Travel Gear Review: The Scottevest Women’s Travel Vest

by Gray Cargill on February 20, 2013

Post image for Travel Gear Review: The Scottevest Women’s Travel Vest

Let’s get this out of the way first: This is not a sponsored post. I wanted to review this vest in case anyone else is thinking about buying one.

The Scottevest is an article of travel clothing that has been around for several years. The premise behind the vest is that it helps you save space and weight in your carry-on bag (or eliminate the need for a carry-on entirely) by providing you with numerous pockets in the vest in which to store your gear. Sounds good, right?

I resisted buying one until now because they are not cheap. ($125 is the current price.) I also didn’t see the need. Why would I need to carry all sorts of gadgets around on my body? As a vacation traveler, I felt I had things covered between my checked suitcase and my carry-on backpack.

But after a frustrating flying experience this summer, it became obvious that I needed to free up some space in my backpack. I broke down and bought the Scottevest women’s travel vest. My recent trip to San Antonio served as the “shakedown cruise” for the vest. What did I think of it?


The Fit and Aesthetics

A word of advice, ladies: Order a size up. I quickly learned that the women’s travel vest sizes run too small once you have the pockets full. I wear a size small, so that’s what I ordered; I had to return it for a medium.

I like the material it uses. It’s breathable, water repellant, and doesn’t wrinkle. Before I tried it on, I was afraid it might look too bulky, but with the princess seams, it’s more form-fitting than I expected.

Traveling between the zero-degree temperatures in the Northeast and the 70-degree temperatures in Texas, the vest was comfortable for this trip. I was able to fold it up and stuff it in my backpack as needed when I got too warm. It would be too warm to wear all day long in summer-like temperatures, but is ideal for fall, winter and spring (with an extra layer in winter, of course). It was pretty damn cold when I returned to Vermont, and I was grateful for the extra layer of warmth beneath my fleece jacket!

Pocket Map

The Functionality

I love pockets. I love them truly, madly, deeply. Mainly this is because I hate carrying a purse. I would be happy if every single article of clothing I own had pockets in them, right down to my socks and underwear.

What makes the Scotte Vest enormously useful is its 17 pockets of various sizes, distributed around the vest. There are pockets sized perfectly for your passport, digital camera, mp3 player, a tablet, pens, spare change, ID, moleskin journal—even a water bottle. (Okay, that seemed like overkill to me.) There’s a pocket with a key ring on a bungee cord, a “lipstick pocket”, a tiny little pocket for memory cards, and a “secret” pocket for God knows what purpose, but I’m sure I’ll think of some use for it. For a pocket lover like me, it was like Christmas, the Fourth of July and my birthday all rolled into one. Where have you been all my life, Scottevest???

With the weight of the items evenly distributed around my torso, the vest felt a bit heavy at first. But the longer I wore it, the less I noticed it. And it was certainly much more comfortable than having all that weight sitting in my bag hanging off my shoulders.

Here’s an image of all the items I had in the pockets in the above photos:

travel gear

Would you have known all that was inside my vest?

The Security

I’ll admit, when I first put on the vest to head to the airport, I felt a little ridiculous. Even though I bought it to free up space in my backpack for lighter things, I was afraid everyone would think I was paranoid about securing my valuables and snicker at me. I quickly got over my self-consciousness. First of all, it’s unlikely anyone could tell that I had so much gear stuffed in the vest (it’s all very cleverly hidden, which is kind of the point). But even if they did know, I loved it so much, I don’t care any more what they think. I’m sure I will feel more secure wearing it around in countries where pickpocketing is rampant.

Naturally, you still have to remove the vest and place it in a bin to go through airport security. Don’t sweat it, though: Your valuables are safely tucked away in inside zip pockets where no one will be able to snag them easily or quickly during the x-ray process. (Unless of course someone just snags the whole vest. Then you’re SOL. Kidding, kidding—I’m sure that won’t happen.)


So to recap, the ScotteVest:

  • Frees up space in your carry-on bag
  • Provides security for your valuables, and
  • Is fashionable

But the thing I loved the most about it was how much easier it was to access my stuff (like my tablet, cell phone, mp3 player, etc.) than if I had to rummage around in my backpack, pulling out half the items, looking for things. The ScotteVest women’s travel vest is this woman traveler’s dream vest. Though it comes with a substantial price tag, I will definitely get my money’s worth out of it for many years to come.

I don’t think I’ll ever feel a need to stuff a water bottle in it, though.

Image credit: Pocket map image courtesy of Scottevest.


sprite January 25, 2014 at 8:05 am

Thanks for this review. i also hate purses and love pockets, and so far have compromised with a small pocket-laden travel bag from the UK national trust (which they no longer make!). but a vest like this would be far more convenient, and it doesn’t look bad either. and i’m less likely to be chased down the street by a waiter after i leave it hanging off my chair…

we’re off to south america for a year of living and travelling, so this is definitely on my wish list.

Gray Cargill January 28, 2014 at 2:22 pm

I’m so glad you found it helpful, sprite! That’s why I wrote about it. I knew I couldn’t be the only pocket-lover out there. 🙂

d March 16, 2013 at 3:21 pm

thank you for your detailed pocket review, very useful;
only doubting the pocket usage for mobile phone placement ;
electromagnetic wave absorption of mobile devices, esp, over longer period of time, should never be underrated; immediate wearing of it near / directly above heart area (or some other body part with vital organs, like kidney- & stomach area) upon diverse medical studies should be proceeded with certain caution.
if i were using the vest, i would chose some other pocket for mobile device (phone, ipad), like in my backpack, pants ( leg side pocket), or ankle bag.
travel safe & healthy ; )

Gray March 16, 2013 at 4:31 pm

Huh. I hadn’t thought about that. Then again, when my phone is in my pocket it’s usually turned off. (Thank goodness, apparently.)

Suzanne in VA March 13, 2013 at 7:23 pm

I really love this idea, I was in Colorado this past weekend, just took a backpack and my baggalini purse and think this would have been great to have instead of my purse. Im always digging in my purse looking for stuff like hand sanitizer, ipod, hairbrush this would be much more convenient.
Im enjoying your posts on San Antonio, reminding me of my trip last year- great town to do solo for sure!

Gray March 13, 2013 at 7:57 pm

Yes, the vest is great because you don’t have to go hunting for your stuff. It all has its own private little pocket. I’m glad you’re enjoying the San Antonio posts, too!

SCOTTEVEST February 28, 2013 at 7:21 pm

Thank you very much for the honest review! So great to hear, we will definitely share!

Gray March 1, 2013 at 5:49 pm

Just being honest. Thanks for making pocket-friendly clothing! 🙂

Melissa February 27, 2013 at 9:56 am

For a size medium, which pocket did your tablet fit in?

Gray February 27, 2013 at 5:13 pm

It fit in the PadPocket (it’s on the left side of the vest). You can see it in the pocket map image above.

Melissa February 28, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Oh I see….I’ve been looking at these vests for the last two days but had in my head that if it wasn’t full-size iPad compatible then it had a pocket too small for an e-reader also.

What made you decide on this one instead of their “classic” vest? I can’t decide between the two. I even keep vascillating between the vest alone and the jacket with the removable sleeves.

Gray February 28, 2013 at 12:13 pm

Nothing in particular. As I mentioned, I bought mine on Amazon and the Travel vest was what came up. They do look awfully similar, don’t they?

Tracy Antonioli February 24, 2013 at 11:22 am

Wow–great review and great photos! I definitely could not tell you had that much stuff in your vest. Though I have one concern–what if you’re not ALREADY a smaller person? I’m afraid I’d look…well…not as good in one. Let’s leave it at that.

As someone who absolutely WOULD spend $125 on a bag (in fact, I have my eyes on an Ona dSLR/Macbook bag right now) I can totally see this as a great investment. You basically added an additional form of carry on to the list of approved carry-ons. You can have a proper carry on bag, a personal item, AND this vest. As it is technically clothing. Great idea!

Maybe some day you’ll convert to carry-on only? 😉 (Kidding!)

Gray February 24, 2013 at 1:26 pm

LOL, I seriously doubt that, Tracy. But you never know….

Kirstin February 22, 2013 at 10:55 pm

I can think of too many trips when I have been carrying too many bags and I was paranoid about leaving one behind. I remember one trip when I left a bag at passport control and I had to run all the way back to get it. On one other trip my camera ended up being pushed under the chair and I failed to see it when I left the plane – by the time I got back the camera had disappeared. I’m not sure i’m in love with everything being in my jacket but it would make life easier and less stressful.

Gray February 22, 2013 at 11:26 pm

That is a terrible story about your camera, Kirstin! I would have been just sick about that.

Christine |GRRRL TRAVELER February 21, 2013 at 11:19 pm

$125 is a little steep for me, but that vest sure packs a lot. It’s like a bag, so I guess, it must be worth it’s money. And the safety factor is definitely good. Does it feel heavy when you walk?

Gray February 22, 2013 at 7:19 am

It feels heavier at first, Christine, than a normal jacket (because the pockets are stuffed with my tablet, cell phone, etc.) but once you walk around for awhile, you get used to it and don’t even notice it any more.

Shannon O'Donnell February 21, 2013 at 10:16 pm

I have been wondering about what it would look like on a woman! Great shots and I wouldn’t have known you had all of that stuffed into the pockets! I am a fan of messenger bag style purses, it’s my go-to, but I *want* to like this, it looks so convenient for days out and about when I would need to be photographing things and be super mobile 🙂

Gray February 22, 2013 at 7:17 am

It’s definitely mobile, Shannon, though you’d still need something to carry your camera in. It won’t fit a DSLR. Believe me, I tried. 😉

Jeff @ GoTravelzing February 21, 2013 at 8:14 pm

Did you bring your passport to Texas because they do consider themselves a different country? (I know this because I grew up there and visit often.)

I have been considering getting one of these but have not convinced myself that I need it yet.

Gray February 21, 2013 at 8:53 pm

LOL, do they really? Given their history, I can see the confusion.
Don’t get it until you’re sure, Jeff. I wouldn’t have. But when the time is right, it’s right.

Alia February 20, 2013 at 3:46 pm

My supervisor told me about you! I love this blog – glad to see some words from a fellow traveler. Love the idea of this vest!

Gray February 20, 2013 at 6:13 pm

Well, tell your supervisor thanks, Alia. And thanks for speaking up!

Teresa Vincent February 20, 2013 at 1:04 pm

Great review! I also HATE carrying purses and have pretty much converted to the cross body style when I have to. This vest looks and sounds awesome! While I would never spend this amount of money on a purse (and I know a lot of women would), spending it for the vest seems like a great investment. One reason I love my Columbia jacket is the 2 large, zippered pockets. When I wear this, I put phone, reading glasses, id and credit card in one pocket, and my camera in the other. The jacket is lightweight but super warm. Having this travel vest to wear under (or instead of in warmer weather) would be perfect! Thanks Gray 🙂

Gray February 20, 2013 at 6:14 pm

Oh my gosh, Teresa, we ARE soul sisters! 🙂 And you’re welcome.

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