Best Anti-Theft Backpacks

Updated February 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

26 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
160 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

Shopping guide for best anti-theft backpacks

Last Updated February 2019

Whether you are traveling out of the country or just walking through a crowded city, if you are bringing items with you, you want them to be safe from theft. But there are so many ways your valuables can be stolen, how do you protect yourself from them all possibilities?

One way is to purchase an anti-theft backpack. The best anti-theft backpacks are reinforced with steel cables so the straps can't be cut. You'll want to purchase one that's also made with cut-resistant fabric, features lockable zippers, and has numerous compartments so it's easy to organize your belongings.

If you would like more information about anti-theft backpacks and you want to learn how to keep yourself from becoming a victim of theft, keep reading. If you're already somewhat familiar with these and you're looking for some highly rated recommendations, consider the models we've presented here.

Thieves are opportunistic. By making the situation less desirable, you can help prevent yourself from becoming a target.

Primary considerations for anti-theft backpacks

Before looking at the anti-theft features you might be interested in, you want to find a backpack that is suitable for your needs. Here is a list of primary considerations.

Size

Your first concern is to choose an anti-theft backpack that not only fits you comfortably, but is large enough to hold whatever you are transporting. If you need to carry a laptop, make sure you purchase an appropriately sized backpack to accommodate that laptop, taking into consideration what other bulk may take away from its space.

Durability

If an anti-theft backpack frays at the seams and wears out quickly, it's not going to be a very effective theft-deterrent. Look for one that is built to last, like our recommendations.

Padding

Some anti-theft backpacks have foam inside to keep your electronics safe from all the bouncing around that will happen while you are walking, plunking your bag down, or stuffing it into a locker, overhead bin, or other storage space. You can receive similar protection by packing t-shirts or towels around your sensitive equipment.

Versatility

You probably won't always be carrying the same items in your anti-theft backpack. Look for one with a number of organizational pockets that can be adapted to many different situations and contents.

Accessibility

Not all of the compartments in your anti-theft backpack need to be (or should be) easily accessible. But you do want to have at least a couple pockets that are. The less digging around you have to do to find specific items, the happier you'll be with your purchase.

Comfort

Because of its steel cables, cut-resistant fabric, padlocks, and other security features, an anti-theft backpack could weigh a little more than you are used to. You will want one that is not only as lightweight as possible, but is also balanced to reduce strain on your back and is comfortable to wear.

Style

Many manufacturers go for a basic, neutral look when designing anti-theft backpacks. However, if that's not for you, you can find a variety of anti-theft backpacks styled with more individualistic flair. Consider the clothing and outerwear you’re likely to wear with your backpack, or your favorite color.

Some thieves can hit without you even noticing it. Always know what you have in your backpack and take inventory when you arrive safely at your destination.

Staff
BestReviews

Anti-theft features

In this section, we'll give you a rundown on the security features that you may find on an anti-theft backpack. If any are must-haves for your needs, make sure the anti-theft backpack that you are considering includes everything you desire.

Fabric

Manufacturing an anti-theft backpack from durable materials with a water-repellent coating is definitely desirable, but the fabric needs to be more than durable and water-repellent to be considered theft-resistant. Indestructible is a better word. If a would-be thief slashes your backpack with a knife hoping the contents spill out, there are certain materials that will not cut. That's the type of fabric you want.

Shoulder straps

Not only do shoulder straps need to be cut resistant as well, but you want ones with steel cables running through them so you can lock the strap to an immovable object to ensure that it can not be stolen when you’re not wearing it.

Zippers

At the very least, zippers on an anti-theft backpack should be hidden so a thief can't easily find one to gently pull open while walking behind you. The better zippers also lock so they can't be opened without a combination. The best zippers, however, are puncture-resistant so a thief can't simply jab a pen in the seam and pop open the zipper to quickly access the contents inside.

RFID blocking

Some high-tech criminals can skim personal information off your credit cards and driver's license just by walking by you. Some anti-theft backpacks have special RFID (radio-frequency identification) blocking slots that stop the signals your cards might emit so they cannot be scanned.

Hidden compartments

Hidden compartments are cool, spy-like features that are fun to have. However, if you have cut-resistant fabric with locking, puncture-resistant zippers, hidden compartments aren't a necessity.

EXPERT TIP

Information that has been gathered over an extended period of time should be backed up and safely stored in a remote location. This way, if your device is stolen, you won't lose your family photos.


Staff  | BestReviews

Anti-theft backpack prices

You have to be careful when shopping for anti-theft backpacks because not all are what you would truly define as "anti-theft," especially in the lower price range.

From $10 to around $25, most of the backpacks are at this price point will be lacking in actual anti-theft features. These might include a pack that can be worn on the chest or a bag with secret compartments, but there are no substantial anti-theft features in this price range.

From $30 to $60, you start seeing actual anti-theft features such as cut-resistant fabric, zipper locks, and RFID protected pockets, but it's a lot of mix and match, so make sure it has all the features you want, and meets the basic backpack criteria detailed in the first section of this article.

When shopping in the $100 to $150 range, you will find anti-theft backpacks that contain all the desired anti-theft features and more. You might find a backpack that also has water-resistant fabric and a USB charging port in this price range.

FOR YOUR SAFETY

To help provide peace of mind, scan your important documents (especially when traveling) and keep those files backed up in a secure location.

Tips to avoid being a target

Criminals tend to target easy victims. Theft can often occur just because there's an opportunity. Taking a moment to tweak some of your behavior and habits can knock you off a thief's radar. Here are some tips to help keep you from being a target, along with a few others to help keep you safe if you do find yourself confronted by a thief.

  • Don't flaunt it. If you have expensive jewelry, a large amount of cash, or the latest gadget, keep it put away in your bag or pocket when you’re out in public. A criminal can't desire what he or she doesn't know you have.

  • Use your inside pockets. A wallet shoved in a back pocket is easy pickings. However, one hidden in an inner pocket of a coat that is zipped up or well within your bag is impossible to swipe without you noticing.

  • Separate checks. Don't put all of your cash in one place. This way, if you do become a target, there's a good chance you won't lose everything.

  • Lock it up. If your backpack has locking zippers, use them. If you are sitting down, use your reinforced shoulder strap to lock your backpack to something secure.

  • Decoy wallet. Keep a decoy wallet with expired credit cards and a low amount of cash in it to offer if you are accosted.

  • Beware of kindness. Relentless kindness that is offered by strangers who feel the need to invade your personal space can be a red flag that you are about to be robbed. Casually move away.

  • Keep contact. Something as simple as keeping a firm arm across your bag or a hand securely holding onto your possessions will help deter theft.

  • Eyes on the prize. Never let your possessions out of your sight, and don’t trust strangers to watch them for you, even for a few seconds.

  • Bright colors. Anything that makes your backpack, bags, or possessions stand out is a good thing. A thief doesn't want to be running down the sidewalk carrying the only neon purple backpack in the city. It makes it too easy to identify.

  • Be aware of distractions. Strangers offering to take your photo, nearby people dropping things, or an unprompted conversation are all tactics criminals use to distract you and make you more vulnerable to theft.

Other products we considered

Depending on your size needs and your preferred carry method, there are a few other highly rated anti-theft backpacks that offer you a slightly different option from our top picks. Malacoso has a budget option security bag that doesn't offer typical anti-theft features, but it’s worn on the chest so it is always within your view. Travelon has a reasonably priced, brightly colored, and slash-resistant purse-style backpack that features locking zippers, slash-resistant shoulder straps, locking compartments, and RFID protected passport and card slots. LOCTOTE has an impressive FLAKnit cut-resistant bag that has a steel reinforced locking strap, is made from reflective material, and features a certified RFID blocking lining to guard against electronic pickpocketing.

Your valuables can be replaced. Do not put yourself at risk to protect the cash you happen to be carrying.

FAQ

Q: How does a puncture resistant zipper work?

A: A regular zipper is easy to pop open simply by pressing something small, like the tip of a pen, into the zippered area. The seam easily parts, which gives a thief access to your belongings. A puncture resistant zipper either has an outer barrier to prevent something from prying open the seam, it has a double-layer zipper, or it has both. These zippers are not completely theft-proof, but they will impede a quick pop and snatch.

Q: My belongings are in my anti-theft backpack, so they are impossible to steal, right?

A: Unfortunately, there are ways around every anti-theft device, even the best anti-theft backpacks. The idea is to make it less convenient for a thief to make a quick grab without putting yourself in danger, or making it very difficult for them to remove your valuables from your backpack.

Q: What makes me a target?

A: Not being aware of your surroundings and your belongings is key. If you are distracted or you place your backpack down so you can get lost in your phone, your belongings aren’t protected. Not paying attention is like putting up a big sign on your backpack that says "free stuff!"

The team that worked on this review
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    Allen
    Writer
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    Director of Photography
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    Melinda
    Web Producer
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    Post Production Editor

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