Review: Buy It For Life? KeyPod 2nd Generation and Keypod 5th Generation

There’s a concept called Buy It For Life where you purchase an item that should last the rest of your life. In criminal terms, in Ireland life is 25 years.

I wrote this review back in 2011 and it’s time to revisit my first look at the Keypod key safe.

2nd Gen Keypod

2nd Gen Keypod

I bought a Keypod (2nd Generation) in the mid-noughties during my first full year of OW swimming, when I just couldn’t keep putting the key in my swimsuit and had the usual dilemma about key storage during open water swims. What to do with your keys, money and or bank cards? is a common dilemma for many open water swimmers. It was about twice the price of cheaper generic Aldi units, which I also later tried and which didn’t fare as well.

The Keypod is a  heavy steel lockbox for storing keys and or money or credit cards. It has a 4 number combination lock (where the first generation had 3). It has a case-hardened shackle to locking onto a car tow hooks or similar attachment. The code is easily changed using a lever on the back once it is open, as with most mechanical locks.

I had quickly found that bringing a key with me while swimming, even double-wrapped in two Ziploc bags didn’t stop the worry of losing the key during the swim, or the worry of wetting and damaging the electronics on the key.

Keys in 2nd Gen Keypod

Keys in 2nd Gen Keypod

My Keypod was used a lot. Kicked, dropped, beaten. One evening during Channel training Jen Hurley & I did a Sandycove double early in May. When I emerged out my brain was frozen (moderate hypo) and I was unable to remember the combination. But a sheer stroke of luck, Jen’s husband Mick had taken my key off me instead. Rather than open the car and put the Keypod back in, I just locked it in place. The Keypod stood up to a two and a half hour drive home, all the while getting regularly clattered of the ground, all without opening. (It took about 5 hours before I warmed up sufficiently to remember the code). I’ve taken the Keypod to Donaghhadee and Dover so I can swim or crew without worrying about keys. It’s sat in my car boot for ten years and been used thousands of times.

It is built like a steel brick and would need an angle grinder to crack it open. The second Generation Keypod safe cavity measures about 10 cm long x 6.5 cm wide x 3cm deep (182 cm3) , big enough to fit an electronic car key with an extra couple of house keys attached. It’s also slightly bigger than the standard bank card size.

My Keypod finally gave up in 2015, after ten years of regular use, when the case would no longer stay closed after the combination was set as the post on which the lock set became too worn to hold..

Is this Buy It For Life? It’s not, but given the use it got, it’s not bad. And what gave out was the locking mechanism from heavy use. I went back to keeping my keys in my swim box for a couple of weeks while I was out swimming and worrying that someone would rifle through my clothes and take the keys, before I succumbed and purchased a new Keypod, which had been updated to a 5th Generation since I’d bought my first one.

The major changes that I noticed with the 5th Generation are the addition of a second post on which the lock sets, and an addition of slight lattice support structure inside the already formidable case cover. The cavity is still the same measurement but the extension of the locking mechanism actually reduced the capacity by 10 cm3, which though less than 10% makes it slightly more difficult to fit a small bunch of keys. (FWIW, my keyring has one car key, one house key, one locker key, one very small penknife, and a UK pound coin sized Nothing Great Is Easy CS&PF keyring). The weight of the 5th Gen Keypod has increased significantly from the 500g of the 2nd Generation to slightly over 800 g, also increasing slightly in length and the shackle itself is 10mm diameter.

Two metal combination cases for storing keys and money

Keypod 2nd generation and 5th Generation models compared

The Keypod is an essential component of my open water swimming and has always been highly recommended. There are an increasing number of alternatives out there, but you should be careful when purchasing that the size is sufficient for your keys, as many will only take a single key or can be opened with a strong hammer blow.

The Keypod cost about $29 On Amazon US (http://%3Ca%20href%3D%22http//!important;%20margin:0px%20!important;%22%20/%3E)


and about £22 on Amazon UK (http://%3Ca%20href%3D%22http//!important;%20margin:0px%20!important;%22%20/%3E).




15 thoughts on “Review: Buy It For Life? KeyPod 2nd Generation and Keypod 5th Generation

  1. Hi, I’m wondering if you can help me. I bought one of these locks, but lost the packaging before I had a chance to reset the combination! I can’t work out how to change it and don’t want to leave it at 0000. If you have any clues that would be brilliant 😀


    • I have the packaging somewhere in the house but can’t recall where. However most combination locks are reset the same way. First, make sure 0000 is the current combination by locking and opening it. Then open the shackle and rotate it about 2/3 or 3/4 ways around until there’s one spot where it will partially drop a little (this is a place where it can’t close). Once you find that spot, holding the shackle down, enter your new combination number. Then you should be able to lock and open the keypod with the new number.


  2. Pingback: How To: Understand the Different Types of Open Water Swimming Locations Features and Hazards – I – The Ocean | LoneSwimmer

  3. So where on your car do you connect it? Door handle?

    I just ordered a dry bag and will use it here in the Kyrgyz lakes and in Croatia when we go on vacation. The idea of one of these boxes is interesting, too, depending upon how I feel after using the dry bag for a while.


    • He Mike,

      I just attach it to the fixed tow hitch underneath the rear of the car, most if not a ll cars have one somewhere. I have a dry bag that you can tow behind you but honestly I prefer swimming unencumbered. I find the box especially one of the most useful swimming products I’ve bought.


    • Mine locked me out this afternoon. I smashed it open with a lump hammer. The presence of a lump hammer in the boot of someone in the car parks boot helped. Would a been a bit stuffed otherwise. Don’t buy one of these!


  4. Umm dont understand… why you no use a inflable dry bag? i normally use and inside y put shoes, wear, towel, food and drink, and of course keys and document always in a bag and then in dry bag, and always come with me no worries about wear, keys ….


    • Hi Joseph,

      Different ways of skinning a cat I guess. A simple key lock like this is to me the far easier option rather than dragging that lot of equipment behind me. I’ll have a review of inflatable buoys coming up on the site soon.


      • oh man, ur right. For me drag is no problem, normally i star and end in the same point, but some times you know, wind, tire, weaves can back to star point then go out open bag and come back walking :-). And if i want only put in bag towel, mobile and keys, no need remember a key or some one try to break the key lock. like you say two options “viv la difference :-). Love your blog.


  5. Donal this lockbox looks as if it had been rescued from the bottom of the sea. I thought I had a contact number for you it might be a bit late now but there’s a brilliant one man show on in Ballyduff St Michael’s Hall tomorrow (Thursday Night) called ‘Tom Crean Antarctic Explorer’. I saw it in Galway a couple of weeks back and I’m compelled to travel down to the back arse end of the Knockmealdown’s to see it again. If your interested in going give them a ring before 1pm today or first thing in the morning on 087 3905450. Starts at 8pm. Hope your well!


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