There are few things that provide the same peace of mind as a heavy padlock.
This simple piece of equipment looks like it means business, and acts as an easy deterrent against petty theft. But a padlock needs strength, or it’s just a decoration.
We’ve probably all had an experience with a padlock that pulls open in our hands. These cheap items only work on a superficial level, and can be quickly broken when someone sets their mind to it.
When it’s our valuables at stake, something better is needed.
The best option is a combination lock. These combine strong materials with difficult codes, adding an extra level of protection to whatever needs guarding.
We’ve rounded up the best combination locks around, and compared the features, so you can find the right lock to keep you safe.
OUR TOP PICK
A good lock doesn’t have to be complicated, and with the Puroma 4-digit padlock you get fantastic protection at a bargain price.
The lock is simple and transportable, but with protections to keep your belongings safe.
Straight out of the box, the Puroma is easy to set up. Simply set the dials to zero using the useful center side viewer, and pull the shackle. Program your new 4-digit code, and lock the shackle back.
With two locks included in the pack, there’s always a padlock around when you need one. They also come in different colors - particularly good for school lockers.
These are a great choice for protecting small belongings you require regular access to.
The small size is easy to grasp, so you can move the dial with just one hand. But the lightweight zinc-alloy material is still strong enough to offer safety.
There is little to complain about with the Puroma padlock, which is what makes it such a good choice.
Easy to use, light to carry, but with a secure combination dial, it’s perfect for use around the home. Having two in one pack is a fantastic bonus.
- ¼ inch shackle opening - Fits into most lockholes, for a versatile use.
- Double pack - The budget price is made even better by the larger pack size.
- Central side window - A clear and easy view as you set your combination.
- Same number reset - The dial combination is needed when you lock.
There’s an ease of use to the Desired Tools 4-Digit Padlock, which is what makes it such a good purchase.
The numbers are clear to read, and the side view window allows the lock to be used by both right and left-handers.
Coming in a series of bright colors, your lock is easy to spot in a crowded changing room or hallway.
Made of an alloy of steel and zinc, this is a strong lock that’s good for everyday use. It isn’t heavy duty, but has enough strength to protect sheds, lockers, and tool boxes.
Cold, snow, and ice, won’t cause the lock to stick. Keep it outside during even the most adverse weather conditions, and your belongings will remain protected. Perfect if you need to lock a gate or fence.
When you use a lock regularly, it’s tempting to go for a key lock.
They’re quicker to open, and require hardly any tricky fiddling.
However, when you lose the key, the lock is useless. With the Desired Tools padlock, locking and unlocking is easy.
With just one hand, you can gain access to your belongings, and secure them again when you’re done.
- Side window for unlocking - Easy to see the numbers, can be used by left and right-handers.
- Colors available - Spot your lock in busy changing rooms, and it won’t get lost in your bag.
- 30-day money-back guarantee - If you aren’t satisfied with the quality, the lock can be returned free of charge.
- Cost - Not expensive, but similar quality locks are a better price.
Keeping thieves away from your belongings is the primary aim of a padlock. Unfortunately, there’s often one weak area to a lock: the shackle.
A determined thief can break through the shackle with a strong pair of bolt cutters.
The Delswin disc padlock has a minimal amount of shackle exposed.
This reduces the area that can be cut, successfully deterring potential thieves. Made using stainless steel with a hardened steel shackle, this is a padlock that’s very hard to break into.
The Delswin is slightly difficult to maneuver, because of that short shackle. Useful for deterring thieves, it does mean daily usage can get frustrating.
This is a great padlock for a storage locker or trailer, as it locks up safe but regular access isn’t hampered. The steel construction is anti-corrosion and anti-freeze, which is brilliant for outdoor use.
Re-setting the combination is also a little tricky, as it requires a screwdriver. A key on the back needs to be turned, which allows you to change the combination.
Inconvenient for everyday use, but it does stay secure
- Minimal shackle exposure - Hard for thieves to cut, adds extra security.
- Lifetime guarantee - If you don’t like the lock, you can get your money back.
- Stainless steel body - Strong and durable, with weatherproofing.
- Difficult to open - The shorter shackle reduces flexibility, making it hard to get on and off.
MasterLock is respected for making some of the best budget locks around.
Their extensive range includes a lock that’s suitable for everyone, but we’re particular fans of this password combination lock, which uses letters instead of numbers as a code.
It can be tricky to remember number combinations, especially if you use multiple pin codes throughout a day.
The password lock offers a different method. Rather than setting random numbers to make a combination, letters are used instead.
For many, this is easier to remember. Particularly useful for young children starting school.
Overall, this is a lock with a decent strength. Anti-shimming technology stops the lock from being jammed open using a foreign object, while the hardened steel shackle offers resistance against cuts.
Setting the code is slightly tricky, as a coin is needed to turn the lock before resetting. However, this can prevent accidental resets, and adds some security.
A bulky design, the circular lock doesn’t lie flat against lockers and doors, but is easier to hold in small hands.
The brightly colored dial is fun for young children, making this the perfect padlock for school use.
- Alphabet lock - Easier to remember than numbers.
- Anti-shim technology - Resistant to foreign objects, stopping thieves from forcing the dial open.
- Ergonomic dials - The bulky design fits neatly into the hands, and the dial moves smoothly.
- Not for outdoor use - This lock can only be used inside, reducing versatility.
The stand-out feature of the MasterLock ProSeries Padlock is the shrouded shackle.
Rather than an exposed shackle, the square body continues upwards, shielding the shackle from cuts with a solid brass wall.
This both protects the lock while maintaining maneuverability.
The body and shackle of this lock are clearly designed with strength in mind, as the boron-carbide shackle is incredibly difficult to cut.
With the brass providing extra protection, this lock is fantastic for outdoor use. The brass body is corrosion resistant, and has an improved weatherability.
With 4 dials, the MasterLock padlock has 10,000 possible combinations. The dials themselves are protected by a dust cover, which prevents the wheels from getting stuck.
The shackle seal and dust protection makes it a fantastic choice for a building site or utility meter.
Large, ergonomic dials move smoothly, and can be operated in the dark, or while wearing gloves.
The MasterLock Pro series is a more expensive lock, but it does come with a huge amount of quality. Business owners will find this lock offers peace of mind.
- Shackle shield - Cut resistant, while retaining flexibility for ease of use.
- Ergonomic dials - Even in the dark, these dials can be slotted into place.
- Dust cover - Protects the inside mechanisms from petting stuck or corroding.
- Heavy - Bulky and made of brass, this is a heavier lock.
Best Combination Lock Buying Guide
The best padlock for you isn’t necessarily the same padlock that works for everyone else.
When choosing which design you need, there are several key features to look out for. This buyer’s guide can help you pick the perfect lock.
The material used to craft the padlock is a major factor to consider when making your choice. The better the material, the better the padlock.
Remember, it won’t matter how clever your combination is if the padlock can be pulled apart.
Good materials to look out for are alloy steel or brass. These are strong, but not hugely expensive. The better brands will use clever construction to reinforce these materials.
Cheaper padlocks tend to have a body made of plastic or vinyl. Although they have some strength, these materials won’t resist much force.
As well as strength, some materials will offer durability and weatherproofing. This is important if you intend to keep your lock outside.
Cold weather can cause the lock to stick, and dampness can affect the internal mechanisms. If you want to use the lock outside, weatherproofing is a must.
The shackle is the loop at the top of the padlock, which generally twists free or clicks into place.
As important as the material of the body is, the material for the shackle is even more integral. A weak shackle can be cut away, rendering the combination completely useless.
A decent shackle will be made from similar materials to the body - steel or brass.
However, the best locks will use a stronger material, such as boron carbide. Many locks will use a reinforced shackle, to prevent the risk of cutting.
It isn’t just about the material, either. The design of the shackle plays an important role in security. Locks with the shackle exposed are more vulnerable - the more shackle visible, the easier it is to cut away.
Disc locks cover most of the shackle, reducing the area that can be broken. Other locks might use a shroud, hiding the shackle from view.
Size And Weight
Larger and heavier shackles tend to be made of stronger materials - but that doesn’t mean that they’re always the best option.
These locks can be bulky, and might be oversized for their purpose. If you need a lock for a toolbox or school locker, extra size might just be an inconvenience.
It’s also important to be aware of the shackle size. This is the part that will lace through the holes on what you need locking.
Many shackles are ¼ inch, which fits through the standard lock hole. However, larger padlocks might have thicker, reinforced shackles.
Number Of Dials
The more dials there are, the more secure the lock is. For a start, more numbers offer more combinations. A 3-dial lock can be broken in under an hour by a determined thief.
A 4-dial lock will take significantly longer. As dials are added, the number of potential combinations increases.
However, you also lose functionality - no one wants to remember long strings of numbers. Four dials tend to be enough, but locks with 5 or 6 dials are also available.
As well as number dials, there are letter dials. These tend to be easier to remember, especially for younger children who may struggle with numbers.
Ease Of Use
For many of us, a padlock is a daily necessity. In that case, you want to be able to use it quickly.
Ergonomic dials are easy to grip, move smoothly, and can often be identified in the dark.
Look out for where the numbers are located. If the combination window is placed on the side, it can be easier to set the number. This layout also works best for left-handers.
Size is also an important factor in ease of use. A smaller lock will fit in the palm, allowing one-handed access. In a gym or school, this is particularly useful.
Occasionally, you will want to change your combination. To do this, you need to reset the dial. On some locks, this will be incredibly simple.
Other locks require the use of a screwdriver or coin, which releases the lock and allows the change. This method is more complicated, but it does prevent any accidental combination changes.
Anti-Shim Designs And Other Safety Features
Shimming is when a foreign object is inserted into the shackle, prying it apart and breaking the lock.
Anti-shim technologies are designed to prevent anything from getting into the casing, keeping the shackle safe.
Many padlocks use reinforcements to strengthen the shackle and the body.
Other safety features might include covers, which prevent dust from disturbing the mechanism.
There are also smart locks available, which use Bluetooth technology to increase security. With additional safety features, prices tend to rise.
What You’re Using The Padlock For
The best padlock for a gym locker isn’t the same padlock needed for a trailer. Before making your purchase, consider where you intend to use the lock. If it’s outside, make sure there’s weatherproofing.
For daily use, the dials need to be ergonomic. If you want to carry the lock to the gym, a smaller size is generally better.
Most padlocks are adaptable for more than one use, but it’s important to consider what features will be beneficial.
The cost of a combination lock tends to rise depending on the materials used, and the extra features included.
Although money doesn’t always equal quality, the price is often a strong indicator of what the lock can do.
With that said, a good combination lock doesn’t have to cost very much.
For lockers and toolboxes, a decent lock can be purchased for under $10. These will offer a layer of protection, without being unnecessarily bulky.
When deciding how much to spend, it’s worth considering what you need to protect. The cost of the lock should increase to match the cost of what is being protected.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is A 4-Digit Lock Better Than A 3-Digit Lock?
A 4-digit lock is significantly better than a 3-digit lock.
A 3-digit lock has only 1000 combinations, which a determined thief can crack in under an hour.
By adding the extra digit, you increase the number of combinations to 10,000. It would take a significant amount of time to manually break that code.
The more digits you add, the more combinations that are possible, so the more secure the lock is. However, additional dials reduce the ease of use.
A 4-digit lock is difficult to crack, and quick to use.
Is A Combination Lock Better Than A Key Lock?
Both key locks and combination locks have their own advantages and disadvantages. A combination lock is more convenient, it can be used by multiple people, and you don’t have to worry about losing the key.
However, a combination lock is easier to break into. Key locks are harder to break into, but if the key is lost, they’re useless.