Unexpectedly Intriguing!
27 August 2021

Not long ago, Markets in Everything, a running feature at Marginal Revolution, featured a bag designed to "comfortably" carry $1 million in "used" U.S. $100 banknotes, SDR Traveler's 1M Hauly. But MIE discovered two bits of bad news. First, it costs $220, and second, it is sold out at this writing!

The Inventions in Everything team was excited because this is a class of invention that we haven't covered previously, so we searched for patents related to the technology you would think would be incorporated into a bag designed to hold one million dollars. Specifically, we sought out an invention that would incorporate the one thing we think someone walking around with one million dollars in a bag would want: anti-theft security features.

That led us to U.S. Patent 9,161,596, for a Security Luggage Bag, which was patented by Robert Wesley Schlipper of Hong Kong on 20 October 2015.

What makes this invention special is that it incorporates a reinforcing wire mesh layer within a soft-sided fabric material that makes it both light weight and exceptionally difficult to cut open. Here's a figure from the patent illustrating how the mesh might be incorporated in all sides of a luggage bag.

U.S. Patent 9,161,596 Figure 5

With that technology in mind, we set out to search for an alternate product for comfortably and securely carrying that $1 million worth of $100 bills about that is currently available in the marketplace.

We first needed to figure out the minimum specifications we needed to shop for. A $100 bill measures 6.14 inches by 2.61 inches by 0.0043 inches and weighs 1 gram. $1 million worth of these bills would stack up to 43 inches in height and weigh 10 kilograms (a little over 22 pounds). In terms of volume for the banknotes, that's a little under 0.4 cubic feet or roughly 11.3 liters.

Having set that minimum, the IIE team found a product that can do the job of the unavailable $220 Hauly a lot more comfortably, securely, and inexpensively: Pacsafe's Metrosafe LS350 Anti-Theft 15L Backpack, which is available on Pacsafe's site for $119.95 and at Amazon for $99.95.

Pacsafe does make larger versions of the backpack, but we picked this one out because it appears to meet the basic requirements for comfortably and securely carrying $1 million in used $100 bills. Sandra Olsen at Backpacking Blueprint has a review of the backpack and its features.

While it does offer a pocket featuring RFID-blocking technology to hold small items like mobile phones and credit cards, the backpack doesn't provide the same option for the main compartment. Since many would consider that feature to be essential in the modern age, Faraday Defense's 17L EMP Waterproof Backpack might work as an alternate option. At a cost of $124.99 at Amazon, it costs more, but doesn't offer the anti-theft security features of Pacsafe's backpack. We think the ideal anti-theft security backpack would incorporate both technologies, but we found no products that did in our limited search.

Even the 1M Hauly bag doesn't incorporate RFID-blocking capability, yet at least SDR Traveler recognizes the need for such a product. Its Heist Shielding Pouch can add that capability to its 1M Hauly bag, at an additional cost of $440. Alas, it too is currently unavailable at this writing.

It does occur to us that the hardest part for developing an effective product in this category of innovation is getting the $1 million worth of $100 bills to properly conduct the necessary prototyping and field testing.

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