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  1. #1
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    Lockable zippers and next step bag security

    Lockable zippers are great. When secured, they don't separate and contents don't fall out. However, according to several articles online, they are not access proof from bad intentioned persons - whether taking something from the bag or placing something into the bag. The quick take is zippers can be punctured with a ballpoint pen to open (metal just take little more pressure than plastic) and then zipper slides run over the opened area to reseal the zipper. The bag owner is none the wiser that access was gained.

    Does the TB YKK zippers have anything special to prevent this ballpoint pen access technique?

    Is there any feature on TB bags to at least connect the zipper to a handle or a solid point to prevent reclosing a nefariously opened zipper alerting the owner? Should there be a feature on bags most likely to get checked?

    I am not trying to be the guy saying the world is evil and full of scary boogeyman around every corner. Just facts to face in my next trip and learning how to mitigate the risk.

  2. #2
    Forum Member Moose's Avatar
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    There are a couple of old threads, maybe 2014-ish, that talk about bag security. I mention them because there were a lot of pictures that you might find useful. Some pretty clever ideas for hooking the zipper pulls together. All the zippers on my TB bags are either water resistant with the rubber covering material or pretty heavy duty. I think using the ball point pen break in method would be pretty difficult.
    List exceeds allowed characters. So I'll just say I'm plum and kiwi loving FOT!

  3. #3
    Forum Member GrussGott's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by organicfarmer View Post
    Is there any feature on TB bags to at least connect the zipper to a handle or a solid point to prevent reclosing a nefariously opened zipper alerting the owner? Should there be a feature on bags most likely to get checked?
    Yeah, this is why i moved away from locks: no better way to advertise to thieves - and truth is, there are a lot of them that will even do mileage runs and try to spot people with spendy stuff in the gate area. Locks are a bright flashing signal "target me!"

    Therefore, one feature I wish TB would add is the simple zipper loop - it's just a small piece of fabric sewn over the zipper teeth at the end of the zipper, allowing you to push the zipper pull through and preventing the bag from being easily unzipped:

    Lockable zippers and next step bag security-pacsafe-citisafe-cx-anti-theft-convertable-backpack-zip-lock-jpg

    The downside to this is, depending on the design of the end of that zipper path, you can't easily fully close the zipper which might allow in rain in an emergency, but that's a tradeoff i'd happily make. Plus, the pen method still works, but it's very difficult to close the zipper again without taking the bag out of an overhead or disturbing it if you're wearing it or it's near you.

    That means with the zipper loop, a break-in is easy to spot, so if it happens in an overhead you can tell the FAs before passengers leave or easily spot it at a cafe or whatever. It's also just a deterrent for a clever thief - they'll pick the locks people, not you.

    I'd vote for TB adding it!
    Last edited by GrussGott; 01-11-2020 at 06:04 PM.

  4. #4
    Forum Member DWSeattle's Avatar
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    If they get into my main bag, all they get is dirty clothes and toiletries. The good stuff is in a crossbody bag like a Daylight Briefcase or Co Pilot in the seat with me.

    I use a Nite Ize locking s-biner on zipper pulls to prevent pilfering. They require two hands to open.

  5. #5
    Forum Member NYCWriter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by organicfarmer View Post
    I am not trying to be the guy saying the world is evil and full of scary boogeyman around every corner.
    Fine, then I'll say it.

    I'm from New York.

    THE WORLD IS EVIL AND FULL OF SCARY BOOGEYMEN AROUND EVERY CORNER.

    And I'll even add:

    LIKELY STANDING RIGHT NEXT TO YOU ON THE SUBWAY.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by NYCWriter View Post

    LIKELY STANDING RIGHT NEXT TO YOU ON THE SUBWAY.
    Nah, that's just NYCWriter standing in the subway.... they only look scary until you notice the TB bag!
    :P
    I like all the blues and greys...and all the happy citrus colours too! My search unicorn is the Sapphire Dyneema original Small Shop Bag...

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrussGott View Post
    Yeah, this is why i moved away from locks: no better way to advertise to thieves - and truth is, there are a lot of them that will even do mileage runs and try to spot people with spendy stuff in the gate area. Locks are a bright flashing signal "target me!"

    Therefore, one feature I wish TB would add is the simple zipper loop - it's just a small piece of fabric sewn over the zipper teeth at the end of the zipper, allowing you to push the zipper pull through and preventing the bag from being easily unzipped:
    That seems like a simple addition for 95% solution. I don't carry expensive things, just time-consuming and expensive to replace while away from home things.

    When traveling I had been using a TSA cable lock through the zipper pulls on my S25 for all but 2 of the pockets. I realize now the error of my ways as the zipper could be punctured and although tools to cut the cable are likely not carryon approved, a master TSA key is likely allowed. Simpler solution for me now may be to carry only bare essentials and use large packing cubes as a second layer of complication.

  8. #8
    Forum Member GrussGott's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by organicfarmer View Post
    I don't carry expensive things, just time-consuming and expensive to replace while away from home things.
    That's mostly me too, and it kind of brings up who the likely thieves are:

    (1.) Thieves of Opportunity
    The bag is by you but you're looking away or distracted, or you stepped away for a moment - the thief moves fast and exits fast
    (2.) Clever Thieves
    These are more bold thieves that will target you in an airport, cafe, hotel or other looking for a bigger score, but are also looking for a clean get-away - the thieves, for example, will ballpoint-pen your zippers in the overhead or while you're distracting for a minute or two, they'll take the valuables, and the rezip the bag.

    Both of these types can be deterred by designed-in zipper pull security and/or reusable zip ties (less obvious than locks), and/or locks (can make you a target)

    (3.) Determined thieves
    These are targeting you and will steal your bag and/or pen your zippers and/or slash the fabric and are fine with a messy get-away

    Not much you can do about this except move fast in crowds and keep your bag away from access by anyone but you

    As a side note, here's another type of designed-in secure zipper-pull:

    Lockable zippers and next step bag security-zipperlockpng-png
    Last edited by GrussGott; 01-19-2020 at 02:02 PM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrussGott View Post
    As a side note, here's another type of designed-in secure zipper-pull:

    Lockable zippers and next step bag security-zipperlockpng-png
    It appears you may own one or tried in person one of the bags with the advanced zipper features. Is using the feature on the zipper time consuming or a hassle?

    Both pictures of designs you provided appear to meet my personal requirement of "a simple solution that works every time."

  10. #10
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    This is why I don't own a Synik or Synapse and wouldn't use one for travel. The very FIRST step in securing zippered compartments is to eliminate as many of them as possible. Yes, it's a minor inconvenience to have few exterior zippers. For me, the tradeoff in security is worth it.
    Last edited by Buffalonian; 01-20-2020 at 05:25 PM.

  11. #11
    Forum Member GrussGott's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by organicfarmer View Post
    Is using the feature on the zipper time consuming or a hassle?
    Ha, well it depends on what you'd consider a hassle ... basically to "lock" the zipper you thread the zipper-pull through the loop/hole which prevents the pull from being easily tugged to unzip. To "unlock" you have pull the zipper-pull back through, and then unzip as normal. For me it just takes 3 seconds, so no it's not a hassle, but it also does limit the kind of zipper-pull you can use.

    IMO, designed-in zipper-pull loops are less hassle than a lock which has the advertising drawback plus requires you to keep track of locks/keys and operate them, for a mostly similar solution.

    Other methods that can mimic the stealth of the designed-in zipper security loop/garage for bags that don't it have could be:

    (1.) Reusable zip ties
    You have a few options here (1, 2, 3) and basically use them like locks, but without the advertising and key hassle locks come with. This is nice because you can use re-zip ties for so many other things like taming cables or webbing, threading through handles to ensure bags don't get separated, zipping to a roller or cart, etc. Nice and simple, using something you probably want to have with you anyway.

    (2.) Paracord w/ fastener
    Loop paracord through the zipper-pulls (or trolleys) just like a lock (and as above) and then secure tight with a spring-loaded cord lock - the hardware options are endless! The simplest is just a 4" length of paracord through a dual-slot cord lock. You could even leave the TB zipper pull off of that zipper and just buy the slot lock.

    (3.) No zipper-pull!
    With this method you cut the zipper-pull right off the zipper-trolley, and leave it off! This makes it VERY hard to access that zipper - with good quality zippers it's easier to use the ball-point pen method to open the zipper! I think this is the most secure method, especially for zippers that are somewhat hidden.

    For example, let's say you have a Synik with the dedicated electronics compartment zipper, you can go two routes:

    (3a.) Use a wire cutters to cut a small section off of the side of the zipper pull ring itself; allowing for just enough room to get the zipper-pull off of the zipper-trolley, but also back on! You're leaving it like a J-hook; then when you want to zip/unzip you take the separated pull out of a pocket and use it, with the downside that you have to remove it and store it each time (or it'll likely get lost eventually), or ...

    (3b.) Cut off the zipper-pull altogether and attach a zipper-pull cord to a mini nite-ize carabiner. Now, whenever you want to use the pull as normal, you attach and lock the carabiner, but if you want security you zip up and detach the carabiner and store. This is the route I go because it's the most similar to the original bag design.

    AND, you can also combine methods #1/2 and #3 so that not only does the important zipper not have a pull, but the zipper-trolley is cord-locked to other things! Cool

    TMI? Big Grin
    Last edited by GrussGott; 01-20-2020 at 06:24 PM.

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