This review is also posted to the product page on Amazon for the Pacsafe Venturesafe 45L GII, Navy Blue, One Size. I bought this bag wanting to have the security features. I tried hard to like it, but several things really stood out that made me have to return it. I loaded it up with mainly clothes (sans laptop) and carried it around for about an hour to get a feel for it. Here’s what I thought.
The security features of this bag are a very compelling reason to get it. It’s the only reason I didn’t give it a one-star rating. The exomesh throughout allows you not to worry about your bag being slashed. The unique zippers prevent someone from using a ballpoint pen to pop it open and the zipper pulls combined with the locking mechanism would thwart the casual opportunistic thief. It also comes with a small wire cable to attach the bag to a fixed object. The security was well-intentioned.
The size is just about right for a carry-on bag and I was able to put nearly all my stuff into it for an RTW journey without it bursting at the seams. The bag’s main compartment completely unzips to allow easy packing and removal. The main compartment has a full-length mesh pocket on the lid and a 4-point stabilizing/compression strap inside. There are also outside compression straps to help squeeze it down to carry-on size. The outside also has two attachment points made of a rubberized fabric that appears to be sturdy enough to strap something to the outside.
The shoulder straps and hip belt stow behind a semi-rigid plastic back panel making it easier to put into an overhead compartment on a plane or when you want to check your bag.
The bag is uncomfortable to carry fully-loaded. This one complaint is the primary reason I returned it. The shoulder straps have very little padding. The top of the shoulder straps doesn’t extend all the way to the attachment point on the pack itself. Instead there’s a short section of narrower nylon webbing, similar to the hip belt, that connects the shoulder strap to the top of the pack. Presumably, the more flexible nylon webbing allows the strap to be stowed behind the padded back, however, the nylon webbing material isn’t very sturdy and makes the pack wobbly. It also looks like a possible point of failure, especially if you pick up the pack by one strap and sling it on your shoulder. Do that a couple hundred times and that’s likely to start tearing. The inside of the straps against your body has this mesh material that acts like sandpaper against your skin, so you can’t carry this with exposed shoulders. The edges of the thin shoulder straps dig into your neck and after a while gets painful. Normally, this wouldn’t be an issue if you could put a majority of the weight on your hips, which leads to the next issue.
The hip belt is a joke. It doesn’t extend far enough around your hips to provide any real comfort and is made of the same thin materials as the shoulder strap. After about 20 minutes, the strap starts digging into your hips and gets painful. Since the shoulder straps are fixed to one position, as is the hip belt, this bag will only fit specific torso lengths on people between 5’2″ and 5’9″, although I’m 5’9″ and it seemed too small for me. I had to extend the shoulder straps out quite a bit to allow the hip belt to actually ride on my hips, but then the top of the pack would sway because the shoulder straps were extended so far. If I tighten the shoulder straps, they would place weight on my shoulders and dig into my neck. On the other extreme, my wife is 4’11” and the shoulder straps didn’t tighten down enough before she ran out of adjustment strap. The semi-rigid padded plastic against your back seems keep the bag’s shape as does the exomesh in the fabric, but only a sheet of HDPE plastic is used as the internal frame to transfer the load to your hips. I guess that’s just one of the many limitations and compromises necessary to keep it light and stowable.
I liked the idea behind the sternum strap; it adjusts up and down along a plastic track. Unfortunately, it doesn’t adjust far enough and seems to cross your chest at less than optimal positions. To be fair, I have found very few sternum straps that are comfortable.
The manufacturer says it has a pocket for a laptop, but that pocket is unpadded and in the outside compartment of this bag. That places the heaviest object in your pack the furthest away from your back, which goes against all the rules of how to pack. Of course, that’s assuming you can even get the laptop into that pocket. The outside compartment has a zippered opening that only runs along the top of the compartment and about a quarter of the way down the sides. If you put something into that outside pocket, it will eventually slide all the way to the bottom. If the pack is full, you probably won’t be able to reach, much less see, what’s at the bottom. There are small mesh pockets about halfway down inside that are nearly impossible to reach or see if the pack is full. Without a full-length zipper, the outside compartment is just about useless.
Although the security features would stop bag slashers, snatchers and pickpockets, don’t think for moment it would stop a more determined thief. If all the security components were made of metal, this bag would be like a safe. However, most of the locking components are made of plastic and the security cable is thin stranded wire. Granted, the plastic is a heavy-duty nylon that would be difficult to break, but definitely won’t stop wire cutters, a hammer, a rock, or a piece of metal to pry it apart. Professional thieves have been known to use liquid-nitrogen to freeze and break metal locking mechanisms. Plastic would be too easy for them. That said, I wouldn’t leave it unattended, like at a train station or even a hotel room. You’re just inviting disaster, which leads to…
The bright blue and fluorescent green color is garish and ugly. The bright green colors call attention to the bag (and its contents) when you probably wish to be discreet. Nothing screams out, “I HAVE SOMETHING VALUABLE,” like a bright green PacSafe logo that can be seen a half-mile away. If I had kept this bag, I would have taken a Sharpie to those green logos. However, the bright green buckles I would have to live with. Too bad the other colors weren’t available.
There are much better bags out there which are definitely more comfortable, but if you’re really more concerned about security over comfort, then this bag may work for you. At $225, it’s also one of the most expensive bags for its size. Pacsafe’s 55L bag looks like is has all the features lacking in this bag, such as a real backpacking harness, but it’s not carry-on size and the extra space would encourage over-packing. Overall, because it wasn’t comfortable to carry, I gave it only 2-stars. If you still want to buy this bag, here’s our affiliate link to the product on Amazon: Pacsafe Venturesafe 45L GII, Navy Blue, One Size.