Keeping electronic key fob safe on the water

I’m looking for the most secure option to stash an electronic key fob. Safest would be to leave it in the car and take a valet key on the water. I do have a valet key. Actually it’s just the sidewinder blade attached to a head. (You don’t want to lose a sidewinder key. They’re very expensive to replace and very few dealers or locksmiths have the laser machine to cut them.) I’ve used the valet key several times when I lost my keys. But on one occasion, the valet key absolutely would not open the door. After I found my keys and opened the door, the valet key then worked again. Something was blocking it electronically. I don’t want to run the risk of being stranded in some remote place with a nonworking valet key.

I also would not stash the fob under the car—can’t crawl under the car with people watching you at the launch.

Hence I have to take the entire fob with me on the water. I plan to put it in a waterproof case with two ziplock bags and clip it to a D ring inside my PFD pocket. Not in the hatch due to the risk of being separated from the kayak.

The Pelican Microcase is only waterproof to 3’. Two other choices I found: WITZ Keep It Safe

Or Dripac KP01:

I’m leaning toward the hard WITZ case. Any experience with these?

Anybody have any input on keeping a key fob safe if you must take it with you on the water IN YOUR PFD POCKET? NOT LOOKING FOR STORAGE IN HATCH OR COCKPIT.

A few days ago I jumped in the river with mine in my pocket… didn’t realize until I was out. Luckily it still worked.

My phone and car keys, when carried with me, are double dry bagged. I have a phone dry bag with a clamp top which I keep inside a regular, roll-top dry bag. My phone isn’t waterproof - if waterproof, then I would just single dry bag it. The doubling is for extra protection - likely using a decent quality ziplock for the second (inner) layer would give just as much.

Safest would be to use a dry box, but I am willing to give up some for the softer, more flexible shape of dry bags…

Here is an article that compares many of the types of dry storage: California Kayaker Magazine - South West's source for paddlesports information. Issue #4.


Dry Pak I have used for years on my phone.

Just want to make sure we’re focusing on placing an electronic key fob in the pocket of a PFD.

A 5L or smaller roll top dry bag for electronic keys, wallet, & phone. And store the dry bag in a watertight compartment if you have one, otherwise inside a larger dry bag & remember to attach to a deck line if on a SOT.

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For the keys and fob, the Pelican 1010 case I’ve used many years has been waterproof and solid, and it floats. I don’t think the depth of submersion is important as long as it floats, unless you go into big waves or other settings that could force the case deep under the surface.

The trouble is, when I tried to buy a new 1010, I couldn’t find any online. Pelican might not make them now; I don’t know. There is a 1015, which is too big to fit where I put it.

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If it is on me I actually usually have it in something like a pants pocket. Often in a zippered pocket of dry pants, but I don’t have a single pair of real outdoor clothing that doesn’t have at least one zippered pocket. I am not trying, just seems to be how they are made.

Really no need to have it in the PFD per se, you wouldn’t be using it until you were out of the water anyway. Just on you somewhre.

For me using a PFD pocket is risky. It’d probably have to be in a couple of zip locked baggies to fit with the compass, the whistle, the sports bar etc. , and they don’t tether. In a zippered pants pocket (or drytop if present) I am less likely to accidentally send it to the bottom pulling out a snack.

One other option that I don’t see mentioned is to have it inside a slim Aquapack that is itself stashed behind the bladder, if you have a PFD-mounted water pack. In addition to being more secure than zip lock baggies, you could tether it to one of the straps holding the water pack on the PFD.

Any dry container that absolutely must be dry, I test by packing it with a few kleenex tissues and then submerging it in a bucket, leaving it for a few hours, or bringing it out on the water, or otherwise simulating conditions.

A tissue will give evidence of even the slightest amount of moisture intrusion. Before I use a dry container for my phone for example, I test thoroughly, despite what any specs or reviews say.


Good advice. Thanks, Redboat.

Why is it risky? The PFD is always on me. The pocket has an internal D ring. I put nothing except the keys in that pocket. If I lose the kayak, the PFD is all I have left. None of my summer clothing has a zippered pocket.

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I explained that, please reread.
I said that the zip lock baggies are NOT set up to tether thus can slip out of something like a PFD pocket. If you are aware of basic zip lock bags that do have a tether built in provide link and photo.

Hence the idea of using a more secure device like an aquapack behind the water bladder that can be tethered to the straps.

I paddle some in colder water, but virtually never wear shorts anyway because of risk of sunburn and chafing. Especially in a sea kayak when I may need the thigh braces. My compass and other items do come out of my PFD pockets to get used.

As I said in my first post, the key will be placed in a double ziplock bag AND THEN IN A WATERPROOF CASE.

OK, I missed the waterproof case bit in the OP. Probably because I would not likely have great room in any of mine after the compass etc.

How about a waterproof cell phone pouch? It would need to be folded over because it’s too long for my PFD pocket. Would folding compromise the waterproofing, or are pouches flexible enough to fold?

I recently had a situation where I thought I’d protected my key fob, and I was right - but barely.

The fob was in a small waterproof pelican case that was then placed in a roll top dry bag with my change of clothes and attached to my boat with a velcro strap. Pinned the boat bad in ~10’ of fast flowing water. The boat was stuck for four days but the velcro strap only lasted for two. The dry bag was recovered, full of water, and returned to a park ranger who contacted me. The pelican case with the fob had a couple inches of water in it and - guess what? - the fob worked after being dried out. (Sometimes its better to be lucky than good.) But, of course, I didn’t know it would ever be recovered and so I had to pay to have my car opened - $100 out the window. (I used to carry a door key wired to my undercarriage and a spare chipped ignition key hidden in the car. As I was leaving for the trip I discovered the door key had vibrated and was rendered useless after a couple years under the car - so, being in a hurry to depart, I tossed it in the car. I never had occasion to need it previously and so figured I was being overly cautious and took the risk.)
Don’t do that.

What I will do henceforth is lock my fob hidden in the car and carry a non-electronic door key (that can get wet) in my PFD pocket. And, since the question has been asked, I’d advise others to do likewise.

A cell phone pouch would work. Most have a tether. They can generally be folded up or even rolled up to reduce the size and it would probably even enhance their water resistance. However, the hard plastic sealing mechanism leaves them a bit bulky.

Examine them frequently. After a while many will start to split on either side of the open end.

I just carry my keys in an Aqua-Pak tethered behind my seat. If I lose my boat, car keys are likely going to be the least of my worries. My key fob is completely gasketed and has gone through a complete wash cycle on two occasions and was completely dry inside each time.

If you’ve got a 2" receiver hitch on your vehicle, look into a “hitch safe”. I have one on my car. I can lose my boat, dry bag, life jacket,… and as long as I can get back to my car, I can get in and drive away.


I used to do what you suggest with the valet key… in theory it is the best option. However, be careful if you paddle lots in salt water. My valet key rusted out after about 3 years of regular paddling despite fresh water washings after every time I paddled in salt water. I’ve never seen something rust through that quickly.