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Backpack Security And Keeping Safe Whilst Traveling

How can I secure my backpack?

The truth of the matter is that, where ever you are, whatever you’re doing or whatever backpack security you use, you’re backpack will never be 100% safe and secure.  There simply is no way to stop a thief from stealing your backpack, and getting inside, if they are determined enough.  You can’t give your backpack your undivided attention the whole time.  Fabric can be cut, zippers can be broken, locks can be picked and, given enough time, a determined thief will steal anything.

With that in mind, the aim of this article is to talk about ideas that will increase your security against opportunist thieves, pickpockets and so on.  This article is going to look at the different options we can use to deter these thieves.  Both cheaply and by using the latest technology.  We also give some tips on safety whilst traveling in general.

What is an Anti-theft backpack?

If you don’t have time to digest the full article, have the money and simply want a solution then we are going to start by providing one.  Anti-theft travel backpacks incorporate some of the technologies used in this article.  But they are specifically designed to be an all-in, secure, backpack without having to use DIY safety techniques.

Available in many shapes and sizes, the bags can boast technologies such as anti-slash fabric, integrated retractable locks, and anti-puncture zippers.  What more could you need? Here are some awesome anti-theft backpacks on Amazon.

How can I keep safe whilst traveling?

The number one tip anyone can get when traveling and visiting a new country is, Be Vigilant.  It doesn’t matter how secure your backpack is, if you’re not aware of your surroundings and always keeping one eye on what’s going on around you then, you may become a victim.  Always keep your safety in mind.  Travel together where possible, look out for your companions and have them look out for you.

If you do feel threatened or believe that someone in your midst is a possible thief then keep them in your peripheral vision.  A lot of people naturally put their head down or turn their back to possible threats.  Don’t do this.  If you believe someone may threaten you, or your property, then make sure you always have an eye on them.  This way you can act, as soon as possible, should they decide to strike.

Remember to dial 122.  This number can be dialed from landlines and cell phones, for free, in multiple countries.  The number will take you through to that country’s emergency services.  So for instance if you were in the USA then you would obviously reach 911, in the UK 999 or 000 in Australia, and so on.  This is a great idea and could be an invaluable tool in your arsenal of traveling safety tips.  Go to the bottom of this article for a list of countries that take part in this scheme.

Which locks should I use to secure my backpack?

When securing backpack zips and drawstrings or securing your backpack to an object, use combination locks over key locks.  A lot of smaller locks use really crappy keys.  The locks can often be picked quite easily and, some of the time, thieves can simply use a key from elsewhere to get these locks open.

We’re not saying this is the case with all small locks but why risk it when a good combination lock gives much more security when locking a backpack?  The locks are, mostly, totally enclosed so there is no chance that another key will work or that it can be picked.  Just don’t have one too many beers and forget the code!

How should I carry valuables when backpacking?

Where possible, keep your most expensive items on you.  Your items are most safe when you have them in your possession.  You can keep them safe, you know that no one is stealing them.  Cameras, money, and passports are easy for you to carry and personally, we feel the safest when our valuables are in our front pants pocket.

The issue is that thieves also know this and unfortunately some thieves are more forceful than others.  It’s time to break out the decoy wallet.  This little beauty could end up saving you your hard earned dollars in a robbery situation.  Buy a cheap wallet, add some small denomination notes and some fake credit cards and “hey presto!” a decoy wallet.

How can I stay secure in a hostel?

When staying in hostels and other communal places consider carrying one or two simple security features.  A cowbell hung on a door handle can alert you should someone enter the place where you’re sleeping.  When not in use in this way, the bell can be attached to your backpack to alert you should it be moved.  Another way to keep yourself safe in these situations is carrying a doorstop.  If the hostel door lock is not great, or there isn’t one, then this will give you a little extra security.

What is a slash proof backpack?

The idea here is exactly as it sounds, slash proof backpacks are made with materials that are robust enough to withstand cutting attempts with knives.  Often referred to as slash proof technology.  Slash proof backpacks can be a little bit more expensive than their non-slash proof counterparts.  But this is not always the case and definitely worth every cent if it means it saves us from losing something more valuable.

Should you only plan to use your backpack in places where you’re likely to be alone most of the time and can mostly keep an eye on your backpack then you probably don’t need it to be slash-proof.  Whereas if you are in a busy city with many people around and have no idea where an opportunist thief may be lurking then a slash proof backpack may be perfect.

If you want to save money on slash proofing your backpack or have a favorite backpack and simply don’t want to purchase another, then fear not.  Flexible plastic cutting boards are a great solution for a DIY slash proof backpack.  Simply cut them to the size and shape you require and line your backpack.  Double up on the vulnerable areas, such as the bottom, and you’ve seriously increased your backpack security.  Add a mesh backpack protector, and our backpack is beginning to become a mobile fortress.  Well, not quite but it will make it a little safer.

What is an anti-theft mesh backpack protector?

Go to any hiking, travel or backpacking blog and, if there’s a discussion on security, you’ll find a debate about mesh backpack protectors.  Some believe that the extra security highlights the fact that they’re carrying valuables.  They say that this puts a target on their back and makes them more likely to become the victim of crime.  Others completely disagree and swear by mesh backpack protectors.

We believe that any extra security can only be a good thing.  After all, the majority of travelers will have expensive possessions, like passports for instance.  Something like a mesh backpack protector can actually become a deterrent rather than an out-and-out lock.  This means it could be a determining factor in which backpack an opportunist thief may choose to interfere with.

Another criticism of mesh backpack protectors is their weight.  It would be a lie to say that they were as light as a feather and not noticeable.  But the fact is they are only around a couple of pounds each and not what we would call heavy.  However, we understand that some like to go the extra mile when it comes to traveling light.  In this case, every pound counts and this may not be the right option for you, when considering your backpack security.

The mesh on a backpack protector also protects against the bag being slashed.  This does not make the backpack indestructible but what it does do is give you that little extra protection against an opportunist.  This is great for when you’re walking through busy crowds or need to take your eye off your backpack for a short while.

If you do need to leave your backpack, for any reason, then the mesh on a backpack protector also allows you to lock your backpack up against an unmovable object, as you would a bicycle.  Again, this doesn’t make your backpack impenetrable. It does, however, give you a hell of a lot more protection than the person who didn’t want to be a target.  Their backpack may be laid next to yours, check out these mesh protectors on Amazon to make sure yours isn’t the one that gets stolen!

What are motion detection bag and backpack alarms?

These alarms are similar to personal alarms.  Small enough to be on a key ring yet still create a piercing sound.  There are not only motion detection backpack alarms but also alarms that work similarly to a personal alarm.  Basically, you attach one end to the inside of your backpack and the other to something of value such as a purse or a wallet, if a thief pulls out the item, the alarm goes off.  Backpack alarms are another subject that causes debate among travelers.

One criticism of these types of alarms is that your bag could get knocked and if you’re in a communal area the alarm could end up waking fellow travelers.  Such as on campsites or sleeping in communal dorms and hostels.  However, most of these types of alarms have a warning chime before the main alarm sounds.  This allows for an innocent knock here and there but if someone was to cause continuous motion, such as a thief, then the backpack alarm will go off properly.

Another criticism is that the alarms are so small that when they go off, a thief can simply cup them in a closed fist and almost snuff out the entire sound.  As within most sections of this article, the underlying vibe is that if a thief really wants to get into your bag then they can.  These alarms are no different.  If a thief has encountered them before and worked out that this is the case then, unfortunately, it renders the alarm almost useless.  However, a loud noise is always a great deterrent against thieves and could scare off an opportunist.

Overall, we don’t think these alarms are the best weapon in the war of backpack security.  Preferring mesh and backpack protectors. However, as with most of the security ideas featured in this article, we do believe they have a place.  We would choose to use a backpack alarm sparingly.  Saving it for occasions when you may be leaving your backpack in a safe or locker or may be locked to an unmovable object.  Use it in times that you know you’re not going to need to get in your backpack for a while.  Maybe you need it to be as secure as possible and know that there’s a strong possibility that you’ll be taking your eyes off your backpack now and again.  Use it then.  After all, you can’t watch your backpack all the time

How can I lock a backpack drawstring?

Locking drawstring backpacks is quite a difficult subject.  It is difficult because solutions are not easy to come by.  The resounding fact that you encounter, whilst researching locking a drawstring backpack, is that you’d be much better off using a backpack with a double zipper and a combination lock.  They are way easier to secure but, even they will never be 100% safe.  Add in the fact that some people love their drawstring backpack and don’t want a new one and we have a reason to keep writing.  Let us discuss some ideas with regards to locking a drawstring backpack.

Cable ties are not the greatest of solutions but they’re an option.  You’d need one long, strong, cable tie to go through the eyes of the bag, otherwise, you’d have to attach many smaller ones.  The ties are not reusable so you would have to cut them each time, which could be a real drag if you forget something and need quick access.  This option could be OK as a one-off, just as a little extra tamper protection whilst in haulage or something along those lines.  But it’s really not an idea that gets us excited when talking about backpack security whilst traveling.  Overall, we’d say that cable ties, when locking a backpack drawstring, are a simple enough option and are better than nothing.  But they’re not great and they’re not the solution we’re looking for.

Cable locks are a good idea when attempting to lock a backpack drawstring.  Here you can go one of two ways.  Either thread the lock through alongside the drawstring or lose the string completely and replace it with a cable lock.  Both of these options have merit.

The first because you can still use the drawstring to close the backpack, nice and tight, before incorporating the cable to lock the backpack drawstring.  The second, because losing the string all together makes the job easier and a little less messing around.  You can even get oversized cord locks that would go over the cable on the cable lock, in essence, turning the cable into the drawstring.

Add in the fact that you can get cable locks with a retractable cable and combination lock, rather than a key.  Now, this becomes a great option when locking a backpack drawstring.

Creating a cover to go over the backpack, and locking it at the bottom, is another option and could work in conjunction with the cable lock.  Take a tough fabric like ballistic nylon, for instance.  Cut a strip the width of your backpack and long enough to fit snugly around the whole thing.  Add metal eyelets or chain that can be locked to the bottom and you now have an extra defense against the opportunist thief.  OK, this is not the best idea in the world but used in conjunction with the cable lock, we now have quite a secure lockable drawstring backpack.  Compared to someone with no extra security at least.

The fact of the matter is, when attempting to lock a drawstring backpack, it doesn’t matter how secure you make the opening.  If someone wants to get in the backpack and has enough time, they will.  Our aim here is just to deter the opportunist and make our backpack less desirable.  Slashing backpacks is the easiest way for a thief to get in and get their grubby mitts on our treasures.  No amount of drawstring locks are going to change that.  Again, Anti-theft backpack mesh and protectors are definitely a step in the right direction when considering securing your backpack from slashing whilst traveling.

How can I lock a single backpack zipper?

When it comes to locking a single zipper on your bag or backpack it really is just a matter of initiative.  People have used many intuitive methods in the past and here’s a few more to think about.  Even if you don’t use these exact methods, it may get you thinking in the right way with regards to locking a single zipper and backpack security.  Who knows, you may even come up with something a little more substantial.

Sewing a key ring into your backpack will give you something to lock your backpack zipper to with a padlock.  If you don’t have time, or the skills, for sewing then simple create some small holes and feed the key ring through.  OK, it’s not an amazing idea, but it will give you a little extra security.

Should you not have a small padlock to lock your backpack zipper then a safety pin can be utilized as a lock for a single zipper.  Simply thread the pin through the eye of the zipper and then through the bag.  It’s not going to be the strongest lock in the world.  But what it could be is a deterrent to an opportunist thief in a busy city.  Why risk getting into your bag with this small annoying extra when they can simply move on to their next victim?

Thinking along the same lines, when trying to lock a single backpack zipper.  A carabiner hook can be used to go through the eye of the single zipper, you are trying to lock, and through another feature on the bag.  Such as a strap or even adding a small chain, if necessary.

These single zipper lock ideas are aimed to get you thinking in an intuitive way.  Sometimes utilizing what you have to hand, whether a piece of string or a shoelace, can be a great skill to have.  Not only when trying to lock your backpack but when in a squeeze, and skills like this will serve you well throughout your traveling journey.

What is the most important part of backpack security and keeping safe whilst traveling?

The most important tool when staying safe whilst traveling is you.  Being vigilant and aware at all times is the best way to stay safe whilst traveling and also to ensure the security of your backpack.  Hopefully, some of the ideas in this article will help you save money if nothing else.  We hope you have enjoyed this article and if it stops one person from losing their belongings or keeps one person safe then we have succeeded in what we set out to achieve.

List of countries involved in the 112 emergency scheme

Albania Andorra Australia Austria Azerbaijan Belarus Belgium Bosnia and Herzegovina Brazil Bulgaria Canada China Colombia Costa-Rica Croatia Cyprus Czech-Republic Denmark Dominican-Republic East-Timor Egypt Estonia Finland France Germany Gibraltar Georgia Greece Hong-Kong Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran Ireland Israel Italy Jordan Kazakhstan Kosovo Kuwait Latvia Lebanon Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macau Macedonia Malta Malaysia Mauritius Moldova Monaco Montenegro Nepal Netherlands New-Zealand Nigeria Norway Panama Poland Portugal Romania Russia Rwanda San-Marino Saudi-Arabia Serbia Senegal Slovakia Slovenia South-Korea Spain Sri-Lanka Sweden Switzerland Syria Taiwan Republic-of-China Turkey Ukraine United Arab Emirates United-Kingdom United-States Uzbekistan Vanuatu Vatican City