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How should I decide which TSA Approved padlock to buy?

When buying a TSA Approved padlock the first thing you need to look out for is the distinct red diamond shaped logo below which every TSA Approved padlock should have.

This logo indicates that the lock has been approved by Travel Sentry which is an independent organisation appointed by the the Transportation Security Agency or TSA for short a US government agency to ensure that TS Approved padlocks meet the standards set by the TSA.

An additional benefit of buying the TSA Approved padlocks is that Travel Sentry also ensures that the quality maintains that the manufacturers and retailers are strictly adhering to various standards including quality of the finished product.

When deciding what type of travel lock to but you need to decide which type of padlock best suits your needs. Below is a summary of the main criteria that you need to decide between.

Combination Padlock versus Key Padlock

The 2 broad categories of padlock are coded padlocks and keyed padlocks. 

Combination padlocks are great for people who don't like to carry keys around or constantly lose them and are happy to use 3 and 4 digit number combinations. There are a few unusual padlocks which use letters, dates or have 5 digit combinations but these are quite rare and expensive.

Key padlocks are ideal for people who hate having to cram their brain full of  numbers and like the feel of a traditional key. Key padlocks like the one below usually come with 2 keys so you have a spare one. Some of the keyed locks are also available as keyed alike which means that each padlock in the pack can use the keys from the other keys in the pack so you end up with even more spares.

There are also a very limited number of new Bluetooth padlocks and fingerprint padlocks but these are quite unsual and tend to be on the more expensive side.

Size and Weight

Padlocks can vary quite dramatically in size and weight. There are small lightweight zinc alloy padlocks. If you are after even lighter combination padlocks ABS padlocks like the one below are great becuae they are extremely light with very few metal parts and great for backpacks when you want to be carrying as little weight as possible.

Larger zinc alloy padlocks have a more robust feel to them but that durability comes with a heavier weight. The certainly have a solid feel to them like a good wrist watch.

Some unusual padlocks have a long shackle which is sometimes useful.

Shackle Padlock v Cable Padlock

Shackle padlocks are locks with a u-shaped metal loop which is held in place when locked. When opened the steel loop is released and swings opend releasing the items.

Cable Padlocks like the one below usually have a stainless steel cable covered in plastic which is held in place when the padlock is locked

There are a few unusual designs of cable padlock like the key cable padlock below which rerease the cable when the padlock is opened.

Whether you are buying a cable padlock or shackle padlock for your travels it is important to make sure that the travel padlocks will be long along for your required purpose and they the shackle and or cable will be small enough to slide through the gap that you will be using to secure your belongings.


TSA Approved padlocks are available in a variety of colours although black is by far the most popular colour. We have a range of padlocks in black, silver and orange.

If you have a typical black suitcase you might want to use an orange padlock to make it stand out or even a red heart shaped padlock like the one below.

Padlock Inspection Indicator

Some padlocks like the one below come with an integrated inspection indicator. The indicator is the green line on the bottom of padlock. The padlock allows you to identify whether the padlock was opened by security officials with a master key becuase if they have the indicator will turn red.

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