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- James Stout/Business Insider
- When you’re away from home and need to secure your gear, combination locks are convenient.
- Available in many forms, combination locks can secure a variety of things, from coolers and baggage to gym lockers and bicycles.
- Combination locks are also an easy way to share access since no key is required.
- The Pacsafe Wrapsafe is our overall favorite because of its versatility.
If you’ve ever suffered the indignity of walking home because you lost the key to your bicycle lock, or having to pay the hefty fee for cutting a padlock at a storage unit, you’ll appreciate the value of a good combination lock.
Combination locks aren’t new, of course, but they have come a long way since the rotary dials of your high-school lockers and the classic Master lock. Today, locks use high-tech materials and innovative designs, and some are even recognized by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for locking luggage while traveling through airports.
You should know that even the toughest locks could be broken if someone really wants something, so no lock is every 100% secure. However, having a lock in place makes it more difficult for would-be thieves.
For this guide, I tested locks for security, usability, and portability to determine which are the best for a variety of purposes. As a cyclist and traveler who depends on locks for security, I also added my experience in buying and using combination locks, in addition to research from other experts and consumers.
Here are the best combination locks you can buy in 2019:
- Best combination lock overall: Pacsafe Wrapsafe
- Best combination bicycle lock: Rocky Mounts Shackleton
- Best combination lock for travel: Tarriss TSA Lock
- Best combination cable lock: Knog Twisted Lock
Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks.
The best combination lock overall
Why you’ll love it: The Wrapsafe from Pacsafe is small enough to use on lockers or luggage, but the included cable can secure roof racks, bicycles, and other large objects.
Sometimes I find myself riding to work with three locks: a D lock for my bike, a cable lock for my bike wheels, and a small padlock for my locker. It’s not convenient, which is why I turned to the Pacsafe Wrapsafe. It’s versatile and affordable, yet it won’t weigh me down, which makes it ideal for traveling.
The Wrapsafe combines a long braided cable with a small padlock. With the cable, you can carry one padlock and secure everything from the smallest locker with tiny eyelets that can’t accommodate thicker padlocks, to big items like bicycles, luggage, or sporting equipment.
One Amazon buyer used it to “keep the honest, honest” when locking up a kayak at a campsite, while another used the Wrapsafe at a hostel to secure luggage and lock a window. Granted, the small cable would be no match for a decent pair of bolt cutters, but it’s a good theft deterrent.
While this lock is versatile, I wouldn’t recommend using it for certain situations. For example, if you’re locking a bicycle you plan to leave unattended far away and for some time, a pair of pricey skis, or anything that’s valuable or necessity, this isn’t the lock for you; there are other locks on this list that are better suited.
Otherwiset, the Wrapsafe is a great option to throw inside a backpack and for securing a bike during short rides or leaving a bag at a hostel.
Pros: Can be used for almost any locking application, portable, cable fits small eyelets
Cons: Not the most secure option for certain things, not TSA recognized
The best bicycle combination lock
Why you’ll love it: If you’re locking a bicycle out in the open and leaving it overnight, you want a lock that withstands cuts and other attacks. That’s why the no-nonsense RockyMounts Shackleton U-lock is perfect.
Bike messengers the world over swear by U-locks because they are the most resistant type of lock during a sustained attack. Cable locks might be lighter, but they are generally easier to cut than the 12mm hardened steel shaft of the RockyMounts Shackleton.
There are stronger U-locks available, and I would recommend those if you are securing an expensive bike. But the Shackleton is the best combination U-lock: You get the convenience of a combination lock but with the strength of a U-lock.
Amazon purchasers loved the included mounting bracket that attaches to a bike. Others noted that the intimidating presence of a U-lock deters would-be thieves. This lock is not just for bikes: I have used it to lock a cooler in my truck bed when I am hiking and often use it to keep the sliding doors of my shed closed when I’m out of town. At under $20, it’s worth keeping one around in case you ever need to beef up your security.
Pros: Sturdy, includes a bike mount
Cons: Not totally immune to strong bolt cutters
The best combination lock for travel
Why you’ll love it: This Tarriss TSA Lock with SearchAlert is TSA approved, meaning you can keep everyone else out of your luggage without the TSA having to cut a lock for inspection.
If you want to keep thieves out of your luggage, it makes sense to lock it. But TSA regulation requires a bag to be unlocked if the owner isn’t present; this is so that the TSA can get into it during inspection, if necessary. However, the agency allows the use of locks that are TSA approved, like the Tarriss TSA Lock with SearchAlert, which inspectors are able to unlock (usually with a special key).
With the Tarriss TSA Lock, not only can TSA agents inspect your luggage without damaging the lock, but you can also tell if it has been opened thanks to the SearchAlert function (a small indicator that turns from green to red).
Available as a two-pack, the three-digit combination should be easy to memorize and the flexible cable allows even fiddly zippers to be secured. Amazon buyers raved about the “crisp” rotation of the combination-lock wheels and the easily visible digits. TripSavvy called the lock its best overall.
At approximately $15 for two, the TSA lock is affordable for some peace of mind. It’s a theft deterrent, but it isn’t foolproof. The cable can be cut with strong cutters, and the three-digit combination is easier to crack than locks with more numbers. Some users report that the lock is easy to compromise without too much effort.
Pros: Lightweight, TSA approved, “opened” indicator
Cons: Users report that lock could be easily compromised
The best combination cable lock
- James Stout/Business Insider
Why you’ll love it: A cable lock allows you to lock multiple items. The clear dial and distinctive look of the Knog Twisted Lock makes it our pick for the best combination cable lock.
Cable locks don’t look as strong as their U-lock counterpart, but when you need to secure multiple things or awkwardly shaped objects, they are handy.
The Knog Twisted Lock has a 4.3-foot cable that lets you secure both the wheels and frame of a bike, or lock a kayak or cooler to an anchor pretty much anywhere. Knog uses a type of steel cable that makes the lock resistant to cutting. The four-digit combination makes it harder for others to guess. It is a great solution for locking something up for a short period of time and preventing grab-and-go theft. The silicone coating won’t scratch bikes or things in your bag.
I found the numbers on the dials on this lock really easy to read, even when locking up a bike on a wet night. This is a vast improvement on some locks with chrome dials which reflect light, making the numbers illegible. I also appreciated the solid construction of the lock and positive feel of the dials as they clicked into place.
Pros: High-quality finish, long and flexible, four-number combination
Cons: Not the strongest lock you can buy