Finding an alternative to the Orbitkey
I have been a fan and a backer of Orbitkey since its Kickstarter campaign in 2013. And while I loved the concept of key-carrier that is not noisy (i.e., leather wrap-around), low profile (i.e., small size compare to traditional leather key pouches), and quick access, it has become apparent to me that the leather used by Orbitkey cannot withstand the wear and tear I put my key-carrier through on a day-to-day basis (with keys being part of my EDC).
Comes the Thrux Lawrence Horween Leather Foldover Fob, a very similar key carrier made with a much more substantial leather (quality of Horween leather is no joke). The pros and cons between the two is that Orbitkey definitely has a more complex design, but there is no way it will beat the Thrux Lawrence in terms of leather quality. Time will tell if the Fob is the answer to my ideal key carrier. (The runner-up candidate is the TPU-version of the Orbitkey, which will negate the issue with their leather quality).
* If I already have all the tools to work with leather, I would’ve probably just made my own following this video tutorial.
The design of the Orbitkey is truly more complex than many other similar key carriers. It has a metal fixture at the two ends of each band to lock down the metal shaft that holds the keys (see pic below), and includes metal washers to aid the keys closest to the band move smoothly.
Issues with Orbitkey
In short, the leather version of the Orbitkey is constructed with two pieces of thin leather glued together. Overtime, it will split unless the key is usually stored in a separate purse/backpack pocket with minimal friction and contact with anything else. After 2 replacements (superb customer service on Orbitkey’s part), I figure I’d look for an alternative. (details of my experience with the two leather Orbitkey at the end).
Thrux Lawrence Horween Leather Foldover Fob
The alternative to Orbitkey that I’ve found is the Thrux Lawrence Horween Leather Foldover Fob . Its design is simple, a piece of thick leather, and a brass shaft (which comes in 4 sizes).
Although the design of the Fob is simpler, I cannot be more impressed with the quality of the leather. The one-piece leather of the Fob is THICK compared to the 2-piece glue-together Orbitkey (3.82 mm vs. 1.84 mm).
Who is Thrux Lawrence?
Thrux Lawrence is a company focused on making high quality leather products (e.g., packs, belts, totes). Their Fob is a way for them to use the small pieces of leftover leather that are still very high quality, so this is a smart way to maximize their usage and gains.
I bought the Fob over on Amazon for $15, where it has only 8 reviews. Some people was not happy with the width of the metal post holding the key. I had to file my keys down to fit them all into the Orbitkey in the first place, so I didn’t have any issue with it. I don’t really see it as a design flaw, as most key carriers that are more than just a keyring, usually require some fitting of keys with smaller holes (or even more substantial alteration).
I’ll see if the TL Fob can survive over 9 months. If it doesn’t, I’m likely moving to the TPU Elastomer polymer Oritbkey, which is a tougher material and it still has all the same hardware as the leather Orbitkey. So, that is my Plan-B (already purchased it anyway :D).
My experience with Orbitkey
Although I’m trying out something else, Orbitkey as a company has my support. They came up with a superb design, and stood by their product when it broke. It was easy to communicate with their customer service department, and I’m still very impressed with their design, which is why I bought the TPU version of the Orbitkey.
But, here are the details of why I’m moving away from their leather version. I started with the tan leather (no stitching) Orbitkey from the original campaign. Loved everything about it and carried it in my jean pocket everyday, since it housed my keys. After 3 months, the leather split apart. Orbitkey was quick to reply my email and and sent me a replacement after I contacted their customer service (with pictures).
For the replacement, they sent me one with stitching, hoping that would be tougher. This time, it lasted 9 months before splitting apart.
They again sent me a replacement (black with stitching), which is superb customer service. However, I don’t think this will last any longer than before. My logical move is to move towards using the non-leather version of the Orbitkey, although, I really favor the look of the leather band much more. So what I did was I purchased an extra TPU Elastomer polymer Oritbkey, while simultaneously trying out the Thrux Lawrence Foldover Fob. I may save the black leather Orbitkey for ‘nicer’ occasions 🙂