I’ve had the opportunity to check out quite a few backpacks and messenger bags at various trade shows, and we’ve reviewed a handful already. But this past January, I managed to get hands-on with the Pacsafe line of travel gear, and came away quite impressed. One of the products that caught my eye was their Venturesafe™ 150 anti-theft cross-body pack. Yeah, it’s a long name for a pretty tidy little product. Basically, they took the only redeeming virtue of a fanny pack (they hold your stuff) and combined that with the style and function of a messenger bag. So you can have a pack sized just right for carrying your essentials, without looking like a total dork. Oh, they also added all the magical Pacsafe features that keep thieves from stealing your stuff from you when you’re out an about.
Since this happens to be exactly the kind of product that should appeal to our readers, Pacsafe was kind enough to send us one for evaluation.
The Venturesafe™ 150 is pretty rich in features. Starting from the outside, you’ll find a generously padded strap that’s adjustable across a sixteen inch range, varying the total length (which includes the bag itself) from 38″ to 54″. The lower part of the bag has a loop for a blinkie light, if you’re cycling in low light. Above that is a small zippered compartment for quick access to minimal security items like change and bus tokens. Directly above that is a larger, secure compartment (using their Smart zipper security™) with a pocket that serves as a divider, while providing the ideal location for an MP3 player, since there’s a headphone port at the top. Moving on, there’s another secure zipper which opens to the main compartment. Inside, you’ll find an elastic loop for a pen or similar sized object. Just below that is a split ring for securely attaching keys. Another pocket separates items, and this would probably be the best place for tickets and a passport when traveling. In keeping with the security theme, there’s even a zipper concealing yet another slender compartment, perfect for your cash, plus a key clip. Camouflaged in the back’s black mesh padding is a zippered pocket that runs the entire length and width of the pack as well.
So how secure is it? The two large external zippers each use the Smart zipper security™, which uses a partially concealed clip to lock the zipper pull closed. It takes two hands to open them when secured this way. A plastic buckle concealed at the bottom requires two hands as well – one to pinch the sides, one to press the center button. There are two stainless steel wires running through the strap, preventing thieves from cutting the strap and running off with your pack. If they were planning on just cutting the pack open with a razor, they’ll be foiled by the eXomesh® slashguards. Granted, we may not have to worry about these things on a bike ride, but if you’re travels take you to someplace like France or Italy, you’re much less likely to become a victim of their famed pickpockets and thieves.
In use, the pack is easy to adjust, and comfortable to wear. At 12.6″ x 6.7″ x 2.4″, it’s sized just right for a phone, wallet, snack, and maybe a compact camera, plus a few other items. Basically, it’s just about perfect for when you’ve got a few things to carry, and don’t need a laptop-sized bag. In addition, a standard cycling water bottle fits with ease, as do larger reusable water bottles for hot and cold drinks. The security features are intuitive to use, and unobtrusive when not required. For a casual bike ride, or a family outing, it accommodated everything I needed and nothing I didn’t. If you’re looking for a highly secure pack without laptop/tablet capability, this is a top choice. www.pacsafe.com
*The images in the article are stock Pacsafe photos. These are a couple of attempts to show a bit of the interior, as well as the headphone port. The one to the left is the secure main compartment, and the extra internal pocket accessed by another zipper within it. To the right, you can see where the headphone wire exits the port in the top compartment.