Gear Review - HME Products Treestand Cable Locks
Today we will review the HME treestand cable lock. These are used primarily for protecting your investment in treestands, but can also be used with many trail cameras. It is unfortunate of the necessity to lock your equipment to protect it in the wilderness today, but it is sad but true. Hunting equipment is expensive, and if you are going to install and leave it in the woods, you are risking having it stolen. Are these cable locks the answer?
After having some equipment stolen in 2013, over the winter we purchased a ten-pack of these cable locks to hopefully use them with treestands, cameras, and climbing sticks. The set was keyed alike and came with three matching keys. It seemed like a good option, at a good value. These locks are also available in single packs, or in three packs. The three-pack is also keyed alike the same way as the ten-pack. (but only comes with a single key).
The HME treestand cable locks came in a big clear plastic package, all together in a set of ten. After opening the package we were struck by a strong, overpowering oily smell. It was so strong we knew there would be no way we could use these until we got rid of that smell. That smell would run the risk of spooking the wildlife away from whatever we installed it on.
We opened one up and tested it with the key, and it worked very well at this point. The cable lock seemed tight, and the key turned well in the lock for easy operation. All three keys that came with it worked properly.
Manufacturers Claim: Self-Contained lock making it much easier to place around the tree and fasten
In the field:
A bit of a catch-22. The self-contained lock does indeed make it much easier to wrap around a tree and lock, but this very common design makes it a bit more difficult to attach to most trail camera lock box.
Claim: 6-Foot coiled cable is long enough to go around most trees
In the field:
A claim that the product definitely lives up to. The HME treestand cable lock is nicely coiled to take up limited space and stretches nicely around any trees with a 6 foot diameter or less.
Claim: 3 or 10 pack of cable locks keyed alike
In the field:
Fantastic for hunters with multiple treestrands or outfitters alike, having all of these HME Treestand Cable Locks useable with a single key is an excellent feature. This was a major selling point in us using these locks. It’s unfortunate that in reality the keys are a terrible design which break at the slightest resistance.
Claim: Will protect your treestand and other valuables from being stolen
In the field:
Unfortunately, perhaps the most important claim is the one that the HME Treestand Cable Locks fail to live up to. These cable locks seem to be very easy to cut. In the fall of 2014 we had a set of climbing sticks and a hang-on treestand stolen, and both were secured by these cable locks. We could tell from a glance that the thief had cut these cable locks with just a single swing from an axe or hatchet. We are unsure of the performance of any other cable locks from other competitors, but these ones apparently would only secure equipment from crimes of opportunity. With a pair of snips or a hatchet, these can be easily thwarted.
Cost: $12.99 for one, $49.99 per 10-pack
These are fairly inexpensive, and as you can see, the cost per unit lowers as you purchase more of them. In the real world these are often available for approximately $8 for a single unit, down to as low as $45 for 10 via internet sellers.
Real World Thoughts:
The HME treestand cable locks seemed easy to operate and install on the treestands right out of the box. They are coiled up, and that lends to easy installation. We were able to wrap it around a treestand, climbing sticks, and trail cameras inside or outside lock boxes without issue. The six foot length was perfect for getting entirely around almost any tree, and the coiling made it easier to wrap around multiple times where the extra length wasn't needed.
Having the set keyed alike was a major help. There was no need to label keys to keep them straight since each key would open every cable lock. We divided up the keys so several of us could have one, meaning we could all use them to secure and remove our collective equipment.
Unfortunately, in terms of this product we found many more negatives than there were positives. After installing them, which was easy, there wasn't much more positive to say about them.
The strong oily smell means that we cannot recommend immediately installing these on equipment in the woods. We left them outside for a few weeks in our yard, and that got rid of the smell so that we could not detect it any longer with our noses. Animal senses are generally greater than ours, so we are not sure whether it was still detectable at that point. The first season we used them for was bear season and we got plenty of trail camera pictures right away, so it didn't seem to keep them away. Still, it is a negative to have that smell on them and not be able to use them right out of the box.
The next major problem with them is that after only a few weeks outside in the elements, the locks would generally not turn. We used WD-40 to lubricate them again and make them move, but we were surprised how quickly the motion on them deteriorated. New Brunswick is a maritime climate, but they were outside in spring/summer and it is not particularly harsh during that time. And yet even in the easiest of our weather, they seemed to cease proper operation.
When the locking mechanism would no longer turn or release, we found a second negative: the construction of the key. Although it was not immediately apparent to us when unpacking, the key is largely made of plastic. The entire top piece is not just coated in plastic, but it is entirely made of plastic. The center frame of the key is metal, but it seemed softer than the usual firm steel that keys are made of. When the key would no longer turn in the lock, we put a bit of extra pressure on them and the plastic at the top broke off completely. This left us with just the center metal portion and left that key almost completely unusable. Definitely a cheap and poorly constructed key. After the first season in the woods we were left with only a single key out of the three we were sent.
The Bottom Line:
The HME Treestand Cable Locks are a relatively inexpensive product, and the more you purchase the less they will cost for each one. Unfortunately, with this product the bottom line is that you get what you pay for. There are far more negatives than there are positives with these locks.
The bottom line to us is that this product is too easy to thwart, and the locks are low quality once in the elements. You will be unlikely to be able to use season after season. The key will break on them and if you have purchased the single or three-pack, you have no spare.
These cable locks only prevent crimes of opportunity. If someone is walking through the woods hunting or exploring and comes upon your equipment, this product should stop them from leaving with your stuff. But if they come back with a light hatchet or snips, you will be out of luck.
As such, we cannot recommend this product.
Contact us and let us know!