Choosing the best locks for hostels and hostel lockers comes with its own set of complications since you’re surrounded by strangers. Newbie travelers are often targeted by veteran hostel fleas that jump from one country to the next on a shoestring budget or no budget at all.
I’ve personally come into contact with these types of shady travelers who prey on the unknowing. First, they charm strangers to gain their trust. Then, when their new “friends” aren’t looking or let their guard down, they take whatever they can get their hands on.
With the right locks, you can be sure to keep your possessions secure. In this article, I share with you the best locks for hostels and hostel lockers.
Now, here’s my list of best locks with tips on how to use them.
#1) TSA-Approved Set-Your-Own Combination Cable Luggage Lock
I recommend this lock as a low-security option that comes in handy for many uses. The reason I recommend this lock for hostels over the traditional padlock is that it has the ability to pass through more than two zippers at once.
You can also use it to connect the zippers of your bag to a fixed object like the wires of a bed frame. Since the cable is thin, you should be able to pass it through the holes in any hostel locker.
The downside is it’s low-security and not terribly difficult to cut through the wire. However, it’ll get the job done in most situations. Plus, it’s TSA-approved so you can use it while you travel through the airport to secure your checked baggage.
#2) Lewis N. Clark Lockdown Triple Security Lock
This lock is even more hostel-friendly than the first. I’m pretty sure Lewis N. Clark had hostel security in mind when they created this lock.
The coolest part about this lock is you can remove one of the cables to turn it into a normal cable lock or connect both cables to lock down your pack or suitcase to a fixed object.
The cable on this lock is a bit more heavy-duty than the first lock, but keep in mind, an experienced thief can still cut through it with the right tools.
The thing is hostel thieves usually aren’t professionals. If they see a lock, they’ll likely move on to an easier target or give up.
This lock is also TSA-friendly, which means you can use it on your checked baggage, no problem.
#3) Lewis N. Clark Combination Lock and Steel Cable
This combo is similar to the second lock, but higher-security. The 48″ coated steel cable is much harder to cut through than the thinner cables on the first two locks.
The longer cable also gives you more options for connecting multiple bags at once to a fixed object. The TSA-friendly padlock comes in handy for several uses: securing your checked baggage, locking your backpack zippers, or locking a hostel locker.
Overall, I can think of a ton of uses for this combo, and it’ll get the job done more often than not if a thief happens to target your bag.
#4) Lewis N. Clark Retractable Cable Lock
I really like the idea behind this lock, and I’ve used one myself, but it’s very difficult to find one that’s 100% reliable. This version by Lewis N. Clark seems to have the most positive reviews.
Even leaders in the anti-theft gear industry like Pacsafe and Travelon have manufactured this type of lock and failed. If you get one that works, they do come in handy.
The advantages are the lock is lightweight, and the 30″ cable allows you to lock your bag to almost any object before tightening the slack in the cable. You can also use it to lock multiple packs or suitcases together.
#5) Pacsafe Backpack and Bag Protector
Here’s one of the best locks for backpackers, especially for those of you who dropped a lot of money on an expensive backpack. The steel mesh completely envelopes your bag before you lock the entire contraption to a fixed object.
It comes in three sizes: 55, 85, and 120-liter. It also comes with a carry pouch and a keyed padlock. The beauty of this lock is it folds down to take up almost no room in your bag without adding much weight at all.
A thief would have to make multiple cuts to extract your pack.
#6) Pacsafe Travelsafe GII Portable Safe
This portable safe by Pacsafe isn’t technically a lock, but it will surely come in handy when staying in hostels in more obscure destinations with minimal security options.
It’s made of waterproof & slash-resistant materials and can be attached to a fixed object. You can get creative with this lock by attaching it to a bed frame beneath the mattress or hidden away in other spots out of sight. It also comes with a 3-digit TSA-friendly padlock.
Another way to kind of turn this bag into a lock is to pass the cable through your backpack zippers before attaching everything to a fixed object or even without attaching to a fixed object.
#7 Pacsafe Wrapsafe Anti-Theft Adjustable Cable Lock
Here’s another one of the best locks for backpackers staying at hostels. The cable includes notches every few inches to allow you to tighten it securely around your backpack and other gear.
It’ll get the job done for almost all backpack sizes since it’s 8′ long. You can also share it with a friend to connect multiple backpacks to a fixed object.
#8) ABUS 64TI/40 Titalium Aluminum Alloy Padlock
When it comes to the best locks for hostel lockers, this is the one. ABUS makes some of the best padlocks in the world, and this 3-pack is a steal.
The reason I recommend these locks over a TSA padlock is that they’re much more secure than TSA locks or standard padlocks. These come with four keys and are keyed alike.
A petty thief definitely can’t pick one of these or cut through the shackle without someone noticing. You can use these locks to lock the zippers on your suitcase, backpack or to lock your hostel locker.
I recommend using this lock instead of any lock the hostel may provide to lock your locker.
#9) Heavy Duty Black Combination Cable Lock
Last but not least is the combo cable and carabiner combination lock. I like this lock because it’s versatile and more secure than the cable locks above with thinner cables.
It’s also lightweight and won’t take up too much room in your pack. Although, it’s definitely too big for minimalist travelers (who I envy).
Bonus Hostel Safety Tips
- When researching a hostel on Tripadvisor or a similar website beware of places with a low number of total reviews, an above-average number of terrible reviews, no/low reviews by solo travelers (there’s a search filter for solo traveler reviews), and reviews that mention unfriendly staff or cleanliness issues.
- Don’t venture too far off the beaten path when choosing a hostel. Remember, you may only visit this place once in your life, so make it count! A few extra bucks to stay in a popular hostel that is centrally-located is super worth it. I once chose to stay in a hostel on the outskirts of Amsterdam to save a few bucks each night, and while we did still have a blast, we should have ponied up for a centrally-located spot.
- Choose a private room when you can, especially when you’re traveling with a small group of friends or family.
- Always remember to secure your belongings using the locks I recommended above before you start partying. I once had a brand-new iPhone stolen while staying in a hostel. Nowadays, I never bring out my main phone to the party or bar.
- Consider using a hidden money belt to hold your passport, cash and credit cards. You’ll feel safer having those possessions close. Click here to read all the reasons I love mine. There are also some stylish anti-theft fanny packs available these days.
- Inspect the hostel lockers to make sure they actually work and can’t be easily broken into.
- I’ve slept with my cash and passport in my pillowcase while staying in a private room on several occasions. You may want to think twice about doing this if you’re staying in a shared room.
- If you stay in a shared room, try to grab a top bunk.
I’m confident if you made it this far, you now know all the best locks for hostels and hostel lockers. The peace of mind you’ll get knowing your stuff is safe while you’re out having a blast more than pays for the price of a decent lock.
Plus, a solid lock will last you for years to come. Don’t skimp when it comes to buying a quality padlock or TSA lock. The ABUS lock I mentioned above doesn’t cost much more than a Master Lock or other common lock.
Safe travels, and don’t do anything I wouldn’t do, which isn’t much.