We Tested 14 Anti-theft Backpacks — Here Are the Best to Keep Your Valuables Safe
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).
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.
- Best Overall: PacSafe Venturesafe Exp45 Econyl Anti-theft Carry-On Travel Pack at Amazon
- Best Budget: AMBOR Business Travel Anti-theft Laptop Backpack at Amazon
- Best for Daily Commutes: XD Design Bobby Original Anti-theft Laptop USB Backpack at Amazon
- Best for Outdoor Adventure: PacSafe Venturesafe 25-Liter G3 Anti-theft Backpack at Amazon
- Best for Business Travel: Pacsafe Metrosafe LS350 Anti-theft 15-Liter Travel Backpack at Amazon
- Best Lightweight: KOPACK Lightweight Laptop Backpack at Amazon
T+L's Top Picks
Best Overall: PacSafe Venturesafe Exp45 Econyl Anti-theft Carry-On Travel Pack
Best Budget: AMBOR Business Travel Anti-theft Laptop Backpack
Best for Daily Commutes: XD Design Bobby Original Anti-theft Laptop USB Backpack
Best for Outdoor Adventure: PacSafe Venturesafe 25-Liter G3 Anti-theft Backpack
Best for Business Travel: Pacsafe Metrosafe LS350 Anti-theft 15-Liter Travel Backpack
Best Lightweight: KOPACK Lightweight Laptop Backpack
Our Testing Process
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.
Other Anti-theft Backpacks We Tested
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: While 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.
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.
Matein Anti Theft Hard Shell Laptop Backpack 15.6 Inch: Our testers found it uncomfortable, and, even worse, the combination lock did not work.
Oscaurt Laptop Backpack, Anti-theft Travel Backpack, Business School Bookbag: 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.
Caraa The Studio Bag Small: 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."
Arden Cove Carmel Convertible Backpack and Crossbody: The straps were uncomfortable and the fabric tore easily—two turnoffs, especially considering the price.
Sherpani Dispatch: While we appreciated that this bag can be worn multiple ways, the anti-theft properties were not as good as those of our winners.
Tips for Buying Anti-theft Backpacks
Consider Your Use Cases
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.
Don't Pay Up for RFID-Blocking
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an anti-theft backpack?
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.
Are anti-theft backpacks worth the higher prices?
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.
Why Trust Travel + Leisure
Chris Abell is the Senior Commerce Editor 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.
Up Next: The Best Laptop Backpacks for Travel
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