In a recent post about minimizing the amount of time and hassle you encounter at TSA security checkpoints, I mentioned that I use a travel vest. The strategy is pretty simple: as you approach the initial TSA screener, stow your cell phone, iPod, heavy metal watch, and so forth in the pockets of the travel vest. At the x-ray machine, simply slip off the vest and send it through. Out on the concourse, most travel vests have enough pockets to paperback books, magazines, and even a bottle of water.
But there’s one issue with conventional travel vests: they’re dorky as all get out. With up to 7 pockets plastered over the front, most regular travel vests aren’t terrifically stylish. Functional, yes; good looking? Highly debatable.
Ideally a travel vest would be stylish enough that you could wear it to work on casual Fridays, still have plenty of storage to be practical for travel, AND be designed in mind with the electronics that are a part of all of our daily lives.
Enter Scott Jordan and SCOTTeVEST. Jordan design strategy for the original SeV was simple: design a stylish vest that’s capable of carrying a myriad of items in mostly hidden pockets and which incorporates an advanced PAN (Personal Area Network) for iPods and other electronic devices.
The vests were instantly popular with techies, but also quickly developed a following with travelers, for good reason…
A quick rundown of the specs:
- Lightweight, breathable Teflon® coated cotton/poly blend
- Available in 3 colors – black, sand, and red rock (rust)
- 22 pockets including 2 pockets with lightweight translucent plastic – for controlling electronic devices right through the material; several zippered, hidden pockets
- A sunglasses pocket which comes with microfiber cleaning cloth secured on a tether
- A removable coiled lanyard in one of the front pockets for securing your car keys (a hangup of mine – so for me, this is a great feature)
- A superb PAN that offers 2 options – a quick, easily removable setup, and a slightly more complex setup whereby the wiring for your earbuds is fed through the lining of the jacket. A number of pockets have ports which enable your iPod or other device to be stored/accessed there. Especially slick: Velcro® tabs for securing your earbuds’ wiring; small mesh pockets for storing the earpieces themselves when not in use
- Here’s a photo of the inside of my vest. If you look closely, you can see one of the earpieces sitting on top of its mesh pocket; the other – on the right side of the photo – is stored in its pocket. Click on the photo for a closer view…
- When you click on the photo you can see the earbuds’ wiring system threaded through the collar of the vest; you can also see two of the translucent pockets mentioned in a bullet point above; there’s a 3rd one expressly designed for a driver’s license-sized ID card
- As with most travel vests, there’s a large pocket in its back with a hidden zipper. This pocket is large enough to accommodate magazines or even a Camelback; you can route the straw up to the collar area of the vest quite easily
- In short, the vest is loaded with features, most of which are not immediately apparent or visible
Here’s Scott Jordan in a brief video about the SCOTTeVEST travel vest:
Impressions and Comments
One can’t but be impressed by the thoughtfulness of the SCOTTeVEST’s design. The fabric is good looking and appears to be quite durable; the zippers are of high quality and operate smoothly; the PAN system is terrific and can set up in 2 main modes and when the integrated mode (earbud wiring concealed inside the lining) is selected, in can be configured in numerous ways to put your electronic device exactly where you want it.
Additionally, there are lots of clever little details I haven’t mentioned – the two outside handwarmer pockets are zipped, but they also have magnetic closures – so if you leave them unzipped, they’ll still stay closed. There’s also a vertical pocket inside that’s perfect for boarding passes. Several of the larger pockets are called Deep Pockets™ so your things won’t fall out, and so that weight is distributed evenly across your shoulders. The two larger translucent pockets are perfect for an iPod or the like, let you control it through the material, and no matter whether you’re right or left handed – you’re covered. An unobtrusive little icon next to each interior pocket indicates what the company recommends be stored in it – digital camera, music player, sunglasses, etc. – thoughtful!
The vest is, in short, fantastic. As Bose does with their noise canceling headphones, it comes with a number of cards you can give to people you encounter who are curious about your distinctive vest.
If I have any concerns, they are picky: when the vertical zippered pockets are zipped open, the zipper pull is at the bottom – I’d prefer the opposite. I wear a short sports jacket, and found the vest to be just a tiny bit long – but that’s a problem with my design, not the vest’s! Finally, it’d be perfect if it had zip-off long sleeves for the ultimate in flexibility… but of course that’d boost the price.
…which is a subject I haven’t addressed to this point. The SCOTTeVEST is $100; this is comparable to what you’d pay for an Orvis travel vest, and about $20 more than a TravelSmith equivalent. It’s worth it. The attention to detail, build quality and extra features (PAN, etc.) are truly impressive. Plus… it’s much better looking, in my opinion!
The company has a very nice website including informational and how-to videos; see it at scottevest.com Note that they carry a full line of jackets and pullovers; many are equipped with the PAN system described here. They also carry cargo pants and some lighter shirts. Make sure you get a product that’s suited to your needs and climate!
NOTE: I have no connection to the company whatsoever, other than being a satisfied customer. Thanks for visiting; if you have tried this vest or other similar products, please comment.
1/16/09 Edit: Ah, the wonderful misery of being obssessive-compulsive! I left the SeV with a seamstress this afternoon. It is being shortened by 2¼” and of course the zipper will require replacement. For my frame it’s simply too long and in all honesty the result is that I haven’t worn it that much. It’s loaded with features for sure, but I found myself opting to wear other vests rather than it. If you have a short torso or wear a “short” sports jacket, think twice. I’ll post an update when it returns in early February.
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