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Soft sided luggage is my choice for carry on travel.  The lack of hardware means that it is by far the lightest luggage available.  The softness of the bag makes it flexible and easy to stuff into a smaller space.  Unfortunately, soft sides also create a security vulnerability.   A thief can manipulate the soft sides and the zippers to gain access to the bag’s contents.  Fortunately, an inexpensive and easy fix is available to prevent this from happening.  It takes about 15 minutes of your time to add a locking security ring to your bag.

locked soft sided luggage

This soft sided travel pack has locking zippers. It looks secure against theft.

A thief accesses the bag by moving the zippers to the outside corner of the bag. This gives plenty of room for the zippers to slide.  The thief pulls the corners apart and unzips part of the bag.  The thief now has free access to the contents.  The thief can do this even when the bag has specialized locking zippers.

Locked but accessable for theft

A thief moves the zippers to an outside corner and pulls up the corners apart. The contents of the luggage are exposed even through the zippers remain locked.

The solution to this problem is actually rather easy.  Locking the zipper slides to an anchor at one end of the zipper track prevents the zippers from moving.  The sides can’t be pulled apart if the zippers can’t move away from the anchor.  The anchor is usually a small ring near the end of the zipper track.  Some bags (eBags) come with a security ring.  Don’t worry if your bag doesn’t have a ring.   It only takes a few minutes and a minimal amount of materials to install one yourself.


Project Time
: 15 minutesMaterials List:

  • Solid Metal Ring, approximately 1 inch (2.5 cm) diameter
  • Needle
  • Heavy Duty Thread

Step 1

The first step is selecting an appropriately sized security ring.  The ring needs to be large enough to anchor the zippers, but small enough so that the zippers can’t move once they are locked to the ring.  A ring that is 1 to 1-1/2 inches (2.5 – 3 cm)  in diameter works on my bag.  Use a solid ring (not split) so a thief can’t work the ring open.  I found my ring at a craft store.  It was one half of a necklace toggle clasp.

The rings from this necklace kit make great security rings.

The toggle rings from this necklace kit make great security anchors.

The ring is solid so a thief can't work it open.

The ring is solid so a thief can’t work it open.

Step 2

Find a place to install the security ring near the base of the zipper.   I decided that the rain flap is a good attachment point for my ring.  The material is soft and I can easily sew a ring on to it.

Secure the ring to the rain flap

The rain flap for the zipper provides a perfect place to anchor the security ring.

Step 3
Using an overhand stitch, attach the ring to the rain flap.

Attach the ring to the rain flap

A simple overhand stitch is used to attach the ring to the rain flap.

The ring fully attached to the rain flap.

The ring fully attached to the rain flap.

The ring from the outside of the rain flap.

The stitching for the security ring is barely visible on the outside of the zipper rain flap.

Step 3
Lock the zippers to the security ring.

The zippers are locked to the security ring.  They aren't going to move.

The zippers are locked to the security ring. They aren’t going to move.

That’s it! An investment of just a few dollars and a few minutes ensures that your luggage is safer.

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