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By their nature backpacks are vulnerable to theft, and yet, we can’t avoid using them. Whether for travel, commuting or simply going about our daily lives, we need to take things with us when we leave home, and often those things are desirable to a thief.
Enter the anti-theft backpack.
While anti-theft backpacks can’t 100% guarantee your belongings won’t get targeted, they certainly reduce the risk and make your bag less of an easy target.
Don’t spend hours browsing getting overwhelmed by all the choices. I’ve done all the hard work for you. by choosing 15 of my favourite anti-theft backpacks to make life easier.
What is an Anti-Theft Backpack?
A backpack is a backpack, isn’t it? Well, no. Anti-theft backpacks have nifty features to make a thief’s job all the more difficult. From discreet pockets to lockable openings, these clever additions will free you up to go about your travels and daily life with a little less worry.
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No one design feature will render your backpack 100% theft-proof, nevertheless, the more features your bag has, the better chance it has.
As with any purchase, you’ll have to trade off the features with the price to find one that suits you.
Here are some of the features you will find in anti-theft backpacks and the benefits they provide:
One method thieves use to target your backpack is slashing open your bag and grabbing the contents before making a quick exit. Anti-rip material can prevent them from doing this. It can be made in various ways but usually involves weaving fine threads of metal within the material to toughen it up.
Cut Proof Straps
Cut-proof straps make the bag harder to target for theft, either by cutting the straps and removing the bag from you or from cutting the straps to free up the bag when you’ve anchored the bag to a table/chair etc.
Cut proof straps will usually have a wire skeleton that would require metal cutters to penetrate.
An anchor strap is used for anchoring your bag to a heavy object so nobody can run off with it. I’ve personally witnessed a theft like this take place, and it’s amazing how an experienced thief can quietly remove your bag when you are sitting right there.
Common items for anchoring your bag to include a table or chair leg in a cafe, a bed leg in a hostel dorm or a luggage rack on a train.
Clever design features of hidden pockets help to protect your valuables from pickpockets. Pickpockets rely on easy to access pockets which they can open and remove items from without you noticing.
If they can’t access the pockets or zips then you make yourself a difficult target, and they will move on. Hidden pockets are an effective low-tech anti-theft solution.
RFID is the technology used in contactless cards. Many items including wallets and anti-theft bags now have RFID protected pockets which are made from a material that prevents these signals. This prevents hackers capturing and replicating the signals to make payments on your behalf.
There is little evidence of this type of crime so this is not an essential feature but it’s still nice to have.
This goes without saying but having a built in lock, or zips that can be locked together, will provide essential protection against theft.
Let’s jump in to some product recommendations, I’ll split them down as follows:
Best All-Round Anti Theft Backpacks
We’ll start with the best of the best, products that are fit for most occasions and make a great all-round choice. They are not necessarily catering to specialist needs but as generalists, these bags tick a lot of boxes!
Here are my favourite anti-theft backpacks:
PacSafe Metrosafe 25L
A well-made and durable backpack with almost every anti-theft feature going.
This anti-theft backpack makes an excellent all-round choice. The bag has a raft of anti-theft features, giving you a lot of value for the money you spend.
The bag itself is made the bag from eXomesh which means the bag can’t be slashed open, and they have built lightweight stainless steel wires into the straps.
It has RFID pockets for your cards and identity documents, along with a multitude of hidden pockets to stash your belongings in. Including two pockets on the straps for hiding a credit/debit card, making your cards easy to access and protected from pickpockets.
You’ll also find handy security clips and hooks on the zips which you can use to anchor your bag when at a restaurant etc. All of these great features do come with a fair price tag, however.
Bobby Original XD Design
A clever good-looking design makes for an effective low-tech anti-theft backpack
This bag’s key anti-theft feature is the design and the way the designers have completely hidden all the zips and access points to the bag. They have also used a cut-proof protection board to prevent ‘slash and run’ thefts.
The bag doesn’t have RFID pockets but you can easily get around this by getting an RFID wallet. Or you may feel the risk of skimming is minimal and a bit hyped anyway. Lastly, this bag has illuminating stripes which would come in use if you cycle or walk to work.
Travelon Classic Anti-Theft Backpack
A neat well-designed bag, with slash proof straps and lockable zips.
This bag presents as a neat well-designed product with a good balance of anti-theft features, such as RFID pockets, slash-proof straps, slash-proof panels and lockable compartments.
The bag also has a tethered key clip fitted with a LED light. An especially useful feature for daily use and travel to places where your hotel room has a physical key.
The bag volume is on the smaller side so if you need to carry a laptop over 13” then the bag won’t work for you. But if you are looking for a smaller bag, and you like to keep what you cart around to a minimum then this bag will make a good choice.
Nomatic Anti Theft Backpack
Large capacity versatile anti-theft backpack for people who love to organise
If you need a backpack which cleverly organises a substantial volume of belongings (there is a place for everything and it even has a hard sunglasses pocket) as well as key anti-theft features, then this option will offer a good option for you.
The bag has lots of features, including RFID pockets, a retractable key leash, and hidden pockets.
You can also use it like a briefcase by using a side handle, an advantage for those of you who want a smart bag for work. The most significant ‘miss’ for this product is the materials used, which don’t purport to be anti-slash.
Best Anti Theft Backpacks for Women
Sometimes you may specifically want a backpack which has some style as well as being fit for purpose. In that case, one of these lightweight backpacks designed for women will be just right.
Travelon Anti-Theft Signature Slim Backpack
Stylish lightweight backpack, with the reassurance of ample anti-theft features
If you want a lightweight fashion-conscious backpack to carry a little more than you would in a handbag, then this backpack makes an excellent choice.
With a stylish and feminine look, you get a raft of anti-theft features without giving up on fashion.
This bag makes a good choice for daily use, evenings out, or as a small bag for upmarket travelling. Beware, I’ll say it again, this bag is not for those of you who take the kitchen sink when leaving the house!
Nevertheless, the RFID pockets, slash-resistant panels (all around, top, bottom and straps), lockable zips, an anchor strap and hidden internal pockets make this product a great choice as a lightweight anti-theft backpack.
Pacsafe Citysafe CX
A versatile trendy backpack/handbag for the city with lots of features
This anti-theft backpack is perfect for women and cleverly converts between a feature-heavy backpack and a handbag. Yes, really!
This makes the product an excellent choice for travellers who want to save room by carrying a dual purpose bag instead of two seperate ones. Plus, you don’t have to give up on fashion for travel, the bag looks good too.
The Pacsafe Citysafe is small which means it will work best for daily use or a day out in the city. The backpack features lots of excellent anti-theft features, such as RFID pockets, special material (eXomesh), wire-reinforced straps to prevent slash and run theft, lockable zips and anchor straps.
In short, this is a good quality product and you certainly get a lot for your money.
Best Anti Theft Backpacks for Travel
When travelling, especially for long trips, you need a big high-quality bag which won’t fall apart after the first month.
These backpacks have excellent anti-theft features, but they also have the extra strength and capacity for more serious travel.
PacSafe Venturesafe Exp45
Spacious easy access backpack with a plethora of effective anti-theft features
This backpack fits most airline requirements for carry-on luggage and also has the space to store enough belongings to visiting warmer climates. The bag is front loading so it opens like a suitcase, in my view this is essential for travel as it makes finding your belongings much simpler.
The bag has a plethora of anti-theft features such as anti-slash eXomesh material, a puncture-resistant zipper and lockable zips.
For me, this backpack falls down with the technical features you’d expect from a travel backpack. There is no ventilation down the back panel meaning you’ll get very sweaty if carrying it for long periods and the straps could have more padding for comfort.
If safety features are your absoloute priority and you won’t be carrying it for long periods, then this is a great choice.
Craghoppers Hybrid Travel Backpack
Durable and carry-on friendly travel bag made in Scotland.
If you’re willing to splash out a little bit more, the Craghoppers Hybrid Holdall is durable and packed with anti theft features.
This bag is also front loading and opens like a suitcase for easy packing.
The bag has a slash-resistant material and I particularly like the anchor strap (they call it a cafe strap) which allows you to unhook the shoulder strap and tie it to a table leg or your bed in a hostle.
The zips are really strong and made by YKK which are a good sign of quality. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the bags design, but as far as being theft-proof and efficient this is a great buy.
Best Anti Theft Backpacks for Work
Travel, daily use and work often have slightly different needs so below are the bags I’d recommend for work.
All the bags below feature USB charging ports and the products have a greater emphasis on features like water resistance.
Bobby Bizz XD Design
Best overall anti-theft backpack for work being both smart and functional with a space for a 15″ laptop
This bag looks very smart and converts between a backpack and briefcase making it work and commute friendly.
The opening is well-designed so the zips are hidden and can’t be easily accessed by thieves. Furthermore, you can open the bag in three ways (30%, 80% and 180% angle) which makes access quick and easy.
The bag is made from anti-slash materials and has a hefty anchor point to secure against grab and run theft catching you unaware. Bear in mind this product doesn’t include RFID pockets and the capacity is relatively small.
MarkRyden Anti-Theft Business Backpack
Another smart looking backpack that’s slightly bigger and also rain-friendly.
If you’re looking for something slightly larger, the MarkRyden is a really great contender. It has a comprehensive range of anti-theft features including multiple hidden pockets (in the back panel and straps), explosion-proof zips, strong anchor points and a combination lock to be used on the zip.
Furthermore, a rain cover is included which will protect the precious contents from downpours. This bag is also very smart although we think the Bobby Biz just has the edge in that area.
The bag has an adequate capacity of 25L and fits a 15.6” laptop plus a tablet a little under 10”.
Inateck Laptop Backpack
Expandable tidy water-resistant backpack with the capacity to hold large laptops
The anti-theft features of this product are limited, but the features it does have somewhat make up for this. The backpack has good water-resistance (including SBS water-resistant zips) and the spacious expandable design means you can fit laptops up to 17” and pack up to 30L. The main anti-theft feature is the back strap side pocket which is difficult to access for thieves. However, other than that the bag doesn’t have any other anti-theft extras like lockable zips, RFID pockets, anchor points, or anti-slash materials. This means, if you specifically want a top-notch anti-theft bag, this will not make the best choice. However, this will make a great choice if you need space for a big laptop, and want to carry a fair volume of items in a smart-looking bag with some thought put into the design to deter thieves.
Best Budget Anti Theft Backpacks
Not everyone can afford a top-end theft-proof backpack so I’ve gone out of my way to review some of the lower priced products too.
Here are my recommended purchases if you’re on a budget:
BAG.IT Anti-theft Backpack
Smart looking budget backpack with hidden pockets and a combination lock included
This budget bag still managed to pack in quite a few anti-theft options considering it’s price. Furthermore, the smarter style means you can potentially use the bag for work as well as daily use.
It has hidden pockets (including a strap pocket), an combination lock which should deter any thief, a USB port (power bank not included), and a headphone jack.
The bag will not suit those people needing to carry large volumes, but you can still take a fair amount of gear with you. As a budget bag, I think this product offers a lot of anti-theft features for your buck.
Matein Laptop Backpack
Ideally suited for daily use, with good capacity and a hidden pocket in the back panel
This product will not suit formal workplace environments, but it does look reasonably smart. For anyone wanting a daily use backpack, the appearance will not present a big stumbling block.
The bag has a good capacity and one of the biggest benefits is the ability to carry a laptop up to 17” which is larger than most bags here.
The anti-theft features are very limited, but the zips could be locked (lock not included), and there is a hidden pocket in the back panel which you can use to protect your cards/ ID etc from pickpockets.
The bag has been designed to appeal to students, for casual workplace needs or daily use and includes a handy USB charging port (power bank not included).
Overall, we’d say the build quality isn’t as good as the BAG.IT mentioned above, but when you’re paying such a low price it’s to be expected.
Best Anti Theft Drawstring Bags
Sometimes, heading out with a full backpack seems like overkill. All you want is a smaller, simpler bag to throw some things into, you need a drawstring bag.
However, these can be more vulnerable so I’ve shared a few recommendations of drawstring bags with anti-theft features.
LOCKSACK Theft Resistant Drawstring Bag
A simple drawstring bag with slash resistant material and a built in combination lock for security
For a simple looking drawstring bag, this product has a number of anti-theft features including a slash resistant material on the outside which they claim was also used by NASA and the military.
The opening of a drawstring bag is where it is most vulnerable, but this bag manages that by integrating a combination lock to protect your belongings.
As far as theft-proof features, this one wins the drawstring category. My only gripe is that it doesn’t look very stylish and looks too secure which could leave people wondering what is inside.
AtailorBird Vintage Drawstring Bag
More stylish and low cost option but with less anti-theft features
This small backpack has a casual style that’s perfect for a lightweight bag.
The drawstring opening has a clip which isn’t as effective as a lock but still helps deter thieves.
Both the bag itself and the straps are made from canvas which will be harder to cut through than typical drawstring bag materials, however it’s not a specific slash proof material.
The other anti-theft feature is the hidden pocket which is ideal for keeping important cards or your money if thieves did manage to get inside. It’s a shame the bag doesn’t have an anchor strap but the reasonable sub-£20 price mark makes up for this.
Overall, the PacSafe Metrosafe is my top pick for a great all-round anti-theft backpack thanks to a durable slash-proof material, steel wire in the straps to prevent cutting and a raft of other safety features.
Kieren is the avid traveller behind the blog. His adventures have included Interrailing through Europe, road tripping the US and backpacking SE Asia.