With some airlines starting to charge for checked bags, business travellers get practically scientific about using every bit of space in their carry-on luggage. But what if you could travel with a carry-on that didn't count as one?
Entrepreneur Scott E. Jordan claims his multipocketed ScotteVest Essential Travel Jacket is the answer to all of our travelling woes - an "extra carry-on" that doesn't count as a bag, but still hauls every essential, from the sunglasses and digital camera, to the wallet, passport, iPod, the new iPad and, if you insist, a small dog. We loaded up - minus the small dog - and took it on an international test drive. Here's how it fared:
This basic black jacket ($127 plus taxes and shipping from www.scottevest.com) has "18 secure pockets" and arrives with a little card in each to tell you what it's designed to hold. Video tutorials online show you how to wire your clothing for sound, and the website also offers X-ray views of each style, as well as testimonials from cult-like customers who use their jackets to carry camping gear (including a tent and sleeping bag), complete picnics and even small dogs. Of the various styles of jackets and vests, the model we tested is reminiscent of your dad's 1960s golf jacket. Fortunately, the sleeves zip off for hiking, cycling or adventure travelling.
There are literally pockets within pockets - at least four hold pens, one is just the right shape for a plane ticket and passport, another fits business cards, and there's a Velcro pouch perfect for an extra camera battery or memory card in the "digital camera pocket."
Two innovative pockets are faced in "clear touch" fabric, for stashing the phone and operate an iPod Touch without removing it (if you can remember where the buttons are), plus a hidden place under the collar to wire in earbuds, thereby eliminating the everpresent tangled ball of wire.
Exterior pockets are generous -a wide elastic band in one secures a water bottle - and there are some truly secret spots to stash credit cards or cash that a mugger would never find.
The interior "pub pocket," designed to hold a book or magazine, is gigantic and is now being sold as the best way to tote an iPad.
The "eyeglass pocket" has a little cleaning cloth clipped to a stretchy string, and there's a key chain on a telephone-type cord that saves digging for keys.
There's no doubt that this coat is a bit of a sherpa - and no one tried to count it as a bag when boarding - but only a real gear geek would want to wear it every day.
Loading it up is interesting. Even without a water bottle, novel or magazine, I'm feeling like Hank in the "pants" episode of Corner Gas - that is, loaded down and saggy in all the wrong places. And with all of this stuff filling up my coat, it's tricky to hoist on the computer backpack, my other travelling companion.
But for hiking or rugged assignments, the ScotteVest has been useful - a hands-free place to stash the phone, notebook, batteries, memory cards and other necessities. When flying, the loaded jacket can carry a lot of loot and be slung over your arm (or worn) to leverage that extra bit of space you need.
It's basically a wearable "man purse" - great for adventure travel and giving the airlines a run for their stingy baggage rule-money.
Special to The Globe and Mail
WHAT (NOT) TO WEAR
- Pack the jeans and wear the suit - since the former always seem to have trimmingss that set off detectors. Still, you want to look good when you land in London, Frankfurt or New York, so choose a suit that's not prone to wrinkles, or rely on a simple black-on-black yoga duo. Choose cotton double knit, microfibre or nylon/lycra/spandex fabrics - on long flights, you'll need to sleep in your clothes, but you don't want to look like you did.
- The underwire bra can wreak havoc with metal scanners (and the airport wand wielders still seem stymied by modern foundation garments), so the only solution for many women is finding a decent wire-free sports bra. Even voluptuous travellers can get both full support and style with models such as the Anita Active, Quest's Title Nine or Hallelujah bras.
- Leave the big silver watches, bracelets and baubles in your carry-on until you're through security, or plan to strip them off at every checkpoint.
- A backless shoe is easiest to take off and put on at airport security. Make sure you wear socks or hose - you don't really want to be walking around in a grubby airport security area in bare feet.