Pacsafe exomesh

Review: Pacsafe eXomesh rucksack lock

Buying the best backpacking gear is expensive, so keeping it safe is a priority. Backpacks or rucksacks are not secured as easily as a suitcase is. Suitcases can be chained or tethered by means of a cable/chain and padlock, but how do you do that for a backpack? If you loop a reinforced chain or cable through any part of the pack, the pack can be cut  or slashed and the thief can get away with the damaged pack and its belongings. Googling backpack security solutions returned the PacSafe site listed at first position.

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The PacSafe eXomesh in action!

Pacsafe has a lot of innovative travel security products. Some of these products have a hidden eXomesh such as their 25 liter pack called the Venturesafe or their Metrosafe series (which I love and is my EDC bag).  However the Venturesafe has two limitations from my point of view, the first being that you are stuck with the model, color and size (thus limiting your choice of design, materials, features and color when buying the pack) Secondly, the eXomesh is discreetly placed under the fabric of the pack. This takes away the advantage of having a visual deterrent which the regular PacSafe eXomesh has. For example, a thief might spot the Venturesafe tethered to the steel luggage tethering cable under the berth in a train and try to cut it free or slash the pack to remove valuables. When he realizes what it has under its skin, he’ll drop it in search of easier prey. Yes, your belongings are safe, but your 120 USD bag is  now badly damaged and useless. This kind of bag makes sense only if you are carrying gold or other precious stuff which makes this trade off worthwhile and for other occasions when you need discreet security. The regular Pacsafe eXomesh however will cost you less while providing  a visual deterrent in addition to security. (and of course you can choose the pack of your choice). A bigger model, about twice the size of the Venturesafe  would make a good bug out bag though! There is nothing much to review about the Pacsafe as it is just a locking mesh which goes over your pack. So I’m listing the pros and cons and an overview of how it works and let the pictures do the talking.

I bought the 85 liter Pacsafe eXomesh lock for my 80 liter Low Alpine TFX Tundra rucksack. I did this as I paid over Rs. 13,000 (Indian Rupees) for it (the rucksack), so even if someone grabbed and made off with my empty pack it would bring me to grief, let alone when it was loaded with gear. It was easy for me to justify the high cost of the Pacsafe in my case.

The quality of the product, i.e. the mesh, the Pacsafe brass lock with 3 keys and its carrying case all reek of high quality and shows great attention to detail. The whole package does weigh you down by about 580 grams though.

PROS:

  • Very high quality. A well made product
  • Good Documentation
  • Innovative design
  • Supports packs from 55 to 85 Liters

CONS:

  • When used on a pack close to that of its rated volume, a very short length of cable remains for tethering it to an anchor. This works very well within the city, but in the outdoors, you’d normally want to tether it to a medium sized tree or so which seems a bit difficult to do due to the short length of the left over cable.
  • Wish there was a model which was plated black as when used in the bush, the reflective mesh attracts attention from far away. There is no reason why anyone with the proper tools and time should not be able to free the pack.
  • For its weight, not a complete security solution for your pack as this post here shows. It is advisable to lock the zippers on your pack even if you have secured it using the PacSafe. I quote, My jaw dropped when I realized what had happened. While I was out, Diego’s accomplice had managed to pull the locked zippers apart far enough to pull out a small leather pouch (the size of a business card) that I use to keep extra—but quickly accessible—cash and credit/debit card(s) in.”

Is the weight a con? I’m not so sure, probably opinions would vary from person to person. Along with the lock, 3 keys, manual and cover, it weighed close to 580 gms. I’m not grumbling as there is only so much weight you can shave off  before the strength of the cable reduces with it. I was planning to buy a smaller PacSafe 55 liter model  for my bug out bag but I’m not sure of it yet as the 85 liter eXomesh cage does work on a 55 liter pack and the weight difference is only 80 grams. The 85 Liter model when used on a 55 Liter pack will also give me a longer length of cable for looping around a thicker object.

The PacSafe seems primarily aimed at city travel, but even in the outdoors, it is good to be able to tether your pack to a tree or  other immovable object when you want to go for a swim in the outdoors without constantly worrying about your stuff. This is also true when you are outdoors alone and want to go down and back up hill a few times to get water or firewood and don’t want to be carrying your heavy pack around. However I doubt whether there would be enough cable left to loop around a good sized tree, but it still makes sense to buy one of these gizmos. I highly  recommend the PacSafe eXomesh for securing your backpack or rucksack. Check their website for other variants of the 85 liter Exomesh reviewed here.

How the Pacsafe works

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The PacSafe packs & unpacks from its small case quite easily.
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The eXomesh net is put over and around the pack and tightened around the backpack by pulling on the looped cable. It is tightened till the closest available plastic coated bead passes through the locking hole. The oblong bead is then pressed into the bead holder as shown above. The bead locks in place due to the pull exerted by the cable which acts like a spring.
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The free end is then looped through or around the anchoring object and back to where the bead was locked. The padlock is then locked through the loop at the end of the cable and also through the locking hole. The presence of the lock partially blocks the hole thus preventing the bead from passing through the hole and thus releasing the pack.
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After unlocking, the mesh folds easily and stores in its sturdy carry case.

 

 

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