The 10 Best Anti-Theft Backpacks of 2024 | Tested by TripSavvy

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The 10 Best Anti-Theft Backpacks of 2024 | Tested by TripSavvy

Backpacks are super-handy for carrying everything you need while traveling. The contents we pack into them are becoming increasingly expensive, though: Our smartphones are worth several hundred dollars, and our tablets and laptops are worth far more. If you’re toting your tech around where pickpockets are prevalent, you’ll want to keep things secure so you don’t have to deal with an unpleasant theft that interrupts your vacation. Luckily, brilliant designers have you covered: Anti-theft backpacks are more secure than ever with features like locking zippers, RFID-blocking technology, and even slash-proof material. And aesthetically, we’re happy to announce that these backpacks have graduated beyond basic black and gray to become increasingly stylish.

We researched some of the best options on the market, then took them into our New York testing lab. First, we packed them full of the kind of essential belongings for which one might use an anti-theft backpack. Then we did everything possible to break into them, including some slash tests. The top performers made it onto our list.

Opening is easy for packing and unpacking

Held up well during our slash test

Needs lock to secure locking cable

Pacsafe is an industry leader in anti-theft backpacks, and honestly, you can't go wrong with any of their styles (we've got more than one featured here). For travel in particular, however, we love their Venturesafe EXP45L. Besides the fact it's now made from recycled nylon, giving it some eco points, it's carry-on size: You won't need to bring both a bag for your gear and a carry-on for your clothes, which makes a difference when it comes to reducing stress on a busy day of travel. The backpack meets most airlines' carry-on requirements (as always, check ahead!). It has a large main compartment for clothes, a sleeve built for a 15-inch laptop, organization for your cables and USBs, and even places outside the bag to secure bulky things like sleeping bags, jackets, or yoga mats. There are also attachment points inside for wallets and keys and a side pocket that lets you keep a water bottle or umbrella close at hand. As for anti-theft measures, Pacsafe has the bases covered with lockable zippers, an anchor cable that can lock around a fixed object (like the leg of a table), and cut-resistant materials.

Of all the bags we tested in our Brooklyn lab, this backpack earned the highest marks. Our testers loved how comfortable the pack was, its well-cushioned handles, and the 270-degree clamshell opening, making packing and unpacking a breeze. "The Pacsafe Venturesafe Carry-On Travel Pack is an ideal option for backpackers hopping from hostel to hostel," one tester noted. "It has many great anti-theft features, including lockable zippers, a stainless steel locking cable that you can attach to any fixture, and cut-resistant materials. Plus, with chest and hip belts and padded straps, you can carry about a week's worth of clothes and other travel essentials without breaking your back." Our testers did report a learning curve for the zipper lock. They recommend spending some time with it at home before taking it on a trip.

Dimensions: 21.7 x 13.8 x 8.7 inches | Weight: 3 pounds, 13 ounces | Capacity: 45 liters | Waterproof: Yes

Can lock around various items

Not as durable as the brand claims

Water bottle holder could be larger

If you're looking for an anti-theft pack that offers the same quality and toughness as our overall winner in a smaller package, Pacsafe's Metrosafe 15L backpack is worth a look. This pack also features lockable zippers, cut-resistant materials, and an RFID-blocking pocket. Bonus: This bag also features Pacsafe's eco-friendly ECONYL fiber, a regenerated material made from fishing nets and other nylon products.

Like its larger sibling, the Venturesafe EXP45, the Metrosafe 15L earned top marks from our testers. They enjoyed the pack's soft padding, even if the straps were difficult to adjust. "The Pacsafe Metrosafe 15L Travel Backpack has it all," one tester glowed. "Padded shoulder straps and back for hours-long city excursions, a zipper-lock to protect your belongings from casual pickpocketing, and enough space to fit your travel essentials. Plus, there's a small, lockable hook to attach the bag to any fixture, say a hostel bed or table leg—no need to worry about your backpack getting snatched."

Our testers did have issues with the external water bottle pocket, which wasn't big enough to hold a standard-sized water bottle. And while the pack is slash-proof, the outer shell tore easily during testing.

Dimensions: 16.5 x 11.6 x 4.9 inches | Weight: 1 pound, 7.4 ounces | Capacity: 15 liters | Waterproof: Not listed

Laptop pocket holds pretty much any device

Doesn’t stand on its own while empty

While we love the low price tag on this bag, the genius behind its design has thought of everything, too. It has the essential anti-theft features—think a fixed passcode lock and a hidden pocket on the back for super-valuable things like passports and wallets—plus a ton of perks that make your travel day more effortless. A USB charging port and headphone jack, a laptop compartment for computers up to 17.3 inches, and S-curve straps that help take the weight off your shoulders.

"The Ambor Anti-Theft Laptop Backpack is roomy, versatile, and comfortable to carry for long stretches of time," one of our testers reported. "With laptop and tablet compartments, a built-in USB cord, and several pockets for organization, the bag makes traveling for work a breeze. And when you're ready to hit the streets, the spacious interior and padded straps and back make it easy to carry all your essentials."

The one issue our testers found was that the headphone jack was not universally compatible. But they did love the combination zipper lock and the size of the bag saying, "This is a roomy bag that can go from the plane to the office or for a day of sightseeing."

Dimensions: 19.5 x 12.5 x 5.3 inches | Weight: 1.65 pounds | Capacity: Unknown | Waterproof: No

Won’t hold large gaming laptops

Kopack's budget-friendly laptop backpack will protect your gear—and keep thieves away. It fits up to a 15.6-inch laptop with a dedicated home in the back of the bag, right against your body. The zipper can also be locked to keep things super secure. There's a USB port built into the backpack with an inner cable to charge your devices, though you'll need to use a power bank (not included). The dual-layer zipper that opens the main compartment is puncture-proof, and plenty of pockets hold everything else you need for the day, from tablets to sunscreen. Bonus: The pack is water-resistant.

Our testers liked some unique features of this bag, like the straps fitting over the zipper, making it impossible to open while on someone's back. "The number of pockets is helpful if you have a lot of stuff to bring into the office or a remote setup," one tester noted. A quick slash did nothing to the pack, but we could cut the backpack with effort. A nitpick was that the water bottle holder was a bit too narrow, and we struggled to fit a 20-ounce bottle in it. Still, "For those commuting to an office, this simple backpack is it," one tester concluded.

Dimensions: 11.8 x 4.3 x 17.7 inches | Weight: 1.56 pounds | Capacity: Unknown | Waterproof: Yes

Fits enough clothes for a small trip

Shoulder straps easily slip from adjustment loops

Peak Design's Travel Backpack has some genius features to ward off thieves and will set your mind at ease. In addition to the backpack's innovative details (there are straps and pockets for pretty much everything), this model expands from a modest 35-liter size for a day of exploring to a 45-liter size that still meets most international carry-on requirements. Thanks to its impressively weatherproof material, you won't have to worry about rain either. And about those anti-theft features: The zipper tabs are designed to deter any potential thieves, the laptop pocket sits closest to your back, and a special hidden pocket keeps your passport secure. It also doesn't hurt how sleek-looking this backpack is.

While our testers appreciated the number of features, they were also somewhat overwhelmed. They noted needing the instruction manual to help fully understand how to pack it properly. They were also frustrated with how tough it was to unlock and access items. "Once the bag is locked, it's not easy to access it, which is great to prevent theft, but not ideal for the bag owner who may want easy access," a tester noted. "There are many options to expand and compress the bag to your packing style, but the anti-theft features make the bag a bit frustrating to use," another said.

Still, this bag checked all the anti-theft and packing boxes for the eco-conscious backpacker or hostel hopper. It's made with a 100 percent recycled 40-denier nylon canvas shell, and our testers reported being able to fit at least a week's worth of clothes and items in it. Our advice: Spend some time getting to know this pack and its lock features before taking it on a trip. But if you're looking for a rugged planet-friendly pack that can be tossed around, this is it.

Dimensions: 22 x 13 x 9.5 inches (compressed), 22 x 13 x 11 inches (expanded) | Weight: 4.5 pounds | Capacity: up to 45 liters | Waterproof: Yes

Cannot fit devices over 13 inches

Most anti-theft backpacks are bulky and rugged or sleek and minimalist—yet still big enough to hold tech gear, which you don't always need. It can be hard to find an anti-theft backpack purse sized for light-traveling, tech-free days. Enter the Travelon Classic Backpack, which has RFID-blocking card and passport slots, should you happen to be traveling, and a hidden pocket under the flap (great for pricey sunglasses or your smartphone). For extra security, the zipper pull of the main flap locks into the tab of the front pocket, making it extra hard for thieves to get into. This budget-friendly travel backpack also works well as a daypack too.

Our testers found this pack deceptively roomy and very lightweight. "This bag could be a daypack or hold everything you need for a weekend trip," one tester said. They also liked the small flashlight inside the pack, which helps with internal lighting. Like other packs on this list, the slash test revealed it was easy to make an initial tear but much harder to get into the pack and remove anything.

"This no-fuss, anti-theft backpack is a good option for travelers who want to go out and explore with just the essentials," a tester summarized. "Despite not being able to fit a laptop larger than 13 inches, it's surprisingly roomy, with multiple pockets to organize your things and RFID-blocking slots."

Dimensions: 6 x 12 x 16 inches | Weight: 14.2 ounces | Capacity: Not listed | Waterproof: Not listed

Not as durable as other options

The Oscaurt Anti-Theft Laptop Backpack is a solid option for students or anyone looking to securely transport electronics and other work or study-related items. It's loaded with internal pockets for organization, features a USB charging port, and has some waterproofing capabilities.

Our testers liked the discrete "hidden" zipper on the front. And they liked how the bag opened and its organizational capabilities. But they were less impressed with the durability of the anti-slash material. "The anti-slash material is a weak point; we were able to cut straight through to the bottom," one tester said. "If you want something super durable, I wouldn't recommend this backpack—it was a bit concerning how easily we could cut through it."

Said another: "If theft resistance is a priority, there are better options out there. However, based on look and price, I think this is a decent option for a sleeker backpack."

Dimensions: 11 x 15 x 17 inches | Weight: 2.3 pounds | Capacity: Not listed | Waterproof: Yes

Opening is easy for packing and unpacking

The Matein Hard Shell Laptop Backpack provides an interesting hard shell alternative for those that prefer this aesthetic. It's made of scratch- and water-resistant materials and features a three-digit lock and USB charging port. Our testers liked the 270-degree clamshell opening, which was essential for easy packing and unpacking considering the front was a bit stiff.

"The bag can open flat, which is nice for packing, but because the front is so stiff, it's a bit difficult to access items without opening the bag all the way," a tester reported. However, we had to mark the durability of this pack down as the lock broke on its way to our lab, broke during a fall while photography was happening, or was broken before it left the manufacturer. Either way, not good.

Dimensions: 10 x 6.5 x 17 inches (before expanding) and 10 x 8 x 17.5 inches (after expanding) | Weight: 1.5 pounds | Capacity: 18 liters (before expanding) and 22 liters (after expanding) | Waterproof: Water resistant

Can be difficult to open zipper

Won’t hold larger laptops

This backpack can easily transform into a crossbody or a tote with a simple changing of the straps—and it'll keep your stuff secure no matter how you carry it. Made from 100 percent vegan and recycled materials, it features an RFID-protected lining, an external zippered security pocket, and two interior slip pockets to hold the essentials. While it might look relatively small, it's sized to fit 13-inch laptops so you can bring your computer on the go. And although it's not big enough to hold more than a single change of clothes, it makes a great everyday carry.

"Even though it's on the smaller end of the bags we tested, it can fit quite a few things, including a 13-inch laptop," one tester reported. "In the bag's interior, there are two small pockets plus a drink pocket (you could use it to store your sunglasses)."

Said another: "Don't let its small size fool you: The Sherpani Dispatch can fit all your essentials—including a 13-inch laptop, sunglasses, passport, and water bottle—with room to spare. Lightweight and durable, it can be worn as a crossbody bag or travel backpack, perfect for carrying from the airport to the city streets."

While our testers liked the vegan and recycled construction, they also reported that the handles were uncomfortable.

Dimensions: 9 x 13 x 5.5 inches | Weight: 1.65 pounds | Capacity: 13 liters | Waterproof: Yes

Not big enough for a laptop

This convertible backpack gets you everywhere you need to go with a few different configurations for carrying—and keeps your gear and devices secure. Get the version with locking hardware for extra security, though any model comes with full-body anti-slash lining, cut-resistant straps, and a fully waterproof vegan leather exterior. We also like the studs that keep the bottom of the bag lifted off the ground and the three interior pockets (there's also a built-in RFID-protected wallet with eight card slots and a spot for notes). While it's not big enough to be a carry-on, there's the option to expand it by 1.5 inches if you find a souvenir or two.

While this bag is difficult to tear into and open fully, it is almost effortless to rip and tear the outer layer. Our testers also reported it irritating sensitive skin. "While stylish, the Arden Cove Carmel Convertible Backpack and Crossbody is uncomfortable to carry and easily fell off my shoulders," one tester reported. "I can picture myself constantly having to adjust the straps, which, in my opinion, isn't worth the aesthetic." These things are subjective; however, if you opt for this backpack, consider trying before you buy or choose an online retailer with a good return policy in case you end up feeling the same way.

Dimensions: 7 to 8 x 10.5 x 3 to 4.5 inches | Weight: 1.7 pounds | Capacity: Unknown | Waterproof: Yes

Secure, eco-friendly, and comfortable to carry, the Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP45 is the ideal backpack for providing peace of mind and getting you and your essentials to your destination. We also like the Ambor Travel Laptop Backpack for its affordable price and solid organization.

Our editors and writers spent hours researching and reading customer reviews of the best anti-theft backpacks. We also tapped into our own experience and knowledge of backpack brands and specific anti-theft packs we've used in the past. We narrowed the list to the above 14 options based on price and diversity of use. We wanted to offer the best products across a wide price range. And we also wanted to consider all sorts of travelers, commuters, students, and anyone else regularly wearing and using a backpack.

TripSavvy editors tested anti-theft backpacks in our Brooklyn testing lab. We tested for features, comfort, and anti-theft capability. For features, we packed and unpacked each backpack with everyday items including laptops, books, magazines, headphones, passports, wallets, money, water bottles, etc. We then judged features based on how they helped—or didn't help—the packing and organization process.

For comfort, we put the full backpacks on and carried them around our lab until they became uncomfortable or we got tired. We also assessed comfort-boosting features including chest and waist straps. For anti-theft testing, we took a box cutter and made an initial quick swipe to see how well the pack withstood this kind of attack. Then we spent more time thoroughly trying to cut into each bag. We also considered hidden compartments and locking zippers and how well they worked.

We did not test for RFID-blocking material as it's been well-documented that this feature is somewhat redundant.

While the size of the bag you carry will ultimately depend on your needs, an excellent guideline for travelers to stick to is that it should fit within the carry-on size restrictions of most major US or international airlines (depending on where you’re going). That said, getting a bag that fits your purpose is vital: If you want to keep your laptop secure at the gym, you will not require the same capacity you might if you're planning to pack all your belongings for a week-long trip.

We’re a fan of waterproof (or at least water-resistant) materials when it comes to backpacks—after all, you’re going to so much trouble to protect your gear with these antitheft measures, so why compromise when it comes to keeping them out of the rain? These days, many backpacks are made from durable nylon or vegan leather that keeps the rain away from your laptops and devices (not to mention the clothes you’re packing, too). Look for recycled materials for an extra eco-bonus—they’re just as durable these days as freshly produced ones.

The devil (or maybe angel) is in the details when it comes to anti-theft features. Look for secure pockets with RFID-blocking technology that keeps your information secure, zippers with locking components, and cut-resistant straps or frames. We also like clever placement for pockets—say, one for your passport or laptop located on the back of the bag rather than the front. Some bags go the extra mile and have cables to secure your bag to a fixed point, too—so you can hook it up and not think about someone grabbing your bag at a restaurant and running off.

How much you travel and use the bag will determine your spending on this—if you live in a city known for petty crime, this might be your everyday carry and, therefore, an investment in protecting yourself and your gear. If you want a bag for travel but don’t travel often, some great budget options (even under $40) make for a tremendous one-off purchase that comes with peace of mind.

Follow the manufacturer’s directions on how to clean your anti-theft backpack—each model is made of different fabrics and might have delicate coatings, such as a durable water repellent (DWR). If you need to wash your bag and there are no specific instructions, it’s generally OK to take a damp, soft cloth with mild detergent and spot-clean wherever there’s dirt or dust.

Each anti-theft backpack has its own unique design, but in broad terms, they have special features meant to deter thieves from stealing your belongings. Think of zippers with integrated locks that make opening the bag harder for a would-be nabber—and give you more time to see or feel them trying to get in. Other standard security features on anti-theft backpacks include hidden passport pockets, slash-proof materials, and zippers that open on the side closest to your body rather than on the front.

Nathan Allen is TripSavvy's Outdoor Gear Editor. He's a bit of a backpack nerd and has spent decades walking, cycling, taking the bus, public transit, or driving to school and work with a backpack.

Sherri Gardner, an Associate Editor at TripSavvy, helped with testing in our Brooklyn testing lab. She learned to love travel from her father and has traveled domestically since she was a child and internationally since she was a teen.

Elizabeth Preske is a TripSavvy Editor and helped with testing in our Brooklyn testing lab. She has been a travel fiend since age four and has traveled to many places worldwide.

Digital Trends. "RFID-Blocking Products Are Practically Worthless. Here's Why." May 3, 2019

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The 10 Best Anti-Theft Backpacks of 2024 | Tested by TripSavvy

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