The Backpack a Thieves Paradise

The Backpack a Thieves Paradise
“The Backpack a Thieves Paradise”
- Jeroen of Nats Tours just off Khao San Road
---- August 19, 2008

Words of wisdom from Jeroen my Bangkok, Travel Agent with an office on the alley parallel to Khao San Road.

Bangkok, Thailand - Khao Sarn Road
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Blog of Andy --- --- Backpack Design Survey --- Backpack

Jereon sees many backpacks, a continuous stream of backpacks walk by his office daily. I see a continuous stream of backpacks walk by me, however maybe a little more critical for me, I also live out of a backpack, it my home away from home.

I am again dwelling on features of a backpack, this backpack below is similar to the one I first carried for about 4-5 years. I truly liked that pocket in the top until,
“I was robbed when someone put their hand in that pocket and took money out of my neck pouch passport and money holder.”
- Robbed on Boat from Koh Samui to Surathani Thailand July 2002

I finally accept the Italian guy sitting next to me on the boat tell me a sad sack story about losing everything stole my money out of the top pouch pocket of a bag like the one below. I was tired, hot, and sweaty, I did not want that pouch on my neck, I put it in the pouch.

This bag below is typical, I am guess in at least 35 percent of long-term backpack have purchased this type of bag.

It is the Thieves Paradise
30-50 percent of backpacks traveler carry are like this bag.

I really loved my bag like this, it was easy to get into, I could put my guidebook in the top pocket. I could stuff it extra full, the pull string compartment would allow me to stuff a lot in this bag. It was simple to use. I could open them straps and clamp down a blanket or tent.

It was simple to use, it was easy to rob.

It is the only backpack that answer the question?
Where do I store my guidebook?

I truly hate this type of bag NOW, I believe the Airplane luggage handlers broke them clips at least four times. I finally replaced them with a pull buckle type mechanism and they still broke it. They just grab what is easy to find and throw the bag. Or maybe they just pull real hard, knowing the contents will go flying and all is fair game.

There is ZERO way of locking this bag, a Thieve Paradise.

If you would carry this backpack as your front bag, this pouch on top would be one of the best places possible to store a guidebook when entering a city. It would be right in front of your face. The problem is you have to take this backpack off… ooops

A thieves paradise, one robber comes up and bumps you, the other runs off with the bag because you needed to take the pack off to get your guidebook out. There needs to be a hasp type lock on the zipper so a person can lock this pouch.

This is a hikers or trekkers bag, not good for travel, it is a Thieve Paradise, the worst possible bag to purchase to travel

I went into a store here on Khao San Road to take these photos, I am sure all the backpack are fakes, no original brands. This nice girl was helping me, she squatted on the stool. I could not help myself, I had to take a photo. What do you think, does she look like she has some Chinese blood in her?

This is how you enter this bag, quick and easy, however there is no way to lock this bag.

I had a bag like this for about four-five years, by the time I was done, I had added many D-Rings to allow me to lock the bag. It is possible to lock this bag, however it just never seems to come ready to go out of the box, this bag is not made for travel.

Too many pockets, too many loose webbing straps hanging around, this bag has more toy adjustment than you can imagine. They all come out of adjustment, almost impossible to keep it adjusted because they all change. I sewed the adjustments solid on my bag, I was tired of trying to keep them correct.

This bag and 90 percent of the backpack I see are a Thieve Paradise, there is nothing stopping anyone from robbing them.

I think what happens is this, a person goes into a gear store thinking they are going to rough it, walking around a country. They eventually learn and know that roughing it, is putting a bag under a bus and sleeping 24 hour on an all night bus, it is not walking for days.

Little do they know, while they was sleeping, some little person was crawling around in the baggage compartment pillaging their bag.

I do not think it is the Backpacker fault, I think the Gear shops and Manufacturers have their head up their butt. They really have no idea what it means to travel.

Or maybe the do not know what it feel like to be robbed, I have been robbed two times, once with the little pouch, once by a pickpocket in Spain. For sure the most dangerous places to travel is Europe, the seconds is Central and South America, Africa next and Asia is the safest.

The more pockets on the outside of a a backpack, the more you will get robbed, and the less it should be called a Travel Backpack.

I think I am inventing a new genre of backpacks, the travel backpack line.

The Backpack a Thieves Paradise


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See, this is very similar to my bag. I think I have shown you photos of the extra top flap I attacked to lock it.

The rest of the pockets in my opinion do not need to be locked. The solution is this, only use those pockets for things that you do not mind to lose.

My backpack has the top pocket and 2 long side pockets. the top pocket would either house my 'flip flops' (200 rupees) or a guidebook, and the side pockets would have a blanket in one (cheap, possibly from an airplane) and a towel in the other. I do not believe I will cry if someone steals any of these items, thus the pockets remain useful. You can replace these items almost anywhere on the planet.

I think it is not just the backpack that is at fault, it is how people pack it.

If you do not mind losing, then why are you carrying?

I say it again, hardplastic/rubber is the way to go! You will truly be a pioneer. (If that is good or bad I dont know.. Hehe)

Can't wait to see your design for your traveler's backpack! I'm in the market for a new pack right now myself and am disappointed with the choices I'm seeing in the stores right now.

I've been using a bulky, fits like a fridge on my back style panel-loading pack. After my last trip, I swore to never get one of those again.

The only alternative though is the top-loading packs like the one in your picture. I like their shape (not too wide) and how easily they compress.

I think that my ideal pack would have the shape and fit of a top-loader with a nice oval shape panel opening on the front instead of the drawstring closing with lid on top.

Keep us posted on your pack design. There's definitely a market for something in between the traditional alpine packs and bulky travel packs. :0)

I don't want to lose it, but it is not the end of the world. I think the majority of places on the planet I can buy a towel or blanket, and to me a guidebook is a useful but non-essential luxury. I really don't think you need it, but it is nice to have.

I will not die if someone steals my blanket because I have an emergency space-blanket. This cheap, small, light item has saved my health before, and I think it could one day save my life.

Hard plastic or hard rubber?

There are many great travel bags made of hard plastic, however not many that you can use shoulder straps and harness.

There are two great reasons for a soft backpack.

1. I can push and stuff this bag in the compartment above the plane seats, bus seats, and other transportation or below the seat in the plane.

2. It is expandable, it can shrink or expand with volume.

A funny one off the top of my head is you can use a soft bag as a mattress for sleepping, strange, but I have done this many times in Airports.

Backpacks need to breath, there is a need to allow air in and out of the bag. I had a waterproof pocket on one of my bag samples I made, the passport inside started to mildew.

Backpacks are carried for months, there is a need for a long-term storage areas, where you put items you only use onece in a great while.

I have adapters that convert a lightbulb receptacle to an electrical plug. I do not go anywhere without it. It could be in long term storage pockets on the inside of the bag.

Ash, I truly understand that a person can use pockets on the outside of a bag. I do not understand trying to justify or saying items can be replaced.

I traveled for years on less than 10 dollars per day, and normally paid 2-4 dollars a night for room. I truly did not want to spend 2 dollars to replace my sandals. I truly did mind losing these items.

You are thinking in a tourist way, in the sense of always having more money coming in, that you went on vacation and knew you was going back to work.

A long term traveler does not know how to get more money, they have to stay in budget, they cannot afford to lose items and just pay to replace.

YES, truly from the replace anywhere on the planet, everthing in my backpack I can replace anywhere on the planet. I do not buy gear that is difficult to replace, it is just too annoying when I lose it.

The goal of a backpack is to keep you from losing anything. A backpack that allows you to lose something is a joke.

Strange as it sounds, I am designing a four pockets on the exterior of the backpack I am making, they are collapsible. The backpack can be perfectly flat, then you can unzip and open these pockets and carry a bottle of water or a guidebook. I am not opposed to a pocket, yet 100 percent sure I want them to be totally secure and locable.

I do not for any reason want my sandals or towel falling out of a my pockets, never under any condition. Just because the backpack is too stupid of design for words, it not reason to justtify stupid designs.

HI Mr. Andy,
I do not think some folks quite understand the relationship you may have with your backpacks. Given how dependent you really are on them. I still have my old duffel bag after 30 years of faithful service. Its my luggage of choice even now for just playing tourist. Its the same mentality with tools or perhaps your favorite truck..hehe. A man becomes almost emotionally intimate with such things that serve him well. On the flipside when it turns out to be junk, its a feeling a betrayal or disloyalty. I do not understand why all the loud colors on backpacks. It even seems the cheaper the make, the louder it is. Matter of fact, I do not understand why anything to attract attention, to indicate many compartments or nooks for a thief to fantasize rummaging. After your years of being on the move, Its probably not quite the traditional meaning of packing that you do. Its more like putting things away.
Maybe you have seen those tool pouches that are unrolled and instant access to everything in pockets designed for specific tools. When done you put tools in place and roll up like a cinammon roll. Your main back pack seems similar to me. YOu open it only when you are at destination, then you open it like opening front door to your home, not like raiding the refridgerator. The front pack I would think to be the biggest problem child.

un saluto a voi da scorzè, ciao

I agree most people do not see the relationship I have with a backpack.

I also do not understand the relationship other tourist or travelers have with their backpack. People obviously shared an experience with their backpack and love it, even thought it will let them down many times in many ways.

I think this pack design might be onto's got 3 zips which meet at the top, lets you open it up completely like a duffel or panel loading pack, but still streamlined like an alpine pack.It's probably the closest to an ideal pack I've seen so far.

Way out of my price range though at $350.

The Zipper is different, a nice looking Hiking bag, however still a Mountain or Hiking Backpack, not much to do with Traveling.

I did CTR F to try to make sure the word LOCK was not on that page.

This Backpack has nothing relevant to the topic of Travel Bags, it for sure is a Thieves Paradise.

Andy what's the point ? If it's any good L.L. Bean will build it for you. No need to hide your N.A.S.A. approved stinky clothes hauler. Just do it build a proto and say what it needs to be better then cash the check before it bounces

I agree, I could partner up with some company. I will soon have a Prototype, Sample, or Example of the bag. I am going to debug some issues while in Taiwan, Korea, and Japan, then return to Thailand to make another Proto.

The quality of this bag is very important to me, if I am going to put my name on it, I want it to be the best possible material and design as I can hope for at the second it is done. I am sure, then it will continually improve, there is alway a better idea to help improve a bag.

I figure one day, if I stay pure, stay the course, do not compromise, I can couple up with some companies who are truly interested in quaility and Traveler Tested Bag designs.

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