I leave on my trip next month, and I wanted to buy locks for my backpack since I'll certainly be passing through crowded areas of the city where it may be difficult for me to notice a pickpocket attempt. What I want to know, is whether a key or combo lock offers a higher level of security over the other. Also, would anyone know where I might be able to purchase a set of 4-5 locks that unlock with a single key?
Using common sense, I would say locks with keys are more secure, most combo locks have just 3 digits and it doesn't take that long to test 1000 combinations.
I had long bus rides where the bags were on the roof of the bus along with some locals riding for cheap. They had all the time in the world to open the locks.
Having said that, I still use combo locks, because I hate to carry keys with me. They are small and I may lose them, the second copy would be in the locked bag.
If someone really wants your stuff, they just cut your bag open.
With backpacks, The small outer pockets are the target for pickpockets. They are easy to open without you noticing it. So always leave your valuable stuff at the main pocket of the backpack even if you use locks on the outer pockets they can still steal stuff from it. In Egypt around 2001-2002 I have seen some one whose passport was stolen from his backpack while using locks, The pickpocket used a sharp blade to make a cut in the lower part of the small outer pocket where the passport was and let the contents of the pocket slide easily. So locks are not really the way here. Yes it will add extra difficult steps to the pickpocket but still they can beat it.
Regarding keys or combo locks I would go combo locks because you will not need keys so there is no way to forget them!
Don't bother with any locks.
Always have your bag in your sight and keep more valuable items deeper in the bag, and you will be fine.
If your bag is out of sight, no lock will save you. They will just take your whole bag or they will cut it open.
I am going to put forth a suggestion that I had put forth before about the luggage.
Get wireties they are cheap to get at any hardware store and without strong scissors or wirecutters impossible to get off. For pickpocket its a difficult proposition to get something off someone moving with this obstacle in the way but one has to consider that in the past pickpockets(at least in former Soviet Union) used to use sharpened coins to cut through cloth and thin leather.
The other advantage of this is that if you have to check this backpack in. You don't risk losing the locks to someone in security deciding to check the contents.
I'm throwing out a suggestion that works well in my favor: Assuming you are carrying a daypack for your excursions, I would simply wear it upfront in crowded spaces, so it is always in my control and line of sight.
This will be my first time in Asia and i have come to the conclusion:
- Don't take anything you don't mind losing
- Be vigilant and keep all your docs and money on your person at all times
- I have cables and padlock purely to strap bag snatching, if they want a rummage my hot pants and toothpaste is all there is!
- Use a body pouch and keep money to a minimum and separated, take care have fun and remember you don't need to be flash just do what they do and you won't stand out as much