize mini S biners. They are in multiple sizes, from key ring to large. Attach whatever you need to almost anything. I use a micro one on a boonie hat to hold the head lanyard to the back of the outside head band and for other possible cord/wire attachments. Very many uses for these. Get them at Lowe’s, Tractor Supply and hardware stores.

  • Among other things, I have the following items on my keychain. Gerber Dime, ResQMe tool, Lexall micro flashlight (USB rechargeable), and a combination emergency whistle/thermometer/magnifying glass.

    One year I gave all my family members a ResQMe tool for Christmas, the next year a Gerber Dime.

  • Sharpen a masonry nail on a grinder. Use it as a punch to make a hole in the handle of your P-38. (A drill will not make a hole through the hardened steel). Grind the rough edge off the hole. Now you have a fishing hook and can opener.

  • My keyring has a small knife (I know it’s hard to find a suitable one, but I think it’s worth it), a small multitool with bottle opener, file, flat screwdriver and tweezers, and a bit of paracord.

  • On my keyring;
    RovyVon A4Ti – ridiculously bright, rechargeable torch about the size of an AA battery.
    Nitecore NTK05 – scalpel bladed folding knife.
    Titaner Ti-GR5 – mini pry tool
    Nite Glowring – tritium fob.
    Ohto Petit-B pen.
    They’re strung together on a small length of luminous paracord with a 3M reflective trace.
    The whole lot weighs about the same as a Zippo.

  • I would add a small firesteel rod to this list. You can scrape them with a knife or a key in a pinch. As with all preps like this, practice. You’ll want to learn the tricks when your life isn’t depending on getting a fire started.

  • I keep a P38 can opener and a small AAA flashlight on my keychain. That’s it.

    I always have a knife in my pocket.

    I bought a Maxpediton micro pocket organizer that lives in my front pocket. I keep a better flashlight, small multitool and some other items in there. It’s easy enough to move between pants and keeps things organized.

  • Mine has a Nitecore Tiki LE flashlight – extremely lightweight that is USB rechargeable. Three light sources (white / blue / red) A SAK Classic pen knife – remove plastic scales, losing tweezers / toothpick but getting much less bulk. One metal snap, as well as some wire wrapped around it (approx. 12″ long) for strong repairs in field can be attached to ring with little bulk / weight added.

    I tried taping a needle alongside knife, but tape eventually wears off. A needle can come in handy sometimes.

    Thanks for the post – some good ideas listed.

  • it’s easier just to carry a leatherman tool rather than trying to put anything on the keyring. ‘cept for a flashlight, use that all the time.

  • Beside keys, I have the following on my key chain.

    Aluminum Whistle
    64 GB flashdrive (encrypted)
    True Bullet Cash Stash ($20)
    Punisher Titanium Pocket Pry Bar
    Keychain Rosary – I’m Catholic & do pray the rosary

    I too tried a keychain knife but found it too small to be really useful. The pocket pry bar has a pretty sharp edge. Sharp enough to open boxes.
    I do have an EDC knife, a Kershaw OSO Sweet.

  • I have 2 keychains in my pocket. The car key keychain has only a tiny knife and flashlight. The other keychain has the bigger stuff. I keep the house key on the heavier keychain so it is essential to always have.
    Btw, I have a $20 bill in my aspirin tube.

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