One of my biggest fear – and I can’t be the only one! – when I travel is to be robbed of some parts or all my luggage. As backpackers, we tend to carry the strict minimum and every missing/lost/stolen items can become a major setback. Though generally of a very trusting nature, when I’m thousands of kilometers away from home, I tend to take less risk with my personal belongings and rather look foolishly over-protective of my stuff (and keep a worry-free mind to enjoy my trip) than have to endure and cope with the consequences of a theft.
As backpacks are full of straps and compartments, they’re much tougher to secure (for airports, the answer is generally an airport duffle/tote, which you can read about here) and keeping the content of your precious luggage from unwanted hands is a challenge.
I found out about PacSafe’s Backpack 85L Protector as I was shopping around for gear for my first backpacking trip in Mexico, in 2011. In a nutshell, it’s a giant “web” that can be tightened around your backpack and attached to a fixture/furniture. Though they recommend attaching your luggage to secured fixtures, I think that if properly attached to a bed, a chair or other bulky items, it forces thieves to think twice: if they want to steal the whole luggage, they will have to break/cut or carry along a chair / bed /other… not exactly a subtle theft!)
Price I paid: CAN $ 80 (about US $72 / £44 / €52 ) – bought in 2012 at Mountain Equipment Coop (MEC – www.mec.ca), but also available on Amazon, and in most outdoor equipment store like REI, etc.
Size I picked: 85 liters – meant for 55-85 L luggage (comes different sizes to accomodate luggage up to 140 liters – approx. 8500 cubic inches)
Color I picked: there is only 1 color available, which is metallic gray with minor purple “trimmings”
Fabric: eXomesh (patented stainless steel flexible wire – click here to read more about it); carrying pouch is made of Nylon with a Velcro strap to close. The kit also includes a padlock and a couple of keys.
BEST BACKPACKING FEATURES:
-Highly compact considering its size when fully “deployed” (the carrying pouch does a great job!); packed size is about 6.7 x 4.7 x 2 in (Length x Width x Height) and weighs a little over 1 lb (includes the weight of the pouch and padlock)
-Very versatile; apparently, it would even be “airport friendly” (see “what do airline thinks” on their website)
I really like this item, but I carry it only when I know for sure I will need it at some point during a trip; in a backpack, every inch counts, and in spite of being very compact for its size, it’s still a chunk (a light one, but still) that takes the space of numerous underwear. It is easy to use, even without watching the video below, is very sturdy for its size and weight and will spare you from worrying about how safe your stuff is.
If you want to see the PacSafe Bag Protector in action and know how to maximize its use, you can check the following video: