The Best Lock For A Hostel (2024)

Written by: Chris Richardson

I know that picking the best padlock or lock for staying in hostels sounds like over-planning. After all, a lock is a lock. For the most part, it is, but what backpacker wants to go out exploring all day only to come home to your hostel and realise you’ve lost the key to the padlock, find the lock you have doesn’t fit the hostel locker once you arrive or worse have your valuables stolen from your room.

Staying at hostels is a lot of fun, but you want to keep your valuables safe, and you can’t depend on hostel security alone to avoid something terrible happening. Hostels don’t have to keep watching over your rooms, especially when you’re not there.

Do I Need A Lock?

When it comes to travel, the question of whether or not you need a travel lock for your backpack or hostel locker is a given. Of course, you do. It’s just a matter of what brand of lock to get and whether it should be TSA approved or have other features.

This is because thieves are always on the lookout for vulnerable bags, and having a lock can help deter them from targeting your belongings. And sadly, while all backpackers are looking to travel and explore, your hostel roommates could also be a thief in waiting to go through your luggage.

What Size Lock To Get For A Hostel

When it comes to selecting a lock for your hostel, size matters. Hostels always have some form of locker or cage for your belongings, and two locks are usually needed – one for the locker door or latch and one for your backpack, just in case it does not fit in the locker.

Therefore, you should choose two different padlocks so that each shackle is not too long or too short for its respective lock. Depending on what kind of locker your hostel has, the size can vary. Smaller padlocks are better for smaller lockers and backpacks, while larger ones can be used if you need more security or if you need to fit a larger latch on a locker.

Selecting the right lock size ensures adequate security while staying at your hostel.

Best lock for a backpack

What Kind of Lock Should I Get

Locks come in different shapes and sizes, so it’s important to pick the right one for your needs. The best option is a shackle padlock with a combination lock if you’re looking for a locker lock. These are made from strong materials and provide superior protection against tampering or theft.

They are also much more convenient than a key lock because you do not need to carry a key to open them. Just remember the lock combination, and you are all set. While you might also consider a cable lock, I’ve found from my experience they aren’t needed or fit lockers well to secure them.

Aim for a smaller styled shackle that will loop through the backpack zipper to lock your bag. The idea here is you are trying to deter people who might snoop through your bag. If they run off with your bag, no kind of lock is going to keep them out.

Key vs Combination Locks

Both key locks and combination locks are great options when it comes to the security of your possessions. Key locks offer an immediate solution that can be purchased quickly and easily, while combination locks require a personal code and offer an additional layer of protection.

The downside to a key-based lock is that you must always carry a key with you to open it. For me, that’s a level of trust I’m not prepared to have in myself. Going out exploring each day, partying, and so forth, it’s a mission not to lose your wallet or purse.

The combination lock saves having to worry about a key going missing. So I find them the best lock option to keep your belongings safe.

Choosing between a key lock and a combination lock depends on your preference and what you’re most comfortable with. Both types of locks come in various sizes, shapes, materials, and designs, so there is likely one to fit your needs.

What If I Lose My Lock Or It Doesn’t Fit

In the unlikely situation where you lose your lock or, despite your best planning, your lock does not fit your assigned locker. Many hostels provide padlocks for sale that will fit their rooms. It won’t be the best-looking lock, but it’s better than nothing.

You can also purchase new locks at airports or train stations as you travel. They all stock TSA locks in various sizes that you can use.

For other tips on staying safe in a hostel, check out our staying safe in a hostel post.