What Is The Best Theft-Proof Backpack For Travellers?

What are the best anti-theft backpacks for travellers?

The links to Amazon on this page are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate South America Backpacker earns from qualifying purchases.


What is a theft-proof pack? 

Anti-theft backpacks are built and designed to keep your stuff safe and out of the hands of would-be criminals. Built using slash-proof materials, reinforced lockable zips and RFID blocking pockets, anti-theft backpacks give peace of mind to travellers and commuters alike. 

There are plenty of anti-theft bags available but a few stand out companies control the market and for good reason; they produce the toughest, safest and most secure packs you can find. 

How does an anti-theft backpack work?

Anti-theft travel backpack manufacturers use all manner of patented, innovative devices, materials and hidden pockets to ensure they deliver the best level of protection to their customers.

Slash-proof

Using strong, cut-proof materials, anti-theft backpacks protect you from the cut and run crimes common in parts of South America. El Alto flea market in Bolivia is particularly notorious for these crimes which involve a thief, or team of thieves, working their way through a crowd and cutting open the bags of unsuspecting victims. 

Once open, a skilled criminal can empty your bag without you even noticing, leaving you with nothing but the useless carcass of your daypack hanging between your shoulder blades. A slight variation on this crime involves a thief cutting the straps of your bag and running away with the entire thing! Look out for bags with reinforced, cut-proof straps to prevent this happening to you.

Market leaders Pacsafe use their eXomesh system in most of their anti-theft backpacks. This reinforced wire mesh is sewn into the lining of the bag and makes it all but impossible for anyone to get a knife through.

Lockable Zips and Hidden Pockets

Pickpocketing is a common crime the world over but there are major hotspots for it across South America. Generally occurring in busy, public locations, these crimes involve an individual taking items from your pocket or bag without you being any the wiser.

Whilst it seems farfetched that someone could get hold of your phone without you noticing, pickpockets treat their crime as an art form and the most skilled out there could remove everything of value from your person in just a few minutes. As a victim of pickpocketing, I can assure you that you really have no idea anything has happened until it is too late!  

Ranging from lockable zips to hidden pockets, anti-theft backpacks come with many features designed specifically to stop you from becoming an easy target for pickpockets.

Be aware, a lockable zip isn’t always enough to stop a skilled pickpocket. It is easier than you’d think to pry open a zip using nothing more than a ballpoint pen. Make sure your anti-theft travel bag of choice has a reinforced zipper to prevent this from happening to you. 

Note: Some anti-theft packs have locks built in, whilst others have some sort of locking system attached which require you to use a small padlock before they are fully secure. You can always use this same lock to secure hostel lockers!

As well as tough lockable zips, some anti-theft packs will come with hidden pockets for smaller items such as your phone, wallet and passport. These are usually located on the rear side of the pack so sit snugly against your body whilst the bag is being worn.

Anchor Straps

Some companies, such as Loctote, have specifically designed their bags to be like portable safes.  You can lock these theft-proof backpacks to any sturdy object and leave them without fear of anyone taking or getting into the bag. Although I wouldn’t suggest leaving your bag unattended for long periods, this method of locking it to a sturdy object can be super useful on overnight buses or in busy coffee shops. 

RFID

To protect your bank cards and digital data from electronic thieves, keep an eye out for packs with RFID blocking pockets. These will prevent anyone being able to skim data from your ID or worse, money from your credit cards without you knowing. For more information on RFID, check out this article.

Water Resistance

Depending on the time of year you are travelling, it will be worth thinking about whether you need a waterproof pack. While most anti-theft travel backpacks are water-resistant to all but the most intense downpours, only a few are completely waterproof. 

I got caught in a downpour in Cusco and without me realising, water got into the top of my Loctote Flak Sack. Luckily, my laptop was in a waterproof case of its own so no damage was done! If you are not confident about the water resistance of your chosen pack, a cheap fix is to get a dry sack liner to put inside the bag.

Extra Features

Along with all the expected anti-theft technology, some bags come with extra bells and whistles. There are a few brands such as XD Design who include USB charging ports in their bags so you can easily plug in your own power bank and charge your phone on the go! 

Other bags are made from high tech materials such as Dyneema which is amazingly light, durable and water-resistant. Be aware, these materials are not cheap so significantly increase the price of your theft-proof bag.

Is there a cheap alternative to anti-theft travel backpacks?

Cheap, knock-off versions of the best anti-theft packs are available on sites such as eBay but are they worth using? 

In short, no.

The cheap anti-theft packs are cheap for a reason. They don’t use the same high-quality slash-proof materials, nor are the zips reinforced. There is very rarely RFID blocking pockets and although the sellers claim a level of water resistance, users report they are no better at keeping water out than an everyday backpack. 

Add to this the almost non-existent padding and poor build quality and you are left with an uncomfortable bag that falls apart quickly and doesn’t prevent any type of theft. 

If you want a bag you can rely on, steer clear of the cheap alternatives. 

Best anti-theft daypacks

Pacsafe Citysafe CS300: Anchor strap to attach this bag to chairs, benches or poles!

  • Price: $98.00USD
  • Capacity: 14.9-litres
  • Slash-proof: Yes
  • RFID Blocking: One pocket inside the main compartment is made of RFID blocking materials.
  • Water-resistant: Yes

 

Initially designed for women, the Citysafe CS300 is used by all manner of people who want to keep their valuables protected whilst travelling the world. With its slash-proof, eXomesh, construction and cut-resistant straps, this pack will keep your valuables secure and allow you to enjoy your trip without worrying about losing your phone or passport. 

Stopping for a drink outside a busy coffee shop in Buenos Aires? Secure your bag to your chair using the anchor strap for extra peace of mind. Whilst this won’t be sufficient to secure your bag while you are not there, it will prevent any would-be thieves from being able to run past and snatch your bag while you enjoy your caffeine hit! 

The outer pockets of the Citysafe CS300 are sealed by a reinforced zip, which is kept closed by secure zip tabs and clips. The zip for the main pocket can be kept against your back when wearing the bag for yet another layer of protection!

If you plan on carrying a DSLR camera, some spare lenses and the odd jumper, this bag is up to the task. However, if you want to include a laptop, things start to get tight. 

Pacsafe Metrosafe LS450: The patented lockabout security clip can lock the zip shut!

  • Price: $119.12USD
  • Capacity: 25-litres
  • Slash-proof: Yes
  • RFID Blocking: One pocket made of RFID blocking materials to keep your digital data safe.
  • Water-resistant: No

 

As well as being one of the most comfortable backpacks available, the Pacsafe Metrosafe LS450 does everything you’d expect from a theft-proof backpack. All zips secure into the closed position using the Pacsafe zip clips and the main pocket can even be locked using the Lockabout security clip. Once paired with a small padlock, this bag becomes the Fort Knox of anti-theft backpacks. 

The eXomesh construction will stop any potential thieves being able to cut their way to your valuables and just like the Citysafe CS300, you can secure this bag to your chair with the anchor strap system. 

The 25-litre capacity of the Metrosafe LS450 means you can fit everything you will need for a day out and even have spare room for a laptop, in the 15” padded sleeve. The water bottle holders on the outside of the pack are deep enough for most bottles and mean there’s almost zero risk of spilling water on your expensive electronics!

Pacsafe Slingsafe LX400: Wire reinforced Dyneema straps keep this bag light and secure!

  • Price: $99.95USD
  • Capacity: 20-litres
  • Slash-proof: Yes
  • RFID Blocking: Internal pocket in the main compartment is made of RFID blocking materials.
  • Water-resistant: No

 

The Slingsafe LX400 offers slightly less security that the Metrosafe LS450 but in return, offers more utility. Made using the eXomesh design, this bag will prevent thieves from slashing their way to your most expensive belongings. The zips are secured into place using the clip and tab systems, which aren’t completely secure but do deter any potential pickpockets by slowing them down significantly. The straps are made from wire reinforced Dyneema, so they are both lightweight and super tough; it would take a chainsaw to cut through these!

The anchor system is once again present in this backpack, meaning you can relax in a seating area, knowing your bag will not be snatched up by anyone running past. 

There is enough room in the main compartment for all your essentials plus a camera and laptop. The front pocket can also be completely detached and becomes a small, anti-theft, crossbody bag for those days where you really don’t need a full-on backpack. This pouch is easily big enough for daily essentials such as your wallet, phone, keys, small camera, etc.  

Loctote Cinch Pack: Shoulder straps also act as drawstrings, it is impossible to open this bag while it is being worn. 

  • Price: $209.00USD
  • Capacity: 22-litres
  • Slash-proof: Yes
  • RFID Blocking: Large RFID blocking pocket inside the main compartment.
  • Water-resistant: Yes

 

Loctote has been in operation since 2016 but don’t let their age put you off. They have created some of the toughest anti-theft backpacks ever made and continue to innovate new ways to keep your stuff safe. The Loctote Cinch Pack is the most recent addition to the Loctote family.

With its 22-litre capacity, this lockable pack is roomy enough for your important items, including a laptop, tablet and camera with room to spare. If you have to leave this bag unattended, it can be securely attached to any pole, fence, chair or tree, using the steel-reinforced straps and combination lock. Initially, Loctote bags were designed with this as their primary purpose, to be portable safes! As such, once locked in place it is practically impossible to break into.

The shoulder straps for the Cinch Pack also act as the drawstring to keep the bag closed while you are wearing it. This means it cannot be opened whilst on your back so pickpockets do not stand a chance! There is also a water-resistant flap to stop any rain getting in through the main opening, which was a common complaint with the earlier Loctote bags and is what caught me out in Peru!

There is a small zip pocket on the rear side of the bag that rests against the small of your back. This is a safe place to secure small amounts of money or your phone for quick access. 

Loctote also produce the 13-litre Flaksack 2 which is created using their very own blend of high strength materials, some of which are used in bulletproof vests! If that’s not enough to pique your interest, this drawstring day bag is the only anti-theft daypack available on the market to have passed the IGBC (Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee) test for bear resistance! 

Finally, Loctote produce the 3-litre AntiTheft Sack which acts as a portable safe that you can attach to any secure bench, fence or pole.

Travelon Anti-theft Heritage Backpack: Small internal LED light saves you waking up the whole dorm room while searching through your belongings!

  • Price: $125USD
  • Capacity: 22-litres
  • Slash-proof: Yes
  • RFID Blocking: Internal RFID blocking pockets
  • Water-resistant: Yes

 

The stylish Heritage Backpack from Travelon fits in anywhere. From the London Underground to the Teleferico in La Paz, there is nowhere this bag can’t go. 

The whole daypack is reinforced with wire mesh to stop anybody being able to cut through the fabric and every zip can be securely clipped into place when closed. The comfortable, padded straps are slash-proof and the internal RFID blocking pockets are large enough to store cards, phones and passports. 

The main pocket is compartmentalised to not only keep your belongings secure but also keep them organised and easy to find. There is even a small LED light attached so you don’t have to root about in the dark whilst looking for your headphones!

Some bigger users note that the main straps are not well placed for their frame and that they would steer clear of this pack in the future. 

Travelon Anti-Theft Active Daypack: Water bottle pocket doubles up to hold sunglasses without scratching the lenses.

  • Price: $115.00USD
  • Capacity: 16-litres
  • Slash-proof: Yes
  • RFID Blocking: Multiple RFID blocking pockets throughout the bag. 
  • Water-resistant: Yes

 

The Travelon Anti-Theft Active Daypack is another fine example of an anti-theft travel backpack that has many uses. It is large enough to carry a laptop, camera, tablet and a change of clothes around a city but also wouldn’t look out of place on the back of a hiker trekking their way through the Amazon! 

The three main compartments make it easy to organise your belongings, each of which can be secured shut by the zip clips. The breathable mesh back panel will also keep you cool and sweat-free even after a long walking tour around Lima. 

Slash-proof panels prevent any thieves from cutting through the outer shell and the tough straps will keep this cut-proof backpack securely attached to your back. 

The outer water bottle pocket can also be zipped shut and becomes a handy place to store sunglasses or other small items out of view of the public. 

Travelon Anti-theft Active Packable Backpack: Collapsible! 

  • Price: $33.50USD
  • Capacity: 18.5-litres
  • Slash-proof: Slash resistant bottom and front panels as well as straps.
  • RFID Blocking: RFID blocking pocket inside the main pocket.
  • Water-resistant: Yes but thin material means water does get through quickly in heavy rain. 

 

This bag weighs in at just 331 grams (11.7oz) and folds down super small. As such, it is a great daypack. When not in use it can be packed down and thrown into your main bag with no trouble. 

Because of its weight and packability, it is one of the less secure bags on this list but don’t let that put you off. It still comes with cut-resistant front and bottom panels (the most likely places for thieves to cut into your bag) and the straps will also hold up to any attempted cut and run. 

The internal RFID blocking pocket will ensure your credit cards and ID remain safe while the external zip clips will keep the bag closed and secure. 

The main pocket is not compartmentalised aside from the RFID blocking pocket, so it can be a little challenging to find smaller items within. To prevent this from becoming a problem, use zip lock bags or small packing cubes to hold your smallest items. 

Kopack Anti-Theft Travel Backpack: Zip layout keeps thieves guessing.

  • Price: $37.99USD
  • Capacity: 15-litres
  • Slash-proof: No
  • RFID Blocking: No
  • Water-resistant: Yes

 

Whilst the Kopack Anti-Theft Travel Backpack does not offer the same level of protection as some of the other bags discussed, it is still a much better option than using your old school bag as a daypack. 

The zips for the main pocket are located towards the back of the bag beneath a secure flap, making them challenging for any potential pickpockets to access. There are two hidden pockets to keep smaller items, such as your phone or wallet, out of sight and easily accessible to you. 

The main compartment is full of pockets and padded sleeves to keep your belongings well organised and safe from any knocks!  

With thick, padded shoulder straps and a large amount of breathable back padding, this bag is comfortable to wear, no matter your environment!

XD Design Bobby XL: USB charging port included!

  • Price: $100.00
  • Capacity: 15-litres
  • Slash-proof: Cut-resistant 
  • RFID Blocking: No
  • Water-resistant: Yes

 

Very similar in looks to the previous bag, the XD Design Bobby XL is more like the all singing, all dancing older brother.

The hidden zips, at the rear of the pack next to your person, are backed up by the cut-resistant outer layer that makes up the bulk of this bag. Pickpockets will be unable to find a way in and even more determined thieves will be stopped in their tracks. 

The internal compartments will keep all your valuables organised and the hidden pockets mean you have easy access to items you need regularly. There is even a hidden credit card pocket in the shoulder strap, so you don’t need to pull your whole wallet out just to make a transaction!

The XD Design Bobby also includes a built in USB port so you can keep your devices charged whilst you’re on the go! The power bank and cable are not included but the port is set up ready to go.

XD Design UrbanXD Design Urban: Roll-top means the bag can be compressed smaller if you don’t need all 27-litres.

  • Price: $150.00
  • Capacity: 27-litres
  • Slash-proof: Yes
  • RFID Blocking: Hidden RFID blocking pockets
  • Water-resistant: Yes

 

The XD Design Urban is one of the best looking anti-theft bags available on the market. The roll-top can be locked shut using the built in combination lock and there is even a zip to keep things extra secure. 

There are hidden zip pockets on the back of the bag which perfectly fit phones and passports, as well as RFID blocking pockets on the straps to keep credit cards accessible yet secure.

The large 27-litre capacity means you can easily fill it with everything you would need for a long overnight bus ride or a busy day sightseeing in Rio. The padded, internal compartments keep your items safe from impacts whilst the water-resistant material will keep everything dry in all but the most extreme circumstances. 

According to some users, the straps that secure the lock in place are not as tough as they should be. XD Design responded to this saying that the straps are reinforced and therefore cut-proof but there has been at least one user on amazon who claims he cut straight through his with a pair of scissors after the lock failed to open. 

Best anti-theft backpacks

For those of you wanting a more substantial amount of room than your normal anti-theft daypack provides, consider trading out your main bag for one of these anti-theft travel backpacks. 

Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP45: Roobar Deluxe Zip Locking system keeps zips secure.

  • Price: $177.15USD
  • Capacity: 45-litres
  • Slash-proof: Yes
  • RFID Blocking: Yes, RFID blocking pocket inside main compartment.
  • Water-resistant: Yes

 

Pacsafe have done it once again with their Venturesafe EXP45. The bag is made in Pacsafe’s eXomesh slash-proof design and the strong puncture-resistant zips can be secured into place using the trademarked Roobar deluxe locking system. This system allows you to lock all of the zips with just one padlock. 

As if that wasn’t secure enough, there is a well placed hold strap on the front of the bag that can be used to store jumpers, coats or pillows. When in use, this strap also covers the Roobar deluxe locking system so nobody can see how your pack is secured. 

If you have to leave the bag unattended or just don’t feel comfortable sleeping on a bus whilst it is in your lap, then Pacsafe have got you covered. This theft-proof backpack can be attached to any fixed object using the included 3mm stainless steel cable, leaving you to relax in the knowledge nobody can run away with your stuff!

The main compartment of the Venturesafe EXP45 is large enough for everything you need on an extended trip. It opens sideways like a suitcase so there is no more digging around to find the towel you have buried right at the bottom!

There is a padded laptop sleeve in the front compartment as well as multiple smaller pockets, which help keep all your belongings organised and easy to find!

If 45-litres isn’t enough for you, this anti-theft backpack also comes in a 65-litre model, which offers the same great level of protection.

Pacsafe Vibe 40: Perfect size for carry on luggage!

  • Price: $149.95USD
  • Capacity: 40-litres
  • Slash-proof: Yes
  • RFID Blocking: Internal RFID blocking pocket
  • Water-resistant: Yes

 

The Vibe 40 from Pacsafe is another great example of a company listening to what their customers want. This no-frills bag does everything required of it without pomp and ceremony. The simple square design means that the bag can be worn as a backpack or with the straps tucked away, carried like a suitcase and can easily hold everything you would want for 6 months exploring South America. The hidden top pocket gives you quick access to items such as your passport, phone, or wallet whilst the puncture-resistant zips keep them safe and secure. 

In addition to the Roobar locking system, eXomesh slash guard and RFID blocking pocket, all found on the Venturesafe EXP45, the Vibe 40 comes with slash-proof straps to prevent any cut and run incidents from occurring.

Some users to complain that their stuff gets easily jumbled up in the main pocket of this pack but this is easy to combat by using a set of packing cubes to keep things organised.

The Pacsafe Vibe also comes in 20-litre, 25-litre and 28-litre models which all make for great anti-theft daypacks.

Inateck Anti Theft Travel Backpack 40 Litre: Suitcase style opening makes it easy to pack and organise your luggage!

  • Price: $66.99USD
  • Capacity: 40-litres
  • Slash-proof: No
  • RFID Blocking: No
  • Water-resistant: Yes

 

Whilst the Anti Theft Travel Backpack from Inateck is not slash-proof or RFID blocking and does not have hidden zips, it still makes our list of top anti-theft backpacks. The zips are designed to be locked into place with your own padlock and the tough material that makes up the bulk of the bag is hardy enough to put off all but the most determined bag slashers. There is a hidden pocket in the back of the bag so you can keep your passport and wallet safe from thieves while still keeping them accessible. 

If you want a bag that screams “I’m an adult who’s got my sh*t together” then this is the pack for you. Inateck have created a bag that suits the professional traveller and backpacker alike. It opens like a suitcase so there is never an issue finding items that could be lost at the bottom and has multiple pockets, including a padded laptop sleeve, for easy organisation.

It can be carried on your back or you can stash the straps away and carry it as a normal suitcase. The main compartment is large enough to see you through even year-long trips and the durable construction means it will survive even the bumpiest bus rides with no issues.  

Inateck also produce a smaller 30-litre version of their Anti-Theft Travel Backpack.

Our Recommended Travel Resources

  • Join Our Facebook Group: South America Backpacker Community
  • Travel Insurance: True Traveller and World Nomads.
  • Flight Search: Skyscanner.
  • Accommodation: Booking.com and HostelWorld.
  • After a life-changing motorcycle accident, Tim decided life was too short to stay cooped up in his home county of Norfolk, UK. Since the incident, he has travelled in South East Asia, walked the Camino de Santiago and is currently backpacking around South America. His first book ‘From Paralysis to Santiago’ chronicles his struggle to recover from the motorcycle accident that changed his life and will be released later this year.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *