The 7 Best Anti-Theft Bags and Backpacks for Safer Travel in 2023
Take your next trip in safety and style with these seven best anti-theft bags.
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Whether you’re planning a family vacation or traveling solo, you’ll want to invest in an anti-theft bag. Tourists and visitors are commonly the targets of theft and pickpocketing, so it doesn’t hurt to have one for your next vacation.
If you heard “anti-theft” and immediately thought of a fanny pack or belt bag tucked under clothes, don’t worry because secure accessories have gotten a major upgrade. From a glance, they look like regular bags but with subtle, built-in safety features for stress-free travel.
“A good anti-theft bag includes slash-resistant panels, locking zippers, cut-resistant double cable strap construction and RFID-protected pockets,” says Devon Pike, President of Baggallini. From laptop backpacks to carry-on options, there’s an anti-theft travel accessory that suits any type of trip.
Best anti-theft bags and backpacks
- Best overall: Pacsafe Metrosafe X Anti-Theft Compact Crossbody Bag
- Best budget: Travelon Anti-Theft Classic Mini Shoulder Bag
- Best for work and play: Solgaard Lifepack Backpack
- Best splurge: Peak Design Travel Backpack
- Best backpack: Baggallini Securtex Anti-Theft Vacation Backpack
- Best crossbody: Travelon Anti-Theft Crossbody Bucket Bag
- Best sling: Pacsafe Vibe 325 Econyl Sling Pack
Pacsafe Metrosafe X Anti-Theft Compact Crossbody Bag
Pacsafe is known for its high-quality, highly functional bags, and its sleek and secure crossbody bag gets our vote for best overall because it checks all the boxes for anti-theft bags and more. First, this crossbody bag is lightweight and compact enough not to bog you down while browsing local attractions but roomy enough to fit all the essentials needed for exploring. The bag boasts a padded sleeve that fits up to an 8-inch tablet, plenty of internal pockets and an easy-access external pocket.
Now for what makes it secure, the Metrosafe features a locking mechanism at the top of the main compartment and a secured zipper for the front pocket. The detachable clip locks the bag to something if needed, and the built-in wires throughout prevent thieves from slashing the bag or straps. Lastly, the bag’s RFID-lined pockets mean passports and credit cards remain safe and sound.
- Locking mechanism
- RFID lining
- Made from recycled PET fabric
- Comfortable straps
Only two color options
Travelon Anti-Theft Classic Mini Shoulder Bag
If you’re looking for an option that won’t break the bank, this shoulder bag from Travelon fits the bill. With over 5,700 five-star ratings, it’s not hard to see why travelers love it. The bag provides the storage and security needed while traveling, at an affordable price point.
This mini bag is perfect for packing light, fitting just the essentials, and also comes with a tethered key clip with an LED light that many reviewers rave about. While small in size, it doesn’t lack any anti-theft features. The main zipper locks to keep belongings safe and both the lower part of the bag and straps are slash-proof.
The bag also features a thoughtful design detail: The interior fabric is a lighter color to make it easier to find what you’re looking for in a pinch. Living up to its name, the design of this classic shoulder bag is simple enough to complement any outfit.
“It’s very cute and not very big. It’s also super lightweight. The wide strap makes it very comfortable to wear cross-body or over one shoulder and it has lots of very convenient and well-designed zippered pockets. It gives me a sense of security that it would be difficult to steal or break into this purse when I am in a crowded place. I definitely recommend it,” writes verified purchaser Lana C.
- RFID lining
- Locking straps
- Lots of color options
- Over 7,300 Amazon ratings and a 4.6-star average
Smaller so may not fit everything needed for a longer trip
Best for work and play
Solgaard Lifepack Backpack
There’s a reason why this backpack is Solgaard’s flagship product. Let’s talk about its anti-theft features first. The sturdy and durable backpack features “a patented cable lock with a bright red cable—which acts as an excellent deterrent—to lock the bag to a fixed item, while simultaneously locking the pockets closed,” says Adrian Solgaard, CEO and Founder of Solgaard. Solgaard also mentions the four secret pockets built into the backpack, two on the back and two card slots on the straps, to keep things hidden but easily accessible.
One of this smart bag’s shining features is that it comes with a solar-powered, TSA-approved power bank that goes right on the front of the backpack, charging via the sun’s rays while exploring. The backpack’s “work” and “life” compartments and multiple pockets make it an ideal option for those working while traveling or even as an everyday work bag.
- Integrated USB port for charging on the go
- Fits up to a 15-inch laptop
- Fits over luggage handles
- Optional Bluetooth speaker upgrade
- Made from upcycled ocean plastic
Only two color options
Peak Design Travel Backpack
The best splurge goes to the Peak Design Travel Backpack. While a little pricier, it’s the ultimate one-bag travel option because it fits it all. Its 35L size means it works as a carry-on item on flights, but the backpack expands to 45L if you need the extra room. Tip: use small packing cubes to fit even more. The two side pockets also expand to house water bottles, umbrellas or even tripods.
The backpack allows full access from the back panel for easy packing (opens like a suitcase), along with a mesh divider and plenty of pockets to keep things organized. With access points at the rear, side, front and back, everything you need is close at hand. While this backpack fits an impressive amount, there’s no need to worry about the backpack getting too heavy thanks to the padded hip belt to help take the load off the back.
- Lockable zippers
- Hidden pockets
- Compression straps
Baggallini Securtex Anti-Theft Vacation Backpack
This stylish yet sturdy vacation backpack may be on the smaller side, but it holds more than you think. With lots of pockets, compartments and convenient open pockets on the sides, there’s a spot for everything you need throughout the day. The back pocket holds a tablet while the main compartment fits up to a 13-inch laptop.
Charge your phone without having to hold the portable charger with a discreetly delightful design feature that feeds the cord through a small opening in the bag. Another feature that sets this backpack apart (and is also one of the most-loved features from reviewers) is the RFID-lined, built-in wallet, ensuring credit cards and passports are safe, secure and easily accessible. “The exterior wallet exists on the back of the bag, so it’s not facing out,” Pike explains.
- Slash-resistant panels and straps
- RFID-lined built-in wallet
- Locking zippers
- Holds up to a 13-inch laptop
On the smaller side so wouldn’t be ideal as the only bag on longer trips
Travelon Anti-Theft Crossbody Bucket Bag
If backpacks aren’t your cup of tea, this crossbody bucket bag with over 5,000 five-star ratings, fits just as much as a travel backpack with all the usual anti-theft features. It includes lockable zippers to keep valuables safe, a slash-resistant body and straps to prevent it from being cut off, lockable straps to secure the bag to a fixed object and RFID-lined pockets and slots to protect passports and credit cards. Plus it’s water-resistant, keeping things dry when it rains, and dirt-resistant, making it easy to clean.
“I purchased one of these purses in 2019 to travel to Egypt. I loved it so much I had to get a new one in a different color.” shares five-star reviewer, Deborah Brosnan. “Amazing amount of room in the purse itself. Love the fact that you can clip the zippers closed for security. There are lots of pockets to keep everything organized, yet, accessible. The adjustable strap stays at the length you set it at. Cut-proof fabric is well made, and so is all the hardware on and in the purse.”
- Adjustable shoulder straps
- Removable LED light
- Side extension pockets
- Lots of color options
- Lockable zippers and straps
- Over 6,600 Amazon ratings and a 4.6-star average
Side pockets aren’t as deep as others
Pacsafe Vibe 325 Econyl Sling Pack
Don’t let the size fool you, this sling packs a lot compared to other anti-theft bags. There’s a padded sleeve for a tablet (reviewer Aaron E. said the bag even fits a 14-inch MacBook in the main compartment), as well as plenty of internal pockets to keep all the essentials organized and within easy access.
The material is not only slash-proof, but it also contains discarded fishing nets and other nylon waste. The sling style makes the bag a versatile option: Wear it on your back or swing it around to wear it across the front. Plus, it comes in handy when visiting places like museums that may not allow backpacks.
- Wide, comfortable strap
- RFID lining
- Fits an 11-inch tablet
- Locking zipper
Only two color options
What to consider when buying anti-theft bags
There are a few things to keep in mind while shopping. First is the weight. The last thing you want is to lug around a heavy bag when exploring the local scene. Another thing to consider is the material. Many anti-theft bags these days feature water-resistant nylon, making it easy to clean if there’s a spill but also keeps things dry if there’s a sudden downpour. Next up is style. The good news is that options come in all shapes and sizes. From backpacks to shoulder bags to crossbody bags, it’s not hard to find a style that fits your taste on your next flight or trip.
Types of anti-theft bag safety features
Locking zippers: A standard feature, locking zippers have small latches to prevent pickpockets from opening the bag too easily.
Slash-proof material: To prevent thieves from cutting the straps, anti-theft travel bags will often have wire built inside the straps and feature material that can’t be slashed.
Locking hardware: If you’re into items like a portable door lock, then you’ll definitely opt for locking hardware. Similar to how you would lock a bike, locking hardware secures the bag to an object like a chair or table to prevent thieves from running off with the bag when it’s not being worn.
RFID lining: Many bags have RFID (radio frequency identification) lining to ensure credit card information and passports can’t be accessed electronically with a scanning device or reader.
Secret pockets: Secret compartments on the straps or within the bag itself keep important items hidden and safe.
Choosing the best anti-theft bags
As shopping experts, our only job is to help you find a winning product. We start with the research and reporting basics—what products are made of, what they look like and how much they cost—to ensure that we’re only recommending the buys that are worth your time and money. Then, we research the features that speak to the product’s quality, taking advice from industry insiders and subject matter experts on what makes a product a smart value (or worthy of a splurge). Finally, we do the work of combing through user reviews to see how real people interact with the product, and if it stands up to the test.
Are anti-theft bags worth it?
With thieves commonly targeting tourists, they are a useful option for keeping belongings safe and secure while exploring a new (or familiar) destination. These days, there are plenty of options to choose from in a variety of sizes, styles and colors that are as secure as they are stylish.
Ultimately, whether it’s worth it is up to each individual, but if security is a concern or if you want some extra peace of mind, an anti-theft travel bag is something you’ll never want to travel without.
How common is bag theft?
Unfortunately, bag theft and pickpocketing are prevalent, especially in places with a lot of people. “Theft happens anywhere and tourist hotspots are convenient places for criminals to target holidaymakers’ wallets and purses whilst they are busy taking in the sites,” shares Greg Wilson, Founder and CEO of Quotezone.co.uk, in their European Pickpocketing Index.
While European cities are often popular travel destinations, Quotezone.co.uk analyzed thousands of online travel reviews to “rank the most popular European holiday destinations by the proportion of pickpocketing mentions in visitor reviews of each country’s top five tourist attractions,” and Italy, France and the Netherlands topped the list. According to irishexaminer.com, “Every day, an estimated 400,000 travelers are victims of pickpockets somewhere in the world.”
What type of anti-theft bag is best to prevent pickpocketing?
While it’s best to look for a bag that has as many security features as possible, the most common features are locking zippers and slash-proof material.
For Solgaard, the best type is having one in the first place: “In order to survive a bear attack, you don’t need to be faster than the bear, but you’ve got to be faster than the guy ahead of you. Sadly, this rings true for anti-theft bags as well. [It] isn’t only necessarily about the strongest lock, but also having the bag act as a deterrent, so the “would-be theft” moves on to the next target,” he notes.
About the experts
- Devon Pike: Devon Pike is the president of Baggallini, a female-founded company that creates functional, stylish bags to enhance the lives of modern women in this ever-changing world. Pike has been president of Baggallini for nearly three years.
- Adrian Solgaard: Adrian Solgaard is the founder and CEO of Solgaard, who started the company when Adrian had an idea for a backpack with a solar panel. Six weeks later they launched Lifepack.
- Greg Wilson: Greg Wilson is an engineer, an entrepreneur and the founder & CEO of Quotezone.co.uk’s parent company, Seopa Ltd.
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