The 6 Best Anti-theft Backpacks of 2022 | Tested by Travel + Leisure

2022-12-12 23:10:36 By : Ms. River He

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If a backpack is your preferred way to tote your belongings, you might want to invest in an anti-theft model. But what makes a backpack "anti-theft?" A few things. First, most are made with an extra-tough, anti-slash material that makes it extremely difficult for would-be thieves to cut their way inside your bag. Second, the zippers are usually hidden by flaps, so it often looks like there's no way into the bag. Finally, many anti-theft backpacks come with tools like locking cables, combination locks, and RFID-blocking technology (which we provide more detail about later). Pokemon Backpack

The 6 Best Anti-theft Backpacks of 2022 | Tested by Travel + Leisure

We tested 14 anti-theft backpacks in our product testing lab, putting their security features to the test by attempting to cut through exteriors and identify and break through locks and zippers. We found PacSafe to be the best brand for anti-theft backpacks. Our number one pick? The PacSafe Venturesafe Exp45 Econyl Anti-theft Carry-On Travel Pack — it's comfortable, spacious, and held up to our tests well. For more options, keep reading to find the best anti-theft backpacks to buy right now.

Why We Love It: The handles and straps are well padded, so it's comfortable to carry both as a backpack and a weekender bag.

What to Consider: It's a bit heavier than some of the other backpacks we tested.

With a 45-liter capacity, this backpack—the highest scorer on our tests—is big enough to replace your carry-on yet comfortable enough to wear for extended periods of time. All the straps and handles are well cushioned for comfort on shoulders and hands, and it has hip and chest belts to distribute weight. Buyers will want to keep in mind that this is not so much a day-to-day pack as it is a piece for extended trips or even backpacking.

The bag has a lot of great anti-theft features, including four lockable zippers, a stainless steel locking cable that you can attach to any fixture (lock not included), and cut-resistant materials. Lock the zippers by connecting the zippers to each other, then hooking them onto a built-in clasp (there's also a flap that obscures the zippers and clasp). During the slash test, we found that the bag shows cuts, but it's not easy to get into with a knife. This combination of security features makes it nearly impossible to access the bag when worn, providing peace of mind—though, of course, that also means there isn't a great way for the wearer to quickly access items inside.

Our testers found plenty more to love. There are lots of pockets, including a large zip mesh pocket, a medium-sized zip mesh pocket, a medium-sized nylon pocket, a nylon pocket for pens/pencils, and a medium-sized nylon bag for the locking cable. A velcro laptop sleeve fits a 13-inch Macbook with room to spare, and there's a side pocket for a water bottle. The bag also has external attachment points for a sleeping bag or jacket. A 270-degree clamshell opening makes it easy to pack—our testers estimate that efficient packers could fit somewhere between one to two weeks' worth of clothes inside.

It's a bit heavy, but that's to be expected for the size. And testers did note that the zipper lock has a learning curve, so buyers should make time to practice before using it on a trip.

Price at time of publish: $235

Dimensions: 21.7 x 13.8 x 8.7 inches | Weight: 3 pounds, 13 ounces | Capacity: 45 liters | Materials: Nylon and polyester | Waterproof: Water-resistant

Why We Love It: It's quite roomy and has plenty of pockets for organization.

What to Consider: The material is not as tough as that of other anti-theft backpacks.

This affordable backpack features a built-in three-digit combination zipper lock, and there's a hidden pocket on the back that can only be accessed when the bag isn't being worn. The exterior however is not slash proof, which makes sense given the lower price when compared to other backpacks on this list. Our testers loved how spacious this bag is and noted how the number of pockets makes it easy to organize belongings. That includes a large laptop pocket, plus a smaller padded pocket for a tablet. Compression straps on the sides also help pack things down more tightly. And the pack comes with a built-in USB cord for a powerbank.

We appreciate the padded straps and back, which make it comfortable to carry, and love the sleeve on the back that travelers can slide over a suitcase handle. With laptop and tablet compartments, a built-in USB cord, and several pockets for organizing, this roomy bag is a great value purchase that can securely hold all your essentials.

Price at time of publish: $30

Dimensions: 16.9 x 12.2 x 3.9 inches | Weight: 1 pound, 8 ounces | Capacity: Not listed | Materials: Nylon | Waterproof: Water-resistant

Why We Love It: Its padded, roomy interior is especially safe since there are zero exterior access points when the bag is being worn.

What to Consider: It's tough to access belongings quickly if you need something while on the go.

When we used a boxcutter to try to tear into this bag's slash-proof exterior, it only left scratch marks on the sides of the backpack. Needless to say, we were pleased with the toughness. We also liked that the zipper is on the lining of the back, so there's no exterior access point for anyone to get into the bag while it's being worn. That makes it especially secure and a great choice for people who have no plans to open the bag while in transit. It's got a sleek look and is smaller than some of the other packs on this list, and it even features a high-visibility reflective strip for bikers.

The main compartments are very large, and all the pockets are padded. There's also a USB charger cable attached, and a small, hidden pocket on the back can easily fit a phone.

It's difficult to get into if you need quick access; the snaps that are intended for an adjustable opening angle don't work very well. But overall this sleek bag is roomy, comfortable to tote, and essentially impossible to break into when it's on your back. You can rest easy knowing that no one is going to be able to reach in and steal your belongings on your trips to and from work.

Price at time of publish: $95

Dimensions: 16.5 x 11.4 x 4.7 inches | Weight: 1 pound, 15 ounces | Capacity: 13 liters | Materials: Not listed | Waterproof: Water-repellent

Why We Love It: It's compatible with a hydro-pack and comes with chest and hip straps.

What to Consider: The exterior fabric tore easily during our slashing test.

Our testers immediately identified this 25-liter bag from PacSafe as a great option for hikers. The padded back is cushy, and the adjustable chest and waist straps make for a comfortable wearing experience. It's also lightweight and hydro-pack compatible (there's an external water bottle pouch, too), and smart packers can easily fit a few outfits along with their trail essentials. There's also a padded laptop slot if you do use this for purposes other than outdoor adventure. This medium size bag is a great option if you prioritize comfort and like a more rugged look.

While the zipper lock makes it difficult to access the interior of the bag, we did notice that the outer fabric tears easily when cut, which is something to keep in mind.

Price at time of publish: $130

Dimensions: 19. 3 x 11 x 6 inches | Weight: 1 pound, 11 ounces | Capacity: 25 liters | Materials: Nylon and polyester | Waterproof: Water-resistant

Why We Love It: Thoughtful organizational features like a hidden clip for wallet or keys make it stand out.

What to Consider: The straps could be a little easier to adjust.

Our testers loved this bag. It has it all: padded shoulder straps and back, a zipper lock to protect your belongings from casual pickpocketing, and enough space to fit your travel essentials. There's a small, lockable hook for you to attach the bag to any fixture, say a hotel bed or table leg, and it has a hidden clip for a wallet or keys. In the main compartment is a 15-inch laptop pocket in the main compartment; the smaller compartment has a large zip mesh pouch, padded pockets, and three nylon pockets of varying sizes. The back has soft foam padding.

When we ran a slash through the bottom, the outermost layer of fabric did tear, but we just met foam; even though the textile cuts easily, the mesh prevented us from cutting a hole wide enough for things to fall out. A few slight nit picks: the water bottle pockets are very tight, making it difficult to get a 20-ounce bottle to fit, and the main compartment zipper occasionally caught on the inside of the bag. The straps could have been slightly easier to adjust as well. But good performance on our comfort, organization, and anti-theft property tests make this one highly recommended.

Price at time of publish: $140

Dimensions: 16.54 x 11.81 x 5.12 inches | Weight: 1 pound, 8 ounces | Capacity: 15 liters | Materials: Nylon and polyester | Waterproof: Water-resistant

Why We Love It: The interior organization features are outstanding, and the exterior held up particularly well during our slash test.

What to Consider: It's very hard to fit a water bottle in the side pouch, and there are no zipper locks.

This bag is tied for the lightest on our list, which is particularly impressive considering the amount of interior organization: three medium-sized pockets, three card pockets, and two pencil pockets in the front compartment; meanwhile, the main compartment features two passport-sized pockets and a laptop compartment that can fit a 13-inch Macbook. Our testers appreciated how the straps fit over the zipper leading into the laptop compartment so that it can't be opened up while you're wearing it. We also like the built-in USB cord for connection to a power bank and external charging.

The bag held up particularly well during our slash test: There were no marks after our initial swipes with a box cutter (though it can be cut with more effort). However, buyers should note that there are no zipper locks.

Price at time of publish: $46

Dimensions: 17.7 x 11.8 x 4.3 inches | Weight: 1 pound, 8 ounces | Capacity: Not listed | Materials: Nylon | Waterproof: Water-resistant

We tested 14 of the top anti-theft backpacks on the market for comfort, theft protection, and features. First, we filled each backpack with items we might carry around with us for a day of travel, including a laptop, book, magazine, headphones, phone charger, and water bottle. We observed any special features like organization pockets, pouches, charging capability, etc. Then we strapped it on and carried it around. We took note of how comfortable the bag was, calling out any special comfort features like adjustable straps, compression/weight distribution straps, and padding. We thought carefully about how long we would be able to comfortably carry each bag.

Next we got into the anti-theft portion of the testing. If a bag claimed to have slash-proof material, we took a box cutter to it, giving a couple of quick slashes to see how it held up. If it didn't yield any damage, we tried to really cut through it and see just how durable the material is. Next we evaluated how well compartments and zippers were hidden. For any that claimed to have hidden features, were they actually hidden or easily visible? We also tested the locking zippers on applicable bags (both those that had inherently locking zippers and ones that required us to use separate locks) for ease of use and functionality. For those that required a separate lock, we used this one.

One common anti-theft feature we didn't test for was RFID-blocking. RFID, which stands for radio frequency identification, is a technology used in credit cards, driver's license, and passports to wirelessly transmit information (think tap-to-pay, ID scanning, etc.). Some security experts have expressed concern that thieves could potentially use devices to obtain this information from a few feet away. In reality, theft via this method is rare, and it would be difficult to pull off. Plus, much RFID technology is used to emit one-time wireless signals that become useless after a transaction. All of our research shows that RFID-blocking is not as important as marketing materials seem to claim.

Eight of the bags we tested did not make our list of recommendations. They all had positive attributes, but a few things held them back.

Lewis N. Clark Locking Day Pack With Secura Lock Technology: Even though it contained useful features, our testers felt that its bulky, unattractive locking mechanism and noticeable lack of comfort were enough to keep it off the list.

Caraa The Studio Bag Small: While stylish, this bag wasn't comfortable to carry and did not have many of the anti-theft features the other bags had. One tester even felt it was just "an oversized dopp kit."

Peak Design Travel 45L Backpack: We appreciate its eco-friendly nature, but many of the features, like the locking zippers, are actually so complicated that it only created frustration for the testers.

Oscaurt Anti-theft Travel Backpack: It looks nice, but the material was extremely easy to cut through, and the laptop slot felt a little insecure.

Travelon Anti Theft Classic Backpack: Overall, we thought this bag was just "fine." No huge defects, but just not quite good enough to make the list.

Arden Cove Carmel Convertible Backpack and Crossbody: While the crossbody option was nice, the straps were uncomfortable and the fabric tore easily—two turnoffs, especially considering the price.

Matein Anti Theft Hard Shell Laptop Backpack 15.6 Inch: Although durable, our testers found it uncomfortable, and, even worse, the combination lock did not work.

Sherpani Dispatch Convertible Backpack Tote: While we appreciated that this bag can be worn multiple ways, the anti-theft properties were not as good as those of our winners.

Buying an anti-theft backpack is much like buying any other backpack: Some are best as carry-on luggage, some are better for everyday use, some are better for hiking, etc. So you'll want to be sure to consider size (around 15 liters is a good capacity for everyday use, while closer to 45 liters is better for a backpack acting as a piece of luggage) and interior organization features (are you just tossing in a bunch of clothes, or are you carrying laptops and tablets and wallets?). Beyond that, you'll want to look out for the basic anti-theft properties: hidden and/or lockable zippers, slash-proof exterior, hidden compartments, and other elements that might deter a potential thief.

A backpack is something you wear, so be sure it's comfortable. Looks for options with padded straps and adjustability. For larger backpacks, chest and hip straps can help reduce strain on your back and shoulders. An anti-theft backpack can have all the security features in the world, but if it hurts to wear, you won't use it.

If a bag you like has RFID-blocking, great. But don't fret if it doesn't, and certainly don't pay more just for that feature. As mentioned previously, theft through RFID-skimming is rare. While you could purchase a product with RFID-blocking tech for peace of mind, it's really not essential.

There are a few factors that make a backpack "anti-theft," and all of them are primarily aimed at deterring, if not offering full protection against, thieves. First, most anti-theft backpacks appear to have no visible access points, as zippers and pouches are hidden by flaps. Many will also have zipper "locks," which are often clasps that the zippers attach to so that a would-be robber faces a delay in trying to open the bag. Second, anti-theft backpacks are usually made with slash-proof material so that a person cannot simply slash open the bag with a knife or box cutter. Finally, many anti-theft backpacks come with additional security features like combination locks, cables for tying the bag to fixtures, and hidden compartments.

For the most part, anti-theft backpacks are only a bit more expensive than regular backpacks. You're usually paying for slash-proof material and a bit of extra hardware. But if you are the type of person who prefers a backpack for your work bag, your carry-on, or your sightseeing tote, you should consider an anti-theft model. If you're going to have a bag on you that often, the peace of mind is worth it.

Because of their safety features, most anti-theft backpacks should only be spot cleaned. Many anti-theft backpacks include built-in USB cords and locks that you wont want to submerge in water. The best way to clean your backpack would be to follow all of the manufacturer's instructions, which usually includes using a warm, soapy cloth to dab at stains.

Chris Abell is the Associate Editorial Director at Travel + Leisure and has been a travel writer and editor for several years. He and a team of travel editors planned this test; they researched to find what appeared to be the best anti-theft backpacks available and then designed a testing methodology. A team of editors then spent a full day in our onsite lab testing the 14 backpacks, with each one thoroughly vetted for comfort, organizational features, and anti-theft performance.

The 6 Best Anti-theft Backpacks of 2022 | Tested by Travel + Leisure

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