The Micro Tick Key - Hacking Gear Down to Size
The Tick Key is the best Tick removal tool that I have ever used. However, in my opinion, its far bigger than it really needs to be. That is especially true if you want to carry the Tick Key in a minimal or ultralight pocket First Aid Kit (FAK).
Most of the hacks I do perform on gear are designed to reduce weight, but the Tick Key weighs a mere 5.4g to begin with, in this case size is the issue. The size of the Tick Key has been bugging me for some time, more or less since I first bought one. So this past weekend I decided to do something about it. The tools I used were a hacksaw, a flat metal file, a round metal file, a drill press and some 800 grade wet-n-dry paper.
The Plan of Attack
I like to have a plan for how I'm going to hack any given piece of gear. For more expensive pieces of gear it's almost critical to plan your approach, for smaller items like this it's not as important. For me a plan means sketching it in some form or another in my pocket notebook to determine what I'm going to do and in what order I'm going to do things. I'm a visual person. Below is the sketch I made for hacking up the Tick Key.
The three large dotted lines represent the cuts I will be making with the hacksaw. These cuts will remove the majority of the excess metal. The two vertical cuts will be first and then the horizontal cut. The Tick Key is made of aluminum and cuts like butter making this an easy hack to do by hand. I could use a Dremmel tool, but prefer to have a little more control for smaller items like this.
I used the flat file to slowly remove the corners of what was left and the Tick Key and then the round file to smooth out the lines and create the final sweeping curves. I used a drill press to make a new hole for a short length of cord. If you don't have a drill press you can just as easily use a hand drill, but be careful.
Once I had the final shape completed I used the 800 grit wet-n-dry paper to smooth out the file marks and rough edges so that the entire thing was smooth to handle. I didn't make any changes to the internal tear drop shape of the Tick Key. That's the working end and I don't need or want to mess with that in any way.
Quick and Easy
Even taking my time and being careful not to damage the Tick Key, this entire hack took about 15 minutes from start to finish. The original Tick Key weighed a whopping 5.4g. The reduced version weighs 1.6g including the short length or LiteTrail Hi-Viz Dyneema Guyline. More importantly it now takes up a lot less room in my pocket FAK which means that I'm much more likely to carry it, which means I'm more likely to have it with me when I really need it.
How Not to Lose Your Micro Tick Key
One last thing that I wanted to share with you is something I discovered as being necessary as a result of this hack. I'd reduced the size of the Tick Key so much that it became easy to lose and slipped out of my FAK on more than one occasion. A downside of the hack I guess. I found an easy solution for this by using one of the two small safety pins to attach the Tick Key to my wallet using the short length of guyline cord. Now it isn't going anywhere!
Based on the Instagram photos I posted of this earlier in the week I am not the only one to have trimmed a Tick Key. What do you think of this quick little hack and would you do it to your Tick Key?