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Best Padlocks

Updated December 2018
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 30 Models Considered
  • 68 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 151 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best padlocks

    Last Updated December 2018

    You've probably relied on the security provided by a padlock at some point in your life. Your earliest experience may have been when you used a combination lock to secure your locker in grade school. Or perhaps you used a padlock and chain to keep your bike safe while touring around town with friends. Currently, you may have numerous padlock uses around your home, yard, or at work.

    Padlocks are a large and varied product. Some provide light security while others provide heavy-duty protection in rugged conditions. In fact, the padlock – or something similar to it– has been around for centuries. Thousands of years ago, locks that resemble today’s padlocks were used in Rome, China, and Europe to protect livestock, merchandise, and other items used for trade.

    Today’s padlock designs have changed to fit modern needs, but the concept is similar: a shackle, lock body, and locking mechanism work together to provide security for numerous applications. In fact, there are so many different varieties available, you may be unsure as to which option is best for you. BestReviews can help.

    So before you buy a padlock, take a look at our recommendations, information, and tips. The advice we provide will help you feel secure about your padlock purchase.

    Modern combination locks come in a variety of fun colors, making them ideal for youngsters who need padlocks for their bikes or school lockers.

    Parts of a padlock

    Padlocks consists of three main components that work together to provide security for numerous applications.

    • Body: The body of a padlock contains the locking mechanism and is the component that the shackle slides into when locking in place.

    • Locking Mechanism: Padlocks contain either cylinder or rotary locking mechanisms that are operated by a combination code or a keyway where the key is inserted to lock and unlock the unit. Though less common, Bluetooth-operated padlocks contain sensors instead of mechanical mechanisms. Regardless of the type of padlock, the locking mechanism is housed in the body of the lock.

    • Shackle: The shackle is the part of the padlock that is placed through hasps, chains, links, or other items to secure the body of the lock. The shackle is typically U-shaped and comes in different lengths and diameters.

    Padlock uses

    Maybe we sparked your memory of using a padlock on your locker or to secure your bike, but there are countless other uses for padlocks when it comes to protecting some of your most valuable possessions. Here are just a few ideas.

    • Keep backyard shed items safe.

    • Secure a gate.

    • Protect travel items, including luggage, duffle bag, backpack.

    • Lock items in a rented storage unit.

    • Secure tools in your toolbox.

    • Keep fishing gear secure in its tackle box.

    EXPERT TIP

    If you are concerned about the security of a rented storage unit, consider using more than one padlock. The idea of attempting to tamper with multiple locks is an extra level of deterrence to potential thieves.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Padlock materials

    Metal Padlocks

    Most padlocks are made of metal. Steel locks are some of the most sturdy and are built for heavy-duty jobs. They come in regular, hardened, or stainless options that resist rust and corrosion, making them ideal for outdoor use.

    Brass, Titanium, and Aluminum Padlocks

    Brass, titanium, and aluminum padlocks are a bit less rugged than metal padlocks, but they are practical for applications that don’t require major security. While brass and titanium can withstand the elements, aluminum is prone to wear and not recommend for outdoor situations.

    Plastic Padlocks

    Plastic padlocks are available, but they are not meant for serious security. These padlocks could be easily compromised if someone were to pick the lock mechanism or break the shackle.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Padlocks of hardened steel are extremely durable and less likely to be compromised with bolt cutters than those made of other metals.

    Types of padlocks

    Before you buy a new padlock, you’ll need to decide which type is right for you. There are keyed padlocks, combination padlocks, and padlocks that require either a key or a combination. There are also shrouded shackle varieties, as well as Bluetooth-enabled “smart” padlocks. Here’s a look at some of the pros and cons of each type of padlock.

    Keyed Padlocks

    As the name suggests, these padlocks are operated via a key.

    Pros:

    • Easy to lock and unlock

    • Can be purchased in sets with like-keys for convenience

    • Lots of varieties for almost any type of use
       

    Cons:

    • A hassle if you lose the keys

    • Can be picked, especially bargain-priced models
       

    Combination Padlocks

    You need to remember a series of numbers to unlock this type of padlock.

    Pros:

    • Unlocks with a dial or buttons; no key needed

    • Codes are typically more difficult to crack than locks are to pick

    • Ideal for light uses: lockers, bike chains, bags

    • Affordable
       

    Cons:

    • Most aren’t suited for heavy-duty or high-security applications

    • Tumblers can malfunction or stick in some situations

    • A hassle if you forget the combination
       

    Keyed/Combination Padlocks

    These padlocks work with either a key or a combination.

    Pros:

    • Versatile

    • Less hassle if you lose key or code
       

    Cons:

    • Not usually as durable as keyed options

    • Mechanism is prone to seizing up, in which case neither key nor combination may work
       

    Shrouded Shackle Padlocks

    The shackle of this type of padlock is partially concealed by metal, making it less vulnerable to being tampered with or cut with bolt cutters.

    Pros:

    • Suited for heavy-duty use

    • Often made of hardened steel
       

    Cons:

    • Pricey

    • Not practical for average use
       

    Bluetooth Padlocks

    These “smart” padlocks can be operated with Bluetooth technology.

    Pros:

    • Ideal for techies

    • No key or combination code needed
       

    Cons:

    • Not all models are “prime-time ready,” as the technology may still have quirks (connectivity, pairing issues)

    • Expensive

    FOR YOUR SAFETY

    When looking for a padlock that will be exposed to the elements, make sure that it is rust-proof.

    Padlock benefits

    If you have possessions or property that you need to keep safe from theft or vandalism, padlocks have a lot to offer.

    There are many types of padlocks to suit many different needs. For example, a small padlock with a long, thin shackle is perfect for protecting bags and luggage, while a model with a shrouded shackle is recommended for securing doors, gates, commercial storage units, and other structures located in public areas where tampering is possible.

    Padlocks are easy to use. You might choose a padlock that functions with a key or a combination code. Regardless of the type you choose, however, padlocks are fairly straightforward to use.

    Padlocks are affordable. Although padlocks come at various price points, even those that fall on the higher end of the pricing spectrum aren’t extremely expensive, especially when you consider the value of the items you’re protecting.

    Padlock prices

    As you search for a padlock to fit your needs, you most likely will be pleased with the prices you find. This type of lock is affordable for most consumers, and even higher-end models are reasonable when you consider the protection they provide.

    • $25 and Under: Basic keyed and combination padlocks made of aluminum, brass, or steel can be found for less than $10 all the way up to $25 for small to mid-sized models.

    • $25 to $100: Larger padlocks that provide a bit more security fall in the neighborhood of $25 to $35. Shrouded shackle locks and those intended for areas that need top-of-the-line protection typically range in price from $25 to $100.

    • Bluetooth Padlock Prices: While Bluetooth padlocks aren’t as popular, the technology is advancing. Expect to pay anywhere from $40 up to $100 (or a bit more) for a padlock with the latest smart capabilities.

    Most types of padlocks are also available in sets or multipacks. Prices generally range from $20 for small locks up to $125 for high-security, shrouded shackle sets.

    Padlock concerns

    While padlocks provide security and peace of mind when it comes to keeping possessions and property safe, there are some concerns you should know about.

    • Shackles, especially those that are thin or made of less-durable metals, are vulnerable to bolt cutters.

    • Keyed padlocks can be picked.

    • Keys and combination codes can be lost and/or forgotten.

    • Choosing the right lock to fit your needs and keeping track of your key and/or combination can help you avoid these issues.

    Tips

    • If you need a set of padlocks for various uses around your home and yard, a set of keyed-alike locks offer reasonable security plus less hassle when it comes to figuring out which key fits which lock.

    • Not all combination padlocks are easy to reset if you lose your code. In fact, some require contacting the manufacturer or even a locksmith if you need immediate access. Keep your combination code written or stored in a safe place so you never end up in this predicament.

    • Do you have a problem with frozen padlocks? First, try holding the padlock in your hand for a few minutes to melt any ice buildup. If that doesn’t work, try dipping the key in alcohol or alcohol-based hand sanitizer before gently attempting to unlock it.

    • Some padlocks feature locking mechanisms that make it impossible to secure while the keys are in place. This is an attractive feature for anyone who is prone to leaving keys behind.

    Bluetooth padlocks have their quirks and aren’t for everyone, but they’re worth considering for techies who like to try new smart gadgets.

    FAQ

    Q. How does a padlock with a shrouded shackle help deter vandals?

    A. A padlock with metal that extends up the sides of the shackle is considered to be shrouded, or shielded. The additional metal surrounding the shackle leaves less of it exposed. Therefore, less of the shackle is vulnerable to bolt cutters.

    Q. I’m taking a plane trip. What type of padlock do I need for my luggage?

    A. The best luggage padlocks for flying are those rated as TSA approved. By law, TSA officials can open passenger bags without the owners’ approval or presence. TSA-approved locks can be unlocked, removed, and re-locked without keys. By investing in TSA-approved padlocks, you’ll enjoy some peace of mind knowing that airline officials aren’t going to permanently break your padlocks.

    Q. Do padlocks require any routine maintenance to keep them working properly?

    A. The most important thing you can do to keep your padlock in good working order is to keep it clean. Wipe it off frequently to prevent dust and dirt from building up. Use pressurized air to remove small particles around the shackle, keyhole, or combination tumblers.

    Q. Does the shackle and/or locking mechanism require lubrication?

    A. Lubricating padlock components isn’t always necessary, but it can be helpful in keeping exposed elements in good working order, especially if you use your padlock outdoors. Dry spray lube is best, as it helps reduce friction. There are also some wet oil lubes specifically formulated for padlocks. Never use silicone, as it could damage the lock mechanism over time.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Jennifer
      Jennifer
      Writer
    • Melissa
      Melissa
      Senior Editor

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