Pacsafe Vibe 325 Anti-Theft Sling Pack Review
The Pacsafe Vibe 325 Anti-Theft Sling Pack has a hefty 10-liter capacity, but lockable metal zips and eXomesh slashguard keep every liter safe and secure.
- Spacious main compartment
- Reinforced design makes it feel really robust
- Extra security features add peace of mind
- Adjusting the thick strap is a clunky experience
- Feels bulky in some areas like the strap
- More secure zippers also slow down user access
1.23 lb (0.6 kg)
15.8 in x 9.1 in x 3.2 in (40.1 x 23.1 x 8.1 cm)
YKK Zippers, Recycled Polyester, Nylon, Polyester
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Big slings have the advantage of taking some of the portability of a small sling and combining it with the capacity of a small backpack. It’s a balancing act between those key aspects—and it’s a delicate one at that. But whenever something is trying to be two things at once, it’s easy to be bad at both. Try and throw in some security features into the mix, and, well, it becomes a whole lot trickier.
Pacsafe is trying to juggle three balls with the Vibe 325 Anti-Theft Sling Pack. It’s a sling beefed up with security features and a capacity nudging around 10 liters. For context, we think the 9-liter Chrome Industries Kadet is a bit too big, so what about the Vibe 325? It does wear a bit heftier than we’d like, but the built-in security features and available space are quite compelling if those are what you’re after. Read on to find out whether this juggling act is convincing enough for your use case.
Materials & Aesthetic
The Vibe 325 looks fairly minimalistic from many angles. The all-black aesthetic is quite appealing in its own subtle way. It’s stealthy and discreet, so it won’t draw any unwanted attention. That’s probably the first rule of a security playbook somewhere: be inconspicuous. For the sake of Pacsafe’s whole security-first design, we’re more than inclined to go with this stealthy Jet Black option—that is, if this is indeed the Jet Black colorway.
Pacsafe’s website lists Jet Black with different materials (210D nylon ripstop and 200D polyester lining) than our sample, on which the tag claims both the outer shell and liner fabric is 100% recycled polyester. We can’t be entirely sure whether the tag or the website is telling the truth, or maybe these are two different colorways altogether. That said, our sample does feel well-structured and has the telltale ripstop grid pattern on its outer shell.
Other colorways available at the time of writing include Camo (450D recycled polyester ripstop with a 150D recycled polyester liner), ECONYL Black, and ECONYL Ocean (400D ECONYL regenerated nylon dobby with a 150D recycled polyester liner), and finally, Granite Melange Gray (100D ROBIC Nylon).
Underneath the fabric is Pacsafe’s signature eXomesh slashguard material. As the name suggests, it’s a slash-resistant material made of stainless steel wire that covers the body of the bag. It’s not noticeable, though, since it’s underneath the fabric. For the most part, the Vibe 325 looks more or less like a one-shoulder backpack. Yes, it is quite big in the world of slings, rivaling even the 9-liter Chrome Industries Kadet.
The zippers are ever-reliable YKK-branded ones. Pacsafe being Pacsafe, they’ve added their own layer of security to these zippers. All the compartments’ zippers are lockable, but don’t think they’ve just slapped on some overlapping loops for a separate lock. Instead, the beefy-feeling metal pulls on these have triangular inserts that allow pairs to slot together like puzzle pieces. On top of that, the Vibe 325 also features Pacsafe’s Roobar Sport lockdown point where you can anchor the zippers. All in all, everything feels robust and sturdy on the Vibe 325.
With all the robustness the Vibe 325 has going on, it’s easy to forget that this is first and foremost a sling. At 10 liters, it’s certainly pushing the boundaries in terms of size and capacity. We’ve already brought up how it’s similar in size to the Chrome Industries Kadet, but there’s something about the Vibe 325 that just makes it feel that much bigger.
Okay, there is a one-liter difference between the two on paper, with both hovering around the 10-liter mark. But it’s much more than that. On careful observation, the Vibe 325 feels heavy thanks to the harness system. The top edge is quite wide, and the strap itself is very thick. We feel a good chunk of the heft around our shoulders. It’s not unbearably uncomfortable by any means since the strap and the back panel are both well-padded. But the heft is noticeable, especially among our crew who have narrower frames.
The good news is that the strap is thick for a good reason. Not only does it contain dense padding, but it also houses eXomesh slashguard straps. These aren’t your typical nylon straps; one look from the side and it’s immediately apparent how reinforced they are based on thickness alone. On the flip side, the thickness of the nylon makes it hard to feed through the adjuster.
This isn’t an issue if we’re only setting the length once and staying with it for the rest of the Venture 325’s lifespan. However, as the season changes, so too do the thickness of our clothes. Thin shirts are exchanged for puff sweaters, and the length of our straps adjusts to accommodate them. So while the strap is very strong and durable, it’s also very tricky to readjust—a tradeoff between security and ease of use.
On the subject of security, just like other Pacsafe bags, the strap can be detached without the need to undo the adjuster (thankfully). There’s a simple PopNLock security clip at the base of the bag where the strap is anchored. Simply twist and push the clip to unlock, loop the strap around a solid fixture like a post, and re-engage the lock. It’s not quite as permanent as locking a bag using a dedicated lock, but it should prevent grubby thieves from quickly snatching the bag away. They’ll have to fiddle around with the built-in lock first, which should slow them down or deter them entirely.
Inside The Sling
The front compartment opens from the right side and is relatively wide, spanning almost the entire length of the sling. Inside, there’s a large zippered mesh pocket large enough to cover almost the entire backside of the front compartment. The downside is that while it has enough room to hold a lot of small accessories, we have to dig deep to get what we want from the pocket.
Despite the flatness of the front compartment, it doesn’t feel very cramped. There’s ample room to fit large, albeit flat items like power banks, smartphones, wallets, a field notebook, and the likes. The side opening even works well ergonomically since we always rotate our sling around back-to-front when we need to access them on the move. Something to note is that while the compartment is roomy, the main compartment can still take away some space from it when it’s fully packed out.
Before we get into the main compartment, let’s first check out that Roobar Sport lockdown point more closely.
The whole mechanism is simple to lock and unlock. You push a little tab at the base to one side, slide the main shaft open, then insert the combined zipper pulls of the main and front compartment into the hook. The hook is quite shallow, making locking the Roobar Sport somewhat tricky. We have to hold the zippers down while trying to re-engage the lock itself. We also found the lock tricky to reach since it’s off to one side as opposed to being centered. Still, we think it’s an effective security measure, just like the PopNLock mechanism on the main strap.
Once the PopNLock is popped and unlocked, though, there’s a ton of widely accessible space inside the main compartment. The opening goes from the bottom right corner of the bag, and all the way to the top left corner. A portion of the top edge is gusseted to prevent the main compartment from fully unraveling while still keeping the opening fairly wide. We don’t have much trouble when it comes to packing items inside the Vibe 325. At most, we try our best to keep frequently accessed items near the top since the bottom part is more sealed away. However, because the sling is vertically oriented, items tend to fall down towards the base anyway. We’re able to fit in a packing cube and a pouch with some room to spare. That’s in addition to the other items in the built-in pockets we’ll discuss next.
On the backside is a tablet sleeve designed for 11-inch tablets. The sleeve is padded on both sides, so there’s ample protection in both directions. At the front side, There’s a pen pocket, two liner pockets, an RFID-safe pocket with a hook and loop closure, and a zippered pocket with a built-in key clip.
We dig the variety of pockets here since there’s a slot for basically any small accessory and various travel documents like passports and tickets. One minor nitpick is that the RFID-safe pocket feels a bit tight with thicker, well-packed wallets.
Overall, the Vibe 325’s security and comfort are good despite the hefty-feeling shoulder strap. Adjustment is a bit clunky, and so is the accessibility when we’re making full use of the security features, but that’s an understandable tradeoff. Yes, it is a beastly sling, all things considered, but it is also packing a lot of features other slings don’t have.
- Quite large for a sling bag
- Has a built-in sleeve for an 11-inch iPad
- Very structured, and a part of that is the embedded steel wire mesh
- Access can be a bit clunky, but it’s a worthy trade-off if you want the added security
- Wide shoulder strap feels and looks a bit bulky
- Adjustment straps easily get caught during the adjustment process
- Can be difficult to get a good fit and put it on/take it off when wearing a bulky jacket