11 Best Anti-Theft Backpacks For Travel in 2020 (Complete Buyer's Guide)

If you're like most people, you probably bring a few valuable items with you when you travel; things like a smartphone, laptop, camera, a portable hard drive and maybe even some precious jewellery.


While these valuables might be indispensable for having an enjoyable trip, they’re also very tempting to thieves and villains, who know that they could easily raise a sum equivalent to four months wages working a regular job by selling off the contents of a stolen travel backpack on the black market.


If you do carry high-value gear during your travels, it’s smart to take a few extra precautions to make it less accessible to any sticky-fingered pickpockets that you might have the misfortune of crossing paths with on the road.


We’ve provided a lot of tips for thwarting crime and theft in our comprehensive guide to travel safety, but here we want to concentrate on one specific piece of travel gear that will greatly help to discourage as well as defeat any attempted robberies that might befall you during your travels.


The piece of kit we’re referring to is the anti-theft backpack. Anti-theft backpacks are a special breed of backpacks that put much greater emphasis on security features and theft deterrence than your standard travel backpacks.


Security is significantly beefed up in these backpacks because of the unique way in which many of them are designed, the exceptionally tough materials that they’re fabricated from, and the clever safety features that they incorporate.

Anti-theft backpacks are fast becoming an essential piece of travel gear in today's world of rampant physical and electronic pickpocketing, so in this article we'll be fully reviewing and comparing our top 11 anti-theft backpack picks for travel in 2020. 


With an anti-theft backpack slung over your shoulders during your next trip, you’ll feel less apprehensive about your expensive gear falling into the hands of thieves and consequently, you’ll be able to travel with far greater peace of mind, allowing you to completely focus on the exotic locales that you’ve travelled so far to witness and enjoy.

​Quick Glance: 11 Best Anti-Theft Backpacks For Travel in 2020

1. Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP45 Anti-Theft Backpack

  • Weight: 3 lbs 13 oz (1.73 kg)
  • Capacity: 45 L
  • Available colour(s): Black, Eclipse, Plum
  • Material: 400D ECONYL regenerated nylon dobby
  • Anti-theft features: eXomesh Slashguard, cut-resistant shoulder straps, interlocking zipper sliders, Roobar anti-theft anchor lock, puncture-resistant zippers, stainless steel locking cable, turn & lock security system for tethering
Check price on Amazon

2. Riutbag X35 Large Anti-Theft Laptop Backpack

  • Weight: 2 lbs 15 oz ( 1.34kg)
  • Capacity: Expandable up to 35L
  • Available colour(s): Black 
  • Material: 1000D Cordura Nylon and TPU
  • Anti-theft features: No access front
Check price on Amazon

3. Loctote Flak Sak II Anti-Theft Drawstring Backpack

  • Weight: 2 lbs (0.91 kg)
  • Capacity: 15 L
  • Available colour(s): Leather grey, Black, Stealth Black
  • Material: FLAKnit (A9 cut level)
  • Anti-theft features: Slash resistant material with A9 cut level, lockable drawstring closure, steel-reinforced ropes and straps
Check price on Amazon

4. Kopack Waterproof Anti-Theft Travel Backpack

  • Weight: 1 lb 15 oz (0.88 kg)
  • Capacity: 25 L
  • Available colour(s): Grey, Grey Black
  • Material: Water and scratch-resistant with ABS base
  • Anti-theft features: No front access design, hidden pockets
Check price on Amazon

5. Travelon Anti-Theft Classic Large Backpack

  • Weight: 2.2 lbs (1 kg)
  • Capacity: 15L
  • Available colour(s): Black
  • Material: Polyester
  • Anti-theft features: Slash-resistant body panels & shoulder straps, lockable zippers, RFID-blocking compartment, 
Check price on Amazon

6. Pacsafe Venturesafe X30 Anti-Theft Adventure Backpack

  • Weight: 2 lbs 14 oz (1.3 kg)
  • Capacity: 30 L
  • Available colour(s): Black, Burnt Orange
  • Material: 210D ripstop nylon
  • Anti-theft features: eXomesh Slashguard, cut-resistant shoulder straps, securable zipper pulls, turn & lock security system for tethering, RFID-blocking zip pocket
Check price on Amazon

7. XD Design Bobby XL Anti-Theft Backpack w/ USB port

  • Weight: 1.98 lbs (0.98 kg)
  • Capacity: 15L
  • Available colour(s): Black, Grey, Navy
  • Material: Polyester
  • Anti-theft features: No access front, hidden pockets
Check price on Amazon

8. Oscaurt Anti-Theft Travel Laptop Backpack

  • Weight: 2 lbs 4.8 oz (1.04 kg)
  • Capacity: 12L 
  • Available colour(s): Black, Dark Gray, Gray, New Blue, Y-Gray
  • Material: Polyester
  • Anti-theft features: No access front, hidden inner pockets
Check price on Amazon

9. Pacsafe Venturesafe GII Anti-Theft Travel Backpack

  • Weight: 1 lb 9 oz (0.7 kg)
  • Capacity: 25 L
  • Available colour(s): Black, Navy Blue
  • Material: 210D nylon 3-line ripstop
  • Anti-theft features: eXomesh Slashguard, cut-resistant shoulder straps, turn & lock security hook for tethering, securable zipper pulls, RFID-blocking pocket
Check price on Amazon

10. Hanke Anti-Theft Carry-On Backpack

  • Weight: 2 lbs 8 oz (1.13 kg)
  • Capacity: Expandable up to 28L
  • Available colour(s): Black
  • Material: Polyester
  • Anti-theft features: Lockable metal zippers, RFID-blocking pocket
Check price on Amazon

11. Pacsafe Metrosafe LS350 Anti-Theft Travel Backpack

  • Weight: 1 lb 7 oz (0.66 kg)
  • Capacity: 15 L
  • Available colour(s): Earth Khaki, Black, Dark Tweed, Deep Navy
  • Material: 210D nylon full dull hitra
  • Anti-theft features: eXomesh Slashguard, cut-resistant shoulder straps, securable zippers, turn & lock security hook for tethering, RFID-blocking pocket
Check price on Amazon

​Best Anti-Theft Backpacks Comparison Table

Backpack  No access frontSlash-resistant body panels Slash-resistant shoulder straps  Puncture resistant zippersSecurable zipper pulls  Tethering systemHidden pockets RFID blocking  
1. Pacsafe
EXP 45


​11 Best Anti-Theft Backpacks For Travel in 2020 (Fully Reviewed and Compared)

This is the main section of the article where you can read the full reviews and discover the pros and cons for each of our top anti-theft backpack picks for this year. 

After scouring the market far and wide to track down all the anti-theft backpacks out there, we then managed to boil the long list of backpacks that we discovered down to the 11 best ones. 

Our picks were based on several criteria including the capacity, build quality,  customer reviews & ratings, regular backpack features and special anti-theft features, with additional weight being placed on the latter. 

Only backpacks that had at least two anti-theft features made the cut for this article and most of the backpacks that we chose have more anti-theft features than that.

Without further ado then here are the best anti-theft backpacks for travel in 2020.

​1. Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP45 Anti-Theft Backpack

Dimensions (L x W x H): 13.8 x 8.7 x 21.7 in (35 x 22 cm x 55 cm)

Weight: 3 lbs 13 oz (1.73 kg)

Material: 400D ECONYL regenerated Nylon Dobby, 150D recycled polyester lining

Capacity: 45 L

Available colour(s): Black, Eclipse, Plum

The anti-theft backpack that we recommend for most carry-on travellers is the PacSafe VentureSafe EXP45


This is the largest (and heaviest) backpack in our roundup of the best anti-theft travel backpacks and it packs in more anti-theft security features than any other on our list. 

It’s currently available in three colours (black, eclipse, plum) and comes with the usual (generous) 5-year warranty offered by Pacsafe.


With an ample 45 litres of volume for your belongings, the VentureSafe EXP45 approaches the limit of what most airlines will permit as hand luggage. The large capacity means that it can be used as a standalone backpack even for extended trips, as well as for shorter ones.


Unless you’re a true minimalist, most of the other anti-theft backpacks on the market will probably be too small for you to use them as standalone backpacks, but the PacSafe Venturesafe EXP45 will allow you to travel with just a single, highly secure bag on your back.


The Venturesafe EXP45 has an impressive array of anti-theft features, including slash-resistant, 400D ECONYL (regenerated nylon) body panels embedded with eXomesh Slashguard (a lightweight steel wire mesh embedded in the fabric), cut-resistant shoulder straps, interlocking zipper sliders and puncture-resistant zippers


It even comes with a 3mm stainless steel locking cable that you can use to tether the backpack to a fixed object with a padlock (not included).


An outstanding feature of the backpack is its Roobar anti-theft anchor lock, which can be used to lock down your zippers and also acts as a lockdown point to secure the backpack to a fixture using the provided steel locking cable.


The bag also has plenty of the standard backpack features like dual side stretch pockets for keeping a water bottle or umbrella, compression straps, an adjustable padded hip belt, an adjustable sternum strap, external attachment points for bulky items (i.e. jacket, yoga mat, sleeping bag) and a hold strap at the top that can not only be used to hold a jacket or travel pillow, but also protects the zipper locking mechanism from attacks.


There’s even a padded handle on the side of the backpack that allows you to carry it like a duffel bag, and you can also tuck the stowable shoulder straps away so that they become invisible, a feature that comes in especially handy when you want to check the backpack on a plane (although you should be able to take it on board as a carry-on in most cases).


The backpack has two lockable compartments; a roomy main compartment that opens up like a suitcase for easy access to the contents, as well as a smaller front compartment that has a padded, Velcro-secured laptop sleeve (holds up to a 15” laptop), two internal zippered mesh pockets and a number of other slots for keeping miscellaneous items.                            


Ample capacity (45 L) for standalone use

Made from recycled ECONYL material that comes from recovered ghost fishing nets that harm marine life

eXomesh Slashguard & cut-resistant, stowable shoulder straps

Interlocking zipper pulls

Roobar anti-theft anchor lock

Included 3mm stainless steel locking cable for tethering

Alternative duffel bag carry mode 

Padded hip belt

External attachment points for bulky items


No integrated raincover

No RFID-blocking pocket

Is the Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP45 for YOU?

If you're looking for a large, anti-theft carry-on backpack that you can use as a standalone bag for virtually any type of trip, the Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP45 is really the only option on our list that will satisfy you. Not only is this backpack very roomy, but it's packed with more anti-theft features than any other bag in our roundup.

Check price on Amazon

​2. Riutbag X35 Large Anti-Theft Laptop Backpack

Dimensions (L x W x H): 13.7 x 9.8 x 19.7 in (35 x 25 x 50 cm)

Weight: 2 lbs 15 oz (1.34 kg)

Material: 1000D Cordura Nylon

Capacity: Expandable up to 35 L

Available colour(s): Black 

Riutbag is an anti-theft backpack brand that was founded in 2014 by UK entrepreneur Sarah Giblin. who personally designs every painstaking detail of the backpacks before they are manufactured by hand (using sewing machines) by two production teams in a factory in Hui’An county in Fujian Province, southern China.

                                                                                                                                Riut is pronounced like “riot”, as the design is intended to be disruptive and represents a revolution in backpack design and thinking.

Riutbag backpacks are designed to serve the urban or city traveller and commuter, and all of them employ a no front access, panel-loading design with all of the external zippers protected against the wearer’s back for utmost security.

The Riutbag X35 carry-on backpack is our pick for most travellers, as we always appreciate anti-theft backpacks that provide a substantial amount of capacity for packing travel gear. This particular backpack even won an award – the European Product Design Award 2020.

The Riutbag X35 employs a unique folding mechanism that allows you to expand it from an everyday 15L laptop backpack into a roomy 35L carry-on backpack that’ll just about be permitted on most airplanes. There’s also an intermediate mode that affords a capacity of about 20-25L; this configuration is achieved by bringing in the snap fastenings on the side of the bag.

The Riutbag X35 is mostly made from highly durable and waterproof 1000D Cordura nylon, while the base is made of TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane), an anti-abrasive and high-performance plastic that can withstand extreme temperatures and helps to protect your laptop from knocks.

Vegans will be pleased to know that the backpack does not use any animal products in its construction and is made entirely from synthetic materials.

The features on the outside of the backpack include two side stretch mesh pockets (each can hold a 1.5 L water bottle), a bicycle light holder on the front (so you can be visible when you’re not using the high-vis raincover), an adjustable sternum strap (this can also be fully removed), a haul loop and a pass-through strap on the back for looping the bag onto a wheeled luggage handle.

You can buy an attachable hip belt separately to take some weight off your shoulders if you’re going to be using the bag in expanded mode a lot. All the zippers on the Riutbag X35 are high-quality YKK zippers.

The back panel, which has a zippered D-pocket at the bottom and another zip pocket at the top, opens up suitcase-style to reveal the capacious single compartment inside. Anything you put inside here can optionally be kept separated from the inner side of the opening panel by the mesh divider.

The 15.6” laptop sleeve and the tablet/documents sleeve are located on the inner face of the zippered opening panel, as are two large mesh pockets for organization of your passport, wallet, phone, charging cables, and other small items.

Note that unlike the other backpacks in this article, the Riutbag is sold exclusively through the brand’s official website, www.riut.co.uk. They will ship globally, although if you live in the UK delivery will usually be fastest (3 – 4 days).

Regardless of where you are in the world, the longest you should ever have to wait for delivery is 10 days, and you will be able to track your order. Shipping is free for orders over £100 and the backpack will arrive in a reusable drawstring bag that can used for various purposes rather than being disposable.

If you purchase any Riutbag anti-theft backpack using our special referral link you can receive £5 off your purchase from the website if it’s above the value of £39.


Highly customizable, modular design

Backpacks are all handmade and given individual attention

Hidden zippers for pickpocket protection

No front access, panel-loading style

Expandable up to 35L (three different modes)


Body panels and shoulder straps are not slash-resistant

Zippers are not puncture-resistant

Is the Riutbag X35 for YOU?

A lot of thought has gone into the design of the Riutbag X35 and it's a backpack that can be really customized and tailored to your individual needs and preferences. If you like the idea of high-quality, handmade backpack that really pays attention to all the intricate details, this could be right up your alley.

Check price on Amazon

​3. Loctote Flak Sak II Anti-Theft Drawstring Backpack

Dimensions (L x H): 18 x 14 in (46 x 36 cm)

Weight: 2 lbs (0.91 kg)

Material: FLAKnit (UHMWPE Spectra Fiber)

Capacity: 13 L (fits a 15” laptop but not a 17” one)

Available colour(s): Leather grey, black, stealth black

The Loctote Flak Sack II is the upgraded version of the original Loctote Flak Sack, employing an even tougher fabric as well as steel-reinforced ropes and straps. The company touts it as the world’s toughest theft-resistant drawstring backpack


With its drawstring closure mechanism, this is no regular daypack with zippered compartments and opening panels.

The drawstring closure means that the bag doubles up as a portable safe that you can use to protect your valuables when you leave your hotel room or when you’re in a situation where you’ll need to leave cash or other valuables temporarily unattended, like when swimming at the pool or beach.


The backpack is fabricated from the company’s exclusive FLAKnit material, which achieves a superior “A9” cut level; that basically means that it offers the highest possible level of slash resistance to a blade. 

It employs the same UHMWPE Spectra Fiber that’s found in bullet-resistant vests and other gear used by the police and military, and the company claims that it’s “virtually slashproof”.


The shoulder straps, which are also used to cinch the opening at the top shut, are each made from two HDPE (high-density polyethylene) reflective ropes reinforced with steel wire for slash resistance, and they also incorporate a mechanism to create a sternum strap.


Considering the small size of this backpack (13L), you’re unlikely to be carrying heavy loads with it, so the rope straps should be comfortable enough to wear for long periods.


The backpack comes with a solid brass combination lock for easy locking using the special steel-reinforced locking strap. The strap needs to be pulled out several inches to reveal the two metal grommets; the lock shackle is then threaded through these grommets to lock the bag.


If you want to tether the bag to an immovable object in the same manner as a portable safe, you just have to pass the locking strap around it and then pass the shackle through the two grommets and through the metal o-ring that’s threaded onto the strap. During normal use the padlock will be tucked away out of sight behind the leather patch on the front of the bag that bears the logo.


The bag has no exterior pockets for safety reasons, but Inside are two easy-access pockets for keeping small items, as well as a waterproof RFID-blocking zippered pocket that’s designed for protecting a passport, credit cards and other readable items from electronic theft.


All-in-one drawstring backpack and portable safe

Virtually slashproof fabric with A9 cut level

Includes solid brass combination lock 

Slash-resistant (and reflective) ropes

RFID-blocking pocket


Some complaints about durability

A bit heavy given its capacity (a tradeoff for the tough fabric)

A little pricey

Is the Loctote Flak Sak II Anti-Theft Drawstring Backpack for YOU?

If you love the idea of a lockable and virtually slash-proof drawstring-style backpack that doubles up as a portable safe, and you're cool with the relatively modest capacity of this bag, this might just be the perfect choice for you.

Check price on Amazon

​4. Kopack Waterproof Anti-Theft Travel Backpack

Dimensions (L x W x H) : 11.8 x 5.5 x 17.7 in (30 x 14 x 45 cm)

Weight: 1 lb 15 oz (0.88 kg)

Material: Water-resistant fiber

Capacity: 25 L

Available colour(s): Grey, Grey Black

                                                                The Kopack Anti-Theft Travel Backpack is a sleek-looking, medium-sized, unisex daypack that’s available in two different sizes (15.6 and 17 inches) and is designed for leisure and business travellers, students and city commuters. 

                                                                The material of this backpack is durable and scratch/water-resistant, and if you need extra protection in a downpour there’s also an integrated raincover that stashes away in a zip pocket on the underside of the bag.


The design of this backpack will confound thieves, as there are no zippers or pockets to be observed anywhere on the front or sides of the bag.


The zipper for the main compartment and the opening panel are located at the back to make them inaccessible to pickpockets when you’re wearing the bag. The panel-loading design also means that the backpack opens up like a suitcase for easy access to the contents.


There are a handful of hidden pockets on the outside of the bag, including a convenient IC (integrated circuit) card pocket on the left shoulder strap, a quick-access anti-theft zip pocket on the back panel and another hidden zip pocket on either side of the back panel.


Other features on the outside of the backpack include two reflective strips on the front panel for safety at night, a pass-through strap across the back for attaching the bag to a wheeled luggage handle and adjustable padded shoulder straps, each with a little loop of material for attaching accessories, such as a whistle.


The bag also features an external USB port with included cable so that you can conveniently charge your mobile on the go without having to reach into your bag for your power bank.


Inside the only compartment of the backpack is a padded laptop sleeve that’ll hold up to a 15.6” laptop (an elastic strap keeps it snug and tight inside the sleeve), another sleeve for an iPad or tablet, four pen holders, a zip pocket and few slots for other small items.


No front access, panel-loading design

Hidden pockets

External USB charging port

Reflective strips for night safety


Body panels and shoulder straps are not slash-resistant

No RFID-blocking pocket

No side stretch pockets for a water bottle or umbrella

Is the Kopack Waterproof Anti-Theft Travel Backpack For YOU?

This anti-theft backpack does most things really well, although the lack of external side stretch pockets for a water bottle or umbrella may be a dealbreaker for some travellers. Still, you might be willing to overlook that obvious shortcoming in light of the fact that this is one of the least expensive anti-theft backpacks in our roundup. 

Check price on Amazon

​5. Travelon Anti-Theft Classic Large Backpack

Dimensions (L x W x H): 11.5 x 7 x 18 in (29 x 18 x 46)  

Weight: 2 lbs 3 oz (1 kg)

Material: Polyester

Capacity: 25 L

Available colour(s): Black


Travelon is one of the major players in the anti-theft travel backpack arena and its Anti-Theft Classic Large Backpackdoesn’t disappoint. 


This medium-sized daypack (approx. 25 L capacity) is made from a durable, lightweight, water and dirt-resistant polyester fabric that’s also slash-resistant due to the stainless steel wire mesh barrier that runs through all four of the body panels, as well as the bottom panel.


The adjustable, padded shoulder straps are also slash-resistant and the zipper pulls for all three compartments can be locked to metal D-rings that are fastened to the backpack via a small loop of webbing.


The only zippers of this backpack that aren’t lockable are the one for the front zip pocket (you could just stuff some snacks or some other non-valuable items in there) and the one for the side expansion pocket, which can comfortably hold a water bottle or umbrella.


The backpack also features a top grab handle, a padded air mesh back panel for a cool and comfortable carry, and a pass-through strap running across the back panel that allows you to easily hook the bag onto a wheeled luggage handle.


As we mentioned already, the Travelon Anti-Theft Classic Large Backpack has three different compartments.


The front compartment is protected by an RFID-blocking panel and inside it you’ll find an open pocket, a zip pocket, a dedicated passport pocket, three slots for keeping credit cards, two pen holders and a keyring that comes with a little LED light.


The middle or main compartment is quite spacious and has a wall pocket for holding large items and will fit up to a 15.6” laptop. The sleeve keeps the laptop suspended about an inch above the bottom of the bag, which helps to protect it in case you drop the bag down onto a hard surface.


The fleece-lined rear compartment has a roomy sleeve that’s perfect for holding a tablet, laptop or even a magazine. 



Slash-resistant body panels and shoulder straps

Locking zipper system for all three compartments

RFID-blocking front compartment

Free LED light

No integrated raincover

Is the Travelon Anti-Theft Classic Large Backpack for YOU?

Pacsafe anti-theft backpacks can be a little too pricey for some people and the Travelon Anti-Theft Classic Large Backpack seems to come to the rescue as a slightly less expensive and slightly less fully featured alternative to a medium-sized Pacsafe bag. Make no mistake though, this backpack still has most of the anti-theft features that you're likely to need to keep your gear safe on the road.

Check price on Amazon

​6. Pacsafe Venturesafe X30 Anti-Theft Adventure Backpack

Dimensions: 21.3” x 10.6” x 8.3” (54 x 27 x 21 cm)

Weight: 2 lbs 14 oz (1.3 kg)

Material: 210D ripstop nylon

Capacity: 30 L

Available colour(s) Black, burnt orange


Another excellent offering from anti-theft travel gear specialist PacSafe is the VentureSafe X30 Anti-Theft Adventure Backpack.


This is a medium-sized carry-on backpack that possesses an internal aluminium frame (this helps transfer the load to the hip area) and is designed for adventurous travellers and hikers who want to secure their gear both while exploring the city or when hiking the trail.


The backpack is constructed in the main from 210D ripstop nylon that’s embedded with eXomesh Slashguard (a slash-resistant stainless steel wire mesh) on the front, side and bottom panels. The adjustable shoulder straps are also very difficult to cut through, being embedded with cut-resistant, yet highly flexible Dyneema material.


Another nifty security feature of this backpack is the turn-and-lock security system that works with the cut-resistant webbing at the ends of the shoulder straps to allow the bag to be securely tethered to a fixed object. This is a very handy feature if you’re worried about bag snatchers.


To ensure utmost comfort, the bag has a padded back support panel that features airflow channels to keep your back cool while hiking or walking around cities in warm weather.


The pack is also equipped with a sternum strap and a hip belt, and these are embedded with perforated, breathable EVA foam for additional comfort and better weight distribution. When not in use the hip belt tucks away out of sight into a hidden compartment behind the back panel.


The Pacsafe Venturesafe X30 also comes with expandable side mesh pockets, external attachment points for bulky items that won’t fit inside the bag (sleeping bags, jackets, yoga mats, shoes etc.), external compression straps to reduce bulk and an integrated raincover that stows away inside a zip pocket on the underside of the bag


When it comes to compartments, the VentureSafe X30 has four of them in total.


At the front there’s a vertical zippered compartment that’s perfect for stashing a rain jacket or anything else you need to grab in a hurry.


Behind that is another front compartment with securable zippers, inside which is a zippered pocket with special RFID-blocking material - an ideal place to keep passports and chip-enabled credit cards protected from electronic theft.


This compartment also includes a key clip and an attachment point that’s designed for securing the PacSafe Anti-Theft Wallet (bought separately). 


The top lid of the bag also features a small pocket with a securable zipper; this pocket is perfect for keeping small items like sunglasses and snacks that you want to have quick and easy access to.


Inside the main compartment, which has a capacity of 30 litres, there’s a dual-function sleeve that can be used to hold up to a 15-inch Macbook or a water hydration pack if you’re going hiking.


This backpack is designed to work with another one of PacSafe’s products, the Travelsafe X15 Anti-Theft Portable Safe & Pack Insert

This portable safe has a 360° eXomesh Slashguard and is designed to line the inside of the backpack's main compartment to further reinforce it against unauthorized entry attempts. The portable safe can even be tethered to a fixed object (via the included 3 mm steel cable) when it’s lining the inside of the backpack.


eXomesh Slashguard embedded in body panels

Cut-resistant Dyneema material in shoulder straps 

Securable zipper pulls

RFID-blocking zip pocket

Turn & lock security system for tethering to a fixed object

External attachment points

Designed to integrate seamlessly with other Pacsafe products


Compression straps go over side pockets, rendering the pockets inaccessible when the straps are in use

Is the Pacsafe Venturesafe X30 Anti-Theft Adventure Backpack for YOU?

If you consider yourself to be an adventure traveller or you're into hiking, this anti-theft backpack is probably going to be the best option for you. With the laptop sleeve doubling up as a holder for a hydration pouch, and the padded hip belt and sternum strap, this backpack has been specifically designed for travellers who like enjoying nature and getting off the beaten path.

Check price on Amazon

​7. XD Design Bobby XL Anti-Theft Backpack w/ USB port

Dimensions (L x W x H): 12.4 x 4.9 x 18.1 in (31.5 x 12.5 x 46 cm)

Weight: 1.98 lbs (0.9 kg)

Material: Polyester

Capacity: 15L

Available colour(s): Black, Grey, Navy


XD Design is a Dutch brand that released its first anti-theft backpack in 2016 after a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign and since then the brand has established a presence in over 50 countries and now has over 3,000 retail outlets worldwide.


XD Design was the initiator of the compact anti-theft travel backpack trend and the original design has since been imitated by many second-rate and cheaper lookalike brands.


The XD Design Bobby XL Anti-Theft Backpack is the largest bag in the XD Design anti-theft backpack range and like the company’s other products serves as a stylish, unisex, carry-on bag with an emphasis on security.


Like some of the other backpacks we reviewed above, this one also has a no access front and conceals the zipper that opens up the bag on the back panel. The panel-loading design allows the bag to be opened up through a full 180° angle if necessary, though it’s also possible to open it through a 30° or 90° angle.


This backpack has an unusual curved shape that widens towards the base for optimal weight balance; this is designed to take some of the weight off your shoulders and to ease the pressure on your spine.


The backpack is made from a high-quality, water-repellent polyester fabric that incorporates several protective layers to render it cut-resistant. The adjustable padded shoulder straps each have a slot where you can keep a card.


Other features on the outside of the backpack are illuminating strips on the front and sides for night safety, hidden pockets on the back panel and on either side of it, a pass-through strap for attaching the bag to a wheeled luggage handle, and an external USB port that connects to your power bank (via the included cable) for convenient charging of your mobile on the go.


Inside the only compartment of the backpack is a padded laptop sleeve that holds up to a 17” laptop, another sleeve for a tablet up to 12.9”, a few pen holders, several mesh pockets, a water bottle holder strap and a large zip pocket where you’ll put your power bank.


XD Design is the originator of the compact anti-theft backpack style

No access front with panel-loading style

Cut-resistant multi-layered fabric

Hidden pockets

External USB port


No external side pockets

No integrated rain cover

No RFID-blocking pocket

Is the XD Design Bobby XL Anti-Theft Backpack For YOU?

If you're after a small anti-theft backpack with a no access front, the XD Design Bobby XL is a very popular option. 

However, this bag is quite pricey considering its capacity and it also lacks external side pockets for a water bottle or umbrella, which may be a problem for some travellers. 

The Oscaurt Anti-Theft Travel Laptop Backpack below has a very similar design and most of the same features but is significantly cheaper.

Check price on Amazon

​8. Oscaurt Anti-Theft Travel Laptop Backpack

Dimensions: 11 x 5 x 17 in (28 x 13 x 43 cm)

Weight: 2 lbs 5 oz (1.04 kg)

Material: Polyester

Capacity: 12 L

Available colour(s): Black, Dark Gray, Gray, New Blue, Y-Gray


The Oscaurt Multi-Function Anti-Theft Travel Backpack is a stylish-looking, theft-resistant daypack that works for travellers, students and business people alike. 

You wouldn't be wrong for thinking that this backpack looks very similar to the previous XD Design one, but there are a couple of ways in which the two bags differ.


This backpack employs a panel-loading design (it can be opened up through a full 180° angle like a suitcase) with the zippered opening panel strategically placed against the wearer’s back to make it exceedingly difficult for thieves to reach the zipper and gain access to the main compartment.


The backpack is constructed from polyester fabric, which is strong, lightweight, durable, water-resistant and cut/scratch resistant, while the hidden inner pockets of this backpack will help to keep your valuables hidden from prying eyes.


The elastic, yet firm EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) back panel is designed to provide comfort and ventilation, and there’s a discrete zippered pocket on each side of it that thieves are unlikely to notice. 

There’s also a pass-through strap running horizontally across the back panel that allows you to hook the backpack onto the handle of a piece of a wheeled luggage.


The exterior of the backpack also features adjustable padded shoulder straps, a zippered front pocket, two elastic side pockets for a water bottle or umbrella, retroreflective strips for night safety and a USB charging port on one side, which connects to your power bank via a hidden inner pocket and cable.


Turning our attention towards the inside of the bag, there’s a padded laptop sleeve that’ll hold a 15.6” laptop, a few pen holders, three open pockets, a zippered pocket and a couple of secret compartments for organization of miscellaneous items.


No access front with panel-loading style

Hidden pockets

External USB charging port 

Very affordable


No integrated rain cover

No RFID-blocking pocket

Is the Oscaurt Anti-Theft Travel Laptop Backpack for YOU?

If you're looking for one of these small anti-theft backpacks with a back opening panel and an external USB port, the Oscaurt Anti-Theft Travel Laptop Backpack would probably be a better choice than the XD Design Bobby XL above. This backpack has virtually all the same anti-theft features but also includes external elastic side pockets and is much cheaper to boot.

Check price on Amazon

​9. Pacsafe Venturesafe GII Anti-Theft Travel Backpack

Dimensions: 11.4 x 7.9 x 19.7 in (29 x 20 x 50 cm)

Weight: 1 lb 9 oz (0.7 kg)

Material: 210D nylon 3-line ripstop

Capacity: 25L

Available colour(s): Black, Navy Blue


The Pacsafe Venturesafe GII (25L) is designed for travelling abroad or for everyday urban use and just so happens to be the company’s highest rated backpack.


This very lightweight (0.7 kg), unisex, carry-on daypack is made from a durable, water-resistant 210D nylon 3-line ripstop with a 200D polyester lining. 

The bag incorporates all the advanced anti-theft security features that Pacsafe products are renowned for.


You have the eXomesh Slashguard stainless steel wire mesh embedded in all the body panels, cut-resistant (padded & adjustable) shoulder straps, a turn & lock security hook for securing the bag to an immovable object (i.e. a pole or seat leg), securable zipper pulls that fasten to concealed clips and an RFID-blocking pocket for electronic theft prevention.


Aside from the security features, the backpack possesses a moulded foam back panel, a haul loop, compression straps, an adjustable and removable hip belt, an adjustable sternum strap and side mesh pockets for carrying a water bottle or umbrella.


The Pacsafe Venturesafe GII 25L has two compartments; a front organizational compartment and a main compartment.


The front compartment has a zippered mesh pocket, a pen holder, a keyring, a regular slot pocket and a special RFID-blocking pocket where you’d keep your biometric passport or wallet so that your cards remain protected from electronic pickpockets.


The main compartment of the bag has no major features to report other than a padded laptop sleeve that will fit up to a 15” laptop and that is also designed to hold a 3L hydration pouch. A centrally located tube port on the bag allows you to route the tube of the hydration pack to either side of your body.


eXomesh Slashguard and cut-resistant shoulder straps

Turn & lock security hook for tethering 

Securable zipper pulls

RFID-blocking pocket

Very lightweight


Hip belt is not padded

No integrated rain cover

Is the Pacsafe Venturesafe GII Anti-Theft Travel Backpack For YOU?

If you're looking for a medium-sized anti-theft backpack in the regular style (not panel-loading), this is Pacsafe's highest rated backpack, so you couldn't really go wrong with this. If you think it's a bit pricey, a slightly cheaper option is the Travelon Anti-Theft Classic large Backpack. 

Check price on Amazon

​10. Hanke Anti-Theft Carry-On Backpack

Hanke is an experienced brand that’s been producing high-quality luggage and bags for the past 20 years.


Here we’re reviewing and recommending their 18-inch anti-theft carry-on backpackwhich is targeted at business travellers, leisure travellers and students alike. 

The bag has been awarded the “Amazon’s choice” label on account of its excellency. 


This backpack isn't as heavy on the anti-theft features as some of the others that we've examined, so it will probably only appeal to those who are looking for a bag with only a moderate level of protection against theft.


The first thing to note about this backpack is that its capacity can be expanded from 19L up to 27L capacity via a zipper on the outside of the bag, so it’s significantly larger than you’d initially suspect.


On the outside one’s attention is drawn to the durable, aluminium alloy carry handle, the padded, ergonomic S-shaped shoulder straps, the padded airflow back panel and the slim, low-profile design.


The backpack is constructed from a durable, tear-resistant, water-repellent, high-density polyester fabric, although there’s no rain cover provided with the backpack. The metal zipper pulls are lockable and are of high quality


The Hanke anti-theft carry-on backpack has a quick-access front zip pocket and two main compartments behind it.


The multi-functional compartment at the front has a padded laptop sleeve that can easily hold a 15.6” laptop (with a Velcro strap to keep it firmly in place), a pen holder, a regular pocket and a special RFID-blocking pocket for protecting your chip-enabled cards and passports from electronic theft.


The spacious main compartment is the expandable one and is designed for storing clothes and other large items, as well as smaller items. It can be opened out afull 180° for easy loading and access to the contents.  

An x-shaped strap inside this main compartment prevents your clothes from getting jostled around inside the bag when you’re on the move.


On the inside of the opening panel there’s a zippered mesh pocket and a zippered see-through pocket (these two pockets are designed for keeping dry and wet items separated), as well as a small drawstring pouch for securely holding a water bottle.


Expandable from 18 L to 27 L

Ergonomic design

Lockable metal zippers

RFID-blocking pocket


No side stretch pockets

No slashproofing

No integrated rain cover

Is the Hanke Anti-Theft Carry-On Backpack For YOU?

If you're looking for a very inexpensive, medium-sized, expandable daypack for travel and you're happy with just a couple of very basic security features, the Hanke anti-theft carry-on backpack might appeal to you, although it is a shame that this bag doesn't have side stretch pockets. 

Check price on Amazon

​11. Pacsafe Metrosafe LS350 Anti-Theft Travel Backpack

Dimensions: 16.5” x 11.6” x 5.1” (42 x 29.5 x 13 cm)

Weight: 1 lb 7 oz (0.66 kg)

Material: 210D nylon full dull hitra

Capacity: 15 L

Available colours: Earth Khaki, Black, Dark Tweed, Deep Navy


The Pacsafe Metrosafe LS350 is an ultralight, compact, low-profile, anti-theft daypack that’s perfect as a carry-on for minimalists or those who aren’t going abroad for very long. 


The backpack is made in the main from durable 210D nylon full dull hitra material, while the lining is made from 75D Polyester herringbone dobby.


Like other Pacsafe anti-theft backpacks, the fabric is embedded on the sides, front and bottom panels with eXomesh Slashguard, a stainless-steel wire mesh that makes it highly slash-resistant. The adjustable shoulder straps are also reinforced with steel wire for superior cut resistance

Another security feature of the bag is the turn & lock security hook for outsmarting bag snatchers. 

This mechanism allows the shoulder strap to be securely tethered to a fixed object like a railing or seat leg so that a thief can't easily snatch it and run. For added security, all the zippers that this backpack uses are high-quality YKK zippers.


The backpack also has a haul loop and two stretchy side pockets on the outside for a water bottle or umbrella.


The Pacsafe Metrosafe LS350 has only two compartments - a smaller front compartment and a larger main one.


The front compartment features a zippered mesh pocket, a padded sleeve that’s compatible with a tablet or iPad Mini, a pen holder and a few other pockets for holding mobile phones and other small items. There’s also a key clip here for attaching keys or a wallet.


The zipper pulls for this front compartment can be locked down to a security clip on the exterior of the backpack and they become partially hidden inside a tab when secured in place.


The main compartment has a padded laptop sleeve that’ll fit a 13” Macbook. This compartment also has a zippered RFID-blocking pocket for thwarting criminals that might try to scan your credit cards or steal your identity with RFID readers. 

Your wallet can be tethered to a wallet clip on the inside of the RFID-blocking pocket for extra security.


The zippers of the main compartment can be secured to the Lockabout security clip, which can also be padlocked for extra security. 


Ultralight and compact

eXomesh Slashguard and cut-resistant shoulder straps

Turn & lock security hook for tethering

Securable zipper pulls

RFID-blocking zip pocket


No integrated rain cover

No side pockets

Is the Pacsafe Metrosafe LS350 Anti-Theft Travel Backpack For YOU?

Pacsafe backpacks are always heavy on the anti-theft features, but this one is smaller than the others in our roundup. If a small daypack is what you're in the market for, then this bag will be a great choice. It's cheaper than the larger Pacsafe anti-theft backpacks too.

Check price on Amazon

​Anti-Theft Backpack Buyer's Guide & FAQ

This is the FAQ section of the article where we answer all of your most frequently asked questions about anti-theft backpacks and discuss what you need to be keeping in mind when comparing the different anti-theft backpack options on the market.

​Why travel with an anti-theft backpack?

So, do you really need an anti-theft backpack or will a regular backpack do? Are anti-theft backpacks just another gimmick?


The truth is that you probably don’t need an anti-theft backpack for travel in every part of the world. There are a number of countries where rates of crime, pickpocketing, shoplifting and theft in general are very low.


However, even in these relatively “safe” countries you might be spending a lot of time in cities, where you’re likely to be in crowded situations (public buses, metro, marketplaces etc.) that make you more vulnerable to pickpockets and bag slashers.


If you’re planning a trip to a country where theft and pickpocketing is known to be problem, it’s highly recommended that you invest in an anti-theft backpack.


Latin America, for example, is the world’s most violent region and many travellers get robbed the first time they go there because they’re not properly equipped to frustrate the dexterous hands of skilled thieves who make a living by robbing tourists and locals.


European cities that draw tens of thousands of tourists from around the world every year are also major hotspots for pickpocketing incidents. Many travellers get pickpocketed in famous European cities like Barcelona, Madrid, Rome, Florence, Prague, Paris, Athens and Amsterdam.


Consider also the following pickpocketing statistics:

  • An estimated 400,000 incidents of pickpocketing occur around the world every single day.
  • An average of 600,000 incidents of pickpocketing occur each year in the UK alone.

  • The London Underground accounts for 63% of pickpocketing reported nationwide on the British Rail Network.

  • The New York Police Department reports 3,000 incidents of pickpocketing per month in New York City. Many more go unreported.

  •  33% of travel insurance claims are for lost or stolen items.

Although people don’t carry as much as cash nowadays as they did a couple of decades ago, skilled pickpockets can also now steal debit cards (they’re good at getting your PIN number too) and mobile phones, making it still a very lucrative profession.


Far from being on the decline, pickpocketing is actually on the rise in many American cities and it may be getting easier for pickpockets too because people are so distracted by their mobile phones all the time.


Anti-theft backpacks are definitely not a gimmick and they effectively do what they’re designed to do, which is to deter and repel thieves and theft attempts. 

​The benefits of travelling with an anti-theft backpack

Here are five benefits of travelling with an anti-theft backpack:

Deter robbery attempts


Anti-theft backpacks act as a deterrent because some thieves will be able to recognize that you’re wearing such a backpack and will discount you as a target for that very reason, as they know that their efforts to steal something from you will likely prove futile.


Even if a thief has never encountered an anti-theft backpack before, it’s not going to take him long to figure out that your backpack is an impenetrable fortress compared to the ones he’s tried to break into before, and he’ll probably call off the robbery attempt prematurely.


Thwart robbery attempts


If a thief is still determined to get into your backpack even after realizing that he’s up against a superior foe, an anti-theft backpack will put up a much greater fight against the thief than a regular backpack. It will withstand a great deal of abuse and efforts to slice, puncture, tear or force it open.


An anti-theft backpack is going to hold out for much longer than a normal backpack and in a time-sensitive situation that can mean that a thief is either forced to flee the scene empty-handed or ends up getting apprehended before he manages to breach the bag's defences.

Anti-theft backpack also protect you from a new breed of electronic pickpockets that try to steal the data on your biometric passport chip or credit cards using RFID readers.


Attain peace of mind


Travelling with an anti-theft backpack really does afford you greater peace of mind. You know that you’re less likely to be targeted by a thief in the first place and that if someone does try to rob you, the attempt is much more likely to fail.


Without being able to let down your guard, you can’t really enjoy your trip or properly connect to a place, so an anti-theft backpack has real value in helping you to really reap the benefits of visiting an unfamiliar destination.


Unlock new travel destinations


Having an anti-theft backpack will definitely give you a greater sense of security and this could mean that you now feel protected enough to visit countries or destinations that you were previously apprehensive about visiting because you had heard lots of reports of crime or pickpocketing incidents in those places.


Pack more liberally


Although it’s never a good idea to bring items of high monetary value with you on the road, having an anti-theft backpack might open up new possibilities in this regard. 

Maybe you always wanted to bring a nice necklace or a powerful laptop with you on the road, but you never felt confident enough to do so because you were too worried that the item would get damaged or stolen.


You might feel differently about bringing along these items if you have an anti-theft backpack, knowing well that the odds of your being robbed will be significantly reduced. 

Are anti-theft backpacks worth the money?

The very best anti-theft backpacks that possess a wide array of security features can cost a bit more than their regular backpack cousins. So, is it really worth paying the extra money for an anti-theft backpack?

I would say that an anti-theft backpack is worth paying the extra money for if:

(a) You're going to be carrying valuables that are collectively worth more than the backpack itself. It makes no sense to be carrying around thousands of dollars worth of electronic gadgets and other expensive gear and then not invest a few extra bucks on a backpack that will afford those items proper protection.

(b) You're going to be travelling in places where pickpocketing, bag snatching, bag slashing and other types of petty theft against outsiders are a common occurrence.

Provided that these two conditions are satisfied, I think it would be well worth investing in an anti-theft backpack. However, even if you're not travelling to a part of the world where petty crime against tourists is common, you might still want to buy an anti-theft backpack if it affords you greater peace of mind and enables you to better enjoy your destination.

What techniques do pickpockets and other thieves employ to separate tourists from their valuables?

Pickpockets and thieves employ a wide range of techniques and strategies to relieve tourists of their mobile phones, laptops, tablets, e-readers, cameras, jewellery and other valuables. This topic deserves a dedicated article, but here we will briefly discuss the most common methods that these crooks use to get their hands on your property.

The elements of distraction and misdirection are common to a lot of the techniques, especially the pickpocketing techniques where the thief's aim is direct your attention away from what their hands are doing in order to rob you without your awareness.

Pickpockets will certainly take advantage of naturally occurring distractions in the environment, such as an ambulance that suddenly comes racing around a corner with sirens blaring. 

However, in situations where natural distractions are infrequent or their timing is unpredictable, pickpockets will usually devise their own ingenious methods of diverting your attention while they reach into your bag or pockets for the goodies they're after. 

Any situation where a stranger is trying to help you could potentially be setting you up for being pickpocketed so be very careful if any person is trying to get very close to you physically in the name of helping you out with something.

The favoured stomping grounds of thieves and especially pickpockets are confused, chaotic, overcrowded places like bustling markets and bazaars, busy pedestrianized streets, pilgrimage sites, overflowing commuter trains and buses at rush hour, concerts, festivals, stadiums, arenas and many other situations where people are densely packed together like sardines in a tin. 

People are naturally bumping into and brushing up against each other in these kinds of places, so it's less likely that a target will notice or think much of the subtle sensation that he might feel as the pickpocket's hand tugs at his backpack zipper or slips into his pocket to grab his phone or wallet. There are also frequent, naturally occurring distractions in these types of environments that keep people's attention diverted.

And even if you know that someone is fiddling at your pockets in such a scenario, it's more difficult to pinpoint exactly who the culprit is, since you're surrounded by so many people and the crowd is constantly shifting. Therefore, you should be especially vigilant for thieves in these kinds of situations. 

Alright, now we'll go over a few of the common techniques.

The defilement trick

The most well-known example of this trick is the notorious bird poo scam, which is most commonly associated with the Spanish city of Barcelona. The scam begins when a person deliberately spills a slimy concoction resembling bird poo on the target's clothing when he or she is looking the other way.

The target is then notified that a bird just shat on them and the helpful stranger produces a tissue or a cloth, offering to help the target clean up the mess. If the tourist is carrying a bag, he will be strongly encouraged to set it down on the ground for a moment so that the Good Samaritan can better assist with the cleanup. 

While the tourist is distracted with the cleanup operation, an accomplice swoops in and makes off with any unattended bags or extracts anything of value from the victim's pockets. Another variation of this trick you might have come across involves mustard being "accidentally" spilled on the target's clothes by a person who got a little too close while eating a hot dog.

The disoriented tourist

In this trick a local thief pretending to be a tourist approaches you with a big fold-out map while pretending to be lost or disorientated. He passes the map over to you so that you can try to figure out where he's trying to get to and what directions you need to give him. While your attention is absorbed by the map and your peripheral vision obstructed by it, the thief seizes the opportunity to steal things from your bag or pockets.

The staged fight

Another common technique used by pickpockets to distract a target is the staged fight, where two people initiate a mock fight somewhere, perhaps on the street, at a park, or in a bar. The only purpose of the spectacle of course is to draw the target's attention while the pickpocket stealthily empties his pockets or backpack.

The concealed hand

In this technique the pickpocket uses an item of clothing or a newspaper to conceal the fact that his hand is dipping into a person’s bag or trouser pockets.


The technique is commonly used on British subway trains to prevent other passengers from noticing what the pickpocket is doing and the prop also prevents the victim from seeing what is unfolding if he happens to look down. 

The bump

This is usually the method of choice for the pickpocket who is operating solo. The perpetrator will deliberately bump into you quite forcefully on the street, while simultaneously reaching his hand into your pocket and extracting the valuables therein.


The pickpocket immediately apologizes afterwards, pretending that the collision happened by accident. You are so startled and confused at the moment the pickpocket bumps into you that you don’t notice as he voids your pockets. By the time you register that your pockets feel unusually light, the thief is already long gone with your valuables.

The easy dip

With this technique, the pickpocket usually picks a target that is just about to board a train or bus. The technique is especially common at metro stations.


The target is chosen based on how easy they are to rob - if the victim's bag is not properly closed or their wallet is protruding out of their back pocket they will make an ideal target.


When the victim is stepping onto the train or bus, the pickpocket will swiftly approach from behind and pinch the person’s phone or wallet out of their bag or pocket.


The victim then obliviously rides away on the train or bus, and unless the person realizes what has just transpired before the doors of the train close or the bus pulls away, the chances of being able to chase down the thief are next to nil. 

The swarm of street urchins

Street children are often used to do the bidding of adult pickpockets. In this technique, a group of raggedly dressed street urchins will suddenly descend upon a tourist like a swarm of bees and will start tugging at his/her clothes while insistently demanding money, pens, chocolate or sweets.


While being besieged with so many pleas, questions and demands from every direction, the tourist succumbs to sensory overload and distraction, while the children capitalize on this opportunity to pickpocket him. 

The fake street dancer

Another common ploy that pickpockets use is to engage the target in some impromptu street dancing. While the victim is distracted with all the dancing an accomplice moves in to pickpocket him or her.

The door barricade

One strategy that pickpocketing gangs often employ is for all the members of the gang to form a human wall that physically blocks the doorway of a train or bus when it's time for the target to disembark at their stop.


As the target battles his way through this human barricade to avoid missing his stop, the gang members take advantage of all the commotion by pickpocketing him.


Another variation of this is the flash mob, where a huge gang of people suddenly boards the train or bus and starts deliberately knocking into the target from all sides. They all alight together at the next stop, usually some time before the victim realize that a few of his belongings have gone missing.

A similar technique is also used on escalators, where an accomplice stands in front of the victim and the pickpocket stands behind. The accomplice deliberately obstructs the exit when the escalator reaches the top, causing the victim to collide with him. This creates enough of a hullaballoo for the pickpocket to rob the target.

Another similar variant occurs at turnstiles like the ones you see in some train stations. As the target passes through the turnstile the pickpocket will sneak in behind them like a typical fare dodger. However, in this case the thief actually uses their physical proximity to pickpocket the target as they're both passing through the turnstile.

The drive-by snatch 'n' grab

Although I never experienced it, I first became aware of this technique from a Lonely Planet guidebook the first time I visited Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia. 

Some tourists visiting the city had had bags, purses, cameras, mobile phones and other valuables snatched right out of their hands or off their shoulders by men driving by on a motorbike or moped while they were walking alongside the street. This technique is also commonly used to snatch necklaces from women's necks.

There will often be two people on the motorcycle; either the driver or the passenger will yank the desired item out of your hand or off your body as the vehicle drives by. Being on a motorcycle means they can make a quick getaway with your property so that giving pursuit is futile.

Bag and pocket slashing

Slashing is a very crafty and surreptitious method of stealing that usually goes completely unnoticed by the victim if executed competently.


The technique is often used in situations where a thief can’t easily obtain access to the contents of your bag or your trouser pockets; maybe you’ve padlocked your backpack’s zippers or zipped up your pockets, or maybe the thief just finds this technique to be more reliable.


How slashing works is that a thief will use some kind of a discreet or concealable blade (like a penknife or razor blade) to slash open the fabric of your trouser pockets or your backpack. 

In the case of slashing your pants pockets, most thieves will make an incision wherever is most convenient and they are usually skilled enough to do this without accidentally cutting your leg in the process.The thief will usually have to cut through two layers of fabric to gain access to the contents of your pocket, because most pockets consist of a separate fabric pouch that hangs down inside your pants.bAfter making the incision in the pocket, the thief will reach in and extract the contents,


In the case of thieves cutting open backpacks, thieves know that many travellers keep their important documents, wallet, phone and their point-and-shoot camera in the small zippered front compartment of their backpack for easy access. They will often slash open this front compartment of the bag from behind, before reaching in to grab the sought-after items without the victim noticing. Thieves will also sometimes cut through one of the bag's side panels and reach into the main compartment to see what they can grab.


Another technique is to slash the underside of the bag’s main compartment or the bottom of the front compartment so that the contents spill out onto the ground, to be promptly gathered up by the thief.


Thieves will also slash the shoulder straps of bags if they’re attempting to steal the entire bag rather than just the valuable items within. If you’ve slung your bag over one shoulder instead of wearing it properly over both shoulders, a thief only has to slash one of the straps to easily separate the bag from you.


Most ordinary backpacks have a thin and easily cut strip of webbing material that connects the base of the shoulder strap to the body of the bag. This strip of webbing is for adjusting the length of the straps but it leaves travellers very vulnerable to this type of theft. 

​What to look for when choosing an anti-theft backpack for travel

When choosing an anti-theft backpack for travel, you not only have to weigh up all the usual factors that you would take into account when choosing a regular backpack, but now you also have to pay special attention to the security and anti-theft features of the backpack.


The factors to consider when choosing any backpack are things like frame type (internal, external, frameless), fit, aesthetics (shape, style, colour etc.), material (durability, water-resistance etc.) volume (capacity), comfort & adjustability, weight distribution (shoulder straps, chest strap, sternum strap), ventilation for your back, cushioning or padding for your laptop and other fragile items, organization and accessibility, price and so on. We discuss these factors in detail in our guide to the best carry-on backpacks for travel.


All these factors remain very important when choosing an anti-theft backpack, but in this case you also need to pay special attention to what security features the backpack possesses (or does not possess). 

We'll now discuss the eight security features commonly found in anti-theft backpacks and the importance of each one. 


No access front


Anti-theft backpacks often employ a no access front, which means that there are no zippers or other ways to access the interior of the backpack on the front or sides of the bag.


These anti-theft backpacks normally have a single zippered opening panel on the back of the bag, which means that the wearer’s back is always pressed against the sole access point of the bag and is protecting the zipper from the hands of pickpockets (provided the backpack is worn normally).


This makes it almost impossible, even for expert thieves and pickpockets, to unzip the backpack and access the contents without the wearer noticing. Thieves who are unfamiliar with the design will be left scratching their heads wondering where the opening is.


This design also means that the backpack opens up like a suitcase or clamshell instead of having the usual (highly vulnerable) zippered front, middle and rear compartments or top drawstring opening that normal backpacks have.


Some no front access anti-theft backpacks do have a zippered front pocket or other pockets on the outside, but these are usually only designed for keeping non-valuable or temporary items like snacks, and often the pockets are cleverly hidden so that they would be overlooked by most thieves.


Slash-resistant shoulder straps


Slash-resistant shoulder straps are a standard feature in most anti-theft backpacks and their function is to prevent a thief from slashing one or both of the straps so that he can more easily snatch the bag off the wearer’s shoulders before making a run for it.


Shoulder straps are usually made slash-resistant by running strands of metal wire through the straps of the backpack, so that a knife or razor blade will be stopped by the resistant metal as it tries to slice through the fabric.


Slash-resistant body panels


A good anti-theft backpack will be fabricated from a naturally tough, slash-resistant and puncture-resistant material, which will often have a stainless steel wire mesh embedded in it for extra reinforcement. This wire mesh should run through all the exposed body panels (sides, front and bottom) so that the bag has no vulnerable areas.


This is important because many thieves will bypass the zipper and try to slice the fabric open with a blade to gain quick access to the contents or in the hope that items will fall out of the bottom of the backpack through the newly created wound.


Securable zipper pulls


Many anti-theft backpacks feature zipper pulls that can be locked together using an integrated locking mechanism, thereby negating the need for you to carry a separate luggage lock.


Others allow the zippers to be fastened to a concealed clip that’s difficult for a thief to get at and undo without alerting the wearer. At the very minimum, an anti-theft backpack should provide high-quality dual zipper pulls for all the important compartments that can be locked together using a luggage lock.


Puncture-resistant zippers


Did you know that the interlocking teeth of most backpack zippers can be easily punctured by applying pressure with a ballpoint pen, scissors or other pointed object. You can verify how easy it is to do this for yourself and there are plenty of videos on YouTube demonstrating the technique.


Once the pointed instrument has penetrated through the teeth of the zipper and an initial opening has formed, the thief can just pull apart the rest of the teeth with ease, gaining full access to the bag.


Anti-theft backpacks sometimes come with puncture-resistant zippers that aren’t so easily defeated with this crude technique.


Tethering or anchor system


Some anti-theft backpacks have a mechanism for securely tethering the bag to an immovable object, such as a pole, seat leg or railing. Sometimes a steel locking cable will be provided with the backpack for this purpose, or the slash-resistant tail of one of the shoulder straps might also be used as the tether by looping it around the anchor point.


This is a very useful feature to have if you’re in an area where bag snatchers operate. These thieves will go for your entire bag by doing a snatch and run, and a bag that’s not strongly secured to anything sturdy is a prime target for this type of theft. 

Having a way to tether your bag will give you peace of mind during overnight bus and train journeys, or if you ever have to spend a few hours sleeping in an airport or other transport hub.


Hidden pockets


Anti-theft backpacks often have hidden or discrete interior and/or exterior pockets that thieves are very likely to overlook if they’re unfamiliar with the backpack model that you’re wearing.


If a thief manages to gain access to the inside of your backpack, one of your last lines of defence is to have your valuables hidden away inside one of these secret interior pockets. 


RFID blocking pocket or slot


Many anti-theft backpacks come equipped with an RFID blocking pocket where you can securely keep credit cards and biometric passports without worrying that they’ll be scanned by someone in possession of an RFID reader. 

This feature however is more of a garnish than anything else since the risk of having your sensitive data compromised in this way is mainly theoretical, with there having been very few, if any documented cases of this type of theft. 

Still, it's nice to know that you can't be pickpocketed electronically and in the future it's possible that we might see more of this type of theft as more and more countries roll out biometric passports and societies become increasingly cashless.

How many of these security features does an anti-theft backpack need to have?

In reality, not all anti-theft backpacks incorporate all of these features, although the more expensive anti-theft backpacks made by brands like Pacsafe usually do. Some anti-theft backpacks are aimed at people on a budget and so they won’t come with all the bells and whistles.


Obviously, the more safety features that an anti-theft backpack has, the better protected it will be against theft. Thieves can operate in a lot of different ways; snatching, slashing, pickpocketing, electronic theft etc. and a really good anti-theft backpack will guard against all the ways that you might be robbed.


If you’re on a tight budget though, you might have to compromise on a few security features, so just research the methods of theft that are most prevalent in the destination(s) you’re planning to visit and buy a backpack that protects against those methods.

​How to travel with an anti-theft backpack

One thing you’ll notice when reading the reviews in this article is that many of the anti-theft backpacks we’ve listed are small or medium-sized, but larger anti-theft backpacks with 40 litres or more of volume are less commonly encountered. 

This is just the nature of the market, as most of the consumer demand is for smaller anti-theft bags.


If you'd consider yourself a weekend-getaway traveller or one that has a very minimalist packing style these small or medium-sized anti-theft backpacks may be sufficient as a standalone carry-on bag for you, but if you're planning a longer trip or if you simply like to travel with a lot of luggage, you will need to take a different approach.


If you need more volume, it’s recommended that you travel with two bags; one large, primary bag that will go onto the plane as checked luggage, and a small or medium-sized anti-theft backpack that you can take inside the cabin as hand luggage. 

Any valuables that you’re bringing will go inside the anti-theft backpack, while clothing and other items that a thief probably wouldn’t be interested in can be packed inside your checked luggage. 

When you reach your destination you can use the anti-theft backpack as an extra-secure daypack while sightseeing or when partaking in daily activities.

​What is the best anti-theft travel backpack?

Determining the best anti-theft travel backpack is pretty subjective, but if by best we mean the most secure, then it would have to be the first option on our list, the Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP45.


This backpack has a long list of security features that cover all the different angles of attack that a thief might come in from, making it a superior backpack for keeping your valuables safe on the road.

​What is the cheapest anti-theft travel backpack?

The Hanke anti-theft carry-on backpack and the Oscaurt anti-theft travel laptop backpack are the two most affordable backpacks in our roundup. Both of them only cost around $30 on Amazon, so if you're on a tight budget, one of these might be your best bet.


Well there you have it, our 11 top anti-theft backpack picks for 2020 and our anti-theft backpack buyer's guide and FAQ.

As you surely must have noticed while reading through the article, no one anti-theft backpack has everything or works for everyone, so it's always going to be a matter of knowing your needs, priorities and preferences and choosing the backpack that best caters to them.

We hope that you found something in our roundup that took your fancy and if you didn't then all we can say is that the anti-theft backpack manufacturers ought to up their game for next year.

Until next year then, happy and safe travels!

If you enjoyed this article or found it useful, please share it with other travellers. Do you travel with an anti-theft backpack? Are there any other anti-theft backpacks that you think should have made the cut? We always value your feedback so please leave us a comment below and we'll reply to you as soon as we can. 

Liked this article?

Stay in touch! Get FREE e-mail updates and exclusive travel tips & hints delivered straight to your inbox. Just enter your details below and hit the green button to join.


Get FREE exclusive travel tips delivered straight to your inbox!




Our names are Eoghan and Jili and we hail from Ireland and India respectively.

We are two ardent shoestring budget adventure travellers and have been travelling throughout Asia continuously for the past few years. 

Having accrued such a wealth of stories and knowledge from our extraordinary and transformative journey, our mission is now to share everything we've experienced and all of the lessons we've learned with our readers. 

Do make sure to subscribe above in order to receive our free e-mail updates and exclusive travel tips & hints. If you would like to learn more about our story, philosophy and mission, please visit our about page.

Never stop travelling!



Travel Guides
Travel Tips
Travel Guides
Travel Tips