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Crossbody bags for women

I need recommendations for a crossbody day bag that is pickpocket resistant. If possible, I'd like to find something cute that I would want to use when not traveling.

Posted by
985 posts

Summer - here are some sites. I bought two bags and am trying to decide what I will take. I have the large pacsafe hobo bag and their largest purse. Travelon bags look nicer but many don't have an external pocket to hold a water bottle and I consider that a must. I use the purse daily and like it because it has external pockets on both ends where I can put a bottle, my boxmod ecig, phone, etc. I have traveled with the hobo twice now and like it too and will probably use it for my daybag. We used the RS Civita bag while hiking in the smokies and I loved it but unfortunately it doesn't have locking zippers. I am buying some lobster claw clasps and will sew them onto a few of the zippers on the Civita so my husband can use that for his daybag. Have fun shopping!




Posted by
986 posts

I have several cross-body bags that I have taken to Europe over the years & I really like them all. PacSafe is popular because it has wires thru the straps so pickpockets/thieves can't cut thru it. I do own a PacSafe.

I also have a couple Baggalini & Eagle Creek bags that I like a lot.

My new favorite is a Tom Bihn Medium Cafe Bag. I like it for comfort/strap, lots of good organization (O-rings & keystraps to secure things to the bag, so my wallet is always attached to my purse).

I bought a PacSafe 150 Wallet on Amazon(was cheaper than the PacSafe site) . . . it has that RFID blocking material in it to protect credit cards/passport. The wallet is a perfect size, holds credit cards, passport, coins, cash . . . not too big and zips closed. I keep it attached to my Tom Bihn Cafe Bag.

Nice thread! I'll be curious to learn about other ideas/recommendations

Posted by
1840 posts

My wife has a Baggalini she likes. It went to Germany with her last summer and will go along withher on our next journey.

Posted by
14251 posts

I have used the LeSportsac Everyday bag for four trips to Europe altho it is not a bag that has the steel cables or netting. When I am in a crowded situation I wrap my hand around the ends of both zippers and the strap as instructed by my first RS guide, Trina. I've had Trina for 2 RS Italy trips now and have watched her do this automatically when she moved into a crowd. I always wear it cross body.

I like the LeSportsac because it has 2 main compartments, so I can use one for a folded Marmot Precip rain jacket, an umbrella and a map/guidebook and the other for my day money (in the small zip compartment in the larger zip compartment), chapstick, etc. It has a few other assorted zipper compartments. It's fabric so it is light to start with and it seems to be somewhat water resistant altho I have not had it in a downpour.

I do wear a money belt with my passport, extra credit and debit cards and my deep storage money.

Posted by
4174 posts

Since I don't have any cards that have RFID technology, that's not a level of protection that is important to me. And since my daughter's PacSafe purse frayed within 2 weeks of her getting it and the metal threads were scratching her, I've never considered those as an option for me. I really don't find them worth the extra money.

Plain old common sense, using the advice of many other threads here, doing like the locals do (which has already been described) and Baggallini crossbody bags have worked for me. I don't carry a water bottle, do wear a rain jacket if it's raining and actually need very little when touring around. My husband carries nothing. We do wear our money belts with the stuff in them that is recommended.

I have found that the bigger the bag, the more likely I am to fill it up "just in case." And depending on its design, a big bag may be a deterrent to getting into some places. I also have a personal theory that the pickpockets are attracted by the so-called impermeable bags because they know if you are protecting your stuff that much, it must be worth something.

These are the bags I have with some comments. None of these bags has wire threads or lockable zippers or the totally unnecessary RFID protection. All are very light weight.

  1. Baggallini Hobo Tote. This is the largest one I have. It has all the bells and whistles people often mention for carrying lots of stuff. One feature that I like is that it has a side pocket that zips at the bottom so you can unzip it and slide it over the handle of most roller bags. Mine is red.

  2. Baggallini Highrise Crossbody. This worked very well on my trip in the fall. It was quite comfortable and I didn't load it up with stuff I really didn't need. Mine is dark blue.

  3. Baggallini Highway Bagg. I'm using this daily right now in gray with a pink lining. I got it at TJ Maxx. I have not used it for a trip yet.

  4. Baggallini Crossbody Town Bagg. I also got this in the maroon and in black at TJ Maxx. I've used the black one quite a bit and like it about as much as the Highrise.

Sometimes I wear these bags with the zippers toward my body and the open pockets which have nothing worth stealing to the outside. Mostly, I don't. I keep them on my body while eating dinner. That's one big advantage of a smaller bag, no matter what kind it is. You don't want to hang it over the back of your chair or put in on a horizontal surface next to you or on the floor. You need to have it well under control with your legs through the straps at a minimum.

Update: I meant to add this link to a recent RFID discussion here titled RFID Protection. It is a pretty thorough discussion of what it is and is not.

Posted by
333 posts

I swear by pacsafe. My backpack went thru 3 weeks of heavy use in Europe, including at least one failed pickpocket attempt (got the guy next to me though), with nary a wear problem (and I bought 8 large photo books as souvenirs and hauled them in it) as well as jackets and waterbottles, etc. I've used it at home and then a young archaeologist friend took it to Europe and used it daily all summer long. It still looks like it did the day I bought it. For my trip next month I wanted something smaller. I bought the pacsafe crossbody bag, which is the size of a medium purse, large enough for a sweater, camera and money/passport. I bought it in a bright pink with colored polka dot interior, lol! Love it!

Posted by
2765 posts

I admire PacSafes ability to create "fear" and sell their products but I have never seen any need to spend money on their products. In lots of trips to Europe I have not had ANY issues with someone "slashing" my bag LOL! I also think these tend to create a false sense of security as people think "I have a protected bag" The RFID "scheme" is another great one that's making vendors lots of money

I have used all kinds of bags. What actually works best for me is Longchamp Pilage but it's not crossbody. I am considering a cross body for my next trip, but so far have returned everyone I have tried....

Posted by
14251 posts

I have not seen this in real life, but based on the pictures it looks like a Precip would fit. I also suggest you have a gallon ziplock bag to put your jacket in if you need to stash it when it's still damp.

Posted by
1194 posts

I have personally found that the bags marketed as "pickpocket resistant" are poor choices for travel. They are heavy, bulky, expensive, and pack poorly. As Carol states, most of these bags are sold due to fear mongering, not true risk assessment. Let's face it - most theft in Europe is opportunistic. They want to slip into your purse and slip out as quickly as possible. That means slowing them down is the biggest deterrant. Minimize that part of the risk and you've taken care of the largest part of your problem.
So what to do? Modify a regular cross body bag and make it pick pocket resistant. Buy a bag that zips shut. Add on a NiteIze lockable S-biner between the zipper pull and the cross body strap hardware. Having a simple closure on the zipper will slow your pick pocket down. Even a safety pin 'lock" is better than nothing.

Other great features of a cross body bag are:

  • Inside pocket - put your working day wallet and phone in the inside pocket. That means that it is suspended above the rest of your stuff. You can easily find your small items, and the small inner pocket makes a significantly smaller target if you get an honest to goodness slasher. Wear the purse so that the inner pocket is toward your body.
  • Small zippered outside pocket - for things you want to access yet keep secure. Use for lip balm, metro tickets, maps, etc.
  • Adjustable cross body strap - because every one is a different size and you'll need to adjust for your size and shape
  • Light weight and packable - because many European airlines only allow one carry on bag. Pack your purse inside your carry on.
  • A wider strap (for comfort)
Posted by
986 posts

If you have an REI near you, they have PacSafe & you can go see & try on. Our AAA office also has them (and Baggalini - and if you're an AAA member, you get a discount on all their stuff . . . they have PacSafe, Baggalini, EagleCreek . . . love going to AAA and REI to see things before I buy) . . . that is where I 1st saw my PacSafe150 Wallet that I really love. Whether the whole RFID thing is real or not, the wallet is the perfect size for me, I love that it holds my cards, passport, cash, coins & that it zips closed. 2 years ago, I took a Baggalini Bag, last year I took a 31Bag, and in October - I am taking a Tom Bihn Cafe Bag. There are LOTS of great bags out there. I do agree that strap comfort is crucial.

Posted by
1221 posts

I'm also a fan of the Tom Bihns for their ability to clip tiny zippered pouches to D rings within the bag. It appeals to my 'organize this!' streak.

As for Pacsafe, every year around mid-February they sell off a bunch of discontinued models to clearance web sites like The Clymb, Left Lane Sports (which also sells on Amazon), and Sierra Trading Post. At this point, the clearance stock is pretty picked through, but if you google for a $10 referral code and use it, Clymb, still has a few Citysafe 200 GII purses for about $40 including shipping instead of $85+.

I've got a couple of pacsafe purses and soft-sided suitcases bought that way, and have never paid more than half of suggested retail. Quality has been good, and I really can't feel the wire through the purse strap.

I like having the lock on the purse, but then I don't do moneybelts or neck pouches because I've got sensory issues and something inside my shirt would drive me stark raving bonkers. So I call the security purse good enough for passport, cash, and credit cards.

Posted by
3260 posts

I have had a pacsafe metrosafe 200 for several years. I like it very much. It still looks like new, but it is not what I'd consider cute. I've used it in Boston and traveling on the subway as much as traveling in Europe. I didn't find it terribly heavy, but rather found it extremely organized and secure. It even fit my DSLR, but with no particular padding. On my upcoming trip I have shifted gears and am going with a purse/camera case without locking zippers, etc. However, it secures my camera well and I have been carrying it locally now as what good is a photo opportunity if you don't have your camera? I digress. My point is that many purses are or can be made to be secure. My new bag is by Kelley Moore, a Posey2 bag if you want another bag to view. They have great colors…mine is yellow. I'm traveling solo this time so it is interesting that I switched away from the pac safe, but I think this bag is secure enough as there are several obstacles to enter the bag. It's fun choosing… Wray

Posted by
3696 posts

If you want something small and cute to carry your passport and credit cards and a bit of money and lipstick look at the smallest Maruca bags. They are made in Boulder Colorado and have a strap that goes cross body. It is all I use, either at home or abroad. If I am feeling a bit uncomfortable about surroundings you can just put it inside your shirt. I do not wear a moneybelt... but always am aware of my bag. I will then carry some other kind of bag if I want to take water or maps, etc. I almost always have a camera and just wear that as well. Maruca has larger bags that will fit an ipad or computer as well. They are fabric, so don't add a lot of weight, which is important to me.

Posted by
16894 posts

I don't think it matters, as long as your selectionis lightweight, has a comfortable strap, holds a guidebook and other essentials, and is easy to keep your hand on. I'm not particularly worried about people cutting straps. Choose an inner or zippered pocket of the bag for your wallet, but also don't carry more cash in the wallet than you need for the day. The cross-body solution is not a substitute for the deep storage of a money belt under your clothes.

Posted by
1625 posts

I wear a large cross body bag every workday cause I like my hands free but I have a habit of always having my hand on the opening, so when I travel this is second nature, plus it is comfortable. When I travel I wear a smallish leather cross body that I got at Ross about 8 years ago (Guess brand). It has one large compartment (Water, wallet, guidebook, chapstick, camera, Tylenol, tums, Cell phone, and sunscreen) and a big outer pocket (glasses) and another zippered pocket outside that runs the length of the purse. The purse is not a "Travel Purse" but it does the job.

I think the most important part is that ALL compartments ZIP and that the strap is adjustable. The inside is like Jenga, everything has a spot. I can reach in blind and pull out exactly what I want (Small mesh pocket inside for chapstick because I am a chapstick addict). I also like to collect things as I go throughout my day, matchboxes, napkins, ticketstubs, receipts....and put them in a baggie in my purse to take home for my scrapbook.

I respect that some people can go out for the day with the bare minimum, not me, I always like to be prepared for "plan B". Plus I think I would feel naked without my purse. Just find a cross body purse you like and can fit what you need for the day in it. The husband wears the money belt with the big money in it and I have spending money in my wallet (under 50).

Posted by
792 posts

I like Keen Bags- I use the Brooklyn II- several inner compartments that zip and big enough to fit a water bottle and an ipad (if you like to travel with one). The straps are very sturdy. I agree with the previous comments about the "anti-theft" bags being bulky and heavy. I think the inner zipper compartments and situational awareness are all you need.