June 2, 2007 The petty criminal's work is based on minimal risk for maximal reward - snatching an unwatched handbag, slashing a backpack and collecting the spoils as they fall, sizing up which tourist is carrying a laptop or camera they can easily make off with. Simple measures to make life more difficult for thieves can act as an excellent deterrent, and this is where PacSafe has carved its market niche. Starting out with a slashproof metal net to protect backpackers' gear on the road, PacSafe has extended its line to include quick and practical secure carrybags for a range of urban and travel situations. With the latest anti-theft laptop backpack in tow, Gizmag's Loz Blain reports.

PacSafe is a familiar brand to me; I took one of the company's original steel backpack nets with me on a round-the-world jaunt back in 2001 - and used it faithfully for around the first month. After that, I decided that my ancient laptop and stinky socks were hardly the most desirable booty for thieves, and I couldn't be bothered with the effort of fitting the fiddly net around the pack every time we left it somewhere. The result? One stolen laptop in Ireland.

Had I used the PacSafe net faithfully, I'd still have an ancient laptop. Had the PacSafe not been so fiddly to use, I would have used it faithfully. I get the feeling this has been a common story - and it seems PacSafe have been listening, because their new range, from what I've seen, strikes an excellent balance between security and practicality.

I've been using the DaySafe 100 for about a month now, and for the bulk of the time it's just another backpack. It looks good, feels fine, and holds things. It's not until you're out and about that the clever features making it a more secure backpack come to the fore.

For starters, one of the straps unclips so you can attach it onto something solid and prevent walk-by bag snatch attempts. About a five second time investment. Then there's the tamper-proof zips, which similarly clip down to make it very difficult for somebody to unzip the pack while you carry it. Again, about a five second time investment.

Finally, the main event - velcroed inside the DaySafe is a removable tote pouch for valuables such as laptops, camera gear, and the like. PacSafe say it's big enough for a 13" laptop but my 15" Toshiba slotted in with plenty of room to spare. The tote is essentially a steel mesh shell similar to the original PacSafe net, built into a weather-resistant soft nylon pouch and secured with a steel drawstring. Once you've locked your valuables in the tote, the steel drawstring extends so you can wrap it around something solid and lock it back inside the bag. The tote is slash-proof, and nothing short of a set of bolt-cutters will get through the high-tensile steel drawstring. There's plenty of room in the rest of the bag for less valuable items so you're not always opening up the pouch.

Best of all, the time taken to lock your laptop in the DaySafe and secure it to something solid is about 30 seconds, maximum - so you use it. I've even taking to leaving the laptop in the bag and locked to a pipe in the cupboard at home when it's not in use - and leaving the laptop locked up doesn't mean you can't use the backpack; you just remove the eXomesh pouch and use the backpack without it.

The DaySafe 100, retailing at US$130, is one of a line of recent PacSafe releases designed to be secure and easy to use around town and on holiday. The range now includes shoulder bags, fanny packs, purses and handbags, as well as the original PacSafe, the backpack range and some very cool and well-conceived products for motorcyclists.

It's clever gear; stylish, effective, usable and reasonably affordable, especially if you consider how many people are carrying expensive electronics around with them on a daily basis. And while there's little to stop a thief with bolt-cutters, the PacSafe gear certainly does its job in making your valuables significantly harder to get to than the next person's - and in most cases, that's probably enough.

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