With superb security features, the Pacsafe VentureSafe 65 is ideal if you travel in crowded destinations full of skilled pickpockets. This pack is quite comfortable and is super easy to pack thanks to the panel loading construction and internal compression system.
Packs with full frames and hip belts like the VentureSafe 65 are comfortable for walking. Other features like breathable mesh, sternum straps, and adjustable shoulder straps help too.
This was one of two packs that received a score of 9/10 for comfort. The waist belt and shoulder straps are plush and were quite comfortable even when the pack was fully loaded. If you often have trouble getting a good pack fit, you'll love the adjustability of this pack. The shoulder straps are attached to the back panel with velcro for easy maneuverability. Adjust them up or down depending on the length of your spine and use the two load lifter positions for a perfect fit. Aluminum stays keep the back panel rigid and do excellent work transferring load to the hip belt.
In humid climates, this pack won't be as comfortable as ones with mesh or airflow channels, but the upside to the design of this pack is that it won't fill with grit or sand in drier, dirtier climates. The carry handle on the top and side of the pack are padded and comfortable when carrying the pack by hand.
With excellent adjustability, the Pacsafe fits a wide range of people quite well. It is comfortable and holds quite a load.
If we awarded a trophy for coolest security related features, the Pacsafe VentureSafe 65 would win it, pack it, and keep it safe. There are a lot of trustworthy people in this world, but unfortunately for everyone, there are more than a few people who can't be trusted to leave other people's thing alone. That's why this pack comes with some really nifty security-related features. It even has an included steel cable and locking mechanism so that you can secure your bag to something sturdy. Both pairs of zipper pulls lock together and can be secured to the pack's zipper locking mechanism that twists to lock (a pickpocket would have to know how to do this, it took us a moment to figure it out). This system is certainly secure enough when the pack is on your back, but can be easily secured with a TSA friendly travel lock for additional protection.
Concerned that someone at the hostel might walk away with your pack? Simply girth hitch the included cable to your bed and go about your business. Not content to just be told this thing works, we looped the cable around a tree then tried to cut it with a handheld pair of wire cutters. We broke the wire cutters. They say that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and for this pack that weak link is the plastic locking mechanism to which the cable is secured. We were able to break the plastic after torquing on it for a few seconds with a pair of channel locking pliers. Check out the clip below.
Another security feature the Pacsafe VentureSafe 65 comes with are the puncture resistant zippers and embedded slash proof technology (aka cable netting sandwiched between the fabrics). The wire netting will protect against an on-the-go slash attempt, but if your pack is left unattended, a thief can still cut through the fabric (as expected). After about a minute of concentrated knife-on-pack action, we cut enough cables and opened a hole large enough to access the pack's contents. Oh, and in case you're wondering, the slash resistant cable netting will not withstand the wrath of a ninja sword (good to know if you're the next Indiana Jones!). Check out our slash testing video below.
While we were able to open the pack even when it was locked tight, it took much more effort than it would with any other pack. The pack's fabrics themselves were more difficult to cut through than we expected. Overall, this pack will protect your stuff from crooks much better than any other pack we've reviewed.
We tested the security of the cable and locking mechanism by having our friend attempt to steal the pack. Tug as he might, he was thwarted.
As is usually the case with security of any kind, the downside is that it's difficult and time consuming to exercise your freedom to access the contents of your own bag. There aren't any zipped external pockets for quick access to small things.
This bag also has a zip-up flap to protect the shoulder straps and hip belt during flight. While harshly tugging on the zippers to simulate the impatience often generated by long airport lines and the cumulative stresses of international travel, we accidentally broke both cords on either zipper pull for the zip-up flap. The second tester wasn't trying to yank on it, she was just trying to see how fast she could transition the pack off her shoulders to fully zipped up checked-bag mode. She snapped the plastic pull completely off. This wasn't a huge issue as zipper pulls can be replaced on the go with string, a paper clip, or Sugru.
While trying to see how fast we could zip up the flap over the shoulder straps, on two separate occasions, we broke the zipper pulls. Thankfully, these can be replaced easily.
Ease of Packing
Fat and robust zippers on the front panel open let you butterfly this pack all the way open. The back panel is flat and the shape of the pack allows you to easily set two stacks of clothes side by side. If you avoid wrinkles like you avoid standing next to someone who's sneezing at the airport, you'll greatly appreciate the excellent internal compression that presses your clothes firmly against the back of the bag. The front of the panel has a mesh zippered area for socks. Meanwhile, the smaller zipped compartment toward the front of the bag is large enough to swallow your computer. Toward the front of this there is a deep zipper pocket and toward the back there is a pocket large enough for two average sized hands to fit side-by-side. We found this pocket too large for our desired uses and wish there was as smaller pocket more adequately sized for just a passport, some money, and a phone.
The VentureSafe fit all of the items in the left photo
While much of the body of this pack is made with 840 denier ballistics nylon, our sharp rock abrasion test yielded some small holes on the zip-up sleeve. Interestingly, the wear was all concentrated on the plastic buckles of the shoulder straps. While this test was far from scientific, we think it shows how this pack will wear over time. For most users, this pack will likely prove quite durable and will stand up to the rigors of normal travel with ease. Eventually, you may start noticing some wear here and there, but small holes and abrasions are easily patched with duct-tape or five minutes with a needle and thread.
This pack isn't as durable as others. When the flap is zipped over the shoulder straps, the straps press against the frame of the pack and concentrate wear as seen in the photo on the right.
Armor never comes without the expense of weight, and this pack is no different tipping the scales at 5 lbs, 11 oz. This pack weighs 1.4 oz per liter making it one of the least weight efficient packs in the review. This high weight to volume ratio makes this pack a poor contender if you want to use the bag for backpacking in the outdoors.
This is the pack to beat when it comes to traveling in sketchy locations where a multitude of wandering hands abound. When paired with a small travel day pack like the Best Buy award winning REI Stuff Travel 20, you'll have a formidable system for all your international travels.
Keeping your valuables secure in a foreign country will be well worn the $325 investment this pack requires. It may be the most expensive pack in the review, but it's likely the most expensive to produce courtesy of all the unique security features. While it falls toward the bottom of our price/value chart, the security features could pay big dividends in the long run.
The hip belt and shoulder straps are quite adjustable and comfortable making it easy to get a great fit. With more security related features than any other pack, the Pacsafe VentureSafe 65 will give you peace of mind especially if you're traveling alone and need to leave your pack often. It is a top contender, but didn't win any awards because it wasn't as durable or light as the Osprey Farpoint, nor as versatile as the Deuter Quantum 70 + 10 or Eagle Creek Deviate 60.
This bag has the best internal compression system of any that we reviewed. The triangle shaped design provides a maximum amount of contact between your clothes and the strap. This was useful to keep our clothes pressed firmly agains the back of the bag.