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A Guide to The Best REAL Anti-Theft Backpacks for 2019

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We decided to write this guide as a response to other websites who have written poorly researched and down-right misleading "Top Anti-Theft Backpack" lists (you know who you are). Some of them have gone so far as to go into detail about advanced features that can protect your backpack and belongings (details mined from our site) and then listed products that do not contain any of the features! Yet, they are promoting them as anti-theft backpacks. We guarantee that every backpack listed on this page provides superior protection against thieves.

Backpacks are a special case unto themselves because they need to protect against risks that a normal suitcases would endure but they also need to function effectively as a backpack. For those of you who are entering our site through this page and are not familiar with our basic opinion about what constitutes safe luggage, we encourage you to visit our main safe suitcase page and see the video evidence for yourself.

Your backpack needs to protect against everything that a regular suitcase does plus threats from thieves and other travelers while you are moving from place to place. These threats can include thieves breaking into your pack and stealing from you or swiping your tap-enabled debit or credit cards, smugglers hiding contraband so you take the risk of carrying their illegal items and physical damage from the airport baggage handling system.

With all this in mind, let's take a look at what actually makes a backpack an anti-theft backpack...

What Makes a Backpack an Anti-Theft Backpack?

Can you imagine packing your passport, money, laptop and camera into your backpack and leaving it in a common hostel room while you go out for breakfast, or even all day? Well, with the right type of backpack you could do this and not worry about returning to a ransacked bag!

Unfortunately, the term "Anti-theft backpack" has been co-opted by certain backpack manufacturers as a selling feature even though their products are not really theft resistant. These are the ones that some websites have chosen to misrepresent as anti-theft. Typically, these backpacks will have a hidden pocket or recessed single coil zippers but no real anti-theft features.

We really like the Pacsafe line of backpacks (the original anti-theft brand) because it checks all of our security boxes. They are a little more expensive but ultimately, you get what you pay for. Their products routinely have consistent rave reviews on Amazon. Travelon and Eagle Creek both make a few backpacks that come close but they either lack puncture resistant zippers, RFID protection or slash-proof materials.

There are many potential threats against your backpack. Most of the threats are obviously from thieves. Therefor, an anti-theft backpack must prevent the "bad guys" from gaining access to your valuables. So to understand what makes an anti-theft backpack, you need to understand how thieves work to get inside your pack.

Zippers: Thieves are really clever. They know how to quickly break open and then reclose a zipper. This technique is used in many situations: airports (both in the public and baggage areas), ferries, trains, hotels, youth hostels and even on the street.

Most backpacks use what is called a single coil zipper design. These are fine but they are also very easy to break open. The older the zipper, the easier it is to open due to wear and tear. Try inserting a the tip of a pen into the center of a single coil zipper then pressing. The zip will pop right open! And you can simply draw the zip over the opening to reclose the bag, leaving no trace that you were ever there. You can see a video demonstration of this on our main page.

New dual coil or YKK zippers, although not perfect, provide a much higher level of security against this type of breaching method. We highly recommend that you buy a backpack that is built with dual coil zippers. Not convinced? Take a look at our puncture resistant zipper page where we go into much more detail about these innovative zippers. All of the backpacks on this page feature YKK dual coil zippers.

Pacsafe ToughZip puncture resistant zipper and zipper locks

Slash-proof Materials: This is another very common method that thieves employ to get into unsuspecting traveller's backpacks. A razor blade or sharp knife can cut through most traditional backpack material like a knife through butter. This is largely due to the light-weight material used to keep the weight pack to a minimum - a must for most backpackers. Slicing through the shoulder straps and running is another well used method.

The razor blade technique is so quick and effective that many thieves can cut open and steal from a pack while the owner is wearing it!

The best solution to thwart this attack is to use slash-resistant material or embed metal mesh into the walls of the pack and metal wires into the shoulder straps. Pacsafe has developed their patented eXomesh Slashguard stainless steel "cage" that prevents anyone from getting at anything larger than a fist - even if they cut through the material of the bag. They also have something called Carrysafe. This protects the shoulder straps from slashing attacks using two stainless steel cables and in some cases this protection is increased using Dyneema material in the strap.

Pacsafe eXomesh slashguard and Carrysafe strap with Dyneema

RFID Anti-Skimming Protection:

RFID (radio frequency identification) is how your tap-and-go cards communicate with the merchants payment terminal. With the increase availability of these tap-enabled cards credit and debit cards, the bad guys have figured out how to take advantage of this new technology. With a little bit of technology, they are able to "swipe" or "skim" your tap-enabled cards and steal money right from your account. Most banks limit these transaction to a small amount (usually around $100) to minimize the impact but it is still a pain to deal with.

The easiest way to avoid this crime is to request that the issuing financial institution deactivate the tap feature. Unfortunately, not all cards can be disabled so the next best thing is to keep the card in a virtual radio frequency "safe". These are made from RFID blocking material and are typically sewn into bags as pockets, incorporated into RFID wallets or are separate little folders. Either way, this is becoming more and more necessary.

There are many unique products on the market today that offer RFID blocking. These include bags, backpacks, wallets, jackets and hoodies. When you are shopping for RFID blocking products, be sure that they offer a frequency blocking range of at least 10MHz to 3GHz. This will cover the radio frequencies used by e-passports, credit/debit cards, and hotel key cards.

Pacsafe eXomesh slashguard and Carrysafe strap with Dyneema

What Are The Most Common Sizes of Backpacks?

Depending on where you look, there are varying opinions on the most common sizes of backpacks. We have made an averaged estimate and come up with the list of the most common sizes:

1) 0 to 10 liters - Small backpack
2) 10 to 30 liters - Day packs
3) 30 to 50 liters - Short trip (1 to 3 days)
4) 50 liters plus - Longer duration trip

How Can I Protect my Current Backpack?

Do you have a backpack that you absolutely love and don't want to replace? Well, if you do, Pacsafe has you covered - literally. They have a line of eXomesh encasement bags that are perfect for protecting backpacks from slashing and thieves. These eXomesh bags are light and pack up to very small form factor when not in use. The locking cable also prevents thieves from simply walking away with your pack. This is great on trains, boats and hostels where you spend a great deal of time away from your backpack and have to leave it in an area open to the public.

We have read reviews that complain that the holes in the mesh are quite large. Many reviewers have opted to buy a lockbox that will not pass through the mesh for valuables. Other reviewers have commented on the quality of the lock provided by Pacsafe. You might consider replacing it with a better lock of your choice.

These bags come in three sizes: 55-liter (1 lb), 85-liter (1 lb 5 ounces) and 120-liter (1.5 lbs).

Pros:
1) Protects your backpack from being carried-off when locked to something solid like a pole or a bed frame
2) Small and light so it takes up very little space in your pack
3) Provides extra security for backpacks that do not come with built-in anti-theft features

Cons:
1) The holes in the mesh are quite large potentially giving thieves access to smaller items
2) The lock provided is quite light-weight. You should consider upgrading to a stronger lock.

Pacsafe 360 eXomesh slashguard after-market backpack protector

Where Can I Buy an Anti-Theft Backpack?

You can go directly to the Pacsafe website but we like Amazon to save on shipping. Pacsafe sells their products through their own site but they charge shipping. They also sell their products through Amazon at no extra cost. In fact, many items ship for free and you will probably save on shipping by buying through Amazon.

Other Things to Look For in an Anti-Theft Backpack

Okay, we have covered the various security features that you should be looking for. Once you have all that in mind, there are still many other non-theft related features that you should be considering. Here is a list of some other things to factor in to your buying decision:

Capacity - How large is the bag? Will it hold everything that you need it to hold? Is it bigger than you need it to be. If it is, you may be carrying around extra weight that is not needed.

How Does it Fit? - Does the backpack fit your frame size? REI has a guide that uses the measurement between the base of your neck to the top of your hips. The fit will affect how comfortable your backpack will be. You can see the guide here.
• Less than 15" means you should buy an extra small pack
• 16" to 17" means that you should buy a small pack
• 18" to 19" means that you should buy a medium sized pack
• 20" plus means that you should buy a larger pack

Attractiveness - This should be very obvious. Either you like the way somethings looks or you don't. Many bags come in a variety of colors and designs.

Water Resistance - Not all backpacks are water-proof. Zippers, by design, leaks so look for water-proofed zippers. These are usually normal zippers under a rubber gasket material. Some backpacks may only be water resistant or worse, they leak like a sieve. Some of these bags may come with "rain hoods" so if it does, don't lose it.

Comfort - This goes back to choosing the correct size pack for your body size. What the pack weighs empty is an important consideration. Luckily, most packs sold today are very lightweight to begin with. Padded straps are a must. A lumbar pad is always nice too. This will take some of the strain off of your lower back.

Interior Compartments - What do you need? Most backpacks are divided into at least two or three divided compartments. Many have more than six or seven compartments. It is very common these days to see a padded Laptop compartment and at least one hidden stash pocket. Are the other interior areas padded? Do you need them to be padded?

Power bank/Solar Charger - This one of our favorite newer features. Some backpacks either come with or can pass cabling through the outer wall of the bag so that you can run a power bank inside the bag. This allows you to charge portable devices on-the-go. A select few backpacks actually have solar chargers mounted on the outside in order to recharge your devices directly. (Sun not included)

Bluetooth Speaker - Do you like to share your music with your friends? Then get your hands on a backpack with its own on-board Bluetooth speaker.

Earphone/Charger/Hydration pass-through holes - This may seem very basic but not all backpacks have a way to run even your earphone cable outside of the bag while your mobile device sits safely inside of your backpack. If this is important to you, keep an eye out for this feature.

Water Bottle/Sun Glass Holder - Bag designers are getting more and more clever about ways to hold your water bottles and special pockets to stash your expensive sun glasses. No more need to carry a separate glass case!

Locks - Can you lock the bag or even a single compartment? If so, how good are the locks? Can they accommodate a Locking Cable to prevent "snatch and grabs"?

Nighttime Visibility - If you are going to be out at night, visibility is key to your safety. Many backpacks have luminant designs or tape that fluoresces under light making it and you more visible. Is there a light built into the design?

Whistles - Some backpacks have incorporated whistles into the chest strap latching system so you can always call for help (or just attention to yourself).

Pacsafe eXomesh slashguard and Carrysafe strap with Dyneema

Our Selection Criteria

For this article, we are focussing on our three main concerns: protection against slashing attacks, can they be locked securely and thieves using zipper penetration as a means to steal from your backpack and do they offer RFID protection. As stated earlier, there are many backpacks on the market that are listed as "anti-theft" but they fall far short of our target for this page. Since buying a backpack is such a personal choice, we have not tried to rate these packs in any order. We have not rated them on any criteria other than: Can they be locked securely, are they made from slash-resistant material, is the zipper puncture-resistant? All backpacks on this page answer "yes" to these three questions.

Anti-Theft Backpack Comparison Charts

10 Liter and Less Anti-Theft Backpacks

Image
Name
Volume
Weight
Anti-Theft Features
Laptop
Price
Pacsafe Unisex Stylesafe Anti-Theft Sling Backpack
6L
0.72lbs
• eXomesh anti-slashing material
• Anti-pickpocket zippers
• Double coil YKK zippers
• RFIDsafe™ blocking pocket
• Adjustable Carrysafe® straps
Yes - 10" tablet
Pacsafe Citysafe CX Backpack
Pacsafe Citysafe CX 8L Backpack (available in six colors)
8L
1lb 6oz
• eXomesh anti-slashing material
• Locking zippers
• Double coil YKK zippers
• RFIDsafe™ blocking pocket
• Adjustable Carrysafe® straps
Yes - 13" MacBook

10 Liter to 30 Liter Anti-Theft Backpacks

Image
Name
Volume
Weight
Anti-Theft Features
Laptop
Price
Pacsafe Unisex Stylesafe Anti-Theft Backpack
12L
0.8lbs
• eXomesh anti-slashing material
• Locking zippers
• Double coil YKK zippers
• RFIDsafe™ blocking pocket
• Carrysafe® single straps
Yes - 11" Laptop
PacSafe Venturesafe X12 Anti-theft Daypack
12L
1.41lbs
• eXomesh anti-slashing material
• Roobar locking zippers
• Double coil YKK zippers
• RFIDsafe™ blocking pocket
• Adjustable Carrysafe® straps
Yes - 11" laptop
Pacsafe Metrosafe LS350 15 Liter Anti Theft Backpack
15L
1.46lbs
• eXomesh anti-slashing material
• Locking zippers
• Double coil YKK zippers
• RFIDsafe™ blocking pocket
• Adjustable Carrysafe® straps
YES - 15" MacBook®
Pacsafe Slingsafe LX450 15L Anti Theft Sling Backpack
15L
1.46lbs
• eXomesh anti-slashing material
• Locking zippers
• Double coil YKK zippers
• RFIDsafe™ blocking pocket
• Adjustable Carrysafe® straps
Yes - 15" Laptop
Pacsafe Vibe 20 Liter Anti Theft Daypack
20L
1.8lbs
• eXomesh anti-slashing material
• Locking zippers
• Double coil YKK zippers
• RFIDsafe™ blocking pocket
• Adjustable Carrysafe® straps
Yes - 13" Laptop
Pacsafe Slingsafe LX300 Anti-Theft Backpack
20L
1.12lbs
• eXomesh anti-slashing material
• Locking zippers
• Double coil YKK zippers
• RFIDsafe™ blocking pocket
• Adjustable Carrysafe® straps
Yes - 15" Laptop
Pacsafe Venturesafe GII 25 Liter Anti-Theft Backpack
25L
2.08lbs
• eXomesh anti-slashing material
• Locking zippers
• Double coil YKK zippers
• RFIDsafe™ blocking pocket
• Adjustable Carrysafe® straps
Yes - 15" Laptop
PacSafe Vibe 25l Anti-Theft Backpack
PacSafe Vibe 25l Anti-Theft Backpack (available in nine colors)
25L
2.14lbs
• eXomesh anti-slashing material
• Roobar locking zippers
• Double coil YKK zippers
• RFIDsafe™ blocking pocket
• Adjustable Carrysafe® straps
Yes - 13" MacBook®
Pacsafe Venturesafe G3 25 Liter Anti Theft Backpack
25L
1lbs 11oz
• eXomesh anti-slashing material
• Locking zippers
• Double coil YKK zippers
• RFIDsafe™ blocking pocket
• Adjustable Carrysafe® straps
Yes - 15" Laptop
Pacsafe Metrosafe LS450 25 Liter Anti Theft Laptop Backpack
25L
1.84lbs
• eXomesh anti-slashing material
• Locking zippers
• Double coil YKK zippers
• RFIDsafe™ blocking pocket
• Adjustable Carrysafe® straps
Yes - 15" Laptop

30 Liter to 50 Liter Anti-Theft Backpacks

Image
Name
Volume
Weight
Anti-Theft Features
Laptop
Price
Pacsafe Venturesafe X30 Anti-Theft Adventure Backpack
30L
2lbs 11oz
• eXomesh anti-slashing material
• Anti Pickpocket zippers
• Double coil YKK zippers
• RFIDsafe™ blocking pocket
• Adjustable Carrysafe® straps
Yes - 15" Laptop
PacSafe Venturesafe X34 Anti-theft Blue Steel Hiking Backpack
34L
3.02lbs
• eXomesh anti-slashing material
• Anti Pickpocket zippers
• Double coil YKK zippers
• RFIDsafe™ blocking pocket
• Adjustable Carrysafe® straps
Yes - 15" Laptop
Pacsafe Venturesafe X40-40L Anti-Theft Camera/DSLR Backpack
40L
3lbs 13oz
• eXomesh anti-slashing material
• Locking zippers
• Double coil YKK zippers
• RFIDsafe™ blocking pocket
• Adjustable Carrysafe® straps with Dyneema
Yes - 15" Laptop
Pacsafe Venturesafe Exp45 Anti-Theft Carry-on Backpack
45L
3.81lbs
• eXomesh anti-slashing material
• Locking zippers
• Double coil YKK zippers
• RFIDsafe™ blocking pocket
• Adjustable Carrysafe® straps
Yes - 15" Laptop

50 Liter Plus Anti-Theft Backpacks

Image
Name
Volume
Weight
Anti-Theft Features
Laptop
Price
PacSafe Venturesafe Exp55 Anti-theft Travel Pack
55L
2.44lbs
• eXomesh anti-slashing material
• Locking cable
• Double coil YKK zippers
• RFIDsafe™ blocking pocket
• Adjustable Carrysafe® straps
Yes - 13" MacBook
Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP65 Anti-Theft Backpack
65L
6lbs 3oz
• eXomesh anti-slashing material
• Locking cable
• Double coil YKK zippers
• RFIDsafe™ blocking pocket
• Adjustable Carrysafe® straps
Yes - 15" Laptop

Some of Our Favorites:

We won't bore you by going into detail about each and everyone of the bags listed above. Instead, we have picked our favorite from each volume category (plus one or two extra from the 10 to 30 liter category because there are so many).

Pacsafe Unisex Stylesafe Anti-Theft Sling Backpack

Pacsafe Unisex Stylesafe Anti-Theft Sling Backpack

The main reason why we choose the Stylesafe backpack is that it is just such a versatile and unique design for a backpack. The Stylesafe is a convertible "sling" style bag that it is meant to be thrown over one should or used as a cross-body bag. It can be worn as a cross-body bag or you can unzip the strap and wear it like a traditional two-shoulder backpack.

At a Glance:
• Available in 4 colors
• 6 Liter volume
• 0.72 lbs / 0.33 kg
• eXomesh anti-slashing material
• Main material: 150D Polyester Memory, PU1000mm; Lining: 50D Polyester Embossed Taffeta
• 14.17 x 9.25 x 3.94in / 36 x 23.5 x 10cm (HxWxD)
• Strap Length: (min) 27.95in / 71cm; (max): 32.28in /82 cm
• Zip clips, Zip Tabs
• Double coil YKK zippers
• RFIDsafe™ blocking pockets and material
• Adjustable single Carrysafe® straps

Pacsafe Stylesafe Anti-theft Sling Backpack


Pacsafe Vibe 20L and 25L Anti-theft Backpack

Pacsafe Vibe 20L and 25L Anti-theft Backpack

The Pacsafe Vibe family of backpacks is a great choice (and great looking too). Its unisex design makes it the perfect choice for almost anyone. This light-weight pack has a great interior design too with plenty of pockets and divided areas to keep your gear organized.

Like most Pacsafe bags, this backpack is also loaded with many security features.

At a Glance:
• Available in 5 different colors
• Available in 20 and 25 liter size
• 1 lb 13 oz
• Room for 13" Laptop
• eXomesh anti-slashing material
• Main material: 100% NYLON
• 18.11 x 10.63 x 7.09 inches (HxWxD)
• Strap Length: (min): 54cm / 21.3 (max): 82cm / 32.3in
• Sternum strap
• PopNLock Security clip
• Double coil YKK zippers
• RFIDsafe™ blocking pockets and material
• Adjustable single Carrysafe® straps
• Internal key clip

Pacsafe Vibe 20L and 25L Anti-theft Backpack


PacSafe Venturesafe X34 Anti-theft Hiking Backpack

PacSafe Venturesafe X34 Anti-theft Hiking Backpack

The Pacsafe Venturesafe line of backpacks makes up the core of Packsafe's Hiking Backpack offering. The Venturesafe family spans a huge range of sizes so there will be a size to suit everyone.

Features vary from size to size but they all come with the basic Pacsafe security features of puncture resistant zippers, slash guard material as well as RFID protect.

The interiors of each size pack feature many clever organization features.

At a Glance:
• Available in various colors depending on size (34L is available in 2 colors)
• Available in 12, 18, 24, 30, 34, 45 and 65 Liter size
• 34L weighs 3.02 lb
• Room for 15" Laptop
• eXomesh anti-slashing material
• Main material: 80%-NYLON, 20%-POLYESTER
• 22.24 x 11.81 x 11.02 in / 56.5 x 30 x 28 cm (HxWxD)
• Sternum strap
• Double coil YKK zippers
• RFIDsafe™ blocking pockets and material
• Adjustable Carrysafe® straps
• Internal key clip

PacSafe Venturesafe X34 Anti-theft Hiking Backpack


PacSafe Venturesafe X 40L Anti-theft Camera Backpack

If you are a Travel Vlogger, professional photographer or just very serious about your camera gear, this is the backpack for you! Forget about traveling with a second cumbersome camera bag because this beauty come equipped with customizable padded storage pockets for all of your camera gear.

This one of a kind backpack was designed for the serious photographer while maintaining the unswerving eye on security that Pacsafe is known for..

We really like this bag for its clever design!

At a Glance:
• Only available in Black
• 40 liter
• 3 lb 13 oz
• Padded sleeve for 15" Laptop
• eXomesh anti-slashing material
• Main material: 95% NYLON,5% POLYESTER
• 22.05 x 11.81 x 8.66 (HxWxD)
• Sternum strap
• Main opening zippers latch into secure clip system to deter access
• Double coil YKK zippers
• Taped seam zippers at both front pockets
• RFIDsafe™ blocking pockets and material
• Adjustable shoulder strap length: 18" - 36"
• Pocket internal organization: large pocket, pen pockets, zippered mesh pocket, key clip
• Opening at top for hydration pack
• Water-resistant bottom panel

PacSafe Venturesafe X 40L Anti-theft Camera Backpack


Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP65 Anti-theft 65L Travel Backpack

Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP65 Anti-theft 65L Travel Backpack

This is the largest Backpack that Pacsafe makes. It comes in a 55 and 65 Liter version. This extra-large backpack should have enough room for the most intrepid traveller.

These packs feature all the basic Pacsafe security features of puncture resistant zippers, slash guard material as well as RFID protection.

The interiors of each size pack feature many clever organization features.

At a Glance:
• Only available in Black
• Available in 55 and 65 Liter size
• 65L weighs 6 lb 3.3 oz
• Room for 15" Laptop
• eXomesh anti-slashing material
• Locking Cable to prevent theft
• Main material: 420 Nylon Full Dull High Density Oxford, PU1000mm
• 29.5 x 15.7 x 13 in / 75 x 40 x 33 cm (HxWxD)
• Sternum strap
• Adjustable back harness system
• Double coil YKK zippers
• Internal key clip
• Internal pockets to keep your gear organized
• Zip away shoulder straps and hip belt to protect straps in transit

Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP65 Anti-theft 65L Travel Backpack


How to Choose a Backpack

How to choose a backpack Courtesy of rei.com


Conclusion

So that's it... our list of REAL anti-theft backpacks. We are confident that if you choose one of these backpacks, you will not be disappointed by the quality of the backpack as well as the superior protection provided to deter thieves. Please let us know what you think by reaching out to us on Twitter or Facebook. We would love it if you shared this page with your friends. (You can use the button below)

Happy travels!

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