For those of us avid users of handheld GPSrs we know that finding a convenient way to utilize the units, maxmize exposure to overhead satellites and fasten GPSrs securely to outdoor garb and gear can be a challenge. Due to the importance of not losing or damaging my GPSr, I decided to order the Rolls Royce of retractable Keychain Reels, the 488B Super Duty from Key Bak.
This product sells for $15.99 and cannot be purchased directly from the Key Bak company for individual sale. For purchase you will have to call Joan over at the CTL Company at 800 995 8281. Joan charged me $15.99 plus a buck for shipping which seemed like a fair price.
My fascination with the 488BSD focused primarily on the carabineer clip feature, I simply am not comfortable with a belt clip, they don't seem secure enough to withstand scraping against rock and being dragged on the ground, too much potential for the fastener to fail. For me it isn't the loss of the GPSr, but the fact that without it I am very lost in the woods and I make it a practice not to carry a map, phone or compass as they are just extra things that take up room in my pack.
Although I am not sure what type of metal is used for the clip, it seems sturdy enough, it certainly isn't plastic. The clip is attached to the reel with a piece of flat nylon strap. This may be the weak link for the 488BSD, as I wish the strap material was a little heftier. The reel cover is 2 inches in diameter and 0.4 inches thick, it is made out of hefty black plastic. Please note, this reel is NOT made out of metal so you don't have to worry about satellite interference or attracting attention with a bright shiny metal beacon. It came with a keyring but I switched it out to one that I liked. I am using the product with a Kevlar cord although according to the site you can get one with a metal chain.
The Kevlar cord has a 36 inch reach and advertises a 13-15 oz retraction force, and I must admit it keeps my PN40 retracted firmly in place unless I pull on it with my hand. The assembly is about 6 inches long, I find it best to attach the clip to the handle on the back of my day pack at the back of my neck. I'm left handed so I swing the unit over to my left shoulder and keep the GPSr firmly in place between my boobies with the sternum strap. This gives me easy access to the unit as well as keeping the batteries warm in cold weather. My biggest concern before I ordered the 488BSD was that my luscious blond hair would get caught in the Kevlar cord retraction, so far that has not been a problem.
The Key Bak company offers a Life Time Service Policy and I am sure that at some point in the future they will rue the day they sold me a product, as I tend to use these things decades from the time I make a purchase and long after the product is available for sale. Either way, it's there if you need it.
I have owned the 488BSD now for 2 months and have no issues so far, I've dropped it, I've dragged it on the forest floor, I've attached it to my car's dashboard and various beltloops, so far so good. It still looks new. If you agree with me or don't, please feel free to leave a polite comment.
Update 12/14/11 SelectLocks appears to be offering this product on the Internet for $12.95.