As you plan your trip, it's good to consider safety and avoiding theft. In this post, you'll learn about the best anti-theft backpacks, purses, wallets, and locks for travelers. We include a detailed 10-factor buyers guide, answer common questions about anti-theft gear, and share 7 travel safe tips – including 4 videos.
More reading: Check out our Complete African Safari Packing List
16 Best Anti-theft Backpacks, Purses, Wallets, and Locks [Travelers Guide]
Are you planning a trip to Uganda but concerned about safety? While tourism and security have increased in Uganda over recent years, the country is not without its crime. You will need to be especially watchful in large centers (like Kampala) and in markets, bus terminals and airports. However, you should not allow this to stop you from enjoying all the incredible experiences that are to be had in Uganda.
There are measures tourists can take to protect themselves from robbers, including buying among the best anti-theft backpacks, which come in all sorts of styles and sizes with a myriad of theft-proof features. This guide is designed to help you choose the travel bag and other anti-theft accessories that are right for you and to educate you on how to keep yourself safe while traveling.
Our Top Pick for Best Anti-theft Features
These include lockable straps and compartments, a slash-proof body made with steel mesh, locking zipper tabs, and an RFID-blocking compartment to protect your credit cards, passport, and other travel documents.
Our Top Pick for Comfort and Convenience
The MATEIN travel laptop backpack is a best seller for a reason. In addition to spacious compartments and secret pockets to hide your belongings from thieves, this attractive, durable backpack offers you adjustable shoulder straps and a padded handle for your comfort and ease.
An external USB port and luggage strap put the cherry on top of this great deal.
Our Top Pick for Budget
It may not be slash-proof, but the Oscaurt travel backpack doesn’t skimp on functionality and anti-theft features. This compact, unisex bag offers sections for all your essentials including a slim laptop compartment as well as an external USB port, a hidden zipper, and a secret pocket for your wallet and passport.
This backpack combines multifunction with security at an affordable price.
Buyer’s Guide to Anti-theft Backpacks (10 Features)
Security features you should look for when shopping for an anti-theft backpack
- Hidden Pockets: The best anti-theft backpacks offer this feature. Secret pockets provide a place for you to conceal your most valuable belongings such as your money, passport, and wedding ring. These hidden pockets are not readily visible and make it difficult for pickpockets to access them.
- YKK Zippers: Zippers that open too easily or get stuck don’t protect the items in your backpack, so you want to make sure you look for a backpack with quality YKK zippers.
- Locks: Backpacks with locking zippers and/or a combination lock on the zipper tag that only you can access are recommended.
- Slash-proof Material: A quality anti-theft backpack will also feature slash-proof material such as steel wire mesh, so if a thief attempts to slash your bag with a knife and run with your valuables, he/she will be unsuccessful.
- RFID-blocking Technology: For protection against electronic theft, you will want an anti-theft backpack that features at least one pocket lined with RFID-blocking material to keep the digital data from your credit cards and ID documents secure.
- Steel Cable: There may be times when you need to temporarily part with your backpack. An integrated steel cable can secure your backpack to your luggage or to a fixed object.
- Comfort: Carrying a backpack for several hours every day can cause fatigue and muscle strain if it is not designed for comfort. Look for a travel bag with padded, adjustable straps and material that is lightweight and allows your back to breathe.
- Durability: You want a backpack that can withstand all weather and high-impact. Look for bags made with strong fabric and reinforced straps that will hold up through rough conditions.
- Functionality: What functions will you need your backpack to provide? Will you need a padded compartment for your laptop? Will you need a water bottle holder? Do you need a bag with a USB port? Will you need a reflective strip for walking at night? Shop for backpacks that feature multifunctions.
- Accessibility: The best anti-theft backpacks are great for keeping out pickpockets, but you don’t want it to keep you, the owner, out. Make sure your backpack features zippers that are easy to unlock for you and pockets that are hidden from thieves but not difficult for you to access.
6 Best Anti-theft Backpacks
Check out some of the best anti-theft backpacks on the market that are highly rated by other travelers:
1. [Best All-around] Kopack Slim Business Laptop Backpack
Whether you commute daily for work or you’re traveling to Uganda for business or pleasure, the Kopack Slim Business Laptop Backpack has your back in every way. This best-selling backpack features a padded laptop compartment that can accommodate a large laptop plus four main pockets including a spacious organizer with a tablet sleeve and a mesh bag for storing toiletries and medicines. Another great thing about this backpack is how the shoulder straps are ergonomically designed to protect your shoulders from injury.
For your safety, the Kopack Slim offers several hidden pockets to hide important valuables with dual-layer, impenetrable zippers that can be locked with a TSA lock. Additionally, the shoulder straps lock over the laptop compartment and are reinforced in case a thief attempts to yank the bag from your shoulder.
2. [Best for Comfort and Convenience] MATEIN Travel Laptop Backpack
The MATEIN Travel Laptop Backpack is a popular anti-theft backpack because not only is it attractive, comfortable and durable, but it offers features that deter thieves. Made with durable polyester, this all-weather backpack has a main compartment for storing clothes, books, and a camera as well as a separate laptop compartment and spacious side pockets for a large water bottle or a foldable umbrella.
Adjustable shoulder straps and a padded handle make this bag much easier and lighter than other backpacks to carry. Another bonus is that this MATEIN backpack has a luggage strap that fits over your suitcase handle, making it more convenient when traveling through airports.
One of the anti-theft features you will love about this backpack is that it sports an external USB port so that you don’t have to leave your bag open with cables sticking out and enticing thieves. You’ll also appreciate the hidden, rear pocket for storing your passport and wallet.
3. [Best Anti-theft Features] Travelon Anti-theft Classic Backpack
Lightweight and roomy, this Travelon backpack is designed for comfort with plenty of anti-theft features that you will appreciate. Measuring 16 inches high, 11 inches wide, and 5 inches deep, this unisex backpack may appear smaller than others, but it offers compartments for all your essentials and more. Because of its size and lightweight design, you will find it easy to carry and hold in your lap. This nylon, water-resistant backpack is lined with polyester and sports adjustable, padded shoulder straps for your comfort.
This Travelon backpack offers great anti-theft features such as locking straps and compartments to keep your belongings safe. Steel mesh lines the body, making it slash-resistant. Credit card and passport slots in the organizer section are RFID protected, so you won’t need to worry about electronic theft. Zipper tabs hook over a D-ring, making the bag difficult for thieves to open quickly.
4. [Best Value] Oscaurt Anti-theft Travel Backpack
If you are on a budget and looking for a handy backpack with a few anti-theft features, the Oscaurt is for you. This unisex backpack is compact and lightweight but also expandable up to 12 liters. Inside the main compartment are several pockets for storing items such as phones, notepads, and pens. A padded laptop compartment can secure a slim laptop while side pockets can hold water bottles or a small umbrella. Adjustable, padded shoulder straps and an elastic band that stretches over a suitcase handle offer you both convenience and comfort.
This Oscaurt is not slash-proof, but it boasts one anti-theft feature that many other backpacks do not, and that is a zipper hidden beneath the flap, which can make it more difficult for thieves to pickpocket. There is also a secret pocket behind the bag where you can store your wallet and passport. The Oscaurt also features an external USB port so that you can charge your devices without your backpack being left open and exposed to potential theft.
5. [Best for Organization] Mancro Business Travel Laptop Backpack
This Mancro backpack is designed for your ease and protection against thieves. Not only is it lightweight, durable and water-resistant, but this backpack comes with a combination lock, impenetrable zippers, and a hidden pocket for important valuables.
Two main compartments consist of an organizer for items such as your tablet, wallet, phone and sunglasses, and a padded section for clothes, shoes, files, and a laptop up to 17 inches. You’ll appreciate ten pockets for storing your possessions as well as an external USB port and padded shoulder straps that are designed to keep weight evenly distributed.
6. [Best Quality] Pacsafe Metrosafe LS350 Anti-Theft 15L Backpack
The price of this Pacsafe Metrosafe backpack may be slightly higher than other best anti-theft backpacks, but the quality of this travel bag make it worth every penny. At a glance, this premium bag looks like an ordinary backpack, which is an advantage because it won’t draw unusual attention from pickpockets. However, this backpack is loaded with both quality and safety features such as steel mesh wire throughout the body and straps, making the bag slash-proof.
Two main compartments feature a laptop or tablet sleeve, organizer pockets for small items, a zipped RFID protection pocket, and plenty of room to accommodate books, a camera, jacket and shoes. An inside mesh pocket is large enough to hold shoes or towels. Two outside mesh pockets can each fit a 32-ounce water bottle. Zipper tabs on each compartment can be drawn together and locked with a security clip or external lock. Well-padded shoulder straps and a design that distributes weight evenly also make the investment on this bag worthwhile.
2 Best Anti-theft Wallets
1. [Best Neck Wallet] Lewis N. Clark RFID Hidden Wallet
If you’re going to be visiting tourist areas where pickpocketing may be common, this neck wallet may be just the right wallet for you. Wearing a neck wallet keeps your money, credit cards, and other important information close to you where you can keep your eye on it at all times.
This affordable Lewis N. Clark wallet is made with strong nylon fabric and a lanyard to prevent it from being ripped away. It also includes several compartments and RFID-blocking technology to protect your credit card data. You can choose to wear this neck wallet inside or outside your clothing.
2. [Best Bluetooth Wallet] Kukoo Smart Bluetooth Anti-theft Wallet
With its thin, sleek leather design, thieves would never guess at all the high-tech, anti-theft features in this wallet. This wallet uses Bluetooth technology to connect to your smartphone so that you can find your wallet’s location easily if lost or stolen (and vice versa if needed).
What’s more, this wallet also offers a small USB charging port and RFID-blocking for your credit card and ID protection.
2 Best Travel Locks
1. [Best for Family] TSA Approved Cable Luggage Locks
This set of 4 luggage locks is an affordable choice for the whole family. TSA approved, these locks each feature an alloy body with steel cables that are strong and flexible. Moreover, they each have a 3-digit combination and are easy to use with a variety of items such as suitcases, briefcases, laptop bags, purses, and even lockers and safes containing your valuables.
2. [Best for Security] Forge TSA Locks with Open Alert
Not only are they made with alloy and hardened steel, but these locks are also designed with a red “Open Alert” indicator that lets you know if a lock has been opened. Backed with a lifetime warranty, these locks come with a 3-digit combination and can be used on your luggage, backpack, laptop case or gym locker.
2 Best Anti-Theft Travel Purses
1. [Best for Style and Security] Travelon Anti-Theft Classic Mini Shoulder Bag
Designed with a resilient material that makes it slash-proof, this lightweight purse comes in a wide range of colors with a main compartment and compact zipper pocket to store small belongings. The main compartment has a locking feature and RFID technology that protects your credit cards and passport from scanning thieves.
2. [Best for Versatility] Travistar Multifunction Backpack / Purse
If you are one of those people who appreciate accessories that can be used in a variety of ways, you will love this Travistar travel bag. Available in assorted colors, this trendy, lightweight bag can be worn as a crossbody bag, a backpack or shoulder purse.
While it has no pockets, this bag offers plenty of room for your belongings. As a security bonus, this bag is made of sturdy canvas material to keep your possessions safe.
4 Other Anti-theft Products
1. [Best Door Lock] Addalock
Have you ever been in a hotel room where you felt like the door was not secure enough? Or, maybe you have experienced someone barging into your bathroom not realizing you were inside. This portable door lock is the perfect solution for such cases.
It is easy to pack in your luggage and simple to install without any tools on any door that opens inward, whether it be to a hotel room, a bathroom or bedroom. You can use the Addalock at home and when you travel so that you can enjoy both privacy and security.
2. [Best Money Belt] Travel Security Belt with Hidden Money Pocket
Some money belts are more like fanny packs that attract attention from skilled thieves, but no one will ever know you are wearing this money belt except you. Designed with strong nylon, quality webbing, and a reinforced buckle, this belt features an inside zipper where you can stash your travel documents and money bills.
Unlike similar belts, this RoomierLife money belt does not require bills to be folded. Even more, this belt is fully adjustable for both men and women waist sizes.
3. [Best Portable Lockbox] SAFEGO Portable Indoor/Outdoor Lockbox
When traveling, you may need a safe place to store your valuable goodies such as jewelry and electronic devices as well as important documents. The SAFEGO portable lockbox is made with one of the world’s strongest plastics and a lock that can withstand sand, water, and salt erosion. This lockbox can keep your belongings safe from all weather conditions and high impact.
Additionally, this lockbox has a steel cable that can loop around any fixed object, protecting it against thieves. You will also appreciate the adjustable plug opening to charge electronics or listen to music while the box is completely locked. This lockbox is lightweight and can be used anywhere including cars, hotel rooms, pools, resorts, beaches and gyms.
4. [Best RFID Sleeves] RFID Blocking Sleeves Set
Sadly, electronic fraud and ID theft are common all over the globe whether you are traveling or staying right in your own hometown. However, you can protect yourself with this set of 15 card sleeves that are made with RFID blocking material that prevents thieves from scanning your digital data.
These water- and tear-resistant card sleeves are all color-coded to make it easier for you to identify which cards you need at any given moment. You can use these card sleeves to protect your credit cards, passport, hotel key, driver’s license, green card, and other travel ID documents.
We recommend picking up a travel insurance policy before traveling to Africa. It can cover surprise visits to a medical clinic and protect your belongings should they get lost or damaged.
FAQs About Anti-theft Backpacks and Gear
How are anti-theft backpacks different from regular backpacks?
Anti-theft backpacks really don’t look any different than other backpacks. What distinguishes them are anti-theft features such as slash-proof material, locking zippers, built-in steel cables, secret compartments, and RFID protection.
Are anti-theft travel bags worth the cost?
The best anti-theft backpacks may cost more than regular backpacks because of their security features, but we think they are worth it. Most thieves that are on the move don’t want to waste time on pickpocketing a travel bag that appears too difficult to open. If a thief sees that your backpack either has locked or non-visible zippers, he/she will most likely move on.
Do I really need a slash-proof backpack?
Although less common than pickpocketing, slash-and-run theft does happen, especially in large, international cities. A thief quickly stabs and slashes your backpack to snatch the contents, or he/she slashes the straps to steal the entire bag. However, if your backpack is made with steel mesh or some other slash-proof material, the thief will simply come up empty-handed.
Are there any downsides to owning an anti-theft backpack?
An anti-theft backpack could mistakenly make you feel invincible. No backpack is a total guarantee against theft. Just because you have a backpack loaded with anti-theft features doesn’t mean you should entirely let your guard down. If you find yourself in a situation of protecting your life or your expensive backpack, you should not hesitate to hand over your bag.
What is RFID?
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Is RFID Protection Necessary?
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7 Travel Safety Tips: How Not to Get Robbed
Like any other country in the world, Uganda has its share of criminals who seek to prey on innocent tourists who may not be familiar with certain areas and customs. Many robberies can be avoided by practicing a few precautions.
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The following steps can make you less of a target for theft:
1. Always Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Try to make sure you always know where you are and where the nearest police station or town center is located. This also includes paying attention to what the locals are doing. Are they going about their business, or are they hanging around looking suspicious? Are they relaxed, or are they behaving warily and guarding their possessions closely? In this case, you may need to follow the locals’ example because they certainly know if the area is dangerous or not. Additionally, don’t use your phone while in an unfamiliar area. This can distract you from potential robbers. Instead, step inside a shop or restaurant to use your phone.
2. Be Extra Careful at Night
Try not to walk alone at night and avoid places where you could be surprised such as dark alleys, beneath overpasses, or in wooded areas. If someone stops to ask you for a ride, politely thank them and say that your destination is nearby.
3. Be Confident and Don’t Look Like a Tourist
Thieves are intimidated by people who look confident and feed on those who appear fearful. It is important for you to be safe, but do not be scared. Even if you feel lost, try to walk around like you know where you are going. Keep your head up, looking around often. This lets would-be thieves know that you are on guard. Sometimes, a nod or greeting in the local language can also deter a thief. Additionally, don’t flaunt any fancy gadgets or wear any flashy clothing that announces you are a tourist with money on hand.
4. Keep Your Valuables in Sight
Always keep your possessions close to you. If you don’t have an anti-theft bag, put your wallet in your front pocket. Wear purses crossbody-style instead of hanging on the shoulder. Wear your backpack in front or at least make sure the zippers are locked. Don’t allow your electronics to be visible unless you are using them.
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5. Watch Out for the Scammers
Be aware of locals who offer you free or cheap tourist services such as unofficial taxi rides and sightseeing guides. This is often a ruse to scam you. Others may “accidentally” spill something on you or bump into you and then offer to help you. Politely refuse their help, or you could find yourself suddenly pickpocketed.
6. Stick With Other People
You are safer if you stay nearby other people. If you are traveling alone, try to blend in with other tourists or sightseeing groups so that you appear to be with them.
7. Stay Sober
If you are going to drink alcohol or partake in drugs, make sure you do it in a safe place with people you trust. Becoming intoxicated around strangers is just asking them to rob you.
Planning Your Uganda Trip
With its amazing wildlife, birds, natural beauty, and friendly people, Uganda is a wonderful country that shouldn’t be missed out on because of concerns over robbery stories that are common everywhere.
When you practice smart safety measures and equip yourself with one of the best anti-theft backpacks and other security accessories, you will make yourself less vulnerable to theft.