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  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Fort Wayne, Indiana

    Default (un)Packing Fears ~ Theft

    So as I look forward to 2024 some fears (uncertainties) I have need addressed. Someone had a recent thread on leaving loved ones behind and the replies were helpful. So on to my next fear...

    Is there a concern about theft of your pack or gear, particularly at town stops?

    Strategies for avoiding theft?

    Did a search but most threads were quite dated.

    Biggest concerns are:
    • Leaving a pack outside a store/restaurant.
    • Leaving gear at a hostel while heading into town.
    • Charging my phone/battery where I can not see it every moment.

    Been thinking about hiding an Apple AirTag in my bag, but that seems after the fact(theft).

    Also a personal alarm secured to my bag with the pull cord/pin secured to some structure so if someone took my bag the pin would come out and sound the alarm.

    Other ideas?


  2. #2


    With the possible exception of 4 Pines I never felt leaving my stuff at a hostel was hazardous. And even there, it wasn’t in the end. Generally tried to keep my pack in sight, but not always. Left it outside Gyps Tavern for a couple hours, no problem. Did always make it a point to grab my wallet and phone out in that situation and whenever catching a shuttle or hitching.

    Not saying nothing ever happens, but I don’t think it’s a frequent issue.

  3. #3
    This side of the dirt
    Join Date
    Wherever I happen to be


    One concern, and thankfully I never experienced it, is hitching rides into towns. I have heard of a few instances where a pickup stops, offers a ride, has you put your pack into the bed of the truck and then they take off with your pack before you have the opportunity to get into the truck. Like I said, never happened to me so maybe a "urban legend" but something to keep in mind.
    If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18

    Come to me, all you who are tired and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

  4. #4


    I personally only had to separate myself from my pack 1 time on my AT journey and that was at the Notch Hostel in New Hampshire where they make you keep your gear in an old barn out back....did make for a clean inside environment but I did not like having to do so.
    Trail Miles: 4,523.3
    AT Map 1: Complete 2013-2021
    AT Map 2: 279.4
    Sheltowee Trace: Complete 2020-2023
    BMT Map: 52.7
    Pinhoti Trail Map: 31.5

  5. #5


    An air tag is a reasonable idea. You could conceivably create a geofence such that if the tag started moving you'd get an alert. You'd want to set up a reasonable condition such that the normal variability of the tag's position doesn't indicate movement. That's a bit technical. Theoretically, there might also be a device that would emit a loud sound if you triggered it wirelessly. I can make both my phone (find my phone feature), my Tiles, and I think my headphones make sound in order to find them.

    I generally just keep a good eye on it is all I generally do. This might mean keeping it visible through an outside window or asking if it is ok to bring inside to put somewhere safer or to keep it with you.

    If you ever hide it in the woods I recommend something like a Tile in case you hide it too well. These days you'd likely at least have a phone with you instead of also hiding your headlamp with the pack...
    "Sleepy alligator in the noonday sun
    Sleepin by the river just like he usually done
    Call for his whisky
    He can call for his tea
    Call all he wanta but he can't call me..."
    Robert Hunter & Ron McKernan

    Whiteblaze.net User Agreement.

  6. #6


    FWIW - One of many things I learned about long distance hiking early on is; back packs are seldom washed. Essentially, they stink unless it's yours and even then they can catch you by surprise when you ask someone, "is that something dead I smell?". Few people will be interested in rooting through a pack with a few hundred miles on it in summer. However, pack theft issues are crimes of opportunity so minimizing opportunity makes sense.

    Prevention being the operative word, use your senses as you would in your home town environment. If there's a doubt, there is no doubt. If people or a situation looks sketchy, leave. I am not sure how common pack theft is when hitching a ride to a town. I have heard of pack theft hitching rides only to have the driver take off with the pack after it's tossed in the back of a pick up truck or back seat of a passenger car, but I think this is a pretty rare event. Typically I hold my pack on my lap when I get into a ride car unless the driver objects, which I have not had that happen yet. Of course, scheduling a ride to town with a shuttle service or Uber, that's the best idea though impractical in remote areas.

    On hikes where resupply trips into town is expected I bring a short length of aircraft cable with loops and a light padlock like a TSA luggage lock. This allows me to tether it to a tree if I want to stash the pack, lock it down in shelter areas where a lot of people are milling about, or secure it to a parking meter or other fixed features on the store front or sidewalk. A lot of merchants don't particularly want packs in their shops, odor and shop lifting issues tend to be the most common objections. If there are two or more people with you, leaving the packs outside is an easy issue with one person watching as the other shops.
    Last edited by Traveler; 02-01-2023 at 08:45.

  7. #7
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Taghkanic, New York, United States
    Journal Entries


    I would not leave my phone charging unattended unless it was secured, such as the host offered. On my way to town I will usually dump my powerbank into my phone and leave my powerbank unattended if needed. If needed I would wait 20 mintues or so while both my phone and powerbank recharges at the same time, then bring both with me into town, charging my phone from the power bank, and at stops ask to recharge the powerbank.

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