Does the SlingSafe 200 Really Thwart Pickpockets?

by Gray Cargill on August 3, 2011

La Rambla

La Rambla, Barcelona

If you start researching a trip to Spain, one security issue will become glaringly apparent: There are a lot of incidents of pickpocketing in the country. Everyone and their brother will warn you about it, and they’ll all have a personal story about how it happened to them. . .and how fiendishly clever the pickpockets were, since they never noticed it happening to them! In a way, this is not newsworthy. Anyone who has traveled to any country in Europe in the past millennium has probably been warned about pickpockets. I was paranoid about them when I went to London. I was paranoid about them when I went to Paris. But honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever read such an overwhelming number of posts about people who had been pickpocketed as I did while preparing for my trip to Spain.

So then I became really paranoid. I decided my usual methods of protecting my personal items wasn’t enough. Keeping my passport in the room safe was all fine and well, but what if it got stolen in the airport or the train station? What if keeping my money and credit cards in a snug front pocket wasn’t enough? I decided it was time to look into a PacSafe day bag for my trip. PacSafe is a well-known maker of anti-theft bags and travel gear. I had a credit at Amazon.com thanks to a generous coworker who gave it to me for my birthday, so I used that to purchase the SlingSafe 200, a day bag (or travel purse, if you will).

Does the SlingSafe 200 really thwart pickpockets? My quick answer is: I have no idea. I’m not a pickpocket. And if they’re as fiendishly clever as people seem to believe, then how would I even know if they had tried to get into my PacSafe? Ultimately, I had nothing stolen. But then, I never had anything stolen in London or Paris, either, and I wasn’t using a PacSafe then. I’ll tell you what it is effective for: Peace of mind. Once I saw how it worked, I just used it and didn’t give too much thought to pickpockets. This allowed me to relax and enjoy my trip–most of the time. (Old habits die hard: Whenever I felt someone was invading my personal space or walking too closely behind me, I moved away from them.)

For those of you who prefer a few more details, here’s my review:

SlingSafe 200

Long shoulder strap allows you to wear it across your body

The perfect size bag for me

I chose the SlingSafe 200 as my day bag for 2 reasons: The length of the shoulder strap and the size of the bag. I liked that the shoulder strap was long enough for me to wear it comfortably across my body–which is the best deterrent to purse-snatching that I know of (other than not carrying a purse). The bag was big enough to fit my DSLR and point-and-shoot cameras, as well as a bottle of water, my moleskine journal, a pen, travel maps and notes without being so big and bulky it would have annoyed me.

SlingSafe interior

SlingSafe interior

I will say, though, that if I had brought my DSLR wide lens and had to carry that, too, it would have been too much. On the days when I needed to carry my compact umbrella because of sporadic rain showers, I couldn’t fit that in the bag with everything else. So I clipped it to the bag and either let it hang down or rested it on top of the bag while I walked.

SlingSafe 200

The bag is made of a nylon-type material

It’s not high fashion

I went with a black bag, because I felt it was more attractive than the other choices. Your mileage may vary. In either case, high fashion it isn’t. One of the key security features of the bag is that it’s made of a slash-proof material that feels like waterproof nylon. It will never be mistaken for an expensive designer bag. (This is also good from a security standpoint. The last thing you want to be carrying around a city of pickpockets and thieves is an expensive-looking purse.) But it’s very functional, and that’s what I was looking for in a camera/day bag.

Strap clip

Strap can be unclipped to hook around a sturdy object and reclipped

The safety features

  • The entire bag–including the shoulder strap–is slashproof.
  • The shoulder strap is long enough to wear across the body, so it can’t be snatched away from you.
  • The shoulder strap clips to the purse; you can remove the clip, wrap the strap around a table leg while dining and clip it to the purse again to secure it. Or just do what I did and keep it in your lap.
  • There is only one compartment that is relatively open to the world (though it has velcro to keep shut). As long as you keep your arm over the bag, and use that compartment for less important items (like maps), you don’t have to worry about it.
  • Every other compartment has more than one barrier between thieves and the content: a flap and a zipper, or a flap and two zippers.
  • There is a smaller zippered compartment within the largest zippered compartment where you can place electronics (like a cell phone or mp3 player) or loose money and credit cards.
  • The best feature, in my opinion, other than the slashproof material, is the hook enclosure for the flap of the purse, which is concealed. Once that is secure, no one is going to get into your bag without you knowing about it. Imagine a pickpocket’s frustration, assuming all they have to is lift the flap of your purse to grab your stuff, only they can’t lift the flap! Ha!
  • The only way I can imagine a pickpocket getting into this bag–or running away with it–is if you set it down somewhere and walk away from it. Which I know you wouldn’t do, right?
Flap Hook

Flap Hook

This may not be the right day bag for everyone, but it’s the right bag for me. It has enough room for the items I need to carry with me and is less bulky and sweaty than carrying everything around in my knapsack. You can check out this and other anti-theft bags from PacSafe at their website. And just for the record, PacSafe did not pay me for this review, nor did they ask me to write it. In fact, they probably don’t even know I exist. I’m just a satisfied customer.

 

Gray August 31, 2011 at 9:39 pm

Oh good point–it would seem stylish to the techie crowd, for sure. Good eye, Christine!

GRRRL TRAVELER August 31, 2011 at 7:59 pm

Nice one Gray! I been through several travel packs all to find the right one for me (& which fits all my camera equipment & now, laptop!). I haven’t found one yet that’s as practical as my Korean backpack (which has many hidden pockets & which I’ve mopped around Asia/SEA with). But I did consider the Sling Safe a few years ago when I was going to.. Spain! I liked that the straps had wire sewed into them to make them knife proof! I eventually went with a cheaper sling option. I still think about getting the Sling Safe every once in a while though.

As for the design, I think it’s sturdy, though I’ll bet you can rock it fashion wise in places like Asia. It’s kinda techie in style or can pass off as that. I’d take it shopping with me.

Gray Cargill August 7, 2011 at 1:35 pm

Wow, you tested 5 bags, Maria? Impressive. The SlingSafe would definitely not be the purse for a shopper, for sure. Good point.

Maria August 7, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Was just in Barcelona! I ordered 5 bags before I left, practiced at home and returned 4 – including sling safe.

Sling Safe is a good bag but doesn’t offer enough interior space. I prefer Kipling “Lancelot” for it’s expansion possibilities as you move through your day (water bottle, purchases, mementos, etc…)

I usually return home in the evening with more than I walked out the door with that morning. *grin*

Gray August 6, 2011 at 7:51 pm

Woo, PacSafe fans unite! 🙂 What is a “securse”?

Trans-Americas Journey August 6, 2011 at 6:27 pm

I carry a PacSafe bag too during my ongoing Trans-Americas Journey road trip through North, Central and South America. I call it my “securse.”

Gray August 5, 2011 at 5:22 am

Ooh, caught redhanded–I love it! That is reassuring. Not happy to hear about the clip though. Thanks for the feedback, Lauren!

Globetrooper Lauren August 5, 2011 at 12:43 am

I love my pacsafe bag – I’ve got the smaller one though. I’ve had it for over a year travelling and I’ve never had anything stolen from it. Pickpockets have tried and FAILED, Ha!
Recently I was in Ulaanbaatar and I was wearing my bag across the body (like your photo) but with the bag behind me. Suddenly I felt all the weight go out of it, so I turned around and there was a guy there trying to put his sticky fingers in! Luckily I had the hook on and this is was they key to what stopped him and made me realise something was going on. So I told him to pee off and went on my merry way, money and valuables in tact!
Thanks for the review Gray. The only negative thing I can say about it is the clip from the strap to the bag isn’t as foolproof as the rest of the bag. Mine broke about 6 months ago and I was able to clip it so it still does the job, but I thought it’d be more hard-wearing.

Kristin August 3, 2011 at 2:46 pm

I was also paranoid of pickpocketers too. When I went on a train in Italy I sat with my bookbag locked with a luggage lock and on my lap. My mother and I were probably ridiculous and scared looking. ha

I’ve always thought about buying a safebag, but they are all so hideous… But I will think about getting one now. =)

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