People ask me all the time about travel safety. In fact, it’s the most common email and DM I get on a daily basis.
People are usually wondering how safe a particular destination is, or if a certain city is safe for female solo travel, but to be honest – every place on Earth has its own safety issues, especially for tourists.
One of the BIGGEST safety issues worldwide, no matter what country you’re in, has to do with what you carry in your wallet or purse. Between pickpockets, thieves, and people with portable card readers, your money is the thing that is constantly under attack.
The chance of you getting caught in a war zone, in an earthquake or in a terrorist attack while traveling are extremely low – but the chances of getting a card skimmed or money pickpocketed from your purse is actually pretty high!
The most common travel safety/security threats you’ll face today are:
- Having a purse slashed or cut from your shoulder
- Having your credit cards compromised by RFID readers
- Having a pickpocket take something from your bag
Which is why I believe everyone should carry an anti-theft purse, wallet, backpack or bag. With all the different options out there today… why even risk it!?
Arden Cove Bags
Arden Cove is a company out of San Francisco that makes amazingly styled anti-theft bags for women.
Personally, I have been OBSESSED with the Arden Cove brand for the last three years. Yes, there are a lot of options out there when it comes to picking an anti-theft brand, but this one checks all the boxes for me.
I find their bags are not only super-cute, but they also come loaded with anti-theft features. They keep my credit cards safe with anti-RFID technology, my money safe with locking zippers, what I’m carrying safe with slash and cut-proof bags, and even my phone safe with waterproof zippers. Plus, they go with everything and they are very good looking. They don’t scream “I’m an anti-theft bag”. In fact, no one would even know unless I pointed it out.
How I found Arden Cove
I was first introduced to it 3 years ago when I had just had my credit card compromised 3 separate times. It happened to me twice while traveling in the US and actually once at home in Canada!
If you have never had this happen to you, it’s a huge pain in the ass, especially when you’re on the road! I had to be without credit cards for 10 days while I waited for replacements.
This leads me to research what kind of bag would help keep my cards safe and that is when I found Arden Cove.
I was so happy to see that the company was started by two sisters who each had their own travel nightmare stories and wanted to make the best anti-theft bag on the market. I immediately had their full-size burgundy crossbody sent to me and I used it around the world for over 700+ days.
Literally. This thing has been on every train, plane, bus, and questionable restaurant floor for the last 2 years. From Qatar to Indonesia, Japan to Alaska, Scotland to Mexico, it was attached at my hip.
This summer Arden Cove launched a new line of bags, wallets, and satchels to give their customers more style options. Since I’ve been such a raving fan, they sent me the Carmel Backpack and the Marina Grande Wallet to try out for myself.
Now… before I wrote a review on these 2 bags, I really wanted to use them for a few months first. I know that I need to use something for a long period of time before I can form an opinion about it. I needed to take these on flights, out shopping, and just on everyday errands to know if they are something I should recommend.
Arden Cove Review
Here is my detailed review on the 2 new Arden Cove anti-theft bags. I’ll go over prices, quality, what fits inside, likes/dislikes, etc.
Carmel Anti-Theft Backpack
Be still my heart. The first moment I laid eyes on the Carmel backpack I instantly fell in love. I mean, it’s SO dang chic and cute. The timeless black color with the gold zippers is exactly the color combo I want in my life. But more importantly, it takes the paranoia out of using a backpack while travelling. In the past I’ve always been afraid to wear a backpack when touring around because I can’t SEE my bag, so I’m always worried someone is going through it.
While this can still happen with Arden Cove, the chances are much less with the locking zippers. Think about it, if a pickpocket sees 10 people in a crowd and they all have easy to get into backpacks and yours has extra layers of protection, who are they going to go for? The easy targets of course.
What Fits Inside Carmel
Don’t be fooled by its super compact appearance because I’ve found I can stuff a LOT into this tiny backpack.
- Gym Shirt
- Canon Camera
- 6 Cards
- Business Cards
- Lip Balm
- Oil Blotting Papers
- Small Palette
- Hand Sanitizer
- Lip Stick
- Bobby Pins/Hair Tie
- Phone Charger
- Cell Phone
Gone are the days when I need to carry around a super huge purse that weighs me down and ends up hurting my shoulder. I can fit everything I need in this backpack.
It’s not just a backpack…
If a backpack isn’t really your thing, Carmel can also be used as a crossbody bag. You simply take off one of the straps completely and hook the other one up diagonally and voila, you have a crossbody.
I have found this configuration to be really helpful when I am taking pictures for the blog. I can easily grab the camera with one hand whenever I need to snap a quick shot. Many camera bags are already set up this way.
What I like about Carmel
- It fits A LOT despite being really small. I even used it as my bag on the flight because it held everything I needed mid-air.
- It really does go with everything. Before using this backpack I couldn’t imagine wearing one with a dress, but this one actually goes very well with nicer clothes!
- I like how it looks 10x’s more expensive than it really is.
- I love the two pockets on the inside. One is perfect for my phone, while the other is a great spot for my sunglasses so they don’t get crushed.
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Carmel Backpack’s Anti-Theft & Safety Features:
The straps on the backpack are thicker than the ones on the wallet and they have a built-in wire that makes them super cut-resistant. Not only are the wider straps hard to cut, but they also make it comfy to carry fully loaded.
The slashing of bags is something I have personally seen happen and read about countless times. Basically a thief runs up to a fabric purse or backpack (that is securely strapped on its owner) and instead of trying to remove the bag from the person, they slash it open, grabbing whatever falls out.
The fabric on this backpack is slash-resistant. In a video Arden Cove made, they actually take Exacto-knives to the purse to try and cut it open to no avail.
Having the waterproof fabric and the leak-proof zippers have been such a lifesaver for me. If I have both my Canon camera and my phone in there, the last thing I need is to get caught in a downpour. I love knowing that the only thing that will get ruined is my hair and not my expensive electronics.
Don’t know what RFID is? Let me explain: You know how you can just simply ‘TAP’ your credit card now for purchases under $100? That’s because credit cards are fitted with an RFID chip that just needs close contact with the point-of-sale machine to let a purchase go through. It’s fast and convenient so people love it. But that feature also comes with a downside.
Out in public, especially in crowded places, people can conceal portable RFID card readers and literally ‘bump’ into you, charging anything from $1 to $99 on your card, and potentially stealing some of the cards information at the same time. The same tap feature you use to buy things can be hacked for thieves to take your money.
So what can you do about it?
Use a bag, wallet or purse with anti-RFID technology, like this backpack. This bag has a lining that blocks the RFID reader, so no matter how many times a thief bumps into you, he’ll be left with nothing.
I wouldn’t use a travel backpack without this feature. The zipper on the outside pouch has a little hook for it to attach to. This ‘locks’ it closed and would take someone a bit of fiddling to figure out how to open it. Not that it’s fool-proof, but it dramatically hinders someone’s ability to get into your bag without you noticing.
Carmel Backpack Price:
The Carmel anti-theft backpack is $220
Marina Anti-Theft Wallet
The Marina wallet by Arden Cove comes in 2 different sizes, and of course, being such a frequent traveler, I went with the larger size.
I almost exclusively use this as a purse and almost never as a wallet. The strap is so chic and thin that it actually makes the bag go with anything. I can wear it casually with jean shorts and a tank on the beach, but I can also wear it with a dress and heels for dinner.
What Fits Inside Marina
For a wallet… a considerable amount!
Now that phones are humongous, it’s actually hard to find a nice wallet that fits one at all, let alone anything else.
While it doesn’t have as much room as the backpack, I can still fit the bare necessities in here.
- 6 Cards
- Business Cards
- Lip Stick
- Oil Blotting Papers
- Bobby Pins
- Hair Tie
- Cell Phone
It’s not just a wallet…
Like I mentioned above, I almost never use it as a wallet and always use it as a small purse. The strap can come on and off easily. Also by using the same strap, it can be worn around the waist like a belt bag (fanny-pack), although I have to admit that is not my style!
So I guess it’s a 3×1: wallet, purse, belt-bag.
What I like about Marina
- I love the material on the outside. It’s really resistant to scratches!
- The size is amazing. Since I can fit my phone, passport, lip gloss, etc in it. I don’t need to carry around a big heavy bag for everyday stuff
- I like that it can be a purse or a wallet. I don’t have room to pack tons of different accessories.
- Can be dressed up or down and goes with literally everything
What I dislike about it:
- It doesn’t quite carry everything I’m used to. I do like to head out for the day with some hand sanitizer or a notebook, but alas those won’t fit in here. It’s times like this when I miss my old burgundy full crossbody bag.
Marina Wallet’s Anti-Theft & Safety Features:
It comes with a thin black faux-leather strap that is cut resistant. Not to say it’s cut-proof, but it would take some extra time and effort to get through this strap. If you want a heartier strap, you can also swap it out for the metal chain one they sell.
Just like the Carmel backpack, the Marina wallet/purse is also waterproof. Not many other wallets on the market have this feature and it’s SUCH a great one to have when your phone/passport are involved,
The wallet has a tiny gold loop on the underside that the zipper locks into. If someone tried to sneakily unzip your wallet with you noticing, this will stop them or at least make it very obvious and difficult!
I did the big explanation of why you need RFID blocking technology, but just know that this wallet has it too. I am not afraid to bring my credit cards with me anymore because I know they cannot be ‘skimmed’ or compromised. It’s such a piece of mind.
Grande Marina Wallet Price
The Marina sells for $115
Do Anti-Theft Bags Work?
Since I have been using Arden Cove’s bags, I have had ZERO pickpockets and ZERO credit cards compromised. This is such a relief for me, especially going through THREE compromised cards before I got my Arden Cove bags.
Are They Worth The Price?
I’ve said this a thousand times before and I will say it again: I am at the point in my life where I don’t want to use/own things that aren’t actively working for me, ya know?
It’s beyond me why anyone would want to buy a $4000 purse that doesn’t even keep what’s inside safe? It’s baffling really!
All I know it this: As I travel around the world, I don’t have time for compromised credit cards or stolen cash. I will continue to pick brands like Arden Cove that have anti-theft features over trendy (overpriced) brands that do nothing but try and impress the people around me.
Do I Recommend Arden Cove?
100% YES. And for a few reasons
- They are made by real people with real lives and families, not just some oligarch fast fashion brand
- The prices are incredibly affordable, especially when you consider how long the bags last AND that they have anti-theft features
- The quality is better than some high-end luxury brands
After using Arden Cove exclusively for three years in a row, I can confidently say that you will absolutely love carrying around one of their bags.
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