The last thing you want to worry about when you’re having a blast on your annual camping trip, is how to lock your cooler securely.
Nothing ruins a trip faster than worrying about your important cargo, that’s why we suggest having a cooler lock with you at all times.
How to Lock Your Cooler so it Stays Secure and Safe
- Start with a sturdy padlock and keys that can handle tampering.
- Check the corner of your cooler, there should be a half an inch wide hole going through the lid and body.
- Place the neck through the cooler’s hole and make sure you hear a click as your padlock locks tightly.
3 Best Cooler Locks That Can Even Keep Bears Away
1. YETI Bear Proof Padlocks
Some version of the padlock has been in use possibly for the past 4,000 years, that’s because it’s still the most effective way to lock up your belongings and keep them safe.
The YETI Bear Proof lock is a crowd favorite, it has been tested against real bears and proven that no matter how hard they try they cannot break them.
YETI’s padlocks come in a set of two, with two identical keys as well. This is perfect if you want one to lock the cooler shut, while the other locks the cooler to a tree or truck.
The most important thing to remember when using a padlock, is to keep the key somewhere safe. These sturdy locks are made to be tamper proof, so if you lose the keys it will be impossible to open the lock again.
What I Like
- It’s very affordable for a set of two
- It lasts several years without rust or dents
- It’s easy to use
What I Don’t Like
- There isn’t a place to put the keys while the cooler is locked
- It’s heavy and bulky to carry around
The bear proof padlock keeps your cooler securely locked and protected from bears. If a bear gets into the food in your cooler the situation can become dangerous because other bears will also come.
Keeping your cooler locked is very important while camping because wild animals can become dangerous if they find your food. The bear proof padlock ensures that your cooler will stay sealed shut until the key has opened it.
This will keep your belongings and your family safe. If a bear does try to open the cooler it won’t be successful against the stainless steel lock, and will move on quickly.
The classic padlock is the best value for your money, a set of two only costs $30 and will last several years.
2. Python Cable Lock
This six foot long cable has many different ways you can use it and is the must have accessory for any camping trip.
If you don’t have a padlock on hand this cable will replace it perfectly. Simply push the cable through the cooler’s lock hole, then lock the device using the key.
The benefit of using the Python Cable Lock is that it is flexible and adjustable. Meaning, you can cinch the cable as tightly as you’d like for a super tight grip on your cooler.
This makes it impossible for thieves to pry it open or wiggle it free. You can unlock the device by inserting the key and turning it to the right.
What I Like
- It’s very flexible and lightweight to carry around
- The adjustable strap allows you to secure your cooler to the max
- It can also be used to tie the cooler to a truck bed or tree
What I Don’t Like
- The vinyl outer casing can wear down quickly with frequent usage
- It can be difficult to organize the six-foot long strap while packing
The Python cable is the best budget option, for less than $15 you can use this tool to lock up not only your cooler but also bicycles, lawn mowers, power tools, etc.
If you’re worried about locking up your cooler and keeping the contents safe, then this device is a perfect solution.
Not only does it fit in all cooler lock holes, but thanks to the six-foot long cable it can lock your cooler and you can wrap it around a nearby tree as well. This will ensure that thieves can’t open the cooler, or steal it entirely.
If you’ve invested in a high quality cooler then making sure it doesn’t get stolen is the first priority, it’s easy to replace any snacks inside but replacing an entire cooler is more difficult.
For maximum security, slide the cable through the lock holes then wrap it around a nearby tree or heavy object. After locking it you’re all set, you can hike for hours and your cooler will stay safe.
3. Deny Cooler Security Lid Lock
A simple, yet high-tech way to lock your cooler is with the Deny Cooler Security Lid Lock. Its complex pin-lid-lock system discourages thieves from even trying to open it.
The body is made of tough stainless steel, and though it looks complicated it’s actually very easy to use.
Push the pin up through the bottom of the cooler lock hole, once it’s in place lock the lid on top with the key, and you’re all set.
This option is tamper proof against thieves, and the strong steel will keep bears out as well.
What I Like
- The super tough design will protect against both bears and thieves
- It’s stainless steel body won’t rust of get dented
- The unique design will prevent anyone from trying to tamper with it
What I Don’t Like
- It’s the most expensive lock option
- The design can be confusing for some people to understood
- It’s very heavy and has small pieces you need to keep track of
The Deny security lock offers the best protection out of all the lock options. A stainless steel pin locks through the cooler and into the lock, this will make it impossible for anyone to break it.
There are dozens of five star reviews on Amazon and most customers have reported that it is the closest lock to army quality that they’ve ever found.
This lock is the perfect option if you’re traveling with your cooler and won’t be around it at all times. Whether you’re going for a hike in the woods or a swim in the sea, this lock will keep everything safe until you return.
The Best Cooler Lock Accessories
These highly durable brackets easily slide into your cooler’s handle and allow you to easily attach it to a truck bed or tree. These cooler brackets from Coolock are bend-proof, rust-proof and have a built-in bottle opener in them.
The Deny lockbase is a premium cooler lock accessory, the stainless steel bar and base will lock your cooler to any truck bed. The bottom of the base has a nut and screw system, so you’ll never need a cable cord again and can directly screw it into your truck.
These Haven House adhesive locks are the perfect option if you need to child-proof, bear-proof or thief-proof your cooler. The adhesive can be easily applied to either side of the cooler, the key and lock system is the only way to open it again. This is also a great option to lock your tent up extra securely.
When to Use a Cooler Lock (and When Not To)
Deciding when to use a cooler lock is very important for the safety of your camping trip or day at the beach.
Whether you’re preventing theft from the people around you, or just trying to keep your cooler shut from wild animals, knowing when to lock your cooler is a priority.
Be sure to always lock your cooler:
- If you’re leaving it unattended for a long period of time
- If you’re swimming in the ocean far away
- If there’s any prepared food inside that animals can smell (i.e. sandwich, chips, nuts, etc)
- If you’ve put any valuable belongings inside for safe keeping
- If you’re are transporting the cooler in a vehicle or truck bed
Keep in mind that bears can smell food from over a mile away, so simply closing the lid of the cooler is not enough to protect the contents. Always lock your cooler when you are not using it.
That being said, it’s not necessary to lock your cooler if there are several people nearby and it’s frequently being opened. As a rule of thumb, try to lock it whenever you’re transporting it, far away from it, or not using it. All other times you’re free to leave it unlocked.
Lock It Up
While all three lock options are great, the best one of all is the Bear Proof Padlock.
Not only is it the best deal economically, but it is the easiest to use and lasts for several years.
Although it seems very similar to the Deny security lock, it’s actually much simpler to use while offering the same protection. Many customers mentioned how confusing it can be to use the Deny lock if they don’t have any experience with it, meanwhile a padlock is self explanatory and easy for everyone.
The Python cable is great at multitasking, but most people don’t want to carry around a six foot long cord in addition to their overly stuffed backpacks. The padlock may be a bit heavier but it can easily slide into a pocket or purse.
After you’ve invested in a cooler, the next most important step is to keep its contents safe. All of the products above will get the job done but you can never go wrong with a classic padlock and keys.
How do I secure my cooler to a truck bed?
Whether you’re securing your cooler to a truck bed or a tree, the best tool to use is a cable lock. Feed the cable through the lock hole or handle, then attach the remaining area to the truck bed.
Can bears smell food in a cooler?
Yes, bears can smell food in any kind of cooler. This is why it’s very important to keep your cooler locked when you’re not using it. If a bear smells food it will often call other bears nearby.
How can I keep my cooler from being stolen?
1. Only use high grade locks that can’t be cut, damaged or tampered with.
2. Always secure your cooler to a nearby tree or truck.
3. Keep the lock keys with you at all times, and never leave them near the cooler unattended.