Are Steel or Cable Luggage Locks More Secure?

This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

If you are going on a long journey, especially when it comes to airline travel, security is always an issue. Yes, we are talking about your luggage. The simple fact is that way more pieces of luggage get broken into on a daily basis than we would like to admit. There are so many pieces of luggage that get broken that it becomes really hard to keep track of.

For this reason, you might consider getting yourself a good luggage lock. You want something that is durable, convenient, and most important of all, will keep your valuables safe.

Furthermore, you want to go for a TSA-approved lock so you don’t run into any issues on that front. However, other than that, you do have a choice to make. Here, we’re talking about the difference between steel or cable luggage locks.

Both steel and cable luggage locks are quite popular, as they’re both useful and durable. That said, there are differences between them that you need to know about, and this is exactly what we’re here to cover today.

So, are steel or cable luggage locks more secure? This and a few other questions are what we are here to cover today. Let’s get to it and help keep your luggage safe.

Steel vs Cable Luggage Locks: What Are They?

Before we can start talking about the differences between steel and cable luggage locks, let’s first figure out exactly what they are. First, we have this steel luggage lock. It is a normal combination lock that features a steel shackle.

This steel shackle is in the form of a U. One end features a hinge that can move back and forth, and also moves up and down, and the other end features a locking mechanism that locks into place. These are made out of solid steel, or steel alloy, and are generally several millimeters thick. Generally speaking, this is the most popular type of luggage lock out there.

However, something that is relatively new, at least when compared to the regular steel luggage lock, is the cable luggage lock. Now, don’t let the name fool you, because the cable is actually also made out of steel or steel alloy.

This cable resembles a smaller version of the cables that you might use to lock up a bicycle. These are very small and thin cables that are flexible in nature. They are made out of steel wire. These may contain up to several hundred strands of steel wires that are woven together into one solid little rope or cable.

One of the big bonuses that you get with this type of luggage lock is that it is flexible in nature. This means that you can easily thread them through various zippers. You can also use them to thread together several pieces of luggage. This is not something that you can do with a normal steel luggage lock.

Are Steel or Cable Luggage Locks More Secure?

Now that we know what both steel luggage locks and cable luggage locks are, let’s take a closer look at exactly what makes them different. As you are about to find out, regular steel luggage locks are not as good as they might seem.

On the other hand, newer cable luggage locks might actually be a lot better than you might have first assumed.

Impact Resistance

One of the major differences between cable luggage locks and steel luggage locks has to do with impact resistance. This includes the ability to stay securely shut when somebody hits it with something like a hammer.

Thieves will often use blunt force to try and break locks off. Using a hammer or any other such tool will often work if the lock is weak enough. Now, if we are talking about a regular steel lock with a U-shaped shackle made out of metal, these are generally not overly impact resistant. This is especially the case if you go for a relatively low-quality model.

Because that U-shaped shackle is completely solid and inflexible, if an impact hits it hard enough and the metal isn’t overly strong, it will break. Due to not being able to move, this type of lock has very limited impact resistance.

On the other hand, if we are talking about a cable luggage lock, these are in fact quite flexible. The cable is made out of many strands of wire, so it’s not totally stiff. This means that if it gets hit with a hammer or just hit something really hard, it won’t immediately break.

This is because that cable can flex, so when something hits it, instead of just breaking, the cable can move a little bit. This means that in the grand scheme of things, cable luggage locks are more resistant to blunt force impact than regular U-shaped steel shackle locks.

Pry Resistance

The same can also be said when it comes to resistance to being pried open. In order to pry a lock open, there needs to be some kind of resistance point that is solid and unmoving.

Well, that steel shackle is a perfect point of resistance for something like a pry bar or crowbar. In other words, a regular steel luggage lock is not overly resistant to being pried open by a long and solid metal rod.

On the other hand, if we are talking about a cable luggage lock, these are much more resistant to being pried open. The reason for this is much the same as with the above point.

Because the cable luggage lock is very flexible and can move around, it’s much harder to rest a pry bar against it to pry it out of the body of the lock. Getting a good point of resistance with a cable luggage lock is nearly impossible. Therefore, prying one of these open is not easily done.

When it comes to both impact resistance and pry resistance, the cable luggage lock does appear to have the upper hand.

Are Steel or Cable Luggage Locks More Secure

Cutting Resistance

The other main factor that needs to be considered is the lock’s ability to resist being cut. This is actually where the cable luggage lock falls behind. Yes, those cables are made with hundreds of strands of wire that make it very difficult to cut through.

Nobody is saying that these are easy to cut through. However, with the right tools, they are not impenetrable. With a good pair of wire strippers, pliers, or anything similar, you can cut through the wires and eventually pull the cable apart. If it is a very weak cable luggage lock, and you have a very strong pair of scissors, even that might be enough.

On the other hand, if we are talking about an actual steel luggage lock, these are very hard to cut through. Steel luggage locks are made out of solid steel and can be quite thick.

Therefore, something like wire strippers or a very strong pair of scissors won’t do anything. In order to cut through one of these, you’re going to need something like bolt cutters or a power saw design to cut metal. On this front, the steel luggage lock is the clear winner.

Read also: How to Secure Luggage for Air Travel

The Convenience Factor

Overall, luggage locks are probably the more durable of the two. With that being said, what you also need to consider is that they tend to be more convenient than your regular steel luggage locks.

These cables can be quite long, which means that you can thread multiple zippers together. In some cases, the cable may even be long enough so you can thread together multiple suitcases.


Now that you know which of these two is the more secure type of luggage lock, you can make an informed decision.

1 thought on “Are Steel or Cable Luggage Locks More Secure?”

  1. Pingback: 5 Tips on How to Secure Luggage for Air Travel

Leave a Comment

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

Special offer for our visitors

Get your Travel Luggage Free Guide

We will never send you spam. By signing up for this you agree with our privacy policy and to receive regular updates via email in regards to industry news and promotions