The Pacsafe Camsafe Z16 anti-theft camera laptop backpack ($250), was new to the line in late 2014 as a part of the Z series of small to huge tech gear packs and bags. We jumped at the chance to really put this bag through the international travel wringer.
Even in the civilized world where we often travel, the risk of theft is rising. This is in large part due the need to carry an increasing assortment of electronics everywhere – video camera, microphones, computer, iPad, cables, backup drives, iPhone and more. Crowded airport terminals, subways, buses, trains and city streets create opportunities for thieves intent on stealing valuables or data. There are a myriad of backpacks and shoulder bags with varying degrees of anti-theft protection, but for complete peace of mind, what travelers really need is a portable vault with straps.
Which is why the Pacsafe Z16 is so attractive. I will admit that my first impression was that my wish had come true – someone had taken a square black vault and slapped backpack straps and handles on it. There is nothing sleek about this bag, although it has a certain cool urban style so you don’t look like a backpacker heading into the wilderness. Fashionable though? Not really. But after a month of using it traveling on boats, trains, buses, and subways in Europe and the United States, I’ve discovered the beauty of this bag is in its security-laden features typical of Pacsafe, and yes, even its boxy design.
Let’s start with Pacsafe’s flexible, lightweight, stainless steel wire “Carrysafe slashguard” that is integrated into the adjustable backpack straps of the Pacsafe Camsafe Z16. It’s invisible, but its there to stop any would-be thief with a sharp razor or knife from slashing the straps and making off with my bag. Also, the outside panels of this bag have Pacsafe’s “eXomesh slashguard” wire mesh protection built in, designed to stop those same slashers from cutting a slit in my bag and making off with whatever falls out and into their hands – more common than you might think we have been told.
I absolutely love the interlocking zipper pulls that slide on top of each other to connect and as a result foil pickpockets looking for quick access for a grab-and-run. There’s even a very cool feature called the “Roobar anti-theft anchor lock” located at the top of the bag which secures the main compartment’s zipper and is guaranteed to leave even the most seasoned thieves befuddled trying to figure out how to get access to the bag.
When my bag is off my back and at my feet or overhead in a rack, it is still secure and in my control thanks to a Pacsafe’s anti-theft “turn & lock security hook” on one of the straps. I simply detach the strap, wrap it around a sturdy, secure fixture such as a bar on a luggage rack and re-attach it to the bag. Now, it is much more difficult for a thief to snatch and grab while I am distracted or even asleep.
Inside the zippered padded main compartment, there is an RFID-blocking pocket to store my passport and credit cards – each of which now have an RFID micro-chip. Those chips contain my personal information and savvy identity thieves would be able to access this information from up to 10 feet away with the help of an RFID reader – but not when they are in the pocket. More peace of mind!
Of course none of the above would matter if the bag didn’t also carry all my travel carry-on necessities.