Practical and efficient travel gear that is stylish can be hard to find. In search of the perfect travel jacket, Lindsay Taub recently tested out the Scottevest Trench. Here’s her review.
There is an art to travel when it comes to packing and making the less-than-fun aspects convenient. How many times have you seen people dropping or losing their wallets, glasses, and boarding passes, as they rush through the airport terminal to catch their flight after the chaos of going through security? Or worse, you’re on safari and you see an animal but you’re searching through a seemingly bottomless bag to find your camera or spare memory card and by the time you find it, the animal is long gone. Or you’re standing outside of your hotel room, contents of your bag and pockets splayed out as you unsuccessfully search for your room key, only to have to return to the lobby to get a new key. Or you’re on a plane, fall asleep, and wake up to find your headphones strangling you as you attempt to get the cord untangled from your hair.
When we travel, it’s an never-ending process to find better, more convenient ways to keep all of our gear and belongings in a safe, but easily accessible place. No bag seems to have enough pockets, or if it does, it’s not big enough, light enough, small enough, or fashionable enough. The same is true of clothing, particularly when it comes to finding the perfect travel jacket. Sure, there are fantastic, stylish safari vests available, but when not on safari and still in need of practical, efficient outerwear, fashion forward options can be limited.
When businessman Scott Jordan experienced the same quandary – needing a way to carry and organize all his gadgets and gear without a “man-purse” – he thought there must be a better way. He asked his wife, Laura, to make him a vest that he could wear for business trips that would hold electronic gadgets and personal items inside hidden pockets sewn into the clothing, that wouldn’t look bulky or overstuffed. As such, the “Scott’s Electronics Vest” was created. Eventually this prototype became the Scottevest Travel Vest, and over the past 13 years has inspired more than 50 hidden pocket clothing items in their product line.
Their trench coat model, which I recently tested out on a road trip through British Columbia’s Okanagan wine country, looks and feels like your classic trench on the outside. But inside are 18 pockets of various sizes and styles that make it one of the most convenient, but stylish, travel jackets out there.
Throughout my trip, I was carrying the following, all of which I needed on hand at all times: two cameras, spare memory cards, iPhone, GoPro video camera, extra batteries, camera and phone chargers, passport, wallet, notepad, pens, sunglasses, business cards, sunblock, lip balm, and a travel umbrella. All of these were in my pockets in the above photo, but you’d never know it would you?
That’s because of the design of the coat, which somehow makes it so that weight is balanced and the pockets have enough integrity not to droop down or look bulky. Certainly, part of this was how I chose to use them — not all of the above items were in one place. I’m not one who reads directions so I didn’t read the instruction manual that came with the jacket, instead choosing to find my own various uses for the different compartments; some of which were quite different than the handy labels above the pockets that indicate their intended use. It was an adventure in and of itself to keep discovering new pockets, zippers, loops, elastic bands, clips, and all sorts of fun little compartments to store my stuff!
My passport for example, I kept in the phone pocket rather than the ID pocket and it fit perfectly. Because this pocket is on the inside of the coat and snug, it’s safe and won’t slip out if you bend down or take the coat off and forget it’s in there. I used the ID pocket for business cards, which fit about 40 perfectly, in addition to my hotel room key card. And I decided to keep one of my cameras and phone in the outer pockets for quick access but they felt safe because of the built in magnetic pocket enclosures – no need for a zipper in this case!
The iPad pocket on the inside was just large enough for my travel size umbrella, and I kept my wallet in one of the other inside zipped pockets. There was truly a place for everything I needed on the go, without even the need to carry a purse, so my hands were free, shoulders free of a heavy equipment bag, and having all my gadgets and personal items organized in their specific spots took away the need to go searching through the black hole bag.
One of my favorite features was the eyeglass chamois, attached by a cord in one of the pockets. My sunglasses are always getting smudged, and without fail, I will lose a chamois when I reach for something else and it accidentally falls out without my noticing. And we all know that your shirt or a napkin just doesn’t clean glasses very well.
I didn’t use the coiled key chain holder in the front pocket this trip, but imagine that will come in handy in the future, nor did I use the headphone loops because that was the one design item that I didn’t quite understand, though I may try it on the next trip. I can’t speak to the other items in Scottevest’s product line, though judging from the trench, I’d imagine they are all designed with the same style and practicality in mind.
The trench is reasonably priced as well ($150), water resistant, breathable and machine washable (another bonus when on the road, especially if you only bring one jacket and it gets dirty). I chose the mud color, but there are six color options: red, black, mud, mist, thyme, periwinkle and paprika.
For more information, or to see the entire product line, visit www.scottevest.com.