You don’t need me to tell you that being a tech-head can pose a few challenges when travelling. Budget airlines often have ridiculously tight carry-on restrictions, which can make it hard to get all your gadgets into a bag that meets both size and weight limits. And once you arrive at your destination, you also have the worry of ensuring that all your valuable electronics remain safe from thieves.
Scott eVests are designed to solve both problems, allowing you to carry lots of technology on your person, rather than in a bag, with each item securely zipped into an inside pocket. The company’s latest addition to the range – the RFID Travel Vest – adds one further feature: protection of RFID-readable payment cards and passports from portable skimmers …
I say the vest solves 2.5 problems as RFID cards aren’t in use in all countries, and skimming isn’t yet a big issue, so I view this as half a problem – but it certainly doesn’t hurt.
Scott offers a wide range of clothing, each featuring a similar pocket system. These range from the QUEST eVest with 42 pockets down to a baseball cap (yep, you read that right) with two pockets.
I bought my first Scott eVest many years ago, when I had a German girlfriend and was commuting back and forth between the two countries on a budget airline. The airline was notorious for its smaller-than-usual carry-on bag limit, with an equally silly weight limit. The aim was to ensure that even those who usually travelled hand-baggage only were forced to put a bag into the hold – and to pay for the privilege.
The eVest I bought then was a larger model, with a rear pocket large enough to hold my 17-inch MacBook Pro! On several trips, I carried that, a DSLR camera, several lenses, chargers and assorted other technology without needing a bag at all. Airport security raised eyebrows when I put it through the x-ray machine, but as there’s no rule about what we’re allowed to carry in our pockets, had to content themselves with an occasional grumble.
This new model wouldn’t manage my MBP 17, but still has a total of 26 pockets, one of them large enough for anything up to a MacBook Pro 15. What I’ve done in this photo is an illustrative layout with a bunch of technology laid on top of the pockets each item fits inside.
What I have there is a MacBook Air 11-inch, iPad Air, a Powerflask (portable USB power supply), an external hard drive and an iPhone – and I still have 21 unused pockets!
Most of the pockets are internal, so zip those up and then zip up the waistcoat and you have an incredible degree of protection against pickpockets. The large laptop pocket is, however, an external one – one of my few complaints about the design. The pocket is, however, shaped to make it slightly awkward to pull out the laptop – and it is still zipped, so it’s pretty secure.
The RFID-blocking pocket is the one with the red zip, just above the top of the iPad. This pocket overlaps with the iPad pocket, and is large enough for a passport as well as a wallet. Despite having an RFID passport and three RFID bank cards, I don’t personally see skimming as a significant risk, but this is a convenient pocket for those items so I would use it anyway.
Internal cable runs
There are a couple of other eVest features aimed firmly at techies. First, what Scott rather grandly refers to as the Personal Area Network. This allows you to route earphone cables inside the vest, so that only short lengths of cable hang loose. This avoids the usual tangled cable problem, and means you can simply pop the earphones out of your ears and let them hang loose when desired.
There are loops the cable clips into in a similar style to that used by in-home cable-management systems.
Second, there are small connecting holes in most of the pockets. The idea of these is that if you need to recharge gadgets on the go, you can put your power-pack in one pocket and then route the USB lead or leads containing the devices you want to charge. This is one of those really simple ideas that is near-genius: stuffing both power-pack and gadget into a single pocket is often difficult and risks scratching screens, so this is a great solution.
There are a few other thoughtful touches, such as a keychain loop built into one of the external pockets, a water bottle loop and a cleaning cloth for glasses and lenses.
Appearance & comfort
Scott eVests get their inspiration from photographer’s vests. Those, however, have the pockets on the outside and generally aren’t zipped. You also look like a dork wearing one.
Scott clothing, in contrast, looks relatively normal. Sure, stuff all the pockets full of technology and you’ll look a little less slim than usual, but unless you stuff into it every single electronic item you own, you won’t look like the unabomber.
The RFID Travel Vest is available in a choice of black, navy, khaki and olive.
Scott says that the company has designed the vest to distribute weight evenly. While it does of course depend how you load it up, I did find that it was surprisingly comfortable even when carrying a lot of kit.
Scott’s clothing isn’t cheap. They start at $20 for the TEC Hat baseball cap and range up to $450 for the ALT-10M leather jacket. The RFID Travel Vest I’m reviewing here costs $135 (or $125 for the standard one without the RFID protection).
The Travel Vest also isn’t something you’d wear every day. But for trips – and especially when flying on airlines with ridiculous carry-on restrictions – it’s invaluable. Not just to save money on hold baggage fees, but for the peace of mind of keeping all your technology on you, both during the flight and when exploring a city. Viewed as a gadget accessory, I think it’s worth the price.
The Scott RFID Travel Vest is available for $135 from the Scott eVest website,
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