Not many articles of clothing come with instructions on how to wear it. And even fewer come with instructions on how to wear it that you’d actually want to read. In fact, we can only think of one: The Scottevest Travel Vest.
Simply putting on the Travel Vest doesn’t require reading the instructions, of course. And you’ll probably be able to find all of the Travel Vest’s pockets, if you have enough time and patience to hunt them all down. But knowing what each pocket is designed for so you can make optimal use of them — until you do that you can’t realize just how cool a piece of travel clothing the Scottevest Travel Vest is.
So let’s delve into that by checking out the vest’s pocket maps:
The Scottevest Travel Vest comes in separate men’s and women’s versions.
Scottevest Travel Vest External Pockets — Men’s
The men’s version of the Scottevest Travel Vest has 24 (!) pockets in all, including four on the front and one in back.
The two front vertical chest pockets aren’t so useful in our opinion, though one of them (the left one) has a little sleeve inside that could be used to keep coins or subway tokens.
As for the two so-called handwarmer pockets, they are are superb. The name is a bit of a misnomer — the pockets aren’t lined with fleece or otherwise particularly warm. But they are deep enough such that nothing would fall out even if you left them open. Not that you could leave them completely open — magnets keep them at least somewhat closed. Each also have zippers if you’d like to close them more securely.
Our favorite feature: The right handwarmer pocket has both an extendable key holder and a loop for securing a water bottle. (The fact that a water bottle can fit in the pocket at all tells you something about how large these pockets are).
In the back, there’s another pocket that extends half-way down the entire vest. Though you could store things in this pocket (a water bladder for a long hike maybe?), we can’t see ever doing so. The purpose of this pocket is more to act as a vent (see Pros, Cons & Our Verdict, below).
Note that Scottevest’s “pocket map” shows two change pockets in the bottom front of the vest. Our review unit either didn’t have these pockets or had them so well hidden we couldn’t find them.
Scottevest Travel Vest External Pockets — Women’s
The women’s The Scottevest Travel Vest has an appropriately different fit from the men’s version. The cut is flattering in a way a unisex vest could never achieve.
In terms of the pockets, the women’s Travel Vest doesn’t have the vertical chest pockets of the men’s — just as well since we aren’t fans of these pockets anyway. In exchange, women get a lipstick holder pocket (or lip balm holder, if you prefer) towards the bottom of the vest. The handwarmer pockets on the women’s vest are the same — which is to say, every bit as wonderful — as they are on the men’s vest.
Scottevest Travel Vest Internal Pockets — Men’s
The interior of the men’s The Scottevest Travel Vest is chock full of pockets. Most of them have a little icon tag sewn next to them, to help you remember which pocket is which. Most of the pockets are also self explanatory, though we thought it worth while relaying some notes on a few of them:
The travel documents pocket is tall enough for a passport and wide for a boarding pass. But when Spot Cool Stuff travels with our Travel Vest, we sometimes use this pocket more to store our 7-inch Kindle Fire HD, for which the pocket happens to be perfectly sized. Most 7-inch tablet computers would presumably fit too.
The ID pocket has a “Clear Touch” window; it’s transparent enough to make out what’s inside but not enough to read all the details. We use it to store business cards but it’s also great for keeping a drivers license when going through airport security. A little red pull tab (pic to right) makes opening this pocket easy. (Little touches like that are why we love the Travel Vest).
Inside the digital camera pocket there’s a separate memory card pocket. This thrills us. We often travel with multiple memory cards (and multiple SIM cards too) but often don’t have a safe place to store them.
There are two smartphone pockets with translucent “Clear Touch” windows through which you can operate a touch screen. Having two of these pockets seems a bit superfluous to us. (Scottevest intended one to be used for a phone, the other for an MP3 player, but these days most phones are MP3 players). The pockets have a side zip that slides down about half way, making it easy to reach inside the vest in pull something out. For that reason, we like using one of these pockets for a smartphone and the other for small but important items we want quick access to — event tickets, for example.
Scottevest’s Personal Area Network is a series of loops and pockets designed to discretely guide the ear bud wires from one of the smartphone pockets to an ear bud storage areas in the collar. There are actually two ways of guiding the wires, one is harder to install but more hidden, the other the opposite. If you travel with ear buds a lot, you’ll find the PAN incredibly cool.
The “PadPocket” was supposedly designed to store an Apple iPad. This pocket, though, is a little wider than the 3rd generation iPad’s 7.3-inch frame — wide enough and deep enough to store an Apple MacBook Air! It is also a great pocket for carrying a map and/or travel guidebook.
Scottevest Travel Vest Internal Pockets — Women’s
The interior pockets of the women’s Scottevest Travel Vest are the same as the men’s with two exceptions:
The women’s Travel Vest has only one smartphone pocket. As explained above, the second smartphone pocket seems unnecessary to us anyway.
Also, unlike the men’s Travel Vest, the women’s has a secret pocket inside the PadPocket. Basically, it’s a place you can stealthfully store a few bills.
Pros, Cons & Our Verdict
Besides the myriad of specialized pockets, here’s the coolest feature of the Scottevest Travel Vest: It doesn’t look like it has a myriad of pockets. This is not your grandfather’s photographer’s vest with bulges everywhere. Somehow — we can not figure out how, and not for lack of trying — Scottevest has designed the pockets so they barely bulge even when stuffed full.
Case in point: Below are two photos of a man wearing the identical Travel Vest. In one photo, the pockets of the vest are empty. In the other photo, the vest is holding an iPhone, ear buds, a Kindle eBook reader, Sony RX100 point-and-shoot camera, recent edition of Lonely Planet: Scandinavia, map of Sweden, inflatable travel pillow, Apple MacBook Air laptop (!), passport, wallet and car keys — virtually everything you might carry onto an airplane and probably more than you’d walk around with when touring a foreign city. Can you immediately tell which Travel Vest has its pockets full? Can you tell even after examining the photos carefully?†
In addition to liking the non bulging pockets, we are fans of how the Travel Vest looks. It’s also lightweight, which, combined with the mesh lining and the back vent pocket that creates air flow, makes the Travel Vest very wearable in hot climes.
At US$125, the Scottevest Travel Vest is more expensive than your typical item of travel clothing. But that’s really the product’s only downside — and we think the cost is totally worth it. Though the vest is clearly designed with air travel in mind (the help it provides getting through airport security is nearly worth the price by itself), the Travel Vest is more of an everyday item than the name suggests. We’ve worn ours for walks, shopping trips, outdoor events — anywhere we might want to bring a lot of stuff in our pockets. We’ve spoken with lots of women who often prefer wearing their vest than carrying a purse.
Men’s Travel Vests are available in khaki, olive, black and navy. The women’s comes in a more interesting selection: gray, red, black and hunter green. Whichever color you choose, the instruction book will be included. You might even want to read it.
† The photo depicting the Travel Vest with full pockets is the one on the left. Had we taken the photo without packing the MacBook Air, which pokes out slightly out on the left side of the photo, you might have have been able to tell at all.