Travel Gear Review: PacSafe's Anti-Theft Carry-On Backpack
There are so many backpacks available that it can sometimes be difficult to weed out the ones that work best for travel and the ones that don't. PacSafe, known for its anti-theft backpacks, released its Vibe series this spring and it's meant to help travelers stay organized and protected. I had the opportunity to review the Vibe 40L Anti-Theft Carry-on during my epic cross-country journey to every Centurion Lounge in the US — and this bag did not disappoint.
TheVibe 40L anti-theft carry-on is versatile, with a design that makes it look a little less uncool than most other bulky travel backpacks. It's designed to provide additional layers of security to discourage petty theft and it succeeds — it's so secure, I could barely get into it. If there was ever a product you should read the instructions for, it's this one — I neglected to do so and it took me about 10 minutes to figure out how to unlock the zippers.
Available on Amazon.com for $125.95 — which is competitive with most types of backpacks of its size — it comes with the following features:
- A large internal pocket for organization that's big enough to fit a 15-inch laptop
- Its size meets most airline carry-on standards
- Padded adjustable shoulder straps that you can stow away
- Back support with internal- and side-compression straps
- A top quick-access pocket and a side stretch pocket
During my trip, this was the only bag I traveled with and it withstood tons of tossing, falls to the floor and the occasional luggage collision within the overhead bin. The bag is made with 210D Nylon and has PU100mm waterproof fabric — I was pleasantly surprised to find that it had been protected from liquids after a child accidentally spilled an entire cup of soda on it. The backpack also comes with some proprietary features, like eXomesh slashguard and a slashguard strap — essentially, you won't find anyone using a knife or scissors to cut into this backpack.
The 40L version of this backpack is huge, especially if you're a smaller person like myself. The bag weighs in at about three pounds when it's empty and the dimensions in inches (height x width x depth) are 19.7 x 13.8 x 7.1, so you'll definitely be able to carry it along on most domestic flights. The backpack's strap length measures a minimum of 25.2 inches and a maximum of 36.3 inches.
I was able to fit a week's worth of clothing, an extra pair of shoes and all my gadgets and toiletries inside this bag — though it looks really, really big when filled up. If you're on the small side, I highly suggest sacrificing a little bit of space and getting the 25L version of this bag. One thing I found incredibly annoying was how my stuff would constantly get jumbled up inside; this bag would be greatly improved by adding internal compartments similar to other backpacks, like the Tortuga Outbreaker. To avoid this scenario altogether, consider investing in some packing cubes to help keep things neat and organized.
Most of the backpacks I've used in the past did very well when it came to holding my belongings, but the Pacsafe Vibe goes a step further with its anti-theft security features. As I mentioned, it did take me a little longer than usual to figure out how to unzip the zippers — basically, they interlock within each other and then are placed into a security clip on the side of the backpack. There's also a roo bar-style locking system that allows you to unlock one of the straps and place it around an object. When I was visiting the various Centurion Lounges, I'd frequently lock the strap onto a table leg and leave my bag by itself for a minute while I got up to grab a snack. I also made good use of the hidden pouch at the top of the backpack, which is covered by an extra layer of material. Unless you over-fill it and the bag becomes top heavy, no one besides you would even know that this pocket exists. According to Pacsafe, the bag is also made of RFID blocking materials.
The Vibe 40L Anti-Theft Carry-On is one of the most versatile — and comfortable — backpacks I've ever used and its streamlined design makes it a more inconspicuous travel bag. TPG readers in particular will be happy to know that it meets most domestic airline carry-on standards; I wouldn't have taken it on my trip if it didn't. The interior is about 40L and can hold about a week's worth of clothes and other smaller belongings if you pack them carefully.
Still, there are some downsides to this product. When the bag is fully filled, it looks massive and the interior is weakly compartmentalized, save for a small side pocket and an internal pocket that's big enough to fit a 15-inch laptop — I'd recommend getting some packing cubes to use with this bag. Other than that, it easily fulfills its primary duty of being an anti-theft carry-on backpack, with interlocking zippers, hidden compartments and a roo bar locking strap that'll make it difficult for any thief to get a hold of your stuff.
Have you used an anti-theft backpack before? Tell us about your experience, below.
All photos by the author.