The following is a guest post by November’s featured guest blogger, Kristin Repsher.
A few years ago, I walked into the luggage warehouse across the street from my work looking for a decent handbag to take with me while traveling. My only requirement was that it be a bag that I could sling across my body so I could comfortably carry it and a backpack at the same time.
When I came across the Travelon Anti-Theft Shoulder Bag, it seemed like its features (and price) might be overkill, but since it fit with what I’d imagined I decided to give it a go.
The “Lobster Claw” Saves the Day
Two years later, I stood on the waterfront in Porto’s Ribeira District thanking myself for spending the extra money on an anti-theft bag. Having talked to a very helpful hotel receptionist (in English) and to a taxi driver (in a broken mix of Spanish and Portuguese), I’d been told that the waterfront area would be safe for setting up a tripod and taking night photos of the city. So that’s where I’d gone, and I happily took photos for about twenty minutes before things went awry.
First, a man came up to me and began speaking in English, trying to cajole me into giving him some money.
Then another man came up and angrily waved his camera in my face, pointing at the buttons as though he needed help. I refused to take his camera because it meant I would have to let go of my camera — tripod still attached — so I just kept shaking my head and telling him, “no, no, no.”
A rush of anger flooded through me as I felt a tug on my bag. “NO!” I shouted at the camera-wielding man. “GO!” Surprisingly, he did as I said, and his friend soon followed. Looking at my bag, I found that he had tried to open the main compartment but failed due to the “lobster claw clasp” locking the zipper to the bag.
I hadn’t been carrying a lot with me, but the time spent trying to cancel cards and file police reports easily would have been worth more than the cost of the bag itself.
>> Editor’s note: The same clips are the reason I love my Pacsafe Slingsafe 300.
Other Features I Like
Three Separate Compartments
I find this really handy for dividing up all of my little bits and pieces. Travel medicines get one side pocket and passports, plane tickets, and mobile phone get the other. The main compartment has four side pockets that are perfect for carrying iPods and cameras, and while it looks like a pretty small space, I’ve managed to cram my wallet, a Kindle, business cards, and my Olympus OM-D mirrorless camera in there.
Expandable Outer Pockets
These have been very handy for carrying all sorts of bits and bobs. Zipped up, they can hold small items like nail files; expanded, they can carry a drink bottle or a sunglasses case. I tend to carry both of these, and even with expanded pockets, the bag doesn’t seem too big. The tops of the pockets are elasticated to keep everything secure.
Features I’m Not So Keen On
Cable Reinforced Anti-Cut Strap
I’m not sure on this one; it’s one thing to deal with an annoying pickpocket as I did in Porto, but it’s another altogether to deal with someone with a knife. I think that, if they have a knife, I don’t want to stop them from slashing my bag. It’s better than slashing me.
This bag is very long at its most extended strap length. I shorten it quite a bit so it’s not bouncing against my legs constantly; however, even partially loaded, the strap gradually lengthens until it is fully extended. I wish they had made this hold a bit better so I wasn’t constantly having to mess with it.
Even though this bag costs $65 (or AU$74 when I bought it), to me, it’s been worth every penny. Being able to lock my bag gives me peace of mind; it certainly won’t stop all thieves but it’s at least a deterrent. It’s not a perfect bag but the anti-theft features plus the fact that it helps me keep everything organised while I’m on the road means it will be a constant travel companion for years to come.
What do you think of special bags and purses made to protect from pickpockets? Worth it, or waste of money?