How to Lock a Tent: Protect Your Belongings

how to lock a tent

While it’s unfortunate, one thing you always have to worry about when tent camping is having your belongings stolen. One of the best ways to prevent this is by locking your tent, which will help prevent unwanted visitors from getting inside.

In this article, our team of experts will show you two effective ways to lock your tent, as well as 7 other helpful tips to protect your belongings while camping.

How to Lock Your Tent With a Mini-Lock

The first method you can use to lock a tent, and the one we prefer, is to use a small combination lock.

The type of lock you’ll need here is a small, flexible cable lock that is thin enough to slide through the hole in a tent zipper slider. They’re often seen in gym locker rooms or on suitcases.

Here’s what you need to do once you have one:

  1. Align the two tent zippers on your door directly next to each other. The tent door should also be closed.

  2. Loop the cable part of the lock through the holes of both tent zippers.

  3. Secure the lock and scramble the number combination so it’s not easy to open. Make sure you remember the combination needed to unlock it.

  4. Enjoy your day knowing that you have an effective tent lock on your door.

tent lock

How to Lock Your Tent With String

This tent-locking solution is better suited for the inside of your tent than the outside. As was the case with the combination lock, you’ll need a string (we use a shoelace) that will fit inside the holes on your tent zipper slider.

Here’s how to lock a tent with a shoelace:

  1. Get inside your tent, close the door, and align the two inside zippers next to each other.

  2. Loop one end of the string through the zipper loops and center it.

  3. Tie a knot to secure the zipper lock. Since it’s on the inside of your tent, you don’t need to worry about it being untied by a thief. Therefore, we’d suggest using an easy knot like the one you use to tie your shoe.

  4. Rest easy in your sleeping bag knowing that your tent is secure.

string lock

Does Locking Your Tent Actually Do Anything?

At this point, some of you might be wondering the reason for getting a tent lock. While it will stop a thief from coming directly through the tent door, the walls of most camping tents are very thin. It would be easy for them to cut through the side with a knife if they wanted to steal from you.

However, this doesn’t mean that locking your tent is useless. For one, it is much more inconvenient for a thief to cut through a tent than to unzip the tent entrance.

Walking in the front door doesn’t look suspicious at all, but if you take that option away then they are much more likely to be caught. This alone will likely prevent most thieves from trying to break into your tent.

For this reason, we always lock our tent when we expect to be away from it for extended periods, or are camping somewhere with lots of other people.

tent door

Other Tips to Keep Your Belongings Safe

While locking your tent alone won’t be 100% effective, you will significantly increase your chances by combining that with a few of the other tips we go over below.

1. Keep Important Items With You

Even if you keep your tent locked, it will still be relatively easy for someone to break in if they wanted to badly enough. On the other hand, it’s highly unlikely that a thief would try to steal valuables directly from your person at a campsite.

Additionally, keeping important items like your phone and wallet while you’re out and about creates peace of mind, as you don’t have to worry about them sitting in your tent while you’re away.

You also are keeping them all in one place, rather than scattered around your tent, which can make organization much easier.

2. Lock Valuables Inside Your Car if Possible

While not a perfectly secure option, a locked car is a much better place to store valuables than inside your tent, and we recommend it if you’re car camping.

If they want to break in, a thief will likely have to break the windows, which could draw unwanted attention in a parking lot.

For an extra layer of protection, you should lock your valuables inside the glove compartment of your car or hide them under the seats. This way, a would-be thief won’t know if there is anything worth stealing, further discouraging them from trying.

valuables in car

3. Camp at a Safe Campsite

Camping at a crowded and safe campsite is a great way to keep your valuables safe, as there are tons of people around that could see a potential thief breaking into your tent.

On the other hand, the sheer amount of people makes it easy for a thief to blend into the crowd, so we would suggest locking your tent in a place like this.

While someone would certainly get called out for cutting into your tent walls, they may not be noticed if they slip in the door acting like it’s theirs.

4. Pitch Your Tent Out in the Open

Thick trees and bushes are great places for a thief to hide while they wait for you to leave your tent. By pitching your tent out in the open, you’ll see any potential thieves long before they reach your tent, as there’s nowhere to hide.

If you’re at a crowded campsite and can’t find a completely open spot, the next best option is to pitch your tent near an edge with open space on one side. That way, there’s at least one direction you can monitor well.

5. Leave Precious Belongings at Home

Camping is supposed to be a relaxing (or rugged, depending on what you do) outdoor activity, not a fashion show or fancy vacation. Before you bring all of your jewelry and technology with you, ask yourself whether you need it during your camping trip.

Odds are, you probably don’t and would be better off leaving them safe at home. Knowing that you have very few valuables in your tent will give you peace of mind during your camping trip, as well.

6. Camp Together With a Large Group

Camping with a bigger group means that there will be someone around your tent most of the time, which will stop would-be thieves from coming inside.

It also gets extra eyes on your valuables in general, helping you keep them organized and making sure they don’t get lost.

Lastly, camping with a large group can be lots of fun. You no longer have to do everything yourself, and there are tons of group activities, like fun games, that you can do during your time camping.

big group camping

7. Bring a Weapon With You if Allowed

It should go without saying, but this tip doesn’t apply if the campsite you’re going to doesn’t allow weapons. In fact, we’d say that a weapon won’t be helpful under any circumstances if you’re at a busy campsite.

However, if you’re true wilderness camping, then you should bring something like a pocket knife to protect yourself.

If you see someone unexpected in a remote area, they might be dangerous, and the knife will help with self-defense. It could also be useful in other situations such as hunting.


Locking your camping tent won’t make it 100% secure, but it adds an extra layer of protection for your belongings. If you follow a few of our other protection tips, then your valuables should be safe and sound.

Do you have any other tips about how to lock a tent? If so, please let us know below in the comments. Happy camping!

(Visited 12 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *