Backpack Locks- Buying Options

Who doesn’t like some semblance of peace regarding their worldly possessions when in transit? Procuring anti-theft backpacks is a good start, but locks, beyond a doubt, are the capstones of security. And it’s when backpack owners can rest easy, knowing that even if their belongings are trifled with, it will leave a smidgen of a clue as to what went wrong.

Backpack locks are admittedly no different than suitcase locks eight times out of ten, but the following option guide is here to explore the remaining two, from easy avail to non-conforming backpack locks. The discourse will make it clear what to expect when buying the locks.

Old-school Manual PadLocks

Padlocks have been around for centuries. They are lying around at the house, maybe blocking a kitchen cabinet or valuables from potential robbery. It may be easy to imagine their design and, thus, their function.

Their bass, or main structure, is available in all sorts of metal, namely- steel, titanium, aluminum, stainless steel, and brass. The first impression of these locks is bulky, but weighing them on the scale or the palm of one’s hand clearly states they come in all sizes and weights.

When backpacks are stretched thin with a heavy load, padlocks are safer. Neither do they cinch in the zippers or buckles, nor do they make the strings clamp tight around a backpack’s body. To avoid such problems, a size chart for shackles can be availed.

Speaking of shackles (the inverted U shape which passes through the zip puller, locking in place), backpackers prefer shackles with insufficient space in case someone tries to pry it open with a crowbar or a bolt cutter.

With their limitations, they still provide a wide range of variety. There are rekeyable ones offer to remove cylinders (where the key fits inside the body of the lock) and replace them with a new unique key. This arrangement saves a trip from having to buy new locks altogether.

But if travelers are forgetful and tend to retrieve the key before locking their bags, they are better off with non-removable locks, wherein the key can only be retracted after it closes the intended package.

Another famous type of padlock is Shackles. Please leave the name to its devices because all atavistic locks come with shackles. But in this one, the bonds are concealed inside the extended coating of the main body. They work in the same manner, elevated slightly by one odd in their corner- the latent shackles leave no gap between the lock and the bag’s surface, ultimately reducing the chances of brute force techniques of breaking the lock. It’s also the reason upcoming locks are preferable.

Types of Combination Locks

These locks are similar to padlocks in so far that they use a pad for their series of discs which support numerical or alphabetical combinations. Their base structure is that of a standard lock, with rows and a series of multiple-dial locks placed in a sequence.

If someone isn’t familiar with the mechanism, they need only revisit the rotary safe lock used in bank vaults or, better yet, the ones used in gym lockers. Like the old built-in candlestick telephone, the dial rotates until the desired telephone number is connected.

Similarly, the wheels of the dial, where each number from the combination has a different spin, attach themselves to a spindle inside. There are three to four wheels, depending on the number of dials. When all three wheels align, the lever releases the impeded side of the shackle, allowing the other side to unlock.

The in-depth unveiling helps to understand how to reset the combinations. Some need to be set at 000 to clear the cache, so to speak, then be realigned. At the same time, some need to spin counterclockwise with the shackle unlatched.

As far as the material is concerned, combination locks come in carabiners- lightweight, portable, and brass or any corrosion-resistant alloy. But, all pads and dials must have numbers or alphabets imprinted in contrasting colors to that of the place for easy visibility. Zinc coating helps the print stay intact.

Keyless Locks, a.k.a Smart Card locks

When was the last time edgy tech couldn’t salvage industries where they were lacking? For a disproportionate lot of history, textbook remakes of locks have been flooding the market. Until exemplary GPS smart locks, these locks need a card key, like the hotel room keys or swipe cards.

The magnetic strip at the back of the card helps in unlocking. The most excellent range or the distance these locks function from is up to 240 meters with the help of a GPS or Bluetooth. Any breach in security or forced entry via bypassing is detected, and alerts are sent to the device to the lock connected. Thus, long hiatus in the wilderness and camping are perfect opportunities to try for a smart lock but with additional security features (like a master key) for backup.

If babysitting another card is marginally less appealing, then another smart lock option is fingerprint lock. It scans the customized fingerprint to open and locks automatically once the shackle is forced inside. It works just like touch screen fingerprint locks on phones. If indeed, this is an ideal covering all parameters, then it’s vital to choose biometric locks which have long battery life, especially for outdoors.

Some of these locks grant temporary entry if the time and date have been preset via a smartphone. The master key or additional security is a blow that cushions should the biometrics ever fail in an emergency. So, relying on just one security measure is inadvisable.

Retractable Locks with or without cables

At the tuft of a commendable  innovation, retractable locks have cables protruding from one end to extend and loop through zipper pulls of more than one backpack at a time. Their lines act like shackles but with extra flexibility.

It has the dreadlock mechanism of combination locks once the cable completes a loop. Unlike other locks where the wires are extrapolated, retractable locks have integrated, in-built ones. The cable or wire is vinyl coated, so it doesn’t wear off from constant bending, folding, and holding tension like the junction of a handbag right at the shoulder.

The Retractable locks have found themselves in an avalanche of light travelers because, and this understanding makes or breaks the purpose of buying locks, backpacks are not suitcases. Even the most sturdy backpack out there won’t have the cemented spine or long-lasting original shape to maintain, like how elastic works.

Building on the said dynamics, the locks must be in tune with their ability to fold, elongate, or fit. Cable locks, strap locks, and retractable locks have the know-how and are predominantly viable options for tying more than one backpack together.

Mesh-Net full cover Locks

What’s the image one can associate with full coverage locks? Rust-ridden imaginative wheels might deter someone, but not this guide. The illustration is easy to depict. Picture the fruits at the vendor market packaged in nets, not the mosquito repellent or sleeping bag net but one with webbings- very similar to a basketball net, a mesh is stretched like cobwebs. The word ‘mesh-net’ means a net made of mesh and other tensile fabric.

Generally, the net is spread over the backpack, like a cage, followed by pulling the drawcord until it hugs the bag like a shower cap- tight but not too tight. The extended cable is wrapped around any other stable fixture, like a pipe or the legs of the chair, and after completing one loop, fitted into a clip-like structure. There should be a ‘tch’ sound once it’s done.

Then, when the backpack is locked in itself and held steady, the carabiner hook kicks into place with a small manual padlock. This might lead to the wrong belief that only backpacks bursting at the seams can use these locks because the net curves itself to the bag’s shape. But these nets work well with nearly empty packs without looking like sod.

Mesh nets badger first-time users, take a lot of time to get used to, and draw attention. But such shortcomings are immaterial if children are the company, carrying valuable luggage. Then the nets secure the insides and the whole backpack to the owner’s back. Any attempts at intrusion or vandalism can be felt and known. Strapping the load to one’s back is a brilliant idea.

Security Precautions to Remember

The utmost trust in external locks is a testament to their reputation and work ethic. Partly because built-in locks in backpacks are not always authority-approved. Built-in locks, when breached, share their damaged equities with the rest of the bag.

All locks, in the present day, for smooth functioning and loyalty, adhere to ethical standard practices imposed by TSA- Transportation Administration Security, a branch of the United States Government. There is no obligation to use TSA-approved locks, but it’s like a feather on the cap- people are good for it.

Because TSA locks issue a master key administered to security heads at international/national airports to open and close the luggage after inspection, if the backpack can’t be opened with a key or other means, the airport security takes no prisoners to approach to use force. And they have the right to do so with complete impunity. Check for the diamond-shaped red color stamp with white background to know whether the locks are approved.

To their credit, locks come with security alarms or search alert indicators, which notify the owners whether TSA has checked their bags. Since it’s government issued, their quality is up to the mark. Besides, TSA ascertains that companies don’t compete over the same designs of locks.

Another remarkable aspect of a more accepting environment has been the DDA, Disability Discrimination Act of the United Kingdom, and other similar legislations by other countries to acknowledge that physically or mentally impaired people might not be able to use the same locks as non-disabled people. Like people with arthritis or brittle bone disease. Which has, quite frankly, made traveling more inclusive.

In the end, locks should be able to withstand rust, corrosion, extreme temperatures, and weather coupled with hard tumbles or two, rough break-ins, clever bypasses, and for the owners, come with easy reinforcements and additional access in case the first one fails. The idea that suitcase locks can’t be used for backpacks is only relevant in rare instances where suitcases are too different. But for convenience, backpack locks are supremely productive when chosen to meet the requirements.