Protect Your Bags & Property With Two Simple Items

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06/04/2008 – Protect Your Bags & Property With Two Simple Items

Many thefts in transit could have simply been avoided. No one is always alert, we all let our guard down, we are rushing to make our connection or just get away from the crowds. Rather than fall victim to those who prey on open backpacks and loose bags when you turn your back, you can protect yourself with two simple items.

When walking through the terminal, after you have loaded your laptop back into your bag after the security screening checkpoint, use a small combination lock to secure your zippers shut. Each of my zippers has it’s own lock, and with some bags I use one lock to secure all the zippers. This takes me less than 3 seconds to do, and is a major deterrent to would-be thieves. On the street thieves can use small knives to cut into bags or slash a zipper and steal a bag, in an airport this is highly unlikely. By using a lock on your zippers no one can walk behind you in a crowded airport after watching you drop your laptop in the slot and toss two lenses back into the outer compartment and then walk off with this gear without you noticing until it is to later. Thieves do not want to fumble around, they need to be quick and seem invisible to you at all times.

Once you find a place to sit in the airport, if you’re settling in for more than a few minutes get a small cable and lock kit, Eagle Creek makes a readily available kit. The Eagle Creek cable-and-lock kits go for around US$13/€8.50 and can quickly cinch up your bags together to an immovable object such as a bench. Often when I sit down, and am traveling with my cameras out of my bags. To secure my bag and cameras, I run the cable through my backpack, waist pack and through both my camera straps, then around a heavy secure object. This tends to take me less than 15 seconds to make sure my gear is secure. By securing my bags/cameras like this no one can do a “snatch-and-grab” and I can relax with an iPod, watch a movie, and depending the location/scenario, take a nap. I leave the cable visible to any would-be thief know that the bags are locked up and they just move along to someone else who is an easier target.

Below are photos of the Eagle Creek lock-and-cable, a detail photo of my North Face Borealis backpack’s zippers locked up and a photo my North Face Borealis backpack and Newswear belt with pouches locked to a bench at the airport.

Happy Flying!

–Click Images To Enlarge Them–


  1. Great post as usual.

    What do you do with your gear when you have to go to the water closet?

    Especially if you are dining in an airport lounge…?


  2. Tim:

    When in an airline lounge, such as the United’s Red Carpet, Delta’s Crown Room, BMI’s Diamond Club, Air France’s Lounge, etc etc etc, I will lock my bags to the chair or table I am eating at. I lock the bags shut, and in the care of something like the Newswear Pouches I asses the situation and generally bring it with me, as it cannot be locked shut. My camera’s come with me on my shoulders.

    In an airport restaurant I lock my bags to the table, just like in the lounge.

    If I am in an “open lounge” or the seating area I take it with me. Two carry on bags are not hard to schlep to the WC/Restroom.


  3. I just bought an Eagle Creek lock today at REI. Unfortunately, it wasn’t sold with the cable. However, I was able to find the same cable sold by itself in the bicycle-lock part of the store. I thought this might be useful information for people who already have a lock, or need extra cables.

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