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Daybags..RFD or not??

Hello fellow travelers!

I'm debating between getting a Pacsafe Mertrosafe bag, (with all the RFD security features) versus one of the RS Veloce or Civita bags, ( which I don't believe have any security features). I will be carrying most of my cash, passport, etc., in an RFD money belt, so wondering if Pacsafe bag would just be overkill? The bags without all the Secirity features seem to be lighter, and not so bulky/ stiff.

Any recommendations/ advice is much appreciated

Posted by
301 posts

I've never understood the market demand, if any, for RFID security features. Essentially every objective expert opinion (i.e., not selling RFID-featured products) I've read on the subject is that they're a waste of money. That would include the money belt, except for its intrinsic physical security that springs from its ability to allow you to carry stuff in secrecy.

Posted by
359 posts

I carry a Pacsafe Metrosafe LS200 when I travel, not for the RFID security section but for the other security features. RS bags do not have locking clips or slash-proof underlining and shoulder strap. I like the peace of mind that comes from riding public transportation without wondering what's happening to my bag. I have been on subway lines in several foreign cities and seen people walking down the aisles, scoping bags. I also really like the two outside pockets for umbrella/water bottle/sunglasses. The strap is comfy enough that I've cinched it up tight and slid it around to lay on my back while hiking. It might be a good idea to buy each of the bags, load then with what you think you will carry, then practice in your home town for a day or two with each. You can always return the one you don't like.

Posted by
16143 posts

We have a cross-body Pacsafe bag that we love but doesn't have RFD which, agreeing with K, is overkill, IMHO. We use this instead of moneybelts as neither of us can tolerate them: way too hot and uncomfortable. Anyway, I just looked at some newer models recently and they seem to weigh less than our 10 year-old bag so maybe they've improved that over the past decade.

Aside from the locking features, I think the bag is good visual deterrent; light fingers are not going to bother with it when there are much easier pickin's! To our knowledge, in the 10 years we've had it, no one has even tried.

Posted by
20484 posts

RFID security features. Solve a nonexistent problem and the world will beat a path to your door.

Posted by
2925 posts

I bought a Pacsafe tote and a Travelon cross body purse for my upcoming trip, not for the RFID but because of the locking zippers and cabled handles. I will also be using a neck wallet. Overkill maybe but judging by many earlier posts, better to be prepared than sorry.
49 days and counting down.

Posted by
51 posts

Thanks everyone!! Very good comments; it looks like there are still plenty of people that like the added security of the RFD bags.... I'm still not sure I am willing to move forward with RFD though. I haven't used one in the past, just a backpack and/ or shoulder bag.
Emma, your comment about a friend being in bad shape after being dragged along by a thief with her RFD bag makes me wary of the slash proof straps! I'm not a large person to begin with, so unfortunately, I could easily be dragged too! Ugh!! However, I have been in extremely crowded buses/ metros, and having the added security does sound appealing!
Hmmmmm.... the conundrum continues!!!

Posted by
167 posts

Everything I read about the RFD features confirms the responses they are not necessary.
Emma says "snatch you bag you want the strap to break " Not sure if it would make a difference if the slash proof straps are a factor in being dragged...most any bag that is grabbed is sturdy enough to drag the person attached..Unless the mobile thief has some Zorro like knife moves as he is driving by slashing and grabbing at the same time, the person is going to be dragged.
I have never worn a neck pouch, slash proof or not because I certainly do not want to be dragged by the neck.
On the other hand I love my 2 small pac safe day bags which are my only bags for any length of time in Europe, very durable, I even throw them in the washing machine when I return. I do like the fact that they have locking closure and the slash proof features, when I wear one of the day packs on my back and lighter one in front, I feel more comfortable in crowded public transport situations. Since I have had one of these bags with many hard travel miles going on 15 years, certainly not a "waste" of money. Other bags not pacsafe, have not been as durable or as useful.

Posted by
32273 posts

I'd suggest buying the bag that works best for you. As far as the risk of RFID theft, if you're really worried about that you can buy RFID sleeves for your credit cards for about $10. Most travel stores carry them.

Posted by
2765 posts

And be sure to NEVER use the credit cards you have secured in the those RFID sleeves.

Because what those vendors don't tell you is that the risk is NOT while they are tucked happily in your wallet, the risk starts when you take them out to USE them.

But I do admire pacsafe and the other vendors selling the 'Security" bags and "RFID blocking" . They have made a fortune by creating fear!

Posted by
333 posts

I'm not sure why people have to be rude when a genuine question is being asked or pondered...

As somebody else stated, you have to find what's right for you. Personally, I worry more about general pickpocketing than RFID threats or being dragged. I had a Pac safe backpack that I wore my first time to Europe and Russia and I am convinced that it saved me more than once from pickpockets. I called it my personal Fort Knox. Somebody who is determined to get your bag- will, but for instances of general pickpocketing, why make it easy for them? My daughter and I were on the subway in Paris when a group of average looking teenaged girls started shoving me (personally) and others on the train, shoving my daughter off as they shoved me on. In that moment, my fear was losing my daughter and as I reached behind me to grab her I found myself in a shoving match with one of the young girls. Just as the doors were closing, the girls gave a final shove and ran off the train. My daughter had a bruised wrist (from me) but got on to the train. The man and woman next to me lost their wallets. I lost nothing.

When I went to Europe again two years ago, I had my backpack and also a Pac Safe crossbody bag (I wanted something smaller than my backpack for most days and I dislike the feel of moneybelts and neck wallets). Again, I was witness to two separate pickpocketing incidents (that I'm aware of), both in Rome, one at the Coliseum and the other on the train getting there. One guy lost the contents of his back pocket (fortunately his money and cards were in his moneybelt). The lady being picked on the train was actually saved by one of our tourmates who saw it first. The victim was a woman wearing a crossbody purse right in front of her, in her hands, but we were packed in like sardines and she was looking around and the thief was ready to take advantage. She had the victim's zipper open and her hand inside when my tourmate saw her, slapped her hand and started scolding her and "tattling" on her to the other passengers as loudly as she could. The thief got off at the next stop as the victim was still processing being "picked" with her purse right in her hands.

So for me, overkill or not, I don't care. If somebody wants my things, I'm at least going to make them work darned hard to get them. As far as being dragged by purse straps, that's horrific. It's also, unfortunately, something that could happen should you be holding anything grab-able. Find what works best for you and gives you the most comfort. I love my backpack and crossbody bag and they'll be going back with me to Europe in September.

Lisa

Posted by
16143 posts

Thanks everyone!! Very good comments; it looks like there are still
plenty of people that like the added security of the RFD bags....

Er, no. I didn't see a single poster here that thought an RFD bag was worth the "added security". A bag with locking zippers/closures? Different story. And sure, the "dragging" story is a concern but like many other of "most extreme circumstances" is a rarity. That could happen with a well-made leather strap as well.

The tourists who scream "I'm carrying something important!" are the ones walking around with their bags death-gripped to their chests and looking around like someone is going to jump them any second, IMHO. It's nice not to be one of those.

Oh, and the bulk of our cash and some of our cards are not in the Pacsafe unless we're changing cities or counties, and we still split some of that up: I use an additional method for a card and some cash. While staying in a city, the extras are back in the room safe...which is another conversation. We trust them (always set our own code) and I don't know anyone personally whom has ever had their room safe compromised so it works for us.

Posted by
32273 posts

"Because what those vendors don't tell you is that the risk is NOT while they are tucked happily in your wallet, the risk starts when you take them out to USE them."

I'm not sure I'm following the logic on why the cards are at risk when they're being used? Could you elaborate?

Posted by
15729 posts

Also remember that the zippers on most bags can be made secure by using either a double carabiner or a cable key ring.

The latter saved me in Venice recently when a group tried to distract me on one side while another person tried to get into my small bag. Luckily, I had secured the zippers with a cable key ring so with the few seconds he had to get in, he couldn't. He didn't open a small pocket but it was empty.

Just make sure any bag you get has either a dual zipper system, or an anchor where a zipper could be secured.

The zipper pull on the new Rick Steves bags don't have holes near the top but the area where the zipper pull is connected to the zipper itself is large enough for one of the devices I mentioned above.

As stated, RFID is overkill. I just bought a new wallet that has it. I liked the wallet itself and some of its features but couldn't care less about the RFID.

Posted by
2765 posts

Blockquote
"Because what those vendors don't tell you is that the risk is NOT while they are tucked happily in your wallet, the risk starts when you take them out to USE them."

I'm not sure I'm following the logic on why the cards are at risk when they're being used? Could you elaborate?

Blockquote

The risk occurs when the card is close to a reader. IT has to be very close. (No a criminal walking by won't be able to read the cards in your purse.) But the person behind the counter taking your card to process your purchase could easily have the reader right there! In addition he/she has the hard card info... BINGO! The truth is that lot of "compromise" occurs due to employee theft and/or assistance.

Posted by
3265 posts

I can see how a briefcase chained to one's wrist would be a red flag, but I don't see a lot of tourists going to that extreme. I have purchased both a pac safe purse (150 metro maybe?) about 10 years ago. $60-100.00 for a purse I don't consider expensive, for something I use regularly. This purse does not have rfd because it was before that became a thing...so perhaps it is more like 15 years old. Anyway, it still looks like new. I use it more in Boston than when traveling. I like this bag more for its organization than for its security features, but I like them too. When distracted by my reading on the subway, it's good to know the zippers are locked. (Now if a bag would also remind me to get off at my stop...get my head out of my book...that would be wonderful). I have recently purchased the travelon backpack and have only used it locally a couple of times, but I believe I am going to like it. It has rfd, as many bags have now, so I think it is more that if rfd comes with the bag you like, well, no big deal. I purchased this bag because it was the only bag that exactly fit the personal item/underseat bag measurements for BA. I wanted to be able to carry on my suitcase should I decide to do so at the last minute, but generally have a bag large enough to have everything important in it so I can check my bag, which I'm into right now. I love not having to my carryon with me in the airport. Delivery is my thing. I digress. I love both of these bags because they are so well thought out and organized, and they look nice...not like I'm camping. The locked zippers are much more subtle than many other systems for locking zippers...perhaps the carabiners or safety pins or hugging your backpack in front of you, scream "I've got something here" more than these safety purses. Again, they also look nice. I did purchase the RS iPad veloce bag with my $100.00 RS store money, but I haven't used it. It does have the flap over the zipper to thwart pickpockets, I just went a different route in the end. My point: There are many factors that go into purchasing one of these bags, that might have little to do with RFD or security.

So, overkill? RFD-wise, yes. If you have RFD qualms, just buy the paperish envelopes (I use them so my credit cards don't bump together and unmagnetize). The times you will feel like locking your bag, that feature will be nice. But look at the organization and size more than anything. These are well made bags, well organized, which is the clincher for me, and they look nice for a loooonnnng time so for me, they have more purpose and function and cost-efficiency. I have not noticed them to be particularly heavy. Do I need the locked zippers? Probably not, unless I decide to put my CC/ipod in my travelon backpack...and the jury is still out on that decision. But things will probably be as safe in the veloce...

Posted by
51 posts

Sorry Kathy, I probably should have said that many people seem to like "bags with additional security features" instead of RFD? Guess I said RFD since so many of the new bags with very functional space and the added security of locks also have the RFD automatically included.
In the past, I have not used these accessories with the added security. My own cross body bag that I use for any travel in USA has been fine. Like yourself, DH and I have also kept our items like extra credit card, excess cash, and original passport ( I've only carried a copy of it with me while out and about ) at our accommodation. We haven't been on group tours since many of them appeared to look like prime targets for pickpockets. Our next trip is in September, and we are going to be with a tour group, so yes, I'm a bit anxious. I just want to feel as secure as possible while traveling because being pickpocketed can definitely put a damper on one's precious vacation time

Posted by
32273 posts

Carol,

"The risk occurs when the card is close to a reader. IT has to be very close. (No a criminal walking by won't be able to read the cards in your purse.) But the person behind the counter taking your card to process your purchase could easily have the reader right there! In addition he/she has the hard card info."

A few points to mention about that scenario......

  • A criminal walking by can read the cards - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3S_6EJCjn0 . This is an older clip but there are lots of similar ones online. In a very crowded place (ie: Metro stations) where people are packed together, it would be very easy to scan for cards. However, as the others have pointed out above this is unlikely and I don't know of a single case where this has happened, as the payoff for one card would be minuscule compared to other scamming methods. That method also requires the thief to have some degree of technical knowledge, which limits the number of people that would be capable of that.
  • A person behind the counter taking your card - NO, not going to happen! I use "Tap" frequently and the person behind the counter does NOT touch my card and has no reason to take my card. The same applies with EMV (Chip & PIN) transactions. The sales person is not getting their hands on my card.

It's also important to remember that with RFID transactions, a unique code is generated for each transaction, and that can only be used once. The same applies if using Apple Pay or similar systems, which use the same part of the POS terminal as the RFID cards. With Apple Pay transactions, the card information is encrypted and stored in the payments chip in the phone and can't be accessed even if the phone is stolen. The payments chip can't be accessed by scammers using the technique shown in the video.

There is a slight risk if RFID cards are stolen, as the thief can "tap" his way through several transactions before the stolen card is reported to the card issuer. However "tap" transactions are limited by many financial institutions to $50-100 per day, so it won't be a huge payoff for the thief.

Even EMV (C&P) cards are not immune to scamming as the technical sophistication of thieves is increasing - https://techcrunch.com/2017/02/02/thieves-now-use-shimmers-to-grab-chippin-card-data/ . This device exploits a "man-in-the-middle" vulnerability by placing a reader between the card and the terminals in the POS terminal.