Home Travel Equipment Review: PacSafe Portable Safe (Because Hotel Safes Aren’t Safe)

Review: PacSafe Portable Safe (Because Hotel Safes Aren’t Safe)

by SharonKurheg

NOTE: This is not an advertisement and we were not compensated for this post — we purchased this item of our own volition and wanted to write about it.

A while back, I wrote about why your hotel safe might not be as safe as you’d like to think. It included YouTube videos of how to easily open a variety of locked hotel safes, as well as some viable alternatives to hotel safes. Full disclosure: it was totally a “do as I say, not as I do” post, because although I brought my laptop with me during all of my travel, I was still putting it in the hotel safe (or worse, in the bottom of my suitcase, under the clothes, because nobody would EVER break into my suitcase [it’s SO easy to do] look there, right? #rolleyes). I know, I know…bad Sharon! So I decided to put my money where my mouth was and bought a PacSafe brand Travelsafe 12L GII portable safe a while back. Here’s my review of it.

Although they sell PacSafes items directly from their website, I bought mine from Amazon – it was still being sold by PacSafe, but I have Prime so I got free shipping and I used Amazon Smile so a small kickback was sent to my charity of choice.

I purposely bought the Travelsafe 12L GII portable safe because of its size – simply put, I needed it to hold one, or possibly two notebook computers, 2 iPads and sometimes a few other small items. Here are its specs, as per Pacsafe’s website:

Screen Shot 2017-08-27 at 8.44.32 PM.pngIts anti-theft technology is using a product called eXomesh, as well as a thick wire cable for attaching the bag to something permanent (or at least big and bulky) in your hotel room. It comes with a 3-digit combination lock that is TSA compliant.

Screen Shot 2017-08-27 at 8.47.27 PM.png
Granted, a would-be thief with a bolt or wire cutters would probably be able to break into the bag, but it’s assumed most people with the intent of stealing something from a hotel room would have minimal tools…maybe a screwdriver? It’s a given that nothing is absolutely 100% foolproof…but I suspected this would be safer than an ordinary electronic hotel safe where you can open it with directions found on YouTube, right?

The Travelsafe came in a sturdy bag inside a sturdy box. The instructions (including how to change the combination on the included lock) were frustratingly minimal but between looking at some YouTube videos and reviews/explanations on Amazon, I figured it out in about 5-10 minutes (I’m not going to explain how the Travelsafe and its lock works…if I can figure it out, so can you, LOL. But if you have any questions, just let us know) and once you get the hang of its use, it’s easy.

You can pack the Travelsafe flat or you can roll it up. It fits flat almost perfectly in a 14″ x22″ x 9″ carry-on suitcase and that’s how I personally liked to carry it but, as always, Your Mileage May Vary.

The main purpose of the Travelsafe is to keep your belongings safe. To do that, once it’s filled with things you want to keep safe, you need to attach it to something in your hotel room that’s permanent, or at least would prove to be relatively difficult for a would-be thief to remove. My favorite spots so far are:

Under the sink
(Again, I assume a thief would have access to a screwdriver, but unless they’re a plumber, a wrench? Not so much.) (if you’re squeamish at the thought of the bag being on the bathroom floor, put a towel under it.)
Photo Aug 24, 10 22 40 PM

A middle door hinge
(I specify the middle hinge because a thief would need to disconnect all 3 door hinges before being able to grab the bag. (S)he may have the tools but might not want to risk the time or noise level).
Photo Aug 24, 11 27 19 PM

A television with a base
(double-check to make sure the base is large enough so the wire connected to the bag couldn’t just slide off the bottom of the base. Assuming it’s not, he or she would need to take the whole TV with him/her. That might look suspicious to be carrying a flat-screen TV with a bag attached to it).
Photo Aug 24, 10 33 35 PM

A large piece of furniture (i.e. a bulky chair)
(again, that would be a cumbersome item to have to carry in order to take the bag).
Photo Aug 24, 10 28 35 PM

The clothes bar in the closet
(those bars are usually held by brackets that are screwed into the wall. The would-be thief would need to take quite a bit of time to unscrew everything)
Photo Aug 24, 10 20 46 PMThe security lock and chain style lock of your hotel room
(again, unscrewing would have to be done, but it would take some time to get it done)
Photo Aug 24, 10 35 03 PMYou might even be able to connect the bag to the bed frame (this method might not work for all beds).

Joe and I were in Tennessee the first time I got a chance to use my Travelsafe “in the wild” (our hotel in TN was also where all these pictures were taken). Did I like it? Yes, I did!

  • As I mentioned earlier, I chose to keep it flat and it fits perfectly into my carry-on rollerboard bag.
  • Our hotel room didn’t have a safe, so we now actually had a place for our more valuable possessions.
  • It held one 13″ notebook computer, one 13″ Macbook Air, and two iPads, and had LOTS of room for more stuff.
  • It has 2 built-in handles, which is apparently the newest addition to this latest model.
  • Although the outside is charcoal gray, the inside is a much lighter shade of gray so it’s easy to see what’s in the bag.
  • The numbers on the lock were easy to read and manipulate (you also don’t need to use their lock if you don’t want to; you can supply your own if you prefer. The bolt of the lock just needs to be 1/8″ in diameter. A 1/4″ bolt [I’m thinking like regular Master locks] would be too wide for the hole it needs to go through).
  • Heads up – you have to have relatively decent finger/hand strength and dexterity to pull the wire cable enough so the bag closes and the “pearls” in the cable go through to the position they need to be in.  If you have normal adult hand strength and dexterity, you’ll be fine. I suspect those who have arthritis or other problems with their hands/fingers might have some difficulty.
  • I chose to connect the Travelsafe to the pipes under the sink
    Pro: I didn’t think it would be easy to steal.
    Cons: I had to bend down to connect/disconnect it. There would also usually be the “ick” factor of “the bathroom floor” but our hotel room had 2 sinks; one on the regular bathroom (which was tiled) and one an area before that, which was carpeted. I connected it to sink pipes in the carpeted area.

No one stole the bag nor anything in it during our 3-night stay. Of course, you never know when it’s “your turn” to have your possessions stolen from your hotel room. So, of course, I will never be able to say if it’s a deterrent or not. But nothing was stolen, so I’m taking that as a win ;-).

We’ve used our Pacsafe for over 5 years now, but so far so good. Our PacSafe Travelsafe has a home in my carry-on bag and comes with me every time I stay in a hotel.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

7 comments

Frank September 29, 2017 - 4:12 pm

Ingenious ways of setting up a Pacsafe … great post!

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Hotel Review: Thunderbird Lodge, Grand Canyon, Arizona – Your Mileage May Vary November 14, 2017 - 2:01 pm

[…] area with a refrigerator, Keurig coffee maker, safe (that we didn’t use since we had our PacSafe bag) and room to hang a few items of clothing or two […]

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Christian August 5, 2019 - 2:21 pm

Thanks for the detailed review. I just ordered one.

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InLA July 25, 2020 - 4:23 pm

We’ve been traveling with PacSafe products for years and love them. I had not thought about the middle hinge idea before—great! But they would not have to remove all three hinges, just the screws from both sides of the middle hinge. Then the whole hinge will come out along with the cable.

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Rob Morgenroth November 29, 2021 - 4:34 pm

My idea for locating the cable would be to put it through the cable to the television that is unable to be cut without triggering the alarm at the front desk and in the room–that seems as though it would be the safest bet because maintenance DOES have screwdrivers, but they cannot disconnect the tv cable without notifying the front desk in most places.

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Robyn Yu March 13, 2022 - 9:45 am

As someone else already mentioned, a thief would not need to disconnect all three door hinges. The middle hinge comes off and would actually be one of the easiest options for a would-be thief.

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Sam Stevens March 13, 2022 - 10:29 am

I use it at beach resorts, too – it enables my wife and me to take walks on the beach without lugging our electronics with us (we attach it to a beach chair). I did buy a heavy duty, harder-to-pick lock for it as the lock it comes with is cheap.

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