Should You Put A Lock On Your Tent? (Secure Your Gear!)

Security is something that is on all of our minds. With an ever-increasing population comes more risk, more danger, and more threats. We want to feel safe and we want to feel secure. This need for security goes beyond our homes and cars and can find its way into our camping trips. One such way of increasing our security while camping is by putting a lock on your tent. Is it as useful as it sounds? Is it worth it? Should you put a lock on your tent?

I too enjoy feeling some sense of security while I am camping, and I have been known to place a simple lock on my tent. I wanted to know if it was worth doing and so I set out and did some research and in this post, I want to share with you what I have discovered about the security of putting a lock on your tent.

So, should you put a lock on your tent? You should but a lock on your tent if doing so will provide you with peace of mind. A lock on your tent can also act as a small deterrent from theft since access to your tent is more difficult.

Security is often an illusion that manifests itself in our minds, are we really ever completely “secure”? That illusion can be helpful to ease our minds, however, and maybe that is worth it. A lock on your tent might put your mind at ease and make your camping trip that much better. Locking your tent might not really protect anything but it could be a deterrent. At the end of the day, the mind is a powerful thing, and keeping it at ease is often the best thing to do.

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Does locking your tent actually do anything?

To be honest, I don’t see a lock being an actual barrier against anything determined to get into your tent. However, there are some psychological reasons why having a lock on your tent could benefit you. A big component of security is that it is really an illusion. The security in our homes, our cars, at work, are mostly there for our peace of mind. They aren’t completely safe, but they do make us feel like they are safe. Putting a lock on your tent could give you the same peace of mind.

After all, Psychology TodayOpens in a new tab. reports that “those who are considered the healthiest psychologically have a sense of security.” Our minds are powerful things and keeping them from worry can help improve a lot of things in our life. In reality, if someone (or something) wanted to get into your tent it could easily be sliced open with a knife or something similar. However, a lock could also act as a sort of deterrent like leaving your light on at home even when no one is home. Something so simple could cause a criminal to just move on to the next one if they perceive it as more difficult than it needs to be.

Our perceptions are our realities. I’m not qualified to talk so deeply about human psychology but the light on in the house makes a criminal think someone really is home. A lock on the tent might make them think it’s not worth the effort to get in and cutting open a tent could take too long and draw too much attention, and so they will move on. Meanwhile, you are at ease because you feel like your tent is secured. The same can be said for when it is night time and you are sleeping inside your tent.

Locking up your tent is a small component of securing your campsite in general, which I have written more about in this article. Basically, you want to make your campsite look lived in and actively used, but keep it clean and organized. Put all valuables in your vehicle since it is more secure and do not leave things that can be easily taken within sight.

At the end of the day, you need to accept risk. There is always going to be some degree of risk with everything that we do. The best we can do is minimize risk, but we can’t completely eliminate it. Putting a lock on your tent is one small way to minimize risk in my opinion.

How to lock your tent

No, I am not recommending some kind of special tent lock. Any lock will do. Although, you do not want one that is too heavy or bulky because the weight could wear down the zipper material on your tent. I prefer combination locks over key locks because we all know how keys can get misplaced or forgotten.

If you are going to leave your campsite unoccupied then follow the proper steps in my other article and then simply place a lock on the zippers on the outside of your tent. Do not put the lock where it is clearly visible, instead, put the zippers on the bottom and try to hide the lock if possible. The reason for this is that you don’t want to advertise the lock because then it might come off like you are keeping something valuable in the tent, which you shouldn’t because you should be storing small valuable in your vehicle.

If you are sleeping in the tent then place then use the zippers to secure the inside of the tent. Here’s another reason why I prefer the combination locks, it makes it much easier to exit the tent when it is locked inside than fumbling around in the middle of the night looking for the key. 

Be careful about putting your valuables like keys, wallet, and cell phones into the mesh pouches because it can be an invitation for someone at night to see it and cut open a hole in your tent and take them. I would use your rainfly whenever possible to create more privacy so that someone can not see inside the tent.

Why should you lock your tent?

Locking your tent is mostly going to be for psychological reasons. If you are sleeping it then it can help you sleep, especially if you are used to locking your bedroom door. Like I said before, the mind is very powerful and keeping it at ease is in your best interests. It won’t really create a barrier but it provides a sense of security at night to have a “door” locked.

Locking your tent when you are away is also psychologically pleasing for you to feel like your campsite is secure. Kind of like locking the front door of your house when you leave, the idea is the same. The lock also doubles as a deterrent for thieves looking for an easy entrance to search for valuables in your tent. You won’t have any valuables in the tent and the lock could make it more work than what it is worth and a thief will probably move on. Do not advertise the lock though, and keep your rainfly on to prevent curious eyes from looking in.

When should you lock your tent?

As discussed previously, you only really need to lock it in two situations. At night when you are sleeping and if you are going to leave your campsite unoccupied for a prolonged period of time. A lock on your tent is not going to be the best security, but it is a small component that can help. Take a look at my other article and see what the best practice is for securing your campsite.

The quick answer is to make friends with fellow campers nearby. They are the best deterrent and as good of security as you are going to get. Remember, security is mostly just an illusion, But if we feel secure then we feel happy and can enjoy more things because we have less worry on our minds.


You should put a lock on your tent to put your mind at ease. Although the security that it provides is mostly an illusion, it can be enough to keep your mind at ease. Lock your tent when you are going to be leaving your campsite for an extended period of time and when you are inside your tent asleep. Doing so can ease your mind and present a small barrier to thieves.

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Zachary Smith

Zach is an avid outdoorsman that loves going camping with his Prius every chance he gets. He also regularly enjoys hiking and fishing. When he's not outside you can probably find him writing about it on this website. See his full bio here

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