Whether you are traveling or just out and about in your own neighborhood your backpack is a potential target for thieves and pickpockets.
There are a few different ways that the bad guys will try to steal from you.
- Sneakily open a zipper on a pocket or even the main compartment and see what they can get their hands on
- Slash open the fabric of your backpack and remove contents
- Snatch your entire backpack if you leave it unattended for a second
- Cut the straps and grab the entire backpack right off your back
Anti-theft backpacks have design features that try to stop this from happening. Zippers are often concealed to make it hard for potential thieves to operate. Sometimes zippers are lockable too. Fabrics and straps can be created to be slash-proof. Some backpacks have features that allow the entire backpack to be secured to a table or chair leg.
Anti theft backpacks also often have USB charging ports so you can add a power pack to your backpack. This can help to protect your cell phone too by making sure you keep it close to you.
Multiple anti-theft features are all well and good but I believe there is one essential feature the best anti-theft backpacks have and you shouldn’t consider a product that doesn’t have this particularly clever design.
Let’s take a look.
KOPACK Waterproof Anti Theft Laptop Backpack
The KOPACK backpacks have one clever feature that makes them the most practical anti theft backpack.
They are my favorite example of the type on anti theft back packs that achieve the best balance between safety and practicality.
Instead of trying to secure the backpack by adding locks KOPACK and other similar backpacks increase security by simply hiding the zips and pockets from would-be pickpocketers.
For me, a good backpack needs to have easy access. If I need to find keys to open a padlock on my backpack then I’m eventually going to get lazy and just leave it opened.
As for mesh linings and steel reinforced straps. I think by the time someone is coming at me with a knife to get what’s in my backpack they can just have it. I don’t have anything in my backpack that I will battle a knife-wielding attacker to save.
So the KOPACK is not slash proof, it has no mesh lining to prevent slash and grabs. And the straps don’t have any steel wire to prevent them from being cut but that’s no great loss in my opinion.
I’ll repeat. If someone is slashing at my backpack with my knife I want them to get the backpack and run away from it. I don’t want to hold my ground and take on someone with a blade. Slashable backpack straps are a personal safety feature. Slash-proof straps mean the next thing to be slashed might be you!
It also doesn’t have RFID blocking pockets but then that’s why you buy an RFID wallet!
The KOPACK straps also can’t be quickly released to lock your backpack around a table leg. However, I simply tilt back my chair and put the strap through the chair leg achieving the same effect without the messing about. Anyone trying to grab the backpack and run away will need to lift me off my chair.
Most importantly they are comfortable adjustable straps. The padded back helps with comfort too. While it’s nice to have anti-theft features it’s not as important as having a comfortable backpack that you’ll want to use day after day.
The lockable zippers could be secured with a small padlock or combination lock if you really wanted. The problem with locking zippers is that as well as keeping thieves out they also keep you out. It’s frustrating to need to remove a padlock every time you want in your backpack. It’s also frustrating to need to unhook zips that are clipped on somewhere.
By simply hiding the zips from view designs like the KOPACK make it much harder for opportunistic thieves while still keeping your own experience smooth.
The second great anti theft feature of the KOPACK is the hidden pockets. All the pockets can’t be accessed while the backpack is on your back. Not without disturbing the wearer. There are no front pockets at all, but there ARE still concealed pockets located against your back while you are wearing the backpack.
Again, simply replacing exposed front pockets for concealed back pockets is a really smart move. It means this backpack is still really functional to use and the security features don’t frustrate you and keep you locked out your own bag.
The KOPACK also has a hidden pocket for credit cards conveniently located in the shoulder strap. The quick-access pocket on the back is a great place to keep your phone or wallet.
The USB port is a nice touch. You can connect your own powerpack on the inside of the bag. You’ll then have a functioning USB charging port on the outside of your backpack. A power pack actually helps against theft. If you were sitting in a cafe you will be able to charge your phone near you rather than plugging into a socket across the room. So it can stop someone swiping your cell phone because you never leave it unattended. The USB port on the outside of the backpack just makes it convenient.
Inside the main compartment, there are lots of internal pockets and organization features as well as a padded sleeve to prevent your laptop from hitting the ground.
It’s great that his bag has a waterproof cover. Let’s be honest there is as much chance of the rain damaging your laptop as someone coming at you with a knife, slashing open your backpack and stealing your computer. If you are caught in a rainstorm the packable rain cover will be there for you to protect your gear.
With this backpack being mainly designed for everyday carry it doesn’t have side pockets for a water bottle.
While perhaps not the most secure backpack this bag doesn’t cost as much as other options yet still gives you some peace of mind and additional protection against pickpockets.
I firmly believe an unassuming backpack with a hidden zipper and hidden pockets is safer than a fortified expensive-looking, attention-grabbing backpack with mesh-lined material and steel-reinforced shoulder straps.
Pacsafe Metrosafe ls350
The Pacsafe Metrosafe ls350 is a 15-liter anti-theft laptop backpack.
Inside the main compartment, you will find a laptop sleeve that can take a 13-inch laptop. That’s also an RFID blocking pocket that you access safely from the inside of the main compartment.
The padded shoulder straps have an embedded steel wire so they cannot be cut and there is a wire mesh embedded in the fabric to stop bag slashers from gaining access.
While the zippers are visible they can easily be clipped on to a hook preventing would-be thieves from easily sliding them open. If that’s not secure enough for you it’s also possible to use a padlock on zips and hooks to prevent access without using a key or combination.
Obviously, the more secure you make it the more annoying it is when you just want to grab your sandwich but it’s good to have the possibility and you might use it if you were carrying valuable equipment in a sketchy area.
For most airlines, you could use this a personal item and slide it under the seat. Or if you were only going for a weekend it’s roomy enough to fit 3 days worth of clothes.
Overall it’s a decent bag to use as a day pack but for most people carrying everyday items, a backpack with this level of security features is overkill. If you are carrying exceptionally expensive gear like camera equipment then perhaps something like this might be worthwhile.
Pacsafe Metrosafe ls450
At 25-liters the Pacsafe ls450 is almost large enough to be a travel backpack especially if you take shorter trips or travel light.
In terms of anti-theft features, it has the same technology as the smaller ls350.
The main difference is the size of the pack and also that the ls450 has a quick access front pocket. The ls450 laptop compartment also takes 15″ laptops whereas the ls350 only take 13″ laptops.
One point to note is that the Metrosafe range doesn’t have a USB charging port like some other anti-theft backpacks. It would also have been nice to have seen a sternum strap since a 25-liter bag can start to get heavy.
Travelon Anti-Theft Classic Large Backpack
This Travelon backpack is another anti-theft laptop bag that pulls out all the stops to keep your belongings safe.
It has mesh-lined fabric and steel reinforced straps.
The downside is the zips are exposed. The clip and hook system offers little security since any pickpocket with half a brain could unclip the zippers.
So to secure your backpack you’d need to use a padlock and then it will be annoying for yourself. Walking around with a visibly padlocked backpack is also a sign saying there’s something valuable in here.
I think that a low key stealthy approach is better. There is no sense in advertising that you are carrying something valuable.
Oscaurt Anti-Theft Laptop Backpack
The Oscaurt is another backpack that that uses subterfuge to increase security.
When closed the hidden zippers could be in any position and since they can’t be seen a potential thief would need to fumble around trying to find them. This would alert the backpack wearer that someone is trying to get inside their backpack.
While the polyester material has no wire mesh frame nobody is cutting through this fabric without you noticing.
Not all the pockets are hidden there are 2 side pockets that can be used to store a water bottle or an umbrella.
Anti-Theft Backpack FAQ’s
How do I protect my backpack from theft?
Leaving your bag unattended is an obvious no-no. Wearing your backpack with 2 shoulder straps rather than 1 will make it hard for someone to grab it form you and run.
If you are sitting at a cafe it can be a good idea to put the leg of the chair you are sitting on through the strap. You can do that by simply lifting or tilting the chair.
More expensive anti-theft backpacks will have straps that can be clipped around table legs to lamp posts.
Do anti-theft backpacks work?
An anti-theft backpack will not eliminate the possibility of theft. If someone is willing to take a knife to slash open your backpack while it on your back or to take a knife and cut the straps while it’s on your back… well… it’s only a small step to brandish the knife in your face and demand the backpack.
I feel that simply hiding the zippers or locking the zippers probably has the most benefit. This is will stop some creepy due behind you in the line unzipping your backpack and seeing what can be grabbed.
Are anti-theft backpacks worth it?
Anti-theft features can help deter thieves. The most basic anti-theft backpacks don’t cost a lot more than a regular backpack yet simply hiding the zips and pockets makes it a lot harder for thieves to operate.
Whether a more expensive and fully featured anti-theft backpack like those from Pacsafe will be worth it will depend on the value of the belongings that you are carrying.
An anti – theft backpack can a useful daypack that protects your belongings. They are especially helpful if you will be visiting very busy places such as tourist attractions where people are often in lines and crime is common.
Even with an anti-theft backpack, it’s a good idea to try to keep valuables out of your backpack. So consider also a fanny pack or a money belt.
You can also get a wallet that hangs around your neck. There are many ways to improve safety and even the best anti theft backpack won’t protect you entirely.