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Fanny packs

Why are fanny/waist packs considered more susceptible to pick-pockets than back-packs and cross-body bags?

Posted by
2393 posts

Well, nothing screams " I'm a tourist and my cash and cards are right here!" like a waist pack.

Many backpacks and cross body bags have multiple pockets with inner zippered compartments. Or are deep enough to bury a wallet deep under layers of other bulky objects. Some come with closures that require a bit of time or manipulation to open - not worth the effort for a pickpocket. A waist pack with a fully visible zipper? All it takes is a momentary distraction and boom - they've got your goodies and they're gone.

Posted by
11386 posts

Yup CJean is right on - one snip and the whole waist pack is gone !

I’m not a back pack girl either , I feel
Safest with my cross body bag

Posted by
4149 posts

Backpacks aren't a great idea either, unless they're worn in front -- talk about looking goofy!

A money belt or neck wallet (I prefer the neck wallet) is the gold standard.

Posted by
447 posts

Depends on the bag. I have a Travelon convertible crossbody/waist bag that has the stainless steel cables built into the strap and locking zippers. I don't worry about getting it taken whichever way I wear it. It's flat enough that in colder weather it's under my coat so even more protected.

Posted by
1094 posts

Goofy? Actually, according to my personal fashion adviser, bum bags became trendy again last year. Although that might mean buying a £600 one from Gucci or Prada. Which just goes to prove if you wait long enough, anything will come back into style.

As to susceptibility to pick-pockets, I imagine that's just part of the RS groupthink on here which believes everyone in "Europe" is a potential thief desperate to get their hands on your passport, so always strap any valuables directly onto your body and trust nobody. It's nonsense, of course, but issuing such warnings keeps some posters happy.

Posted by
8480 posts

They are considered fashionable again but it hasn't taken off like it did in the 90;s.

The reason they are susceptible is because in a crowd, a thief can easily get into one without you seeing him. That happened to a friend of mine in Florence many years ago. A group of us were walking in Florence. The streets were crowded. We noticed some shop owners started screaming at us and pointing. We didn't understand why until we saw a small boy had gotten within our group and already had his hand in her fanny pack. We were able to chase him away. We didn't notice him because he wasn't at eye level.

Posted by
4841 posts

khansen, your question was:

Why are fanny/waist packs considered more susceptible to pick-pockets than back-packs and cross-body bags?

Consider where they are located on your person and note they are right about hand level to a person standing next to you. Easier pickings.

They're also assumed to have cash and valuables in them, as opposed to your lunch and laundry that might be in a backpack/bag. Higher value target.

Posted by
1397 posts

Well, I for one disagree. I have quite a few fanny packs and love them. Mine are not too deep so they lay flat against my body. I can wear it under a jacket when the weather is cool or under a flowy shirt in the warmer Weather. When in crowds I hold my hand on the top, just as I would a crossbody bag. The ones I have also have long straps so i can wear it as a crossbody also. In fact, Vera Bradley’s comes with an extra add on strap just for that purpose. The other pluses for me are, when using the ladies room I don’t have to place it down/hang it anywhere, I can be hands free especially when I am taking pictures, when sitting down to eat I have it right in my lap, it makes me pare down what I carry during the day, I can put the strap through belt loops for extra safety, I never have to worry about security making me check it for being too large. There are many advantages. Use whatever is good for you, I don’t worry what other people think.

Posted by
431 posts

Are waist packs more susceptible to pickpockets? I don't see how that could be. Any external pack with a zipper or strap can be pilfered or even stolen easily by a skilled operator. Anti-theft features (products like PacSafe) can help deter or prevent slashing of the fabric and straps but even locked zipper pulls cannot prevent the zippers themselves from being pried open. As scary as the purveyors of anti-theft packs like to make travel seem, you'll notice that reports of pickpockets and other types of theft are rare around here.

Most pickpocket events are opportunistic although there are orchestrated multi-person setups that are next to impossible to avoid. So you keep your stuff where it cannot be easily ripped off. The usual advice for making yourself and your possessions less vulnerable to the skills of professional thieves is available many places. Same advice applies to visitors to New York City or Boise, Idaho.

Use whatever you wish to safely carry your stuff! There are absolutely no valid reasons not to wear your favorite external pack or waist/fanny bag. That is, you cannot do much to disguise your status of "tourist" because you ARE a tourist. In most countries, if you look around at a huge gathering of the locals, you will notice that, while you may not look like them, they do not dress in a monolithic style and they carry their stuff in many different ways including some really cool fanny packs.

Posted by
2274 posts

I'm not a pickpocket, but I imagine that a waist pack with one zipper and a small compartment is easier to access than a normal size bag (backpack or crossbody). In a bag, the valuables may be buried, inside separate pockets, or deep inside a large compartment. In a waist pack, everything is right there - grab and go convenience. Of course, carry your belongings how you prefer - I think being alert is the most effective safety measure, anyway!

I do think waist packs look silly, but they are coming back in style. More often worn across the chest, but they don't look as out of date as maybe they did 5 years ago. I'm still not into them, but again...personal preference.

Posted by
12084 posts

If they look silly, then they are coming back in style. Strange or logical? When out and about in Europe (Paris, London, Germany, etc), I wear the fanny/waist belt, ie. don't leave the hotel or Pension without it on.

Wearing the fanny/waist belt, I never use any sort day pack, cross-body bag, or back-packs.

Posted by
16 posts

As Rick points out, the opportunistic thief will pick the easiest target. The one-snip-and-it's-gone fanny pack is an easier target than a cross-body bag, or even a backpack with multiple zippered compartments.

Posted by
1469 posts

I'm with Barbara. I wear mine in front so it's easy to keep a hand on it when in a crowded place, and I do not put my passport or credit/debit card in it - I have a secret pocket for those things.

Posted by
3210 posts

It does keep me happy to always wear a money belt in which I carry, um, money, passport, driver license, credit cards, and most importantly, emergency details with contacts, medical conditions and travel/health insurance information.

I also carry the emergency info in my very small cross-body purse. Why the redundancy? Because if I should have something happen that makes me unable to speak and if my purse should go awol in the process, I hope the EMTs will find the money belt and learn who I am and the rest.

I don't use any of the "normal" money belt styles. I use a unisex, step-in type. It's an Eazymate, but there are many other brands. Of course, it goes under your clothes, not over them like the picture. It's very comfortable and not at all noticeable, like some other styles are.

Posted by
12084 posts

"...you cannot do much to disguise your status of " tourist" because you ARE a tourist." How true. "They" know it, I know it.

How? By my clothes, the way I walk, haircut, and many other tips that betray you as such. As I tourist, an unmistakable one, I wear the fanny/waist pack. No worries let alone concerns, the bad guys won't get to me, the odds are against it.

Posted by
16742 posts

If you only have 50 bucks in it, then these fine distinctions of risk and accessibility don't matter so much.

I'd rather have larger amounts of cash and valuables in deep, hidden storage, like a money belt under my clothes.

Posted by
7625 posts

Hip packs are all the rage in Germany, but they often are not worn around the waist. Boys, girls, women, and men all wear them. This does not mark you as a tourist.

Backpacks are the worst, as someone can get in them without you ever knowing it. Plus you have to take it on and off all day, set it down, hang it on a chair, etc. Just a huge pain in the neck.

Messenger bags worn cross-body are the best.

Posted by
1 posts

Fanny packs are generally associated with the American tourist stereotype among Europeans. Americans tourists are common pickpocket targets so it’s best to try and not fit the stereotype.
Also, fanny packs are bags that are easy to unziper and say “look I’m a tourist this is wear all my valuables are!”

I normally don’t use any sort of money belt/neck wallet/fanny pack.
Instead I sew 2 pockets inside of my jeans big enough to fit my passport, a few cards and emergency cash in one, and my phone in the other. Pickpocketers aren’t going to reach inside my trousers. And I keep a wallet with just some small banknotes and coins in my front pocket.

I try not to be that tourist who’s reaching in his money belt every 5 minutes and can just reach into his pocket and take out his wallet at the counter. I also don’t carry a backpack when I’m out exploring. If I need a bag I usually use a bag I got from a local market or football match so I blend in.

Honestly my system seems really minimal but it works. I’ve never been pickpocketed and I’m often mistaken as a local. Or as a German or French tourist.

The safest way to avoid pickpocketers is to seem like you aren’t carrying anything.

Posted by
1026 posts

Have y'all see the photo of Duane Rock Johnson circa 1985 rocking his waist pack? I offer this to answer the question whether or not one can appear attractive while wearing one or become vulnerable to nefarious intent .....

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Posted by
2393 posts

"I offer this to answer the question whether or not one can appear attractive while wearing one "
Sorry, but there's nothing attractive about that

"or become vulnerable to nefarious intent "
I doubt even pickpockets want to risk getting beaten to a pulp by him, fanny pack or no fanny pack. However, since very few tourists are as physically , um, imposing as The Rock, I'm not sure this makes your point.

Posted by
567 posts

Emma, totally agree, smirk, giggle, i know so childish, but am bored!

Posted by
2387 posts

I had a nice little leather waist pack in the 80's or 90's...not sure when they were in. I also had a waist then... If I had a waist now, I'd wear one. Frankly, I'm too old to worry about what other people think of what I wear. That's so high school...and I'm 50 years beyond then.

I wore mine on the front. I loved it as I herded my daughter thru activities. Handsfree, etc. Frankly, I don't see that it is any less or more safe than any other form of purse, backpack, etc. Wear what ever you want to wear, it is extremely unlikely you will be pickpocketed. but keep your items separate just in case. After 20 years of regular international travel, one never got close to me. Your eyes and demeanor are the most important ways to keep your items safe. IMO. YMMV

Posted by
405 posts

These can provide great entertainment ....especially in Rome and Paris. Good size fanny pack- lots of interior room. Wear it behind you. Talk to others, look distracted. Leave it 1/4 unzipped. Nothing in it but a mouse/rat set spring trap. Won’t take long to catch a rat...

Posted by
20552 posts

Was it really necessary to wake up this old posting? Nothing changed.