“ Brand: Eurohike / Type: Padlock „
I like to travel with a padlock for several reasons. I use one to seal the keys on my suitcase to reduce the ease with which someone could open it and pinch things, and I often find that when I join a gym abroad I have to supply my own lock. Additionally, if a hotel room has no safe, I like to padlock the suitcase together again. Sure, it wouldn't prevent a theft, but it would leave a clear indication that one had occurred, if a lock had been broken or a zip ripped, so you'd have something to wave in front of the hotel manager's nose.
While ordinary padlocks are fine, I think combination locks have some clear advantages especially for the latter 2 uses mentioned above. For those unfamiliar with the concept, instead of having a key to open the lock, you have a numerical code that you line up which releases the lock. For a gym I prefer a combination lock so I don't have to stick the key down my bra for the duration of my workout. For locking up a suitcase I would also need somewhere to put the key - fine if I'm carrying a bag round with me, but less easy if it's a pool or beach day - and leaving it hidden in the room would also be a little silly.
I've had a few combination locks over the years but they can be fiddly to set and when I couldn't remember how the one I had to hand was locked and opened, I decided I could probably use a new one. This one came from Millets in Blackpool and cost £3.49. It is still available on the Millets website for the same price.
My lock is a gold colour with black numbers on silver rows, and a silver arch. I dislike mixing gold and silver, but it was either this or nothing in the shop, and since it wasn't to be worn as jewellery I couldn't object too much. The lock can be concealed in the palm of my hand but isn't miniature. It's also surprisingly heavy, and chunky too. If you aimed carefully as you lobbed it at someone's head, the impact would be quite painful.
There are 3 rows of numbers which make up the code, so you can either make up a new one or use something simple like the first 3 from your PIN, or from a date of birth or something. It doesn't really matter because in places that I use it, people don't know me so wouldn't be able to guess it easily anyway. You can change the code however often you want but it's a bit fiddly so I tend to use the same one all the time as for opening and closing it's nice and easy. The numbers go from 0 to 9 and need to line up along a given line. This is quite easy to do as they click round like a dial, and there's an audible snap when they get into place. At the same time, I can't detect a subtle difference in click when it's a third or 2 thirds correct though perhaps a super spy or jewel thief would be able to, just as they listen to safes they're trying to get into (unless that's just in the movies).
Though this isn't the smallest padlock in the world, it is quite easy to use and suitable for lockers and zips and whatever else as the loop bit is both long and thin, giving you room for manoeuvre. I've not had any problems either clicking it into place and locking it (you just mess up the numbers, scrambling them however you like so it's not lined up with the code to open it) or trying to thread it through whatever it is I am trying to lock.
This padlock had proved quite robust so far, and I have not had any problems with it. Once it is locked in place it is very sturdy and, I would say, impossible to break by hand, leaving your things secure. As with any lock, with enough effort and tools someone could get in, but I would hope the sight of someone trying to saw away at a gym locker or equivalent might attract concerned attention. One little niggle is that the numbers only really like to rotate in one direction so if you overshoot you have to keep going until it comes round again - not quite as annoying as trying to reset a digital clock, but getting there.
This lock is not that different from other brands, but it is sturdier than some I've tried, and has a thinner, longer, more versatile loop (about 2.5cm tall compared to 1cm or 1.5cm on some smaller ones). I think the 3 numbers (some have 4) are enough as they still provide a scary number of possible combinations that would take ages to try out by someone conniving thief - I may partake in long workouts but I'm sure even I'd be back by then and ready to kick them in the shins.
In some countries they sell padlocks on every street corner - Colombia and Mexico and even parts of Sierra Leone, for example - but I'm never too convinced of their quality, or that the keys will work. And anyway, yes, they do have keys to them, with all the limitations mentioned above. For this reason I would recommend taking yours with you, and this one is cheap, effective, and readily available online and on the high street.