How To Lock A Tent (Plus Tips For Added Security)

If you want to keep your camping gear safe and for peace of mind, it is good to know how to lock a tent properly. Whether you are camping in the wild or at a crowded festival, theft is always a risk. However, locking your tent can be an effective way to deter potential thieves and keep your belongings secure.

While locking the tent is an effective way to secure your belongings, it is not foolproof. As a frequent car camper, I prefer to keep my valuables locked in our car or I take them with me, however this is a personal preference and depends on your risk tolerance.

In this article, I will share some tips and tricks on how to lock a tent, from both the inside and outside and other additional measures you can take for added security to ensure your camping trip is enjoyable and stress-free.


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10 Camping Essentials – Camping Gear & Accessories

Camping essentials so you have fun camping so you go camping more!

  1. Matches, lighter or flint to get your campfire started so you are always prepared.
  2. Reusable water jerry can with tap. I love that this one is foldable yet still super strong. 
  3. Comfortable camping chair. This one has a cooler bag and cup holder to ensure you have a cool drink within arms reach so you can sit back and relax.
  4. Portable gas camp stove to cook or reheat your favorite camping meals and stay nourished.
  5.  Axe or tomahawk to cut wood for your camp fire. 
  6. Jaffle iron to make delicious pie’s, panini’s, toasted cheese sandwiches and more around your campfire
  7. Heavy-duty gloves for handling items on your BBQ, grill or firepit safely.
  8. A long-handled shovel has so many uses from digging your car out of it gets bogged to moving coals around in your camp fire.
  9. Waterproof, quick-pitch tent with plenty of space for your gear and to protect you from the rain.
  10. Dirty gear bag that fits over your spare wheel so you can take all your rubbish with you.

How To Lock A Tent To Keep Your Valuables Safe

When it comes to locking your tent, there are a variety of methods and options you can use. Although don’t make your lock visible. If thieves see a lock they may think you have valuables inside.

How To Lock A Tent With A Padlock

First and foremost, you will need to get yourself a padlock. One of the simplest ways to lock a tent is by using a padlock. Here’s how to do it:

  • Zip up your tent as usual
  • Place a padlock through the zippers and lock it
  • Make sure the padlock is large enough to fit through both zipper pulls

How To Lock A Tent With A Combination Lock

Combination locks are a good alternative to padlocks as they don’t require a key. So a combination lock is better than a padlock if you are leaving your tent to go swimming or kayaking or at a festival where there is a chance you may lose the padlock key.

Here’s how to use a combination lock to secure your tent:

  • Zip up your tent as usual
  • Put the combination lock through the zipper pulls and lock it
  • Set your combination code

How To Lock A Tent With A Cable Lock

A cable lock is a flexible and lightweight option that can secure your tent to a nearby tree or post. Here’s how to use a cable lock:

  • Wrap the cable around the tent pole or a nearby object
  • Thread the cable through the zippers of the tent
  • Lock the cable with the padlock

How To Lock A Tent With Cable Ties

Cable ties are a quick and easy way to lock your tent, but they are not as secure as padlocks or combination locks. You will need to make sure you have scissors or a knife to cut it open when you want to unlock your tent.

Cable ties are a handy item to have to fix and secure multiple items when camping. Get a massive pack like this that has 4 different sizes.

Here’s how to use cable ties:

  • Zip up your tent as usual
  • Use cable ties to secure the zippers together
  • Tighten the cable ties

How To Lock A Tent With A Shoelace

In a pinch, a shoelace can be used to secure your tent zipper. Here’s how to do it:

  • Zip up your tent as usual
  • Thread a shoelace through the zipper pulls
  • Tie a knot to secure the zipper

How To Lock A Tent With A U-lock

A U-lock is a sturdy option that are often used to secure bikes. They can be used to secure your tent to a nearby object. Here’s how to use a U-lock:

  • Wrap the U-lock around the tent pole or a nearby object
  • Thread the U-lock through the zippers of the tent
  • Lock the U-lock

How To Lock A Tent From The Inside When Sleeping

Locking your tent from the inside when you’re sleeping may be important for your safety and peace of mind. Especially if you are new to camping.

However, most negative thoughts could be irrational. If anything people just want your stuff. They don’t want to hurt you.

Other factors to consider before locking your tent from the inside at night include being able to get out of your tent fast in an emergency or if you need to go to the toilet in the middle of the night.

Here are three ways to lock a tent from the inide:

  • With shoe laces: Thread a shoelace through the zipper pulls and tie a knot to secure it.
  • With a padlock: Place a padlock through the zipper pulls and lock it.
  • With a cable tie: Use a cable tie to secure the zippers together. Just make sure you have some scissors to cut it when needed.

Whilst these options may give you the perception of being safe if someone really wanted to get inside your tent they could simply slash the fabric with a knife.

Extra Steps & Precautions You Can Take For Added Security.

Here are some additional measures you can take to keep your camping gear safe:

Lock Valuables In Your Car

This is my preferred method as I feel like someone is less likely to break into our locked car than a locked tent. Always keep valuables out of sight inside the car so as not to tempt any thieves from smashing a window.

Take A Backpack With You

When you’re exploring the area, take a backpack with you to store your valuables. I will often take my IPhone with me to take pictures and videos. This is probably my most valuable item I take camping.

Keep Valuables Hidden

Rather than locking your tent, which may attract thieves, consider hiding your valuables inside your tent. Possibly inside your pillow or toiletries case.

Install A Trip Wire

This is getting a little Macgyver but may be a good option if you are camping by yourself and would prefer an extra alarm. A tripwire can alert you if someone approaches your campsite.

Macgyver approves
Image by iFunny via

Install Motion Sensor Lighting

Motion sensor lighting can deter thieves and provide visibility. These battery-operated motion sensor LED lights would be perfect and have a 9 ft range!

Camp With A Friend

Safety in numbers is always a good idea. When camping with a friend, you can both be accountable for each others belongings and take turns waking up when suspicious noises are heard.

Read Reviews Online Or On Wiki Camps.

To help make an informed decision about choosing a campsite, do some research to see if there is a pattern of break-ins or safety concerns. Consider your risk tolerance. You may decide to drive an extra 30 mins to a safer campsite.

Talk To Locals

Don’t be afraid to ask locals their opinion on the area and if they have any tips or advice. This can provide insight, that you may not find online, about which sites are safe or unsafe.

Talk To Your Neighbours.

Just a quick 5 minute conversation so you can get a feel for the type of people you will have camping around you. They may be able to keep an eye on your gear for you if you leave your site or notice if anyone dodgy is around.

Instal The Emergency Plus App

This is a handy app to have that includes your location and has buttons to either call 000, SES or the local police. Keep it on your home screen and discuss with your kids when and how to use it.

Hopefully, these tips have given you some insight into ways to keep your tent safe while still allowing you to enjoy your time in the outdoors.

Should You Lock Your Tent?

Locking your tent is a personal choice. Personally, we don’t lock our tent although I can understand that some people like the security and peace of mind of locking their tent at night.

We co-sleep with our girls all in the one bed in our tent but if they were in a different room I would probably lock any doors that can be accessed directly from outside.

We also go the bathroom in the middle of the night or early morning so having a lock on the tent would be really annoying to have to unlock.

How to Lock a Tent FAQs

Should You Lock Your Tent At A Festival?

This is a personal choice but most festivals have security guards patrolling the area and tight restrictions on what kind of items can be brought into events. As a result it is usually not necessary to lock your tent. However, if you are leaving valuable items in the tent or would rather be extra safe then it is a good idea to lock your tent.

How Do I Secure My Campsite?

In addition to locking your tent, there are other steps you can take to secure your campsite. You can install motion sensor lighting, hide valuables, install a trip wire and/or camp with a friend. You can also talk to local people for tips or read reviews online or on wiki camps. Finally, make sure to use the emergency plus app on your phone if necessary.

Should You Lock A Tent From The Inside Or Outside?

It is up to personal preference, however it is usually more convenient to lock the door from the inside of your tent as opposed to having to unlock the lock from outside each time you want to enter or leave your tent. It is also important to make sure that any locks can be easily opened.

Final Thoughts on How to Lock a Tent

Locking your tent is a good way to deter thieves from entering your campsite, however it won’t guarantee absolute safety. A combination of all the above suggestions is what we feel gives us the strongest security and peace of mind when camping with our family.

For more camping articles check out this page.

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