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photo LEFT: With the SeV, you can use guidebooks and maps as hidden body armor.

Putting the vest to the test

Do you already own a photo, fishing, or travel vest with a plethora of pockets? Turn it inside out, and you'll have a rudimentary version of the SCOTTeVEST. However, you won't have a full complement of SeV pockets, such as these outside pockets on the SeV Classic Vest:

  • A concealed vertical pocket below the shoulder (ideal for a small mobile phone).

  • Two large, deep side pockets with easy-to-open zippers for gloves, a beret, small guidebooks, and other non-valuables; you can also use the pockets as handwarmers. The right pocket includes a coiled lanyard for your keys.

  • Two small concealed horizontal pockets that are ideal for subway tickets, change, business cards, small flashlights, condoms, or (heaven forbid) cigarettes.

  • A huge pocket in the back that's designed for a Camelbak or other water bladder and can also be used for magazines or even a laptop computer.

On the inside, the SeV Classic Vest's pockets (or at least the ones that I managed to discover) include:

  • A vertical zippered pocket for your wallet, a PDA, or other valuables. (I used mine for passport storage.) Inside the pocket is a lanyard that clips to a patch of microfiber cloth for wiping your glasses or camera lens.

  • Two large Velcro-sealed pockets (one on each side) that are ideal for storing trip itineraries, airline tickets, maps, guidebooks, water bottles, and other large items.

  • Two horizontal zippered pockets with compartments for memory cards, camera batteries, or 35mm film cartridges.

  • Two medium-sized horizontal zippered pockets internal Velcro patch and enough room for document wallets, airline tickets, or small guidebooks.

  • A small vertical zippered pocket that's ideal for stashing extra currency or credit cards.

  • An open-topped pocket that's just the right size for a Berlitz phrasebook.

  • A flapped pocket for sunglasses or reading glasses.

In addition, you'll find special earbud pockets, a hidden epaulet, a pen/stylus pocket, collar loops for earbuds or headphones, Personal Area Network openings and "collar conduits" for electronic devices, and other features. (Some models include even more goodies, such as a concealed hood, removable sleeves, a hat holder, and flexible solar panels.)

The SeV's "Hanging Pockets" and "Weight Management System" help to distribute weight evenly across the shoulders while minimizing bulges. In the photo above (see larger image), I'm carrying a cellular phone, a Paris street atlas, a map, a hardcover guidebook, a phrasebook, a small camera, sunglasses, Métro tickets, business cards, a wad of U.S. currency, euro change, passports, a battery and memory cards for my camera, and my family's passports. I could have easily accommodated gloves, a hat, an iPod, a PDA, drinking water, chocolate bars, and other items if I'd been so inclined. (The back pocket might have been large enough for a loaf of Poilane bread if my fashion sense hadn't forbidden a lumbar bulge.)

Field report and recommendation

I wore the SeV Classic Vest on two transatlantic flights and for nearly a week in Paris, France without being mistaken for a slob, an angler, or a CNN war correspondent. Thanks to the generous collection of pockets, I didn't need to haul a shoulder bag around--and if any of the notorious Parisian pickpockets tried to rob me, they must have been very frustrated. The hidden pockets were so well-concealed that I didn't discover my hidden stash of U.S. currency until I got home and tried to figure out what I'd done with it.

Bottom line: I liked the SeV so much that I ordered a sleeved version (the discontinued but still available Three.0 Cotton) after returning home.

If you're in the market for an SeV, I'd suggest taking the time to compare product features on SCOTTeVEST's Web site before making a selection. The SeV Classic Vest is a good choice for use in mild and dry weather, but for Northern Europe, you might want to consider the Three.0 nylon windbreaker and FineTex versions, which offer removable sleeves. (The FineTex jacket also has an optional zip-in fleece liner for cold weather and is cut larger than the Classic Vest to accommodate the liner.) Also, if you're visiting Europe in July and August, the SeV may be too warm for comfort, at least during the daytime.

Next page: Other SeV products, Web link

In this article:
Putting the vest to the test
Other SeV products, Web link

More Scottevest reviews at Europe for Visitors:
Scottevest Product Reviews