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SCOTTeVEST Travel Vest: Carrying all the stuff you can’t get to in the overhead bin

A long time ago, I told you about my love for the Filson Travel Vest, and how it improves flying with an in-cabin dog. You stow all the gear you’re likely to need during flight in its vast pockets, and you’ll never miss your purse or backpack, out of reach in the overhead compartment. Normally, of course, you’d put your bag with that essential gear under your seat — but your dog is there, so you can’t. Or perhaps you’d follow my original advice, and pile it on your seat before you stow your dog — but I soon learned that that’s awkward, and makes it horribly likely that you’ll lose something on the cabin floor or in your seat pocket.

A travel vest solves the problem neatly, and I thought the Filson Travel Vest was just about perfect until my water bottle fell out of one of its big side pockets and disappeared off the face of the Earth. I looked around for alternatives, and found the SCOTTeVEST Travel Vest for Men (there’s one for women as well, but I’m too long-waisted for a lot of ladies’ styles)[4/12/11 I took a chance and ordered the women’s vest — the one I tried first is, after all, my husbands’s — and it fits just fine. Go figure!]. Here’s a picture of me wearing it the morning we left Paris, each of its 22 pockets in use:

I look bulky, but I have reason to: Distributed around my torso are an iPad, an iPhone, another cell phone, the charger for the second phone, a camera, a water bottle, our travel documents, earphones, a bag of dog treats, two small rolls of dog food, a collapsible dog water bowl, Chloe’s leash, three energy bars, my Moleskine journal, a pen, my husband’s sunglasses, Chapstick, hand lotion, nail clippers and file, a bottle of Ambien tablets, an inflatable neck pillow, a padded eye shade, keys and my wallet.

Here’s what I like about the SCOTTeVEST travel vest: All of the pockets can be closed, or close themselves with magnets, so my water bottle stayed where it was supposed to (it was also secured with a built-in elastic band, so it wasn’t going anywhere). It comes in black, and it looks stylish (I like to think that I look like Lara Croft in my Filson vest, but we all know that I don’t). If I were traveling without Chloe, I’d rave about the pocket choices — they’re all perfectly designed for the objects SCOTTeVEST envisions for them, which leads me to…

The things I don’t like about the SCOTTeVEST travel vest: The pockets are perfect for the items you’re meant to carry in them, but there are no big pockets for large miscellaneous items like Chloe’s leash, my wallet or my inflatable travel pillow (I carried them, sure, but in the big back pocket, which was awkward). The iPad pocket would be perfect, except that I was carrying my iPad. The big back pocket is huge, but it’s also between you and your seat, so putting anything lumpier than travel documents in it is a mistake (and retrieving travel documents from it is a pain). I’d love it if SCOTTeVEST made the existing pocket just above the iPad pocket deeper, so you could stow big items in there even if you’re carrying your iPad. Another gripe? Some of the pockets feature internal sub-pockets, which I didn’t understand and which irritated me.

So what’s the verdict? I’ll keep both vests. I’ll use the Filson travel vest for shorter flights, where I don’t plan to use my iPad for entertainment — but I’ll be sewing some Velcro strips along the edges of the two big side pockets, so I won’t lose any more water bottles. The SCOTTeVEST travel vest does an admirable job of protecting the heaps of small electronics you carry with you on long trips, so I’ll use it for those, and live with its drawbacks.