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Wondering Where To Put Keys When Surfing? Try This Surf Hack.

October 11, 2022 7 min read

Where To Put Keys When Surfing

 Key fobs don't swim. And the back corner of your bumper isn't the spot. 

Kudos if you pulled up to check the waves in a 1970s bronco. Go read something else.  

As a Santa Cruz native, I grew up on a surfboard. If you're like me, you've likely come up with a sketchy surf key holder at some point in your life. Many surfers hide a spare key somewhere on their vehicles, and others simply stow their keys in the bushes or leave their cars unlocked.

While these methods might have worked in the old days, electronic car keys and savvy thievery tactics require a smart hiding spot. If you're new to the sport or arriving at the beach asking, "How do I hide a key fob while I surf?" I have a solution for you.


How To Hide a Key Fob: The Modern Surfer's Dilemma

Until we can open our cars with a wave of our hands, the problem of keyless car theft is here to stay.

Makes me dream of a 1995 Eddie Bower edition of the Ford Bronco—it had a nice keypad. 

If you're reading this, you may feel an ocean lover's pain point for an unsolved problem.

Here are some stories of real people we've talked to in our surfing crossover of past brush-ins with car security:

  • Dylan is an avid surfer, getting into the water weekly and struggling with stashing his key. This is the elephant in the room for many surfers in Southern California. Still, it's part of the gig when going surfing these days. Dyland uses a valet key but doesn't know where to put his key fob, where his car won't stay unlocked, while he's out in the water.

  • Jack likes to travel to Hawaii and other surf destinations when he has time off and doesn't like looking like a tourist (kook) when he has to stash a rental car key. It's a frustrating pain point for him.

  • Cole wants a new car but seriously worries about how to prevent break-ins and theft while he surfs with the new car technology.

  • Zach usually surfs in front of his house, where car theft isn't as big of an issue, but worries when he drives to other areas to surf.

  • Rick teaches surf lessons and uses a truck with a manual lock. Still, many of his students have newer cars with proximity sensors. He locks the keys in his truck but would love to be able to offer a proper solution.

  • Thomas has had his car broken into while surfing and still relies on the same methods even though he knows it hasn't worked in the past. He just doesn't have a better solution.

  • David sees people hiding their keys in their rear tires and knows it's just a matter of time before thieves have their way with their vehicles.

These scenarios, as well as many others, are easily solved with the adoption of SLNT products.


How NOT to Hide Your Car Keys

Let's start with what NOT to do. As I already mentioned, I've seen surfers hide keys in various ways. Whether leaving a key in a diaper, in sketchy lock boxes, on top of the spare tire, or even behind the front license plate, most serious carjackers are not deterred by these strategies.
Growing up in a smaller community, I could find just about anyone's keys stashed on their car, usually with their personal belongings piled up on the front seat. But we didn't steal each other's things. (Occasionally, we would re-park the car somewhere else or play some trickery, but never theft.)
I once heard of a hundred crickets being put in someone's truck—now that is a prank.
I've had friends leave their keys wrapped up in a beach towel, concealed in the nearby landscaping, or even enclosed in tinfoil. Others try waterproof keys or waterproof pouches, which can be bulky while surfing. Some leave their car locked with the key hidden in the wheel well. The problem is—if anyone grabs the door handle—the car still unlocks.
With keyless entry cars, the key fob still communicates with your vehicle—even when it's hidden nearby. 
Is It a Good Idea to Leave Your Key Fob in Your Car?
Modern keyless entry cars cause some to struggle to find a safe spot to store their car's key fob so they can lock their doors and surf without worry. 
The SLNT Key Fob Faraday Sleeve is designed, first and foremost, to keep your car from being stolen. Key fobs operate based on proximity and don't allow you to lock your vehicle if the key is inside or close by, which is a nice feature most of the time.
The problem lies in the growing niche of people leaving behind the key fob portion in their car and putting the metal valet key in their wetsuit. Some car owners keep a stash key on their vehicles for emergency backup. If you've ever lost your keys on a road trip, you know how inconvenient it can be.


Surfboard and key fob cover

A Word to Car Thieves

If you are, in fact, a thief or opportunist waiting for an easy target, then you have your pick of the litter with surfers. Especially in populated areas like Los Angeles, tourist hotspots in Hawaii, or where metropolitan areas meet the coast—basically the entire California coastline—you know surfers are vulnerable.


Here's how it works:


Step 1: Watch someone stash their keys.

Step 2: Watch them paddling out into the ocean.

Step 3: Steal their shit. Maybe even their car.


How do I know? Because I’ve seen it, and it’s happened to me. But consider yourself forewarned—we’re onto you.

A Tale of Two Carless Kooks and an Underachieving Car Thief

In college, my friend Taylor and I were out surfing at Scripps Pier. At the time, car theft in San Diego County was particularly prevalent. Sure enough, we came out of the water to a shocker.


Where's your car, Dude?


We stood dumbfounded in wet wetsuits like a couple of kooks, looking to bum a ride back home. A month later, the cops found the car in good condition, minus everything inside. Some losers scored a 30-day joy ride, new clothes, wallets, watches, and a CD or two.


Times have changed, but breaking into cars is still a real threat, and that's now quickly done wirelessly. So if you're not using a key fob for surfing, you best be using one for general car theft prevention.


See our article on relay attacks if you want to know more about protecting your car while in your driveway.

 Hiding your key fob

Hide Your Car Keys While Surfing: The Smart Way

Personally, I've had this problem for years, and with SLNT, I'm finally able to create a worthy solution. No more coming back from a quick surf to find out I have to walk the streets in a wetsuit. No more anxiety around my time in the water. No worries, no problems. At least not with car theft.


TheSLNT Magnetic Key Fob Sleeve is a clever use of our patented signal-blocking technology. It allows anyone to instantly block wireless signal to and from their key fob, rendering it undetectable from your car. You can a) leave your key fob under the car with external magnets or b) leave your key fob inside the car (once you take out the valet key).


TheSLNT Flexible Key Fob Guard allows you to safely store your electronic key fob (or backup key) inside your car. From here, you can put the removable valet key in your suit, block the signal to the fob so it cannot connect to your car, lock your car manually, and go about your life. You feel relieved knowing your vehicle and the contents inside are safe and secure.

 Surfing where to put your keys

It's never too late to adopt healthy systems that lead to healthy habits, especially as technology develops and the threat to your privacy, security, and health grows. 

Here is the basic car safety plan:

  1. Equip yourself with a SLNT Faraday Key Fob Cover. All sizes and shapes work.

  2. Remove the valet key (removable metal key) from your key fob.

  3. Put your key fob into the SLNT Faraday Sleeve.

  4. Leave the SLNT Faraday Sleeve in your car.

  5. Lock your door and put the valet key into your wetsuit or secure shorts pocket.

  6. Go surf (in trunks or a bikini if you're living the dream).


While key fob security is the biggest issue regarding beachgoing, we can't forget about the larger world of connected devices that we have become accustomed to. Recent evidence shows that Bluetooth scanners are used in parking lots to "sniff" out Bluetooth devices inside vehicles.


Perhaps you are planning to head straight to the office after your morning surf and have your laptop and phone in your car. Or maybe your cell phone is sitting inside your vehicle with a t-shirt covering it.


While these devices may be dormant, Bluetooth is likely signaling, "HEY, I'm here; come find me." Thieves can pick up on this signal and make a judgment call on how many devices are inside. The more devices, the more reason to smash and grab.


The easy fix is switching your device to airplane mode before locking your car. But better yet, completely eliminate the threat with a signal-blocking Faraday Sleeve.


Surfing while key fob is hidden

A Thought For the Future of Car Security

What happens when our phones are the only things that open our cars? Or can you imagine asking your Apple watch to open your car? It doesn't seem too far off. While car technology morphs over time, thieves are paying attention.As surfers, we can’t afford to put our heads in the sand.


We're living in a more connected age than ever, but does that mean it's safer?


With SLNT, I believe it can be.


Providing security solutions since 2009, 


Aaron Zar, Founder 

Download our free pdf which highlights the Surfer x Key Fob Dilemma.