Living in a first world country, there are times when we forget how fortunate we are. I’ve grown up in third world countries, and I’ve lived in countries where bag theft and pick-pocketing are a significant issue.
In some of these locations, thieves or street kids will cut your bag to pieces, as something like a camera is worth enough to feed their family for an entire month.
Whilst these locations have higher risks, they also offer some of the most incredible photography opportunities. They’re beautiful in many cases because they are untouched by the unforgiving nature of first world commercialisation.
That makes them appealing for travellers who are prepared to run the gauntlet.
Pacsafe is a brand that specialises in protecting your gear, and we aren’t talking about the padding. (See also: Pacsafe X9 and Z17 reviews.)
If you live or are planning on travelling to locations where your wallet isn’t safe in your back pocket walking around, you’ll want a camera bag that’s extra secure.
This is a review of an anti-theft camera backpack that well and truly has your back.
Table of Contents
Pacsafe Camsafe X25 Specs
- Unique security offering
- Padding and straps could be a little more padded
- No airport luggage pass-through
- Usability not as good as everyday bags
- Features: Adjustable Interior Dividers, Removable Interior Dividers, Tablet Pocket
- Carrying/Transport Options: Backpack Straps, Sternum Strap, Top Handle, Waist Belt
- Compartments: Laptop Compartment Screen Size 15.0″
- Exterior Dimensions: 19.7 x 12.2 x 9.5″ / 50.04 x 30.99 x 24.13 cm
- Exterior Material: Nylon
- Type of Closure: Zipper
- Water Resistance: Rain Cover
- Interior Material: Polyester
- Maximum Volume: 6.6 gal / 25 L
- Weight: 2.91 lb / 1.32 kg
- Package Weight: 3.03 lb
- Box Dimensions: (LxWxH) 19 x 11.1 x 8.8″
Build & Appearance
The Pacsafe Camsafe X25 is black with few external identifying features. I have no doubt this is by design to ensure your bag doesn’t stand out in a crowd.
The first thing that stands out about the Pacsafe Camsafe X25 is the material. At first glance, it looks like just your everyday black nylon material, but on closer inspection, it reveals a mesh-like texture.
Pacsafe call this material eXomesh, and it contains a steel mesh that makes it slash-proof.
Additionally, the bag is RFID safe to ensure that your credit cards are safe from scanners, the modern-day method of cloning your credit card.
The construction of the bag is high. The design isn’t a premium looking bag (which would increase the likelihood of theft), but the quality of the material and fittings is high.
Inside the camera section, you’ll find similar levels of finish. The dividers in the bag are identical to the quality you would find on the more expensive ONA range of bags.
The only noticeable item of lower quality is the blue plastic key clip found within the bag. I can’t help feeling that something metal would not have added much to the overall cost of producing the bag.
As a bag is designed primarily to ensure the contents are safe, you won’t find too many features. Anything exposed on the outside is a theft risk.
That’s not to say it lacks functionality, but the access points are a little more discrete and protected, and this reflects in both the design and functionality.
On the top of the bag, you’ll find a grab handle typical of most backpacks.
It has slight padding and a grippy rubberlike feel under the strap, so it doesn’t slip in your hand. I think it works perfectly for this style of bag and anything more would be over-engineering.
Typically, shoulder straps are just shoulder straps, but in the case of the Pacsafe Camsafe X25, they’re more than that. When I first saw the straps, I noticed that you could unclip one of them – which I assumed was to enable you to use it as a sling.
For that purpose, it would seem like an act of over-engineering as it takes far more steps than expected to unclip the shoulder strap. The reality, however, is that it isn’t for this purpose.
The Camsafe X25 allows you to use the strap as a securing mechanism for airports or other locations where you may be worried about the bag getting stolen. The complex-looking mechanism isn’t actually that complex and allows you to lock the bag to a fixed object.
It’s a creative design and one I think a lot of bag manufacturers should incorporate in their system.
All the zips can be locked to the bag, ensuring that the content remains safe. I don’t think they are impenetrable, but they are enough to discourage potential thieves and make them look for easier targets.
As is the case with many bags, there’s a rain cover in the bottom. You’ll also find a water bottle holder, which will be fit most water bottles.
The Pacsafe Camsafe X25 is Hydropack compatible, although I don’t have a Hydropack to test this.
What is missing is a tripod carrier. If you wanted to carry a tripod, you could use the water bottle holder, and Pacsafe Camsafe X25 has a strap at the top suitable for securing this. I’m not sure if that’s by design, but it does the job.
The interior offers have four storage areas, although two of them overlap. Given this is a photography site, let’s start with the camera compartment.
Access to the camera compartment is via the side compartment. The camera compartment is not expansive as you would expect from a bag of this type.
It’s well-padded on all sides providing excellent protection for your camera gear. The compartment is equipped with more than enough dividers to keep even a hardened travel photographer happy.
Inside the camera compartment, you’ll find a flap suitable for memory cards or small batteries.
The camera compartment is also accessible from the top compartment with an expanded area for non-photography gear with a zipped compartment for accessories.
Outside of the two main compartments, there’s a laptop compartment and a small top compartment suitable for phones, pens and wallets. It’s a little small for a speedlight, but for photography purposes, you could carry a set of filters when you need to increase your photography carry.
It has all the usual features one would expect to find, along with an RFID blocking compartment for your wallet and cards. If theft is high, chances are so is the risk of card scanners, so this addition adds to a long list of security features already on offer by the bag.
The storage on the Camsafe x25 is in the medium range. It’s on a par with most non-hiking style travel bags.
For photography purposes, you can carry a full-frame body and two large lenses. APS-C systems or smaller lenses will extend that to 4-5 lenses.
This would meet the requirements for most of the target market for this style of bag. The bag offers practical storage with the ability to split or combine storage.
In the bag, I could comfortably carry:
- Sony a7R III with battery grip and 24-70mm mounted
- Sony 135mm f/1.8
- Sony 85mm f/1.4
- 13″ laptop
- Laptop accessory bag
- Jacket – or when I’m travelling with my young kids, 700 small, obscure items they decided to bring along despite having no relevance or purpose to the trip. Last trip out of the hotel, my youngest daughter brought along a poker trophy I won in a poker comp with my friends. It had travelled 7000 miles across the globe in her toy bag.
The top section is actually fairly voluminous. In the photo, I included a rusk box (I’ll let you look that one up) but realistically the top section could fit double that.
Ease of Use/Comfort
I think Pacsafe have done an excellent job balancing functionality and security with the Camsafe X25. While the design offers a lot of security functionality, it’s only required when you need it.
That ultimately means the bag functions as a regular bag in everyday life with the hidden talent as a theft-proof bag when the occasion calls for it. The zips are high quality, and there are retention straps in case the zip opens to prevent your camera gear falling out.
I like the design of the drawstring interior that separates the camera compartment from the rest of the bag. It makes it easier to merge storage although it does expose the camera to a greater risk of leaks, so it’s a compromise.
The straps are comfortable and practical for everyday use but I don’t think they are padded enough for extended travel and it would have been nice to see them bulk these up a bit.
The back padding is also good but doesn’t offer the same ventilation as some of the newer designs I’ve seen recently, so this is something for them to improve on in future releases.
Missing from the bag is a luggage pass-through which I’d like to see on every bag. Hopefully, this appears on the next version of this bag.
Value for Money
The Pacsafe Camsafe X25 is somewhat unique conceptually. There aren’t a lot of bags you can compare it to, aside from other size bags in the Camsafe range.
It retails for around US$140 depending on the kinds of offers available. When you consider the quality of the bag, the capacity and security features, it’s excellent value.
The bag is also multifunctional making it suitable for everyday use. While it may not be a trendy everyday bag, practical bags like this never are.
Pacsafe Camsafe X25 Review | Conclusion
The Pacsafe Camsafe X25 is the kind of bag that you don’t know you need until it’s too late. People travel with a sense of naivety, and often, theft finds them because they aren’t aware of how obvious they make themselves as tourists.
It tries to solve that by ensuring that you blend in. It’s not going to help if you wear a bright Hawaiian shirt in the middle of a third world country, but at least it makes the content of your backpack less obvious.
If you live in a country or travel to locations that are higher risks, the Camsafe X25 would be a valuable addition to your bag collection.
You might find plenty of competitors, but none of them offers the safety features of this secure camera backpack.