Never worry about being the target of a pickpocket again.
I recently reminisced about the time a gang of gypsies tried to dip my pockets while I was exploring Rome, a few weeks before that I ordered a pair of Scottevest Hidden Cargo Pants and now I can safely claim these are the end of my worries about a repeat performance.
Fail to the thief
Backpackers are often left in the unenviable position that they have to carry incredibly essential documents like passports wherever they go. A dorm room might have a shabby locker for each guest but there’s no way I’d risk leaving my passport in one of those when I go out exploring. A hotel room safe is little ‘safer’ but I do feel marginally better about it. Therefore I usually carry it everywhere I go and have to put up with a sweaty money belt stuffed under my waist band. I HATE money belts. There’s nothing worse than walking around a sweltering city where every bottle of water you consume instantly soaks into your passport, credit cards, paper currency, printed booking confirmations etc.
When I discovered Scottevest I thought they produced great clothes. Not the most fashionable for younger travelers mind you, but the sheer number of pockets meant that you could safely secrete a vast number of documents or gadgets without looking too bulky. I love pockets, and I love hidden pockets as much as I love hidden passages or doorways in castles and manor houses. I found the Hidden Cargo Pants on their website and mulled over the price – a hefty $60 plus $40.85 postage to the UK. Excessive I decided, correctly. I waited a few weeks and a sale magically appeared via Twitter so I jumped at the chance to buy the pants for $30 instead. The P&P still shocked me as it was now more than the trousers but I went ahead. It’s the equivalent of £43 ish so that’s actually not too bad at all. I did have to pay £16 on top of that for the courier’s brokerage cost as well as UK duty though. Which I completely forgot I’d need to think about. £8 for brokerage, £8 duty. After a great many battles with the UK-side courier basically inventing a new delivery address and then ignoring their own creation and delivering to a random address on a whim (Parcelforce may your lying, cheating business crumble into dust you pathetic, useless, turds) I finally got my Scottevests and was impressed from the outset.
First of all, there are eight distinct compartments. The website stretches the definition of the term ‘pocket’ to its extreme and claims ten but I still regard one single compartment, with one entrance, albeit with a small divide at the bottom, as ONE pocket. This I expected before I ordered though so it certainly wasn’t an issue. I include it here as it’s right that a potential buyer is not obscured from the reality they will receive.
The reality is:
- That there are two buttock pockets.
- A tiny pouch inside on the waistband for a key or coin change.
- Two nice deep pockets where a normal pocket should be.
- Over these normal pockets there are overlaid secret pockets with magnetic closures. These mirror the position of the normal pocket but they delve deeper down the leg and are designed to split into two at the bottom. That means you have a pouch at the bottom that slides around the side of your leg and another that sits at the front.
- In the left ‘secret’ pocket there is a zipped pocket. So this is the extra-secure one as it’s zipped AND inside the secret pocket which itself has a magnetic closure.
For the exact positioning and size of these have a look at their website as it’s quite clear.
I don’t much like the key pocket because it is fiddly to access (I’d rather there was a standard coin/key pocket on the outside like you get with jeans). The buttock pockets are simple buttock pockets that I probably would use as much as I use jean pockets – i.e. not much at all. The normal pockets are excellent, their depth alone would make a pocket dipping incident hard to carry out and the design stops coins from falling back out when you sit down. The secret pockets are even better and the ‘split’ at the bottom is very useful when you come to managing loads to look invisible. I’ve already sung the praises of the zipped pocket’s utility but I have to say that the zip itself feels flimsy and cheap. It’s not the smoothest operation either.
Don’t forget that this many pockets could free a lot of space in your carry-on flight luggage too.
The look of the thing
The look of the black pair I bought is just fine when they are empty or just carrying the normal, non-backpacker’s load. Like a wallet, mobile, travel card, coins. When filled they become a bit more baggy but only when you start loading obviously rectangular objects into them. I didn’t look like some sort of monochrome MC Hammer/clown figure of ridicule though. The fabric feels absolutely normal for a khaki style of trouser even though there’s some kind of Teflon coating to ward off stains. It feels quite hardy too. There’s a Scottevest logo on the waistband at the back but it’s pretty minimal and completely invisible if you don’t tuck your top in.
Here I am with all the pockets completely empty:
And here are the things I put into the front and side pockets, there’s nothing going in the back:
And here’s what the pants look like with everything fitted neatly inside:
Pretty good, eh?
The belt loops are a potential failing of these trousers because they are too small for most of the belts that normal people wear! I also can’t fit my camera case’s buckle through them, which is a real pain. However there is also a drawstring waist which is adjusted by cords inside the normal side pockets for the inevitable weight-loss that backpackers experience. Well, me at least – I’m assuming that’s common? Some people have moaned about these cords but personally I quite like them there. It’s a little bit quirky and I prefer that to potential internal cords behind the zip fly and button fastening that these have.
The length of the leg seems to be a bit longer than I actually ordered or expected, perhaps because of the inherent bagginess needed in the design, but they still look good with a little bit rolled up at the bottom. In fact I tend to think these look a little better with things in the pockets rather than empty.
The way you make-a-me feel
While wearing these you don’t feel as cool (temperature-wise) as you might with my preferred travel item – linen trousers but that must come with the territory when you have several layers of fabric. I can imagine these would actually be quite warm in winter compared to linen, which would be a fool’s choice in that environment. I’ll take the Scottevests to Munich this December and update this review accordingly…
Yes, you can feel that you are carrying a larger load than usual, and that is something you will have to get used to. But honestly I didn’t take too long to acclimatise and actually the feeling that your gadgets are definitely still in your pocket might be welcome and a bit comforting.
I really do recommend these trousers because they have pretty much removed a) the ‘necessity’ of carrying a day pack, and b) put my mind at rest that those no good scumbags might try it on again, but this time succeed.
The sale price means that these don’t break the bank and they look fine for normal everyday wear when you’re not carrying such large loads. Then again I’m not sure I could recommend the full price AND full price international postage/duty. The quality seems good enough that I would certainly be tempted to buy other products from Scottevest if I can spot a good deal, and the engineering is good quality so you can see why they cost as much as they do. But the postage cost to the UK does deter me quite badly. I’m not sure there’s too much they can do about that apart from establishing a European base. That said they do occasionally offer some sale discounts on P&P as well. Whilst there are some of their signature goods on Amazon UK there isn’t anything else so I’d have to go through the cost and inconvenience of a delivery again (*update* as the comment below indicates this may change shortly). If I keep having good experiences with these it might just force the issue though.
I’d be interested to see what their 2.0 version of these trousers are like too, for only $10 more they might be worthwhile. For now I wait for a sale to coincide with a time when I have free funds!