Get Backpack / Luggage Locks, Seriously


This is another travel tip and something I do at all times, lock my backpack and you should lock your luggage. I’m rather fanatical about it to the point that more laissez-faire people would say I’m paranoid. If I’m not with my gear, it’s locked. Many of you will buy all sorts of fancy backpacks that have zippers here, compartments here, blah blah blah. If you’re idea of “backpacking” is in an urban sense, all those will do is open you up to theft, let me tell you a little something about keeping your gear safe…

For starters, your pack should have 1 massive zipper that goes all the way around. This makes it insanely easy to access anything, anytime. It’s also insanely secure. Why? With one solid zipper, you can place a lock on your pack and unless someone really wants it, it will keep all opportunist thieves out. As mentioned above, avoid those with a million pockets etc…

Considering you’ll also have a day pack, you have this be the one with all sorts of compartments. As a general rule of thumb the “small pack” is always with me OR locked away OR behind a desk at some hotel / hostel. When leaving the small pack in a locker OR at some front desk, always lock the main zipper and consequently, keep all the expensive valuables in main area.

The other bag which personally keep locked at all times is free to lay around near your bed, in some random compartment under a night bus or on some train. As long as it only has 1 zipper, doesn’t have Gucci or Chanel print all over it and is locked, should be fine everywhere.

Locks are cheap and they keep most thieves away. Having traveled extensively I firmly believe that the vast majority of all thieving related crimes across the world are very petty and opportunistic of nature. If you do a few simple things to make your bag a hassle or not worth it, goes a long way. There will always be people who have less secure packs or just leave stuff laying around.

Protect your stuff, if you don’t, who will?

Tips hat,

P.S: Locking your packs on flights is also something I do, that said if they want to see what’s in, they will. Again though, it does limit potential theft by opportunists with loose morals handling the luggage.

16 thoughts on “Get Backpack / Luggage Locks, Seriously

  1. I use something called a PacSafe. It’s a steel mesh netting that goes over my backpack and had a long wire that attaches to a stationary object. I use it for my electronics bag when I’m on a road trip. I wind it around the base of the car seat in the car and a sink or other sturdy attachment in a hotel room. I love the piece of mind it gives me. It can’t stop all theft, but it certainly will deter the smash and grab type of theft.

  2. Good advice, I’m about to head to Istanbul tomorrow, and instead of using my big fancy pancy “backpack” I think I’m just going to bring a small dufell I can sling around, open with one zipper….and lock it all up with one zipper. That or an old broomstick with a handkerchief at the end…

  3. My main pack is a top-loading, string and nut closing type, so I can’t secure it … I just keep all expensive things in my daypack, which is with me at all times. I hadn’t locked it on my last trip, which got in the way of a proper night’s sleep on night buses. Will fix that situation next time!

    1. James, You actually can lock a drawstring topload. You can drill a little hole in the little drawstring buckle and run a little cable lock through it. Then no one can pinch down on the little buckle to be able to pull it out and open pack.

      I researched the heck out of it to figure this out b/c I’m getting ready to take an insane approx 1yr trip around the world and will have a North Face pack that has that top load w/ drawstring.

      PS Rob, I just found your site today. Good stuff, man. The Malaria Post was what I was just pondering the past couple days. To take the anti Malaria pills or just wing it, that is the question. Mosquitoes love me so it sketches me out a little, but we’ll see… I will be launching my site soon. It’s not up yet so the email and site I provided probably won’t be up for a couple weeks.

      Maybe I’ll see you on the road! Nicaragua is sweet, I was there in 2008.

      1. Thanks for adding to the discussion. The real question is where are you going and I took doxycycline, heard malarone is the good stuff. Another factor is what will you be doing there? Living in jungle or cities etc?

  4. I’m the same; I think other people must think I’m the most super-paranoid person in the world but I HAVE to lock things up otherwise I can’t stop thinking about the possible theiving!

    I know that if someone really wants to steal your stuff then they’re going to, but I think taking some precautionrary measures to deter them doesn’t go amiss.

    Great post and actually the first time I’ve visited your site properly (even though I see your posts in my rss all the time!)


  5. When I was in SE Asia a few years ago we had one of those metal mesh pack safe things. But it was such a hassle to get on and off and eventually we stopped using it – however, i really should invest in a lock.

    One tip though: choose a lock with a combination ,,,,,, NOT a key. Just in case you lose that key!

    1. Saw a guy with one of those yesterday where I am now in Nicaragua. It did look pretty “burly” but also really clunky, a solid lock will do wonders as most thieves are simply opportunists with loose morals.

      Thanks for contributing to the discussion.

  6. Oh ma gudness!!!! Ya’ll will stick out like a sore thumb with your fancy backpacks. Of course, the thieves will have an idea that you have pound plus chocolate and lots of other treats in your bag. I suggest use whatever the locals are using like maybe a potato or rice sack. Yes? No? Verdad?

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