For the Deeply Paranoid City Dweller, This Slash-Proof Commuter Backpack Is a Godsend

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Coalatree Compass Backpack | $79 | Indiegogo
Gif: Coalatree

Coalatree Compass Backpack | $79 | Indiegogo

Nobody likes getting mugged. But in a city populated by hundreds of thousands—if not millions—of people, chances are it may happen at some point. Though in my 2 years living in NYC, only one person has ever tried to pickpocket me (that I know of), and failed, I’m sure it will eventually happen again. And why put yourself in a position to have your possessions stolen if you can help it? You can help it after all.

Do a quick Google search and you can find plenty of lockable commuter bags out there, but the Compass backpack from Coalatree is the most secure of the bunch I’ve seen. Not only does it feature a reliable combination lock holding the main zippers in place, but it’s also slash-proof, meaning you can take a knife to it and it won’t even leave a mark. Because Coalatree sent me a review sample and because I’m a masochist, you bet I took a chef’s knife to this thing and just went to town on it. Amazingly, the company was right. It is slash-proof.

The combo lock seems effective as well, and better yet, it took me like 30 seconds to reset the combination from the default 0-0-0. All you have to do is press in the reset button using a pen (I used an Apple Pencil) until it clicks in, turn the dials to your desired combination, push the button on the bottom to save your progress, and voila! You have successfully changed the combination. Easy enough it doesn’t feel like a chore but time-consuming enough a bystander won’t be able to sneak up behind you and unlock it without you taking notice. In case you forget by the time your bag ships in ... December, according to the Indiegogo page, you’ll find a handy four-step guide inside the main compartment.


Now comes the hard part: securing the zippers into place. After entering your new combination to release the lock, you might have to fidget a bit to get both zippers tucked in at the same time. But once you do, at long last, you’ll be free to stroll through your city with a clear conscience once more. Just don’t forget to store your credit cards and personal IDs in the RFID pocket, designed to prevent nearby hackers from stealing your identity in the light of day. And in case you need fast access to less valuable items, a small front pocket has you covered.

Image for article titled For the Deeply Paranoid City Dweller, This Slash-Proof Commuter Backpack Is a Godsend
Photo: Gabe Carey

But wait—what about TSA baggage check? Isn’t it suspicious to carry around a locked bag at an airport? While I plead the fifth on that second question, engraved on this particular lock is the Travel Sentry logo, which TSA agents are universally trained to recognize and unlock in the event of an inspection. Coalatree has ostensibly thought of it all in the making of the Compass—including its environmental impact.


Apart from having two water bottle holders, one on each side intended for reusable water bottles, the bag itself is actually made from recycled water bottles, the plastic kind. The way it works is this: Coalatree retrieves the bottles from recycling centers, cleans them, dries them up, then shreds ‘em into unrecognizable fiber flakes that are then woven into fabric used to make—you guessed it—a living, breathing water-resistant backpack that somehow does it all, complete with more pockets and sleeves than I can count on one hand.

Versatile and practical, the Coalatree Compass is fit for any occasion and, available in three colors, it proves you don’t have to trade individuality for safety. You can “bag” one for yourself, starting at $79, from the Indiegogo campaign page. You’ll want to act fast, though, before their limited stock runs dry. Wait too long and the price will jump back up to the $109 MSRP.