In today’s connected and technology-driven world, it’s hard to go anywhere without the need to take along some pretty expensive tech gadgets. And if you’re a traveling professional, remote teleworker or anyone who works in a technology related field, then it’s even more highly likely that you have some form of laptop or tablet device with you – possibly both.
Unfortunately, with so many portable electronic devices being carried around these days, device and data theft crimes have skyrocketed. Though most corporations provide their employees with safety guidelines on how to best protect their technology assets and intellectual property when traveling, opportunistic device theft is still a major problem.
Smarter Travel Gear
Pacsafe has a comprehensive line-up of anti-theft products ranging from RFID blocking wallets to roll along luggage, and everything in between. For the past few months I’ve been testing the Pacsafe Z28 backpack which is part of their Heritage series.
The Pacsafe Z28 urban security backpack is one of the largest mobile security backpacks available on the market.
With a cavernous 28L interior main compartment, this thing is more than big enough to carry all of your technology needs and much more. It is constructed of heavy-duty polyester canvas.
Despite its size, the Z28 is very comfortable to wear with its quilted back support and fully adjustable padded shoulder harness with sternum strap and waist strap, both of which are removable. In the photo above, you can see me wearing the Z28 into the office. For size comparison purposes I am 5 foot 8 inches and 155 lbs.
Taking a Closer Look
There are two main components to the Z28 backpack; the lid and the main compartment. Toward the back of the lid there is a fairly large zippered pocket that contains a plastic key loop attachment. This pocket can easily hold sunglasses, phone, keys, and other small personal items that you may need quick access to. Just behind the top lid pocket there is a typical hauling handle.
Inside the pack’s lid there is an internal zippered pocket that is slightly smaller and has no organizational features. Both the external lid pocket and this internal one are not secure and can be accessed even when the Z28′s eXomesh® locking system is in use. In other words, don’t store any valuables in these pockets!
The main compartment of the Z28 is extremely basic. There are no additional pockets or organizing pouches as part of the main body of the pack. However, there is a removable padded sleeve with two compartments. The larger compartment is designed to hold a laptop and is perfectly sized to take my 15″ MacBookPro. The smaller compartment is designed to hold an iPad or tablet device. A safety trap makes sure that your precious devices don’t slide out of the soft, padded sleeve.
Pacsafe’s eXomesh® Locking System
At the heart of the Z28′s anti-theft security claim is its patented eXomesh® locking system that is integrated into the very fabric of the main compartment of the pack. The eXomesh® system consists of a braided stainless steel net or cage that is sandwiched between the rugged canvas layers that make up the backpack. You can easily see the mesh cage between the layers in what looks like a series of criss-crossing veins.
To utilize the eXomesh® security system, simply cinch the top of the bag shut using the integrated wire cable. The cinching system uses a 2 foot long braided stainless steel security cable laced around the the opening of the pack. The cable runs through grommets in the top edge and between the sections of the inner mesh to create a fully enclosed stainless steel cage.
To lock the whole system in place, pull the affixed steel “lump” through the largest of the two holes in the plastic end cap and slide it over to the smaller hole so that is holds the cable in place.
Finally, place the provided hardened padlock through the larger hole and lock the padlock. The loop of the padlock obstructs the larger of the two holes and restricts the steel “lump” attached to the cable from passing back through, thereby locking the entire opening of the backpacking – simple yet very effective.
You can easily puncture the canvas layers of the backpack with a knife, but the only way to get access to the contents is with a pair of wire cutters. And while this may be easy to do for a prepared thief, the average opportunist most likely won’t carry a pair of wire cutters.
Locking the Pacsafe to a Fixture
To do this, simply wrap the end of the cable through an opening on the object. In this example, I’ve attached it to the underside of an office desk, and used the fixed loop on the end of the cable to attach it to the loop of the padlock.
This secures the bag to the object while at the same time securely encloses the contents of the pack in the eXomesh wire cage. It’s very similar to the laptop cable locks that many of you may be using.
While the Pacsafe Z28 may not stop a well prepared and determined thief, it will most likely protect against opportunistic crimes, and that’s what it’s intended for. The weakest point of this entire system is the padlock. If you recall our earlier post about how to unlock a padlock using a shim made from a Coke can, you’d know that it’s not hard to pop open a padlock. Of course that still requires extra time and expertise that not everyone will have, but you get my point.
I wish there were a slightly smaller option of this pack available. The 28L main compartment is enormous. It’s definitely big enough to function as a carry-on pack for traveling and could even store a few changes of clothes in addition to your gadgets, but for day to day office or commuting it’s just too big.
Another great addition to this pack would be some internal organization pouches and pockets. It lacks somewhere to clip in a few pens, stash some power cables or adapters, and slot in a notebook (of the paper variety).
This backpack would be great for anyone traveling and staying in a hotel room or for additional security when locking items in the trunk of your car. I also like that it is a very discrete looking backpack even when the cable is deployed.