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7 In Travel/ Travel Tips

Travel Tip: Pickpocket-proof Backpack & Camera Strap

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There were two main reasons that I didn’t want to fall victim to pickpockets while I was in Europe last summer. The first being that I had just gotten a new iPhone at the time, and the second being that I did not want to lose my camera under any circumstance. I had a mirrorless camera I had been using for a few years, but the greater loss would have been the photos rather than the camera itself. So after scouring forums for tips on preventing pickpockets, I read somewhere that someone had used a safety pin to keep the zipper handles together. From there I started searching for pickpocket-proof backpacks and I stumbled across a brand called Pacsafe.

The bag looks a bit big and bulky, but that’s mainly because I bought the bigger 25L rather than the smaller and more compact 15L bag. I purchased the larger one to be able to fit my tripod inside for days I was shooting some nightscapes. Later I wished I had picked up the 15L as the weather was hot and I didn’t end up using the tripod much. If you’re not trying to fit something large in the bag, I would go with the smaller and lighter version.

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I was immediately drawn to their backpacks because of two features: the clip feature for the zipper handles and the stainless steel wire mesh inside the fabric that prevents thieves from slashing bags and running off with the contents. That little pocket that holds the clip had to be mended after my trip from frequent use, but the clip and zipper handles are still as sturdy as ever.

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There is a pocket right below the zipper, so you can put in a water bottle and strap it in. Then you can’t even see the zipper to the main compartment (the zipper you see is for the front pocket). So if a thief wanted to actually get into the main part of my bag, they would have had to undo the strap, take the water bottle out, and unclip the zipper handles to open my bag. I heard that most pickpockets are looking to snatch something quickly and run for it, so this little prevention system works very nicely to deter them.

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The front pocket is a little more exposed, but I wasn’t planning on carrying anything terribly important in the front pocket. They had a pocket to put your passport, but I would have preferred it if it was in the main compartment. Instead, I kept small things like maps, tissue, and lip balm so that if they did manage to dig through the front compartment it wouldn’t be a big loss.

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The main compartment had a sleeve for laptops, but as I wasn’t carrying around a laptop I found myself wishing the bag had small pockets on the inside. I used the laptop sleeve mainly to store tickets and hotel reservations so I knew exactly where they were when I looked in my bag.

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Once I happily purchased the backpack, I picked up the crossbody camera strap by Pacsafe as well. I hate hanging anything heavy from my neck, especially over a long period of time. The nice thing about this strap is that it has some padding where it rests on your shoulder, so it doesn’t dig in the way a regular strap would. It also has the same anti-slash feature as the backpack.

On the downside, it has an unusually long adjustable length that made it annoying to wear on my left shoulder. As you can see from the photo, the camera is attached to the main strap by a ring so you can slide the camera up when taking a photo. However, when I was wearing it on my left shoulder, it only slid up as far where that adjustment buckle was blocking it. The sling is attached to the camera through two straps: a normal strap and a bolt that you can screw into the bottom of your camera like you would a tripod. I was dismayed to find that the bolt kept coming loose over time and wonder if mine is a defect or if it’s just the limitation of the design.

With all its flaws though, I still prefer this strap to a regular neck strap. I hope they come out with an updated version that makes it easy to wear on either shoulder in the future. I didn’t experience a single theft, and had that sense of security as I was walking through crowds in busy museums and palaces. So if you’re traveling alone or you’re looking for a sturdy anti-theft backpack, I would recommend the Pacsafe ones.

Your turn ♥ What are your tips for avoiding pickpockets? Do you have any pickpocket stories to share?

*This is NOT a sponsored post. I bought the backpack from a shop with hiking goods called OKoutdoor, and the strap from a camera store called FilmNara in Seoul last year.  

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  • http://ablogbyrobert.com Robert

    This looks like just to sort of thing I need for some upcoming travels! I don’t think I’d want a 25L as a day pack though and I’ll definitely be carrying around a laptop. Do you know if the smaller 15L also has a laptop compartment?

    • http://www.silentlyfree.com/ Kim

      Yes, the 15L looks exactly like the 25L only smaller. It looks like the laptop compartment of the 15L fits the 13 inch Macbook. They have a 22L that fits a 15 inch in a different design (sleeker on the outside, though, I don’t know about that lining color…), but it looks like a regular day to day backpack (shoulder pad design etc). I would take a look at the options on their website, but I wouldn’t buy from their website directly as you can find cheaper options online/in-stores. I liked being able to try them out in-store for the “fit.”

      • http://ablogbyrobert.com Robert

        Oh perfect! I use a 13inch Macbook so that would be ideal. I’ll have to look around online and see what I can find. Thanks Kim! :)

        • http://www.silentlyfree.com/ Kim

          No problem, glad to be of help!

  • http://travelandpictures.com Amber Primdahl

    I’ve never heard of this brand before. It sounds super safe though! Too bad I just bought a new backpack :( But I will definitely look into it the next time I’m on the market for a new bag! I love the idea of the camera strap too, I never really thought about anyone slashing it before, that would be scary! Awesome product!

    • http://www.silentlyfree.com/ Kim

      I heard there are other brands that make camera sling straps, but I’m not sure if they have the anti-slash feature. I would recommend the backpack without reservations, but I think the pacsafe camera sling strap could use a bit of updating. Sometimes the bolt would come loose but other times it wouldn’t. Of course, by other times I mean when I was trying to unbolt it so that I could put my camera on my tripod lol.

  • http://www.freshfizzle.com/ Tania

    Eek I’ve been pickpocketed before so it’s definitely a good idea to be vigilant and practice street smarts. Someone reached into my bucket bag and grabbed my wallet and iphone. Luckily they didn’t take my camera or make up bag, as the camera was the most expensive thing and the make up would’ve been most difficult to replace. I didn’t know that camera slashing was a thing; I’m probably going to be paranoid about that now!!!

    xx freshfizzle