The Pacsafe bag protector is an essential part of any backpackers basic safety kit. I have used one of these since I started backpacking over ten years ago and have never regretted it.
Basically the Pacsafe backpack protector is a high tensile, stainless steel net that wraps around your backpack and secures it to any solid object via an attached stainless steel cable which effectively prevents it from being tampered with or taken away. The protector also comes with a carry pouch and a padlock. This is a good, solid padlock and there is no problem with it, but it does come in a standard size so can easily be replaced with one of your own if you prefer.
They are cumbersome, and they do add a little weight to your pack which can be a problem if you are trying to save every little pound and ounce, but overall you have to weigh these minor issues up with how essential you consider the item to be.
I have heard one of the main criticisms of these backpack protectors is that they are overkill. Well, yes in many circumstances they are and there is certainly no need to walk around with it attached to your pack as you walk from place to place. Which generally you wouldn’t be doing anyway. I certainly don’t use them all of the time when travelling as frankly there is no need to.
Where they are invaluable however is during transit. From the very basics of checking your pack during a flight to the old backpacker endurance tests of sleeper trains or overnight buses, the Pacsafe protector makes it easy to ensure your pack is secure, and the peace of mind you get from doing so is well worth it.
If you are travelling on a sleeper train or long distance bus, particularly in South America, India or South East Asia for example, a backpack that is wrapped in a steel net and attached to the seat itself is far more secure than one that isn’t. Frankly outright thefts of bags, or scams where thieves will hide in the luggage compartment of buses and rifle through your belongings are rare, but they do happen, and staying safe on your travels is all about reducing the potential risks to yourself so why not make it as hard as possible for someone to tamper with or steal your pack?
On a practical level, the Pacsafe protector is a little difficult to get on and off your pack at first and until you get used to it, it is an absolute pain to do if you are hurrying for your bus or train. This does get a lot easier with practice though and after years of using mine I can slip it on and off relatively quickly. If you are in a rush though you may want to save folding it back into its carry pouch until you have a few minutes where you can do it away from prying eyes.
Available in a range of sizes from a tiny 25 Litre to an excessive 140 Litre net, there literally isn’t a backpack you can buy that one of these sizes will not cover. My own backpack is my old military bergen, which is larger and a slightly different shape than most standard backpacks, and the net even manages to cover it with the side pouches attached without any problems. So if you are on an extended trip and have sleeping mats or bags, old trainers or whatever else it may be strapped to the outside of your pack, you can be sure that the net is versatile enough to stretch around it, just be sure to buy the correct size for your pack.
There are very few essential pieces of kit that every backpacker should have on their travels, but in my opinion, this is one of them.
Ready to buy? You can purchase a Pacsafe here.
No incentives were offered or given in return for this review. The views and opinions expressed are the authors own based on personal experiences when travelling and are honest and factual without any bias. Affiliate links have been used in this review and I do get a small commission on every click which helps pay for the upkeep of the site, but these in no way affect the outcome of the review.