8 Accessory Locks & Storage Box Locks for Your Roof Rack or Overland Setup

 In Accessories, Gear, Reviews

Roof Rack & Storage Box Accessory Locks

A general guide to Off-Road & Overland Roof Rack Accessory & Storage Box Locks

If you have a roof rack and you leave your 4×4 unattended, you may be looking to lock up your exposed accessories or storage boxes.

Whether you’re locking an accessory to your roof rack or locking one of your storage boxes, keeping your overland and recovery gear protected is important.

Recently, I set out on a mission to find a few good locks for my roof rack accessories and recovery storage boxes.

I ended up buying more locks than I’d originally planned for.

Hopefully, this overview helps you narrow down your search for the right lock to protect your storage boxes and recovery gear on your off-road vehicle.

Different Types of Locks

Lewis N. Clark Combination Lock with 30-inch Retractable Steel Cable

You will find everything from the cheap 3-digit TSA-approved locks to mid-range gun locks, solid-brass bodied locks, 1/4″ bike locks, and massive 5/16″ steel cable locks that can be paired with top of the line Master Lock padlocks.

Basic Protection

Most of the cheap locks have a very small 1/8″ or even 3/16″ cable that “protects” your belongings but be cautious about buying one of these. Anybody with a set of diagonal cutting pliers can snip these cables with ease leaving your valuables vulnerable to theft and or damage. Or, anyone with a set of TSA approved keys can easily unlock these TSA locks.

Protect Everything

If you really want to protect your gear, go with a thicker metal cable, around 1/4″, 1/2″ or 5/8″. And for a padlock, go with 1/4″, 3/8″, or even a 1/2″ shackle, either in a short or extended height, depending on the width of your cable.

These bigger width cables and padlock shackles are going to prevent some bolt-cutters from getting through. Head over to the Master Lock website, for their great layout of locks, sortable by shackle width, length, durability, and much more.

The shackle or shank is the U-shaped bar that loops round from, and back into, the padlock body. This is the most exposed part of the padlock and more susceptible to be attacked. As the overall size of the padlock increases, the larger the shackle can be making it more secure. – padlocks.co.uk

Which lock is for you? 

If you are cruising around town with a shovel, Hi-Lift, axe, or recovery board mounted and want to prevent the quick parking lot snatchers, a basic TSA lock might do the trick.

But, if you want to increase the protection of your belongings, grab a padlock with 1/4″ shackle and up. Then if you must, pair that padlock with a 1/4″ braided steel cable, either free of self-coiling depending on your case.

For overnight stays in an unknown crackhead infested parking lot, you may want to step it up a notch with a 1/2″ extended length padlock in order to fit a massive 5/16″ braided steel cable.

Different Lock Options

Types of Locks

Pictured: 3/16″ solid Master Lock, 1/8″ solid Lewis-N-Clark, 1/8″ Master Lock (shown cut with pliers)

These are only a few of the roof rack and storage box lock options available for purchase out there.

We’ll go over some basic lightweight locks that you can leave on your truck while driving around town (general prevention). And then get into some heavier-duty (advanced protection) locks that you may want to consider for out-of-town travel in heavily trafficked or populated areas.

If you really want a lock to perform, just know that with a set of diagonal cutting pliers, any 3/16″ or smaller lock isn’t going to hold up.

The snatchers and thieves come out at night so realistically, so you should be storing all of your gear in your truck once it gets dark. If you’re parked in a heavily trafficked area, a random parking lot, or even on sketchy campgrounds, take all of your belongs off the roof, and, if possible, store them in the truck.

When locking your recovery accessories and gear inside your truck is not an option, then break out the locks.

#1 – 1/8″ Braided Cable Diameter Combination Locks

TSA Approved Cable Locks

Strength:

  • Light Duty: 1/8″ Braided Steel
  • Lumintrail Body: Solid Alloy
  • Anvil Body: Plastic
  • Master Lock: Plastic

Options and Prices:

These basic locks are going to add no protection from someone with a set of diagonal pliers. But, if you are looking for a lock that is mounted on your rack to prevent the unprepared parking lot thieves and the occasional high-school kids, these little locks might do the trick.

I have a few of these 1/8″ braided steel locks wrapped around a few items with no problems yet, knock on wood. I feel like as long as people can see a lock wrapped around something, it prevents a large percentage of thieves right away.

Diagonal Cutting Pliers and Done

Overland Roof Rack Accessory Locks

I wouldn’t leave my truck parked in front of home depot overnight with gear “locked” to the rack using these lightweight 1/8″ braided steel locks.

For a visual purpose, and to prevent a select few from getting close, it might be worth it for driving around town or even for a long trip, depending on where you are exploring.

Now that we know about the smaller 1/8″ and 3/16″ braided steel locks, let’s jump into a few other styles.

#2 – Lewis-N-Clark Combination Lock + 48in Braided Cable

TravelSentry: 3-Dial Combination Lock + 48in Coated Steel Cable - Grey

Strength:

  • Padlock Body: Solid alloy
  • Shackle/Shank: 1/8″ solid steel
  • Cable: 1/8″ braided steel

Options and Prices:

  • TravelSentry: 3-Dial Combination Lock + 48in Coated Steel Cable: Check Price

One of these 1/8″ braided steel locks with a lightweight solid shackle might be nice if you are looking to lock a larger item, like a storage box to your roof rack. Other larger items might include recovery boards, hi-lift jack mounts, shovels, and other recovery or storage items.

This lock also features a solid 1/8″ steel shackle, which I was not able to cut through using a set of extremely sharp diagonal cutting pliers.

Full-size bolt cutters, however, would go through it with an easy snip.

#3 – Lewis N. Clark Combination Lock with 30-inch Retractable Steel Cable

Different types of Storage Box Locks

Strength:

  • Body: Plastic
  • Cable: 1/8″ braided steel

Options and Prices:

The 30″ retractable cable on this smaller 1/8″ braided steel lock is pretty nice.

To extract the cable, just pull from one end, and wherever you stop, the cable will rest in place waiting to be locked in place.

In order to release the cable, just unlock it from the housing and hold down the release button. Right now, I have this one mounted on the truck around the Agency 6 Off-Road Shovel and mount.

With the retractable cables, you only show the amount you need in a cable. Instead of having fixed 30″ or 40″ cable, you use only the amount you need.

#4 – Lewis N. Clark Combination Lock with Dual Cables

Accessory Locks for Roof Rack Shovels

Strength:

  • Body: Stainless steel & plastic
  • Cable: 1/8″ braided steel with dual loops

Options and Prices:

I found this dual loop 1/8″ braided steel lock to be the best for locking a shovel or tube style recovery gear to your rack. Similar mounting items might be an axe, Hi-Lift Jack, Etc.

Depending on the roof rack you have, this lock should give the option to lock one side of the lock to the rack and the other side around the shovel.

When you need to access recovery gear quickly, this style of lock is easy to take on and off. It’s nice to have one end open up while the other end remains attached to the rack so you don’t lose or misplace the lock.

Even though it’s not the strongest lock available, it gets functionality points.

#5 – Front Runner Rack Accessory Lock/Small

3/16" Cable Accessory Locks

Strength:

  • Body: Stainless steel
  • Cable: 1/8″ braided steel

Options and Prices:

Last but not least in the 1/8″ braided steel lock lineup is the Front Runner lock. The lock is made of stainless steel with a rubber coated cable. This is a step above some of the other plastic locks.

This is one of the very few 1/8″ braided steel lock options available that are NOT TSA APPROVED. This means that not just anyone with a TSA key can unlock your gear.

Like most other locks featured above, the Front Runner lock is compatible with axes, tables, Hi-Lift Jacks, water, Wolf Packs and more.

Other than that, the 3-digit combination lock is very similar to the others.

#6 – Master Lock (Key) Brass Lock & Blue Lock

Master Lock Brass Lock & Blue Lock

Strength:

  • Padlock Body: Solid brass
  • Shackle/Shank: 3/16″ U-loop
  • Cable: 1/8″ Braided steel

Options and Prices:

For more protection and possible overnight stays in unknown places, you may want to upgrade your accessory lock to a 3/16″ shackle padlock with a brass body. These Master Locks are designed for indoor and outdoor use so they can be mounted permanently and withstand the elements of all seasons.

The smaller padlocks are great for recovery storage boxes, gun boxes and common overland boxes, like the Front Runner Wolf Packs or Cub Packs. You can step up your protection with this size-type lock and go with a 1/4″ shackle over the smaller 3/16″ shackle.

The Master Locks durable solid brass design is resistant to corrosion and features a hardened steel shackle for cut resistance. And, as previously mentioned, I wasn’t able to cut through either of these locks with a sharp set of cutting pliers.

Their 4-pin cylinder and dual locking lever mechanism provide pick and pry resistance from anyone looking to pick your lock.

There is no real difference between the solid brass lock and the blue plastic coated lock, except for being “scratch resistant”.

#7 – Brinks 1/4″ x 6′ Cable & Master Lock Key Discus Padlock

Brinks 1/4" x 6' Cable & Master Lock Key Discus Padlock

Strength:

  • Padlock Body: Solid steel
  • Shackle/Shank: 1/4″
  • Cable: 1/4″ Braided steel

Options and Prices:

If you are looking for middle of the road security, you may want to look at any of the 1/4″ braided steel and 1/4″ solid steel shackle padlocks.

Even though most $20 bolt cutters from Amazon can cut through 3/8″ padlock shackles, a 1/4″ shackle will prevent many thieves from getting your gear. Not everyone carries around bolt cutters, and it would take a lot to cut through 1/4″ solid steel with a set of basic pliers.

The disc style padlocks are great for preventing bolt cutters from getting through due to their awkward nature. And when you combine one of these locks with a 6′ cable, you can get creative with what you secure to your roof rack.

Whether it’s a storage box or a permanently mounted item, this combination of security will work for most people.

#8 – Brinks 5/8″ X 7′ Cable & Master Lock Combination Padlock

Brinks 5/8" X 7' Cable & Master Lock Combination Padlock

Strength:

  • Padlock Body: Solid steel
  • Shackle/shank: 1/4″ U-loop
  • Cable: 1/4″ Braided steel

Options and Prices:

If you are really looking to go the distance, grab this massive commercial grade 5/8″ braided steel cables and a rock-solid Master Lock padlock.

If you are looking for the most protection, as mentioned above, get a 3/8″, or even a 1/2″ shackle either in short or extended height. For this 5/8″ cable, I would highly recommend an extended length shackle.

Questions or Comments? Leave them below!

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Mike

I wouldn’t put too much faith in TSA locks, cable locks, or Masterlocks. For more secure options, take a look at ABUS or Assa Abloy padlock options (anything mid-range or above, cheap stuff is cheap stuff across the board). Masterlocks aren’t that great. And TSA locks are a downright joke for securing anything other than luggage, especially since the TSA master keys have been leaked online.

For example: https://youtu.be/GhESSMvf_to / https://youtu.be/s5jzHw3lXCQ / https://youtu.be/uOO8yA2eU7M

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