What is the first thing you do when you leave your house and go on vacation? You lock up your home. This may seem like common sense, but if you are going camping, it’s often overlooked.
Many things can happen to someone who leaves their tent unlocked: theft of goods from inside the tent, animals coming in and destroying everything… even vandalism! Unfortunately, there are malicious people out there who steal. There are many precautionary measures you can take to help improve the security of your tent!
In this post, we will show you how to lock a tent so none of these awful scenarios come true on your next camp trip with friends.
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Do I need to lock my tent?
Do you need to lock your tent? Maybe! Tents are easy to break into, and using a padlock won’t necessarily stop a motivated thief from getting into your tent. Tent walls are thin and easy to rip!
If a thief were to try to break into your tent and there was a padlock on it, the vast majority of intruders might be persuaded to give up because of the extra effort it will take.
Campgrounds are typically pretty safe and the theft is low. If locking your tent gives you peace of mind and a sense of security, then go for it! At the end of the day, extra security is always a good thing!
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Should I lock tent zippers from the inside or outside?
Generally, potential thieves are less likely to break in if they see a lock on your tent on the outside of the door and may give up and leave. Seeing you took safety precautions, the vast majority of thieves won’t even attempt a break-in!
However, by seeing a padlock on the outside, thieves might question why you need to secure your tent, and might think there are valuables inside, prompting them to try to break in.
If there was no security visible from the outside, then a burglar might assume the tent is unlocked and attempt to break in. Once they realize the tent is secured from the inside, they may give up.
Sometimes you will need to secure the zippers from the inside, such as when you are sleeping- it wouldn’t make sense to put a padlock on the outside in this situation!
When do I need a locked tent?
There are different occasions where you may need to lock your tent. If you plan to leave your campsite for the day, such as if you are going hiking or boating, you might think about locking your tent.
Additionally, some campers feel more secure sleeping in a tent at night time when it is locked.
How to lock a tent with a padlock
The most effective way (and one of the easiest ways) to secure a tent is by using a tent lock. This can be any padlock you have laying around. Here are the steps to lock a tent with a tent lock:
- Zip the tent entrance closed and bring the two zippers together.
- Open the tent lock and attach it through the two holes of the zippers
- Close the tent padlock
- Be sure to scramble the numbers or letters if using a combination padlock
What kind of camping tent locks should I use?
Should you use a tent lock that is a combination lock or a padlock with a key? Each has its own list of pros and cons but has the same effectiveness to lock your tent.
Combination locks are convenient because you don’t have to keep track of the key, but you will need to make sure you remember your lock combination. Campsites can get unorganized quickly, making keeping a small object nearly impossible! (Read our guide for organizing your campsite so this doesn’t happen!)
The downside to using padlocks is you can easily lose the key, and burglars may be able to pick the padlock. If you use a padlock with a key, use a “hide a key” rock store it in other secure places.
How to lock a tent with a rope
If you don’t want to use a tent lock or you forgot one, consider using rope or a shoestring. Here are the steps to lock a tent with a rope or string:
- Close the tent door and bring the two tent zippers together.
- Thread the rope or shoestring through the holes of the tent zipper.
- Tie a knot to secure the lock
This method works best when used on the tent door inside the tent. If a thief saw a knot as the security system, you would be a much easier target! Having the knot on the inside of your tent is much more difficult to untie.
Additionally, this is a better option for locking your tent at night, since you would need to be inside the tent to fasten it using this method.
How to lock your tent with bungee cords
Another option is to use some bungee cords. Here are the steps to secure a tent with bungee cords:
- Close the tent door and bring the zippers together.
- Place a tent stake into the ground in the vestibule of your tent
- Insert one end of the bungee cord through the two zipper holes
- Insert the other end of the bungee cord around the tent stake
This only works for tents with a vestibule. Otherwise, you would need to put a stake through the floor of your tent which you don’t want to do!
This method also only works when used from the inside, so it can be a great option to secure your tent at night. You could also use this method with a zip tie, though you’ll need scissors to open the tent again.
Other ways to secure your campsite and camp gear
When looking to keep valuable items secure during a camp trip, there are plenty of options if you don’t want to use tent locks. Here are some suggestions for keeping your valuables secure and to help you feel safe while camping!
PS. Keeping your tent locked up will also help keep bugs from getting into your tent!
Use a tripwire alarm when tent camping
A tripwire alarm is a good security option to scare off potential thieves. Simply hide the wire under some leaves or dirt near the entrance of your tents. If any shady characters attempt to break in, they will trigger the alarm when they trip over it, hopefully getting the thief’s attention and scaring them away!
Set up security cameras around your site
You can also set up a camera around your campsite to help prevent potential threats. Many cameras connect to your smartphone and will send you alerts if they detect motion. If you see someone at your campsite, you can talk to them through the camera, which will hopefully scare them away!
Choose a safe campground
The easiest way to protect your stuff while camping is to choose a safe location for your campsite! When planning your camping trip, research the campground thoroughly. Read reviews to see what other campers have said to decide if this is a safe place to camp!
Many YouTubers post videos where they drive around the campground. You’ll be able to see your campsite and decide if it is a safe campsite or not.
Know your neighbors
Many people camping like to be left alone, but it can be helpful to introduce yourself to neighbors and get to know your fellow campers a bit. Check out the campers at the campsite on either side of yours, and make a point to at least say hello!
For psychological reasons, this may lessen the risk these neighbors will pose a threat to your security if they view you as a friendly neighbor!
Safety in numbers
Consider bringing a large group of other people with you while camping or go camping with your partner to help protect your belongings and keep each other safe!
You are easy targets when camping alone than if you had friends or family members camping with you!
If you are worried about things in your campsite getting stolen at night, consider putting motion sensor lights around your campsite. This way, if a thief comes up to your campsite in the middle of the night while you are sleeping, the light will be activated and hopefully scare them away! When a light comes on, there is a good chance the thief will avoid the area.
Keep valuables in your car
Leave valuables in a locked car. Your car has a much higher level of security than your tent does, so we suggest locking a valuable inside a locked vehicle- or simply leave them at home!
This is much easier if you are already car camping. If you are experiencing true wilderness camping, your car might be a distance from your campsite. In this case, you should consider the locking options at the beginning of this post to keep valuables safe.
Be sure to cover your stuff once it’s in the car! Keep items out of sight so thieves aren’t tempted!
Don’t leave food out
If you want to secure your tent to keep animals out, the easiest tip we recommend is keeping food stored properly! Bears, raccoons, and other animals can smell food for miles, so keep any food tucked away at night and whenever you leave your campsite!
This is especially important to stay safe when camping in areas with high bear activity, such as when wild camping!
PS. Check out these tips for keeping food cold while tenting!
Use a cover
Lastly, cover your tents. This adds an actual barrier for keeping valuables out of sight will prevent anyone from being tempted to break in. You can use a cover, or close all the doors and windows so you can’t see your camping gear inside. Plus, it will help keep you dry during a sudden rainstorm!
There are many easy ways to keep your important things safe during a camping trip. By adopting some of these safe habits, you will know how to secure your belongings and have one less thing to worry about during your next tenting adventure!
If you love camping, access our camping planner here to keep track of all your camp details and plans!