I’ve never lost any luggage before (knock on wood) but I have had a variety of things stolen from me throughout the years while I’ve been traveling.
Luggage getting stolen in the airport is quite common and it’s also important to make an effort to keep your backpack or suitcase secure if you’re traveling by bus or by train as well.
After getting my camera stolen right out of my backpack on the train to Rome I started looking for the best luggage locks that I could use to hopefully deter both criminals and anyone working in airports where I wouldn’t be able to keep an eye on my stuff at all times.
One thing to remember is that luggage locks for international travel aren’t going to protect your gear 100% but they definitely act as a deterrent and cause someone interested in your stuff to think twice and look for an easier, unlocked target.
It’s a lot easier and faster to open a backpack or suitcase that isn’t locked at all and look through it rather than fiddling with some locks and trying to quietly and discreetly break one open.
While you should always travel with any of your valuables with you in your daypack or purse there are somethings that you’re going to put into your luggage that you aren’t as worried about but still don’t want to lose.
With that in mind, here are some of the options I came across when I was searching for the best travel locks as well as my recommendations.
The Best Luggage Locks for Securing Your Gear
Master Lock 4688D Cable Lock
The Master Lock 4688D Cable Lock is the one I eventually settled on to keep my backpack secure when I’m staying at hotels or hostels.
I don’t actually use this one for my checked luggage, I’ll show you the option I use for that next, but for securing my daypack, backpack or even my girlfriends purse this is the lock that I use.
I like it because it uses a cable, rather than an inflexible opening piece, so I’m able to better thread it into zipper holes and lock shut.
It meets TSA requirements, so that’s a bonus for frequent fliers, and I prefer using it because it’s lightweight, easy to open, lock and it’s small so I always have a few with me when I’m abroad.
Kolumbo TSA Lock
The Kolumbo TSA Lock is another one that I use and mostly for my suitcase or any luggage that I check because it has the rigid and solid locking piece instead of the flexible kind like in the one that I just mentioned.
It’s TSA approved so it’s perfect for me to use when I’m traveling through airports in the US and I find it easy to use and quick to lock/unlock so I never have to waste time fiddling with it when i’m in a hurry and ready to go.
The overall construction seems very durable and solid and so far I haven’t experienced any issues with this lock breaking, cracking or coming unlocked when my bags are checked.
It features a 3-digit combination and it’s a good idea to choose your own locking combo rather than going with something simple like 0-0-0 or 1-2-3.
I would recommend checking out the Kolumbo TSA Lock if you’re looking for one to use for your suitcase or any bags that you’re checking.
Lewis N. Clark TSA Lockdown Triple Security Cable Lock
The Lewis N. Clark Tsa Lockdown Triple Security Cable Lock is a pretty neat locking set-up and I love the fact that it has two cables for further security and locking capability.
I use it for locking my backpack to my suitcase or to lock my backpack handles to a solid object like a desk, chair or something else where I can fit the cable.
The design makes it easier to attach zipper locks to handles and just makes it more tricky for someone to get into your bag.
The length of the cables also means that it’s possible to get a really tight fit when it’s time to lock something up and this makes it even harder for someone to just brute force it off when they can’t get a good grip.
Overall, I like the Lewis N. Clark Tsa Lockdown Triple Security Cable Lock for it’s versatility and options when it comes to keeping everything locked up and I recommend checking it out if you’re looking for something a little less traditional but that still gives you plenty of locking capabilities.
Lewis N. Clark TSA Key Card Lock
I admit, when I first stumbled onto the Lewis N. Clark TSA Key Card Lock I found the theory behind it very interesting.
Rather than using a combination or an actual key to unlock it uses a small card that you simply insert into the bottom of the lock to open it.
You might think it’s unusual but it sucks having to always remember different combinations or have to search through everything to find a tiny key.
There are two different sized cards available, one big one that’s about credit card size and a smaller, more portable one and you just need to keep them in your wallet or somewhere else you can quickly access whenever you need to unlock anything.
It’s also TSA approved and overall a very cool, unique design.
Master Lock 4689 Luggage Locks with Keys
The Master Lock 4689 Luggage Locks with Keys are what I recommend checking out if you’re not interested in memorizing a combination or carrying around any special cards for unlocking.
These are more of your basic locks, using a dedicated key to open, and I like the small and rigid locking piece that reduce the amount of space available between the actual lock and zipper which I think makes it harder for someone to grip or even squeeze a tool in.
What I like about these are the fact that instead of having the key opening on the bottom it’s actually on the front of the lock so I never have to worry about trying to find the opening or just fumbling around in the dark trying to fit the key in.
These are a fairly straightforward and simple travel lock and I suggest taking a look at them if you’re looking for something without any frills or special features.
Brinks Solid Brass Luggage Lock (2-pack)
The Brinks Solid Brass Luggage Lock are more of your standard lock type that can be opened using a key and offer a sturdy locking mechanism to keep your luggage secure.
I don’t personally like traveling with the key and I like using the combination instead but I found these to still be a suitable choice for locking my zippers together.
They’re TSA approved, which is always a plus when you’re flying throughout the United States, and the 2-pack means I can use them both for different zippers or I can always just toss one into my bag to use at a hostel or somewhere else where I might leave my stuff somewhere for a moment or two.
The design is quite simple, about what I would expect with a standard luggage lock, and there’s even a lifetime warranty included which I find awesome in case they break or something happens to the locking mechanism when I’m traveling.
The Wordlock is another unique little travel lock that I stumbled onto.
I really like it because instead of using a standard number combination it uses a word combination so it’s possible to set a word to remember instead of a series of numbers.
It’s a lot easier for me to remember a short 4-letter memorable word rather than having to recall random numbers to open the lock.
So if you’re like me and not too good at memorizing numbers or you don’t want to carry around keys I’d suggest taking a look at the Wordlock.
Eagle Creek Dial Lock and Cable
Last but not least is the Eagle Creek Dial Lock and Cable.
I’ve used a range of Eagle Creek products before without any issues and i’m not surprised that I found their lock and cable set to be a suitable option for my traveling needs.
The cable is great because it can be looped through handles, zipper holes and even used to lock together more than one suitcase or backpack for additional security and protection.
Not only that but the cable can easily be removed and you can just use the dedicated lock on its own without having to use the cable depending on what your preferences are.
This is what I’d recommend checking out if you’re staying in hostels and won’t always be able to keep an eye on your stuff.
You can just loop the cable through everything and either attach it to your bed when you’re sleeping or have all your gear locked up snugly in a locker when you’re out exploring a new city.