Key Up On A Useful Tool

As a cotter key puller for the base of a Hi-Lift Jack. Leave it there for the next time.

We four wheelers are known for being resourceful. You know, fix just about anything anywhere “ especially while off road “ using the most unusual tools or items. Sometimes you need to use what you have to get through a pinch.

But it is true that we can make use of the oddest items laying around: rubber bands, paper clips, duct tape. To that list I’d like to add the split key ring. If you’re like me, you’ve collected a bunch over the years. You can pick up a pocketful walking the floor of any trade show. Do you actually use them? Probably not. My guess is you toss ˜em in a junk box or drawer, rarely to be seen again.

Turns out that humble key ring can fill many roles. As you’ll see from the images, I’m referring only to the split-ring type of key ring. Throw away whatever plastic doohickey is attached; all you need is the ring. Herewith, in no particular order, are some ways to use the split key ring beyond the norm.


To identify pieces of gear and cooking items like a Dutch oven. Inscribe your initials in a piece of metal (brass or aluminum are fine), then attach that to the item with a key ring.

Replace the handle of a zipper that’s broken off. Loop the key ring through the eyelet on top of the zipper, and”voila!”you have a new handle. And a better one, in fact. You can grab it with a finger. On a jacket this is much cleaner than say a zip tie solution.

At the end of the pull string on an overhead light. Tie a key ring at the end and, like with your zipper, you can loop a finger through and easily turn the light on and off. This can work in the garage too as an indicator of where to stop the car.









In place of a broken or missing swivel on a gun sling.

Use two as a quick way to make a belt buckle or cinch strap around your bed roll.

A key ring will also work in place of a lock for a clasp on a foot locker or similar storage unit. Secure a latch and keep crows, burros, and vagrants out!








Gang them together to gain some additional length for something. DO NOT use key rings on tools that generate force or tension (like a winch). As you can imagine, the key rings aren’t strong enough to withstand that force. Use the proper size of chain, rope or strap for those types of applications.

As a temporary replacement for the trailer hitch pin clip. It may take a little finessing (and a few choice words), but a sturdy key ring works in a pinch. Replace it with the real deal when you get home.

Do you have an ongoing problem or need for a small wrench? Use a key ring to hang a wrench under the hood for quick access. Put it somewhere it doesn’t rattle or short out the batteries.










Some other ideas:

  • Hang a banner. Slip the ring through the grommet holes. This will work for either wall-mounted or suspended banners.
  • As part of the anchoring system for a tent. Plant the tent pole and stake inside the ring. The ring is particularly useful in cold climates or other areas where the tent stake tends to get stuck in the ground. Just grab the ring and pull the tent stake loose.
  • To attach gear to something. Some shirts and jackets have D ring sewn in. Want to carry a flashlight or whistle? Use a key ring to attach the item to your clothing, including a belt loop.
  • Of course you can always put keys on it!

As you can see, the split key ring has many important uses around the home and in the great outdoors. Dig through your junk boxes to see if you saved any key rings. If so, add two or three to your survival kit, tool box, even your camp box. You’re sure to find a use for one someday.


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