If you’re worrying about losing your valuables to a pickpocket when you travel to Athens, Paris, or Rome—as you probably should—then you may want to invest in some pickpocket proof clothing. It’s like regular travel clothing, but with secret stash spots that will keep your cash and credit cards from getting swiped.
I met the founder of Clothing Arts, maker of Pickpocket Proof Pants (and shirts) at the Outdoor Retailer show nearly a decade ago, back when I covered travel gear all the time for a site I’ve since sold. At that point he had released a single product: the original cargo pants that had loads of pockets, hidden pockets, and pockets within pockets for making sure nobody could get your cash. I loved the pants at first sight. I hate carrying a bag with me if I don’t have to and these pants could hold a lot, super-safely. There were innovative features like zippered interior pockets and button flaps that would go over an outside pocket, making it impossible for a crafty pickpocket to get to your valuables.
You can still get those original pants and I still have my original pair. (They’re highlighted in this article The Travel Gear I Couldn’t Kill.) I still wear them when I’m going somewhere dicey, especially if I”m going to be roaming around markets where I look like an easy mark. Here’s an old video I made on the subject in Central America.
The original pants were kind of bulky though, made with heavy cotton, so the company eventually switched to an advanced tough but light nylon blend.
Pickpocket Proof Pants Options
The original design with all the pockets is tagged as Adventure Travel Pants now, plus there’s also a convertible version with zip-off legs or just plain shorts.
Some people want something less bulky though, with fewer pockets on the outside. No worries, they have expanded the product line substantially over the years and there are lighter, sleeker options now if you want to go that route. Their Business Travel Pants still have 9 pockets, some of them nearly impossible to get into, but they look nice enough for stepping into a meeting or going out to a nice restaurant. I pack a pair of these every time I go to Europe.
There’s a lot of tech baked into these pants though. The double-paneled pockets are slash-resistant, there’s an eco-friendly DWR (Durable Water Repellant) treatment that keeps them stain-free, and they’re made with the best YKK zippers.
Pickpocket Proof Shirts
I also pack a pickpocket proof shirt for most of my trips because again they look nice, but they’re also durable, relatively wrinkle-free, and have a secret stash spot or two. I pop in a credit card and some cash and I’m good to go for the night without worrying about someone swiping my wallet from my pants.
They’ve had a solid version of these shirts out for years, but they recently added some patterns to the mix too and pegged them as pickpocket proof business travel shirts. The others always looked and performed like any quick-dry travel shirt that’s still going to look good a dozen trips from now. These five patterned ones are a bit more tailored, however, with a slimmer fit and poly/cotton fabric blend that makes them look like they came off the rack at Nordstrom.
Nobody would know at first glance they’re anything but normal dressy shirts. Yet you get a regular breast pocket and a zippered pocket inside that for securing valuables. I jammed one into a suitcase, didn’t unpack until 24 hours later, and still looked great when I threw it on and hit the town. I’m packing this for any time I want a shirt that is dressy but comfortable enough to wear all day. The hidden pocket is a bonus.
What About for Women?
Let’s face it, men are a lot less picky about their travel clothing than women are, so it’s been easier to get men to jump on the “function over form” aspect of these pants and shirts from the get-go. Men’s body sizes tend to be a bit more predictable too: just leave room for a gut and you’re fine. Clothing Arts does make some women’s items too though, so you can wear something just as safe as that Pacsafe day bag you’re carrying.
You can get pants, shirts, or even a dress in various muted colors. They have all the same pocket technology as the men’s versions, with places to securely stash your money, cards, keys, or phone.
The item that may have the widest appeal though is the travel wrap skirt. It’s got five pockets for stashing things, but it’s a versatile, easy-to-pack piece that dries quickly if you have to do a sink wash. It can be dressy or casual, good for city walks or nice dinners.
If Only You Could Get a Pickpocket Proof Jacket…
If you want a travel jacket that is high performance but still has these kinds of features, Clothing Arts has you covered there too. Their Cubed Travel Jacket is a waterproof shell with an eVent membrane–the same kind of waterproofing technology you will find in high-end adventure jacket brands.
There’s a bonus though of course: lots of regular pocket plus lots of hidden pockets nobody but you knows how to access. It’s hooded, has Velcro wrist adjustments, and is made to last.
Wearing an Insurance Policy
Have my pickpocket proof pants and shirts kept me from getting robbed? I don’t really know that, but I do know I haven’t lost any valuables that were on my body for more than a decade. It certainly didn’t hurt that I kept them in places that prying fingers couldn’t reach. Plenty of people have thwarted thieves though and reported back to the company: currently there are 95 “pickpockets foiled” testimonial stories posted on the website. Some of them are quite satisfying to read.
I have never managed to wear out anything from this company and I think I’ll still be wearing their clothing a decade from now.
Clothing Arts mostly operates on a direct sales model, so Magellan’s is about the only retailers that carries them. You’ll have to order direct from the company. They have great service though and will ship anywhere in the world, plus this way the money is going into more R&D instead of to a pass-through company. They have a 100% satisfaction guarantee, so you’re covered if the fit is bad or something is wrong when you receive your package.