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fanny pack safe?

I was reading about the pick pocketers in Rome. We just spent lots of money on a new video camera and small digital. I was planning on wearing a fanny pack at my waist to hold the cameras. Of course, a money belt for my valubles.
Do you think this will be safe?

Posted by
636 posts

Our family of 5 wore fanny packs for our entire trip, without any problem. The beauty of a fanny pack is that, if you feel like you need to be more protective (or, if you just prefer it), you can wear it on the front.

I much prefer a fanny pack to a backpack (except for the more limited space).

Posted by
225 posts

I would only wear it in front.

When I was buying it, the sales person was telling me that she had heard of fanny packs being "sliced off" in the back. She encouraged me to buy the kind that you can not cut through. I couldn't imagine anyone being able to cut through the back strap while I was wearing it. Especially since the weight of my cameras will be right in front of me.

I didn't buy that cut proof syle, just a regular strap. Anyone hear of a fanny pack being "cut off" a person?

Posted by
864 posts

I've only talked to one person who had their fanny pack boosted and he never noticed it was missing until to late (large crowd, Spanish Steps)and there was nothing of much value in it. I had a cheap Seiko braclet type watch taken right off my arm (the kind with a large safety catch) and never noticed it was gone until I went to check the time (New Delhi). These thieves have been practicing all their lives and it is how they live. That said I've never had any thing of real value taken nor have I ever felt threatened. Valuables in the money belt, hand physically on camera in crowds and spooning with my husband on crowded subways to minimize opportunities for thieves (you'd think we were newly weds!) For sure I have never let worries about pick pockets deter me from going somewhere (although I do give a wide berth to any and all gypsies, especially ones with small children).

Posted by
1620 posts

If European tourists also wore fanny packs, then I would say go for it. But they don't and fanny packs scream "I'm an American tourist". If you wear one, do not put anything of value in it. When we were in Florence with a tour group, our friend was wearing a fanny pack on the front. A lady pushing a stroller and holding a newspaper in front of her, approached her and someone else tried to snatch the pack. Didn't work that time, however... For my small digital camera, I found a small, padded camera case with a belt loop on the back. I string my money belt through my pant belt loops and also put that money belt through the loop of the camera case (hope that makes sense). I wear shirts long enough to cover these items. I also wear an over-the-shoulder satchel (worn across the chest) where I keep maps, tour books, sun lotion, etc.--nothing of great value. I have never had problems. Our bulkier video camera is in its camera case in the bottom of a backpack worn by my husband. This way, there is no advertisement that we are carrying a camera. In subways and crowded places, he wears the backpack on the front. I think he positions the zippers on the bottom, although I'm not sure that would prevent someone going in but I think he thinks he would be more apt to feel someone going into it. Hope this helps. Have fun on your trip making lifelong memories!

Posted by
93 posts

I agree with Denise...wearing a fanny pack is like wearing a bullseye on your tummy or on your back! We were in Rome last November and it was packed...I only carried what would fit in my pocket and my husband carried the camera...We found that a few pictures are great...but we find it much more enjoyable not to see Rome through the viewfinder of a camera..a few pics here and there ...and then we bought the books from the Museums...professional quality photos of the things I really went to see in the first place.

Posted by
8716 posts

Florence..a few years ago....

About ten of us in a group walking down the street. In the middle of the group was a woman wearing a fanny pack.

Suddenly, shopkeepers from across the street started yelling at us. We didn't know what was going on. They kept yelling and pointing at us. We looked and saw a short young boy, no more than 8 or 10, was in the middle of our group, unseen, and his hand was in the fanny pack. A few second later and he would have had whatever she kept in there. We were able to chase him off and he got nothing. (Except a sore behind when he ran past one of the shopkeepers who gave him a good swift kick.)

Get yourself either a backpack or messenger type bag and find a way to either lock it or put something through the zippers that makes in difficult to open. Not only is it safer, but it removes the neon sign blinking "tourist" that now comes with every fanny pack.

Posted by
225 posts

I'm suprised that a fanny pack says tourist where a civita bag would not?

We were planning to bring both. We could put it in the civita bag, but I guess I thought that would put it at a greater risk since the bag is over the shoulder. I was planning to just bring some produce ties to twist around to secure the civita bag. But, we were only really planning to put sweaters, guide books, etc. in the civita bag.

We leave in three days, so I sure need to figure out what to do!

Posted by
636 posts

I stand by my assertion that a fanny pack is very safe and more comfortable than a backpack. You can so easily keep it guarded, by simply resting your hand on the pack. Couldn't be simpler. And, ours have 2 side slots for water bottles, so our water was always instantly accessible.

But, the bottom line with this really is that, if you're aware and cautious (without being paranoid - that just ruins your trip and is completely unnecessary anyway), you'll most likely be fine. And, in the rare instance when you're not, that would be the case with a backpack or fanny pack or pockets or suitcase or ...

So, use whatever makes you the most comfortable and suits YOUR needs, and HAVE A WONDERFUL TRIP!

Posted by
283 posts

I'm suprised that a fanny pack says tourist where a civita bag would not?

Both do! But some how the waist bags scream AMERICAN TOURIST!!!

I see Rick's bags all over... and yep there is usually the blue book giveaway to confirm it.

Travel bags usually look a little geeky... even the pacsafe lacks that sophistication of what locals would use for an ordinary day bag.

By the way... fanny pack is a naughty word in the UK that had me blushing.

Posted by
1620 posts

In Europe, especially the large cities, most everyone is carrying a satchel, backpack, etc. It's a typical look, especially on public transportation. It's just the fanny pack is not a typical European look. The civita bag is perfect for the things you were talking about putting in it. If you wear it across your chest and over the shoulder, the video camera would probably be o.k. Unless someome sees you take the camera out of the civita bag, they don't know you have one in there. That's the same principal behind the backpack. They don't expect a camera to be in there. We just don't carry our camera in it's case visible on our person--too obvious. By the way that little camera case I was talking about I bought at Walmart for about $4. Just be aware of your surroundings and you'll be fine. Out of 6 trips all over the continent, we've only had one incident and it was because my husband didn't think he needed to wear his money belt--he's worn one ever since. Have fun!

Posted by
636 posts

So, we're essentially back to another hotly debated topic: whether to try to "blend in". I don't travel to try to pass myself off as a local. I am certainly respectful of their culture. But, as much as I don't want a native Italian in the U.S. trying to pretend to be a local (I would even have a WTF moment), I don't see the need to do that when I travel either.

To each their own ...

A Faithful (and proud!) Fanny Pack Wearer

Posted by
225 posts

I plan to take video off and on at many sites throughout our trip. Even just a 30sec- 1min period of time, so it will come in and out of our bag often. I think it will be quite obvious to anyone watching what we have in our bag.

I just tried on the fanny pack and I can secure its zipper closed with a paper clip and can safety pin it on both sides to my pants. It will also be right in front of me. It seems like it should be fine and I don't want to freak out about it, yet I don't want to be naive either.

Posted by
1313 posts

Will you look like a tourist with the fanny pack? Yes. Will you look like a tourist anyway? Probably. Should you care? Up to you. I would prefer to blend in a little, but that's just me and there's no right or wrong answer. (I saw no one wearing fanny packs in Rome last December--locals or tourists.)

Likewise, a fanny pack is not the most secure way to carry your valuables. But the biggest deterence against theft is you being alert and aware and cautious. The type of bag is a lot further down the list. In the end, it is all about what YOU are comfortable with.

Posted by
689 posts

I wear a fanny pack quite often when I travel - including Italy. It is always in front and I wear a long blouse that hangs over it in the back - covering the strap nicely.

Never had an issue with it.

BTW - several of our Italian relatives living in Rome and Naples have them and wear them.

Posted by
466 posts

Personally, I would not recommend a fanny pack, it screams American!!!! Put your small digital camera in your front pocket. As for a video camera, I would leave it at home (do you really need videos)? Everyone in Italy is not a theif just use your street smarts and you should be fine.

Posted by
225 posts

We bought our video camera specifically for this trip. We love our still pictures, but I know a video would be awesome. The camera is so small it is amazing. I want to carry it with me the whole time (in a fanny pack) and shoot video maybe 5-10 min a day, just where ever we are.

I think I'll risk looking American and take my fanny pack. It should be secure. My concern is not looking American, it is loosing my camera, and maybe Americans are targets, but hopefully I'll have it secure enough.

Thanks for the input!

Posted by
636 posts

The fanny pack will work out great for your purpose. Have a terrific trip!

Posted by
31030 posts

I wouldn't use a Waist Pack in Rome or other "high risk" areas, as I believe it would be easy for a thief to either unsnap it, slash the belt and run or access the Pack while in crowded subway or whatever. However, if you're comfortable with that, it's your choice. You might check the various products offered by LowePro or other Camera Pack makers, as you may find something that might be a bit more secure (perhaps the bags that fit diagonally across the torso?).

There is at least one "slash proof" Waist Pack on the market (made by PacSafe) however I doubt this would be large enough for the Cameras you mentioned. That particular product not only allows the waist belt to be locked (which contains two stainless steel wires), but also the zippers of one or both compartments. It's VERY secure if locked! It would easily hold the compact Digital (I know because my SD-870 fits inside nicely, along with my IPod and PDA), but not sure about the video camera.

Just a reminder, as Jenufa mentioned DON'T ever refer to your waist pack as a "Fanny Pack" in the U.K. or Australia (should you happen to travel there!). It's not considered polite.

Cheers!

Posted by
448 posts

When i was in rome this spring i read an article that called fanny packs/bananes...God's gift to pickpockets

Posted by
225 posts

Thanks for the idea Frank. Unfortuately, I'm having to secure it through the hole in the zipper to a loop at the back of the pack. I will have about 1/4 inch space to hook it closed.

A paper clip seems to work well or a safety pin. I think the paper clip would be a lot more difficult to unclip. The pack could be opened about 2 inches with the paper clip in place, but my camera could not be removed in that space. I can also thread the pack through my belt loops, plus keep my hand on top of the pack and shirt over it. If it is cool, I can cover it with a light jacket. We won't be in Rome until OCt. so it could be cool by then. We will bring two civita bags so I can always switch to one of those, but prefer my hands free. Rome is our last stop before heading home, so maybe I'll get an idea of what is best before we get there.

Thanks for the input!

Posted by
636 posts

With the pack in the front, your clothes covering it, and your hand on your "belly", everyone will think you're pregnant! ;^) And, who would ever think of stealing from a pregnant woman!?

It's the perfect plan!

Posted by
10295 posts

I might as well say the word, we're all adults here: What Jenufa and Ken are hinting at is: in the UK and Australia the word fanny means vagina, or that's what I've been assured by locals--thus the locals get a kick out of hearing American men and women referring to their fanny packs. They don't know what is funnier, hearing a man say it or a woman.

Posted by
8716 posts

My Aussie tourists visiting the U.S. loved to bring home t-shirts emblazoned with the logo from "Bum Equipment."

While experts are still out as to who said it first...when comparing the U.S. and England, someone said "We are two nations divided by a common language."

Posted by
225 posts

Ok..so I really don't need to wear a "waist" pack, I have no attachment to it. But, I would like to bring my video camera. What would you recommend that would keep it the safest other than leave it at home. We will be traveling in the Salzburg area, and Bavaria, then Venice, Florence, Siena, Volterra, Lucca, Vernazza and Rome.

1) Are there places it should be ok?

2) Civita bag better choice with a lock on it?

3) Just carry it by hand out in the open and don't let it go?

We leave in two days so I don't have time to order anything else. I do plan to take it in and out, so anyone watching for a long period of time will know I have a camera. On public trains/buses no one should know.

I guess I still don't get it. A bag slung over your back vs. a bag at your belly, it just doesn't make sense to me that it would be less safe, but I do trust all of your opinions and don't want to lose my camera.

I've been up a night thinking about what I should do, I appreciate any advice.

Posted by
10295 posts

Frank: That's one of my favorite quotes, I think the exact quote was more like: "One people divided by a common language." And Oscar Wilde said something similar: "The Americans and English have everything the same, of course except language."

Posted by
10295 posts

Susan and Monte: Everyone has their own preference. Mine is for your option #2 in your last post. I don't bring a video camera on most trips, but if I did I'd put it in my Rick Civita bag worn in front with the strap diagonally over the shoulder. And the waist belt (don't call it a fanny pack, even in Italy) worn in front, not in back, would also work.Having a lock on it would be tedious for you getting the camera out and putting it in, I wouldn't bother with the lock myself but I know some would feel better with one and that's what they should do.You don't want your understandable concerns about all this to interfere with why you're going to Europe in the first place--to soak up and enjoy the impressions and experiences. You can relax as long as your really vital stuff is in your money-belt worn under your clothing, right? That's your ATM cards, credit cards, passport (if you carry it with you), railpass (same as cash), drivers license, cash (daily spending not in money belt), contact list, trip calendar page, plastic sheath. So your vital stuff is safe in the money-belt. All else: After all these posts certainly you'll be aware of security issues but you don't want to be worried to the point that it interferes with your enjoyment; you're going to look like a tourist anyway (who cares); the Civita bag will be worn in front of you; in a higher risk situation such as crowded subway/bus you'll put your hand on top of the Civita bag; except in crowded subways, you won't let any strangers get close enough to you to get their hands on your stuff--you'll be fine. Enjoy your trip. Write us when you get back to tell us what a wonderful time you had!

Posted by
636 posts

I've said it already, but I'll say it again ...

A fanny pack will be absolutely fine, as long as you're careful and aware. Nothing could be easier or less awkward than having your fanny pack in your front, with a hand resting on it.

Five of us used them for 2+ weeks without any hint of an incident whatsoever.

I agree with Kent that having a lock on whatever you choose will be too inconvenient, and your earlier idea to pin the pack to you would also be a pain, I would think.

Stop losing sleep over this! And, HAVE A GREAT TRIP!

Posted by
368 posts

My father-in-law nearly had everyone's passport lifted out of a belt bag a few years ago in Rome. The thief used the 'news paper shoved at you' trick...

Personally, I wouldn't trust a belt bag with anything of value in it. They are so easy to open, cut or slip off.

Plus, belt bags are soooooooo 1990's. ;-)

Posted by
283 posts

The 'coolest' looking way of wear this type of bag is actually diagonally across your chest... preferably Louis Vuitton or Gucci... knock offs will do.

My sister laughed when she saw this fashion.

Posted by
8716 posts

Kent, that quote, or one similar has been attributed to Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, Thomas Hardy and Winston Churchill. It comes in all variations with the same meaning.

Okay, Susan and Monte, you leave tomorrow. No time to order anything new. Here's what I would do:

Wear what you want. Remember, just because someone never had a problem with whatever you choose to carry your video camera in doesn't mean you wont, and just because someone has, doesn't mean you will.

I would suggest taking some type of precaution to make it more difficult for thieves to open the fanny pack or the civita day bag.

One suggestion, and easily found at a local sporting good store, would be a screw type carabiner--not the quick release one.

REI sells a small one, in different colors, and I checked to see there are a couple of REI stores within 10 miles of you. I have these and they're usually kept close to the front of the store with the keychains. They sell for $1.75:

Small Versalink

And since they come in different colors, you can get ones that clash with whichever pack you have so anyone eyeing it can plainly see the zippers are secured.

Posted by
2 posts

I agree with the two who noted that Europeans don't wear them. There's wisdom to the "when in Rome" adage. A fanny pack is an invitation to theft and harassment.

Also, at the risk of sounding snobbish about such things, I can only note how I feel when hoards of people descend on my (very very heavily) touristed city every summer, crowding into our eating establishments, churches, and monuments wearing things locals would never wear—things inappropriate to the place. It's not uncommon to go out for a nice dinner with my husband and end up seated next to people dressed as if they were going hiking, mowing the lawn, or bumming around back at home. I'm happy to help tourists, but I often wish they would recognize that we actually DO have a culture here and that our city is not just a place to visit and use like Disney World. That's a lot to place on a fanny pack, I know, but I think part of traveling could be getting to know the sensibilities of the place you're headed. I hope this doesn't come across as overly harsh—just as another perspective from an inhabitant of a heavily-touristed place. Thanks for reading and considering.