Best Anti Theft Bags & Accessories, Plus Tips to Keep Your Stuff Secure

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Travel requires us to deal with risks coming from all sides. There are not only the risks of loss and damage (that could happen anywhere, but more so on the road when you’re carrying everything with you), but there’s also the very prevalent risk of theft. Don’t convince yourself it doesn’t happen where you are; it happens everywhere, and complacency is the almighty enabler. This article will show you how to keep your stuff safe, as well as to introduce you to the leading anti-theft bags, anti-theft purses, anti-theft backpacks, and much (MUCH) more. 

Get a leg up on petty theft with these popular and stylish anti-theft bags, gear, tools, and tips to keep your stuff safe while traveling! #anti-theft #Pacsafe #Travelon #backpacks #travelgear #traveltips #travelsecurity #TheProfessionalHobo


Top 6 Tips to Protect Your Stuff While Traveling

Anti-theft travel gear is important, but even more so is how you use it. Here are some tips and techniques that will keep you and your stuff from being parted unnecessarily. 

1. Always Maintain Contact With Your Purse/Daypack

The surest way for somebody to steal your daypack or purse is for you to put it down and lose contact with it. Classic opportunities for robbers include hanging it off the back of your chair when you’re at a restaurant or cafe. Or when you’re standing at a ticket counter and you put your daypack down near your feet. In both cases as soon as you are distracted, your stuff is easy pickings. 

Instead, when I’m at a restaurant I hang my purse off my leg, or put it beside my foot and wedge the strap underneath my thigh. Similarly with a daypack, I will put it at my feet while maintaining constant contact between my lower leg and pack, and if possible I’ll loop the strap over my knee. If I’m standing and put my pack down, I rest it between my feet. 

A travel colleague of mine was bereft of all his valuables (laptops etc) which were in his daypack resting on the ground at his feet while he was buying a bus ticket. A scam artist distracted him while an accomplice took everything. 

See also: 24 Classic Travel Scams, and How to Avoid Them 

2. No Room Safe? Lock Valuables in Your Luggage When you Leave Your Room

Luggage locks aren’t just for travel days. Crimes of opportunity are about getting in and out quickly, and hotel thefts are more common than you might like to think. If your valuables won’t fit in the hotel safe, or if there is no safe in your room, then lock everything inside of your luggage. An opportunist is less likely to steal your entire bag than they are to rifle through it or steal a laptop or tablet left sitting out while you’re at breakfast or sightseeing. 

Not sold on the security of in-room safes? You’re not alone. Check out the safe bags below for an additional option to keep your valuables secure when you’re not with them. 

3. Always Use RFID-Blocking. Always. 

Did you know that somebody can simply walk by you from many feet away, with a scanner in their pocket, and effectively steal your identity in that flash of an instant? Airports in particular are rampant with RFID-scanning scammers, but it’s not just there. Almost all credit and debit cards now have RFID chips in them to allow for contactless payment, which means wherever you go, if your credit cards and bank cards aren’t protected by the best RFID-blocking wallets, pockets, and sleeves, you are vulnerable. 

Also, you may have an RFID-blocking passport wallet, but consider how many times you take your passport out unnecessarily. For example, you’re standing in line for security or boarding. You’ve probably got another 10 minutes before you get to the front of the line, but there you are holding your passport out of its protective wallet. Don’t do it. Keep it in your RFID-blocking wallet or sleeve until you absolutely need to take it out. 
Note: here’s what I use instead of a passport wallet – it’s much more multi-functional.

The same goes for credit cards; be aware of how often you take them out, and how long they’re out. If I’ve thought of how easy it would be for somebody to steal your identity this way, then sure as can be somebody else with less honourable intentions has thought of this too, and they’re prepared to take advantage of it. 

4. Activate the “Find My Device” Feature For Phones and Laptops

If your phone or laptop is stolen, or even simply lost, you stand a chance of recovering it using this feature, and if you can’t recover it, you can erase it to protect your data. 

When I was living in Grenada, I hopped on my scooter one day with my phone in my pocket. Unbeknownst to me it fell out of my pocket along the way and I arrived home minus an iPhone. I tried calling it but there was no answer; perhaps the battery was dead, or it had been damaged, or it was still lost, or somebody had taken it. So I logged into “Find my Phone” on my computer and was able to pinpoint its location. Sure enough somebody had seen it on the road and picked it up. They had no evil intentions, and when I arrived to the area where it was and asked around, I was quickly reunited with my beloved phone. 

5. Never Leave Your Purse Dangling off One Shoulder

Women, hear me now. Wear your purse across your body. This not only makes it infinitely easier to move around hands-free securely, but it will thwart most purse snatchers. 

In addition, if you’re walking on a sidewalk beside the road, be aware of the traffic beside you and carry your purse on the opposite side of your body to the road; it’s classic for somebody to come along on a motorbike to scoop your purse off your shoulder and make a speedy getaway. Even if you wear your purse crossbody, your strap could be slashed as they grab-n-go. (See below for purses with slash-proof straps). 

Wearing your purse in a cross-body fashion protects you not only against robbers, but against yourself. My purse was stolen in Cusco not because it was grabbed, but because I stepped out of a taxi with handfuls of grocery bags, unaware that my purse had slipped off my shoulder and remained in the taxi. Once the driver saw what I’d done, he made a speedy getaway despite me and two friends chasing him for many blocks. 

See also: The Day I Had my Purse Stolen, and Lessons Learned

6. Don’t Keep All Your Valuables in One Place

The other thing I learned the day my purse was stolen was something I already knew but needed to be reminded of. Don’t keep everything in one place. After over a year of living in Peru I’d become complacent and kept my cash, identification, debit card, and all my credit cards in my wallet. When my purse was stolen I was left with absolutely nothing except for my passport. I don’t know what I would have done if I didn’t have a supportive network of friends who could cover my expenses until I received replacement cards. Now, I always keep at least one credit card separate from the others, and I stash some cash in my luggage. 



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The Best Anti-Theft Travel Bags and Accessories

In addition to being vigilant and applying the tips above, you can get ahead of petty theft by using the following items specifically designed to deter criminals. From small to large, wearable to attachable, here are the best anti-theft travel bags in the industry. 

I have owned most of the items listed below, and with the exception of the Pacsafe purse and hip pack and some of the pickpocket proof clothing (which were given to me to review over the years), I bought them all outright. If you click on the links and make a purchase of anything at the store I linked to (in this case mostly Amazon, Pacsafe, and REI), I will earn a small commission. Thank you in advance for your support. 

Best Anti-Theft Purses

The two leading makers of anti-theft travel purses are Pacsafe and Travelon. Both have a huge selection of styles and colours of purses. I own all of the purses below. 

Citysafe CX Anti-Theft Convertible Backpack: Best Slash Proof Backpack/Purse Combo

Citysafe Anti-Theft Backpack, Best Slash proof Backpack Purse Combo)

This is both a stylish 5.5L purse, as well as a cute and trendy 8L backpack, and as such I adore it for its flexibility while traveling and at home. Here are some features: 

  • Smart zipper security and cut-resistant materials protect your belongings
  • Cut-resistant anchor strap secures around a fixed object to protect your bag
  • RFID-blocking pocket protects your credit cards and passport against unwanted scans
  • Can be worn as a backpack or folds down into a handbag
  • Detachable strap can be tucked away
  • Fits a 10″ tablet
  • Internal pockets to keep your gear organized
  • 5.5L expands to 8L

Shop for the CitySafe Convertible Backpack on Pacsafe or Amazon.

Travelon Anti-Theft Classic Messenger Bag: Best Anti-Theft Crossbody Bag With Water Bottle Pockets

Travelon Anti-Theft Crossbody Bag)
Travelon Nora

This is a much cheaper alternative to the Pacsafe purse above, but also lacks the flexibility of being a purse/backpack combo, as well as some of the more unique features of Pacsafe’s purses like the interlocking tamper-proof zipper pulls. I do, however, adore the two side pockets for a water bottle (max 500ml) or small umbrella. 

  • Locking compartments, slash-resistant body construction and slash-resistant, adjustable shoulder strap attaches to post or chair
  • RFID blocking card and passport slots
  • 2 mesh expansion pockets hold water bottle and umbrella
  • Removable LED light
  • Holds a 10” tablet, but reviews indicate it may not if you have a thick tablet case
  • I don’t know the capacity; it’s more than 5.5L but less than 8L

Shop for Travelon’s Anti-Theft Messenger Bag on Amazon.

Pacsafe Vibe100 Hip Pack: Best Anti-Theft Hip Pack for Travel

Pacsafe Vibe 100 Hip Pack is an amazing anti-theft travel bag

Pacsafe has a couple of different anti-theft waistpacks to choose from. I like this one because it’s not too small and not too big. I like the fact that it expands. That said, I haven’t used a “fanny pack” for a few decades, and I’m still a bit traumatized by how utterly unfashionable they originally were. So I’m still getting used to having it around my waist. The good news is it can also comfortably be worn as a stylish anti theft sling bag. 

All the zippers lock together to prevent somebody from getting into your bag in a crowd unbeknownst to you, but if you don’t secure all the zippers, they jingle when you walk which is a bit annoying. 

  • Lockable zips and cut-resistant materials protect your belongings
  • Cut-resistant anchor strap secures around a fixed object to protect your bag
  • RFID-blocking pocket protects your credit cards and passport against unwanted scans
  • Fits a 7″ tablet in a padded sleeve for extra protection
  • Internal pockets help keep your gear organized
  • Internal attachment point for wallets and keys
  • 4L capacity
  • Can be worn as a hip pack or a sling

Shop for the Vibe100 on Pacsafe or Amazon.

Best Anti-Theft Backpacks

Pacsafe Venturesafe Security Backpack

Just like purses, backpacks are a very personal choice; from size to style to features, everybody needs something different. My #1 recommendation for security backpacks is ANYTHING made by Pacsafe. Here are a few dozen to choose from. They all have most if not all of the following features: 

  • Lightweight
  • RFID-blocking pockets
  • Exomesh slashguard material
  • Lockable tamperproof zippers
  • Slashproof straps
  • Ability to secure it to a fixed object
  • Fits tablets/laptops and/or hydration packs

For the last decade (literally!) I’ve owned the Pacsafe Venturesafe 25L Anti-Theft Backpack and it’s not only indestructible, but it’s also understated and flexible to my needs. I’ve taken it on multi-day hiking trips into the Andes of Peru (as seen in the picture below), out to the internet cafe, and on every plane I’ve ever boarded. Even packed full, it fits underneath the seat in front of me, allowing me to keep my valuables close by all the time. 

Check out the Pacsafe Venturesafe 25L on Pacsafe or Amazon.

Nora with Pacsafe Venturesafe security travel bag in Peru


Best Anti-Theft Luggage

Once again, Pacsafe is the leader in anti theft luggage; in fact I don’t know of any other luggage producers that have anywhere near the same security features. Pacsafe makes wheeled luggage as well as carry-on and checked backpacks. 

See also: How to Decide Between Checked and Carry-On Luggage

Pacsafe Toursafe Anti-Theft Wheeled CarryOn (Since replaced by the Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP21): Best Anti-Theft Rolling Luggage 

Toursafe luggage

I’ve owned this bag since 2014 and it’s still like-new. I even traveled for two years, full-time, with only this luggage (and my Pacsafe Venturesafe Daypack)! A friend of mine owns the larger checked version of this bag, if carryon travel isn’t your thing. 

  • Smart zipper security and cut-resistant materials protect your belongings
  • Stainless steel anchor cable locks around a fixed object to protect your bag
  • RFID blocking pocket protects your passport and credit cards against unwanted scans
  • External attachment points for bulky items like a jacket, sleeping bag or yoga mat
  • External compression straps secure and stabilize contents during travel
  • Fits a 15″ laptop in a padded sleeve for extra protection
  • Internal compression straps to reduce bulk and to keep gear in place
  • External transparent pocket for contact details to help with bag ID
  • Internal pockets to keep your gear organized
  • Internal attachment point for wallets and keys
  • 42L capacity
  • Weighs 7lbs
  • (H x W x D):22.8 x 15.0 x 9.8 in / 58 x 38 x 25 cm

Shop for the Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP21 Anti-Theft Wheeled CarryOn at Pacsafe or Amazon.
For other anti-theft wheeled luggage sizes and types, click here

Want a closer look at all the above Pacsafe gear? I walk you through it in this video


Safe Bags (Locking Backpacks)

I’ve never personally owned one of these security travel bags, but it’s not for lack of wanting one. I think these could come in handy. 

Pacsafe Travelsafe Portable Safe: For Securing Valuables

Pacsafe Travelsafe

These lightweight slash-proof bags with cable locks and combination padlocks come in varying sizes from 3L to 25L, and they’re a safer alternative to locking your valuables in your luggage or even the in-room hotel safe. Instead, you can fill this bag with your valuables and lock it to a fixed object, and nobody is going to be able to get into or steal the bag. They have the additional functionality of allowing you to secure your valuables (inside the bag) to fixed objects while you’re out and about (classic scenario: at the beach). 

Shop for the Pacsafe Travelsafe Portable Safe on Pacsafe or Amazon.

LocTote Flak Sack: For Securing (and Transporting) Valuables

LocTote locking backpacks

This lightweight drawstring backpack is slashproof, includes RFID-blocking pockets, and can lock to a fixed object. While it has the advantage over Pacsafe’s model of having backpack straps, the disadvantage is that it’s not as flexible in terms of what it can be locked to. Also, it has some disturbing reviews about the lock resetting and the material not being quite as slash-proof as indicated, and the straps probably aren’t very comfortable if the contents of your bag are heavy. If what you want is an anti-theft backpack, check out the Pacsafe daypacks that I featured earlier. 

Shop for the LocTote Flak Sack on Amazon.

Luggage Locks, Cables, Straps

I always look for luggage and backpacks that have lockable zippers and I always have a couple of TSA luggage locks on hand. But never fear; if you don’t have lockable zippers, you’re covered here. 

TSA luggage padlock: For Locking Luggage

TSA Luggage Lock

I specifically use TSA locks so that if my checked luggage needs to be searched by authorities while it’s out of my hands, they can open it with a universal key and lock it again (rather than having to cut off the lock entirely). But these locks are also great for keeping the contents of your backpack secure while it’s on your back, or the contents of your luggage secure while you’re outside of your hotel room. 

Shop for TSA Luggage Locks on REI and Amazon.

Wrapsafe adjustable cable lock: For Securing Your Bag to a Fixed Object

wrapsafe cable lock

Wrap this light-weight heavy-duty cut-proof cable around your bags to tie them together, and/or to secure your bag to a fixed object. Handy if you need to take your eyes off your stuff in public, and also to secure your luggage to a fixed object in your room if security is an issue. Weighs only 7oz. 

Shop for the Pacsafe Wrapsafe at Pacsafe or Amazon.

Luggage Strap: To Prevent Your Luggage From Opening

luggage strap

A lockable luggage strap prevents somebody from fully opening your luggage (or if your luggage is old, it prevents it from falling apart while being tossed around by luggage handlers). Use this as an alternative or addition to luggage locks. It has a TSA lock so it can be opened if your bag needs to be searched. Added benefit: it adds an extra layer of protection if you have some pockets in your luggage that aren’t locked. 

Shop for your Luggage Strap on Pacsafe.

Anti-Theft Wallets, Neck Pouches, Travel Belts, Etc.

Anti-theft wallets are very personal choices according to your sense of style and needs, so I’ll refrain from making specific recommendations here. The good news is, most wallets these days are also RFID-blocking wallets. Never buy a wallet that doesn’t have this protection!

For travel days, I use the Pacsafe Anti-Theft Tech Crossbody Bag to carry my passport, phone, cards, and other essentials that I don’t wish to part with. It also serves as a great hands-free alternative to a wristlet when I go out on the town with just a few things.
A money belt is always good for stashing extra cash, as are hidden pouches. There are many ways to hide money in clothing while traveling, as can be seen here and below. 

These are all a matter of personal preference: check out various options here

RFID-Blocking Sleeves

RFID sleeves

If you love your wallet and/or passport holder but it isn’t RFID-blocking, then get a few of these lightweight paper/foil RFID-blocking sleeves for your passport and credit cards. Don’t be deceived by how thin they are; they do the trick and they’ll protect your identity from being stolen by a passer-by. 

Shop for RFID-Blocking Sleeves at REI or Amazon.

Pickpocket Proof Clothing (Travel Clothing With Security Pockets)

I have many travel colleagues who swear by pickpocket proof clothing. I’ve honestly had mediocre results. My personal challenge with travel clothing with security pockets is that I’m not accustomed to using pockets; I always have a purse and everything I own has a place in it. And since most women’s clothing is unreliable in the pocket department, switching back and forth between using pockets and not having/using them is begging for something to go missing (in my opinion). 

That said, if you like using pockets, then this stuff is made for you. Literally. 

Clothing Arts: Best Anti-Pickpocket Pants for Adventure, Business, and Travel  

Clothing Arts Anti-Pickpocket Pants

That’s me above, in 2014, wearing the Clothing Arts Women’s Travel Pants, when they were just starting to expand into women’s styles. 

To this day, Clothing Arts is primarily a menswear company, with relatively few styles for women in comparison to their men’s selection. I tried out their pants a number of years ago and the fit wasn’t ideal, but perhaps they’ve improved their women’s design with time. 

In addition to pants, Clothing Arts makes shorts, shirts, and jackets, each with travel-friendly material and an innovative use of zippers, flaps, buttons, and hidden pockets to deter pickpockets. 

According to them: “best described as “gear masquerading as a pair of pants,” our apparel represents the future of travel and the fusion of travel pants with the security of money-belts.”

Scottevest: Best Travel Vests

Scottevest started out with (as the name of the company hints) a travel vest with a ton of pockets. Since then their repertoire has massively expanded and includes pants, jackets, shirts, shorts, hoodies, skirts, and more. 

Back in 2011 I took them up on the No Baggage Challenge and made a few short trips with absolutely no bags and a convertible jacket-vest that carried everything I was traveling with. Again because I was unaccustomed to using pockets, and because I was stuffing so bloody much into the plentiful jacket pockets, I felt like I looked more like a terrorist with a bomb strapped to me than a traveler with electronics and a change of clothes strapped to me. That said, the No Baggage Challenge was a kicky promo campaign, and realistically Scottevest clothing was never intended to replace luggage. 

Since then I was given their classic Scottevest Fireside Fleece vest and I’m actually surprised at just how much I love it. I like wearing it on travel days because I can keep my passport, wallet, and other valuables close at hand all the time. 

Global Travel Clothing: Best Travel Jacket 

Global Travel Clothing

Global Travel Clothing keeps things simple with thoughtfully-designed travel jackets for men and women. They’re very high-quality, comfortable, water-resistant, and have a host of pockets to stash as much (or little) stuff as you like. I got my Global Travel Clothing jacket in 2016 and used it all the time in Peru (pictured above). 

Infinity Scarf with Pockets: Best Way for Women to Stash a Few Things

Infinity scarves with hidden pockets have been around for a few years, and now they’re made by many companies, so you can find a wide selection of styles, colours, and features. The hidden pockets are perfect for a passport, some extra cash, or other valuables. I’ve never used one but I think they’re a great idea (although I question the practicality of storing your phone in it as many pictures illustrate; wouldn’t it weigh the scarf down awkwardly? If you have experience with this please leave a comment). 

A Special Shoutout to Pacsafe

Throughout this article you’ve seen a lot of Pacsafe items, and I own a lot of them. I never intended it this way, but having used Pacsafe gear for over a decade (on my own dime), I’ve become quite the poster-child for them! There’s a reason for that: they make excellent, high-quality, stylish, useful anti-theft travel gear and bags for both men and women. 

They have a large number of collections, which include (but aren’t limited to):

Metrosafe LS Classics – Understated unisex bags with up-to-date security features

Citysafe – Women’s purses, backpacks, totes, slings, and more 

Venturesafe – Backpacks, slings, and waist packs designed to be durable and lightweight (my Venturesafe daypack is still going after 10+ years of almost daily use)

Vibe – Men’s and unisex slings and backpacks

Travelsafe – Portable safes

EconylBags made from regenerated fishing nets and discarded nylon (designs include Metrosafe, Venturesafe, and Vibe)

Metrosafe X City – Men’s crossbody, backpacks, slings; 2020 redesign of their most successful bags over time. 100% recycled 

Stylesafe – Women’s backpacks, cross-body, slings, with an extra hint of style

Camsafe – Bags with camera-friendly dividers and compartments for Photographers

Coversafe – Hidden pouches to store valuables while you’re on the move

Dry – Water-resistant backpacks and duffels

Toursafe – Wheeled luggage

Transit Apparel – Men’s and women’s jackets, vests, and pants with anti-theft pockets and other features

Shop for your Pacsafe gear here

Given my recent greater focus on environmentally friendly/sustainable materials and practices, in future I plan to explore their Econyl products, made from regenerated fishing nets and discarded nylon. 

See also: My Zero Waste Kit for Travel (and Home)

If you are looking at a different anti-theft travel product like a backpack, purse, or luggage, then at a minimum, make sure it has the same security features as Pacsafe, including: 

  • Slashproof material
  • Slashproof straps
  • RFID-blocking pockets
  • Tamper-proof zippers
  • Lockable zippers

What are your favourite anti-theft travel bags and gear? Have you tried out any of the products listed above? Share your experiences in the comments! 

Web story here.

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4 thoughts on “Best Anti Theft Bags & Accessories, Plus Tips to Keep Your Stuff Secure”

  1. I’ve had that same Travelon messenger bag for years! The only downsides I’ve come across are, 1) the adjustable strap is “slippery” and will need constant readjusting, so I used a safety pin to secure the strap, and 2) the mesh in the two water bottle side pockets will get stuck in the zippers if you’re not careful. I ripped a decent-sized hole in mine!

    Reply
    • Hey Brittany,
      Great minds travel alike! 🙂
      I haven’t had trouble with the adjustable strap (I have had to adjust it perhaps once every couple of months of daily use), but I do echo your observation about having to zip up the side pockets carefully.
      Also, my water bottle isn’t smooth at the bottom, so I’ve ripped an extra large hole with the edges of it. Good thing there are two bottle pockets!

      Reply
  2. In all these backpacks I like most of all is the Pacsafe backpack because it is beautiful and stylish. I was searching for the best travel backpack that helps me a lot in choosing the right backpack for my essentials gadgets.
    Thanks for sharing this great article with us.

    Reply

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