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With the increasing popularity of expensive, high-performance coolers, investing in quality cooler locks and cooler locking accessories is an absolute necessity nowadays – not only for keeping your ice chest and the stuff inside safe from would-be thieves, but also for venturing into areas with high bear activity.
In fact, in some parks where bears have become over-reliant on humans for food sources (not like in eating humans, but rather getting into coolers/campsites) they’ve actually tried to make it mandatory to keep your food stored in an IGBC Certified (Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee) device.
In any regard, while some people feel they can lock up sufficiently with a couple simple long-shank padlocks, in order to best take advantage of your cooler’s integrated locking features, you’re best off investing in some ice chest-specific locks and accessory locking devices.
For this review, we’ve scoured the net for the absolute best products out there based on a combination of ratings, user feedback, and customer reviews. We’ll go over both lid locks (gotta keep that precious beer inside safe), as well as cooler cable locks for keeping your ice chest itself safe and secure from would-be bandits.
Best Cooler Locks for Your Ice Chest
YETI Bear-Proof Cooler Lock
Coincidentally, even if you’ve got an IGBC Certified bear-proof cooler, it’s not ‘officially bear proof’ unless it’s actually locked up.
With this set of LEFTnotruc (long-shank Master Lock 500) locks, you can be officially official.
This specific lock will fit any hard-sided YETI rotomolded cooler (Tundra, Roadie), and is the recommended and most-popular lock out there. Also, the locks themselves are stainless, so you can be sure that they won’t rust/corrode over time even in harsh, salty conditions.
Integrated Cooler with Lock: YETI Locking Bracket (Keep that Super Expensive Ice Chest Safe)
The YETI locking bracket is designed to fit into the anchor point tie down slot on a YETI Tundra or Roadie, allowing you to lock it up with a chain or cable to your truck bed, boat, or any other secure point.
Use it in combination with the Bear-Proof Padlocks, and you’ve got yourself a 100% safe, secure rig that you don’t have to worry about leaving unattended.
The locking bracket itself is a YETI brand, and is made of a corrosion-resistant high strength carbon steel which easily threads through your cooler’s anchor points (there’s one on each side – you can just get one bracket, but most people end up getting two).
The brackets should fit other coolers as well – specifically the hard-sided RTIC rotomold ice chests, which are almost identical to the YETI Tundra series.
Master Lock Python Locking Cable
The Python Locking Cable from Master Lock is the most popular choice cable to use in combination with the YETI locking bracket, and is by far the most popular choice (over 2,000 reviews at Amazon) for making your ice chest a fully lockable cooler.
The cable is 6’ long, so it should be more than enough length to fit onto a secure point in your truck bed, or even to wrap it around a tree or picnic table at your campsite.
Also, the pin tumbler locking mechanism – although super simple – is still one of the most effective and difficult-to-break devices out there. A lot of lower quality padlocks can be demolished with one swift blow of a sledge hammer, but the ABS lock body/cover bumper on this baby is virtually bombproof. And the cable itself is fully vinyl coated making it impenetrable to standard cable locks.
The Python lock is available in either a 5/16” thickness or a 3/16”, both of which come in standard 6’ lengths.
Best Device for Lockable Cooler: Lumintrail Combination Padlock
If you’re looking for an inexpensive, one-locks-does-all combination to secure whatever brand of cooler you might have (doesn’t have to be a YETI), you’re best bet is to go with the Lumintrail Combination Padlock.
These are super popular for use with pretty much any universal ice chest, and have recently been available at Amazon, in a good price.
The combination pack comes with a standard 4-digit lock (with a 1” shackle), as well as a 4’ fully-braided steel security cable. And the best thing? You can either get it as a single lock/cable package or a 2-pack.
Another cool thing about the Lumintrail locks is that they’re available in several different colors. We know a lot of people like to get pretty fancy as far as color-matching all their different toys (cooler with boat color, boat color with truck color, etc), so if you’re one of these folks, you might as well try and color match your lockable cooler with the lock itself.
And like we mentioned, these locks/cables are pretty much universal as far as what coolers/ice chests they’ll fit – and you actually don’t even need the locking bracket to use it with a YETI Roadie or Tundra.
Cooler Locks – Bottom Line
The bottom line is, don’t get an inexpensive, premium rotomolded cooler or ice chest without making a small investment in a some good cooler locks and lock accessories for it.
Not only will a simple lock give you peace of mind about leaving your $400 ice chest alone and unattended in your boat or the back of your pickup, but they’re also the only way to officially make the cooler IGBC Certified Bear Proof.
(And also, ‘bear’ in mind that bear-proof coolers are for the protection of the bears themselves — not for the protection of you or your cooler. The more bears become reliant on eating human food and food from coolers, they more prone they are to not being able to survive and find food out in the wild).
>> See all cooler locking accessories available at Amazon.
This video shows the Master Lock Python Locking Cable in action
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Last update on 2020-01-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API