The best way to stop thieves in their tracks is to buy a suitcase lock, and we’ve rounded up the best of the bunch according to happy campers and travellers of all kinds.
Undoubtedly the best suitcase locks to go for are those that are TSA-approved. These are typically combination locks that come with the added bonus of a keyhole, only unlockable by TSA agent keys, meaning that if your bag is pulled aside for examination, they don’t have to bash it open, breaking the lock and exposing your intimates to the world.
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As such, all of our picks are TSA-approved, so after that, you only have to worry about the finer details – that is to say, what kind of lock you should go for.
If you’re one of those people who uses the same password for everything and you’re not sure you can be trusted to remember a combination, you can go for a good old fashioned lock and key and still have the added peace of mind of TSA compliance.
These feature a keyhole that can only be unlocked by your key and that of the agent. But, if you fancy yourself a bit of a spy type, you can go one step further with a keycard lock, an unassuming padlock opened by an equally unassuming card you can stow in your wallet.
Finally, there are cable locks, and we don’t want to be dramatic, but if you’re travelling with just a backpack, or your backpack and that of your favourite travelling companion, you won’t want to be without one.
Using a one- or two-way cable lock, you can lash bags to a static object and together at the same time.
The 7 best suitcase locks
This TSA padlock has a simple but quite useful little function included in it that sets it apart from the competition: a pop-up indicator that lets you know when your bag has been opened by an agent.
Other than that, the functionality is pretty standard, but it’s the peace of mind that you can’t really put a price on. It might be small, but its construction is tough zinc alloy for extra security, and along with that comes an impressive lifetime guarantee.
This lock and cable set goes above and beyond on flexibility, making it a good bet for backpacks and other types of luggage as well as suitcases. If you’re going travelling and carrying your whole world on your back, even if you’re frequenting some of the more esteemed hostels, a long cable lock is a good way of keeping your things secure and yourself sane.
Users also found it helpful for lashing awkwardly shaped items together, and compact enough to pop in a pocket when not in use, as well as the given virtues of the TSA-approved padlock.
It’s not just combination locks that are TSA approved, ya know. These teeny mini padlocks stay streamlined with a single keyhole that fits two keys, yours and the agent’s, eliminating confusion and making for a compact package.
Also a small thing, but an important one when you’re jet-lagged and about ready to hulk out and rip off the whole handle in a blind rage: the keyhole is at the front for easy access, not on the bottom. Why doesn’t everyone do that? Simple but inspired, and the usefulness of having a pack of four isn’t to be sniffed at either.
Not quite as flexible as the Eagle Creek lock and cable set, but not as restrictive as a regular metal padlock, this cable lock is a nice middle ground. The vinyl-covered steel cable is designed to be flexible but durable, meaning easy packing for you and an unexpectedly hard time for thieves – honestly, one reviewer even went so far as to buy a spare lock to test their wire-cutters and sledgehammer on and found that it refused to give, so if you’re particularly nervy about someone getting into your luggage, you know you’re in safe hands with this beast.
This masterful padlock and cable combo is one for the travelling twosome. On first glance there’s not much to differentiate it from the Eagle and Creek Lock and Cable, but the deciding factor between the two falls to your needs.
Some reviewers found the construction of this cable a little weak, so if you’re extra paranoid we might be inclined to recommend going for our sturdier earlier pick, but they also loved the fact that this Lewis N. Clark version comes with an extension, allowing you to lash two pieces of luggage together and secure the whole thing to a static object, all the while keeping the package on lockdown. While more of a hurdle than a heavy-duty lock, it should fare perfectly well to deter opportunistic thieves.
Likely to lose a tiny key for an equally tiny padlock or forget the password for a combination lock? It’s easily done, and Sea to Summit obviously know that, because they’ve come up with the quite ingenious Cardkey TSA Lock to tackle the problem. The set comprises a small, lightweight cable padlock with a TSA-compliant keyhole for easy security access, as well as a credit card-sized key card and a smaller key fob.
Not only do they look far more inconspicuous to pickpockets than the expected key, you’ll also always have a backup so long as you have your wallet and keys on you. Although if you’ve lost those too, we’re sorry to say you might be beyond help...
This Lewis N. Clark suitcase lock brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “triple threat” with its vast improvement on the traditional one-way padlock, which essentially forces you to choose between your bag being opened but not stolen altogether, or stolen but unopenable.
This is thanks to its two-way cables, which allow you to secure your bag to a static object and hold the zips closed at the same time. And if some particularly persistent ne’er-do-well does somehow get in, you’ll know for sure your luggage has been tampered with thanks to those unrepairable zippers, which is something of a comfort, we suppose...