January 2011

Image: The XY Factor A Brilliant Disguise

by Adam Tschorn

Scottevest Carry-On Coat, travel, clothing, tsaBARTHOLOMEW COOKE / styling: BRANDON PALAS

Considering the current world of pat-downs, full-body scanners and changing carry-on regulations that fly in the face of common sense, it could be that the Scottevest Carry-On Coat ($225, scottevest.com) is really a traveling man’s best friend, an ally to keep close to your chest (literally) and a backup in the event you arrive at your final destination and your checked luggage arrives at the final destination of the high school hockey team from Winnipeg that shared your flight.

Wholly skeptical, we spent a weekend obsessively cramming and recramming all kinds of clothes, a Best Buy’s inventory of electronics and a weekend’s worth of toiletries into the 33 assorted pockets of the nondescript khaki-colored polyester garment.

We scrupulously followed the laminated legend (a trifold the size of a time-share brochure) that pointed out various dedicated pockets toward the top for travel documents, camera, smart phone and MP3 player—with a coat-wide cord-management system that routes ear buds. (If you do misplace the coat map—which we don’t suggest—many pockets are helpfully tagged with tiny icons.)

Moving down the jacket, the openings grow in size and morph in shape until zippers give entrée to the space in the back between the lining and the exterior—a vast untapped reservoir that can easily stow a pair of dress shoes and a travel umbrella—make sure to adjust contents before trying to, uh, sit down.

Results were impressive. We were able to stow enough wardrobe and gadgets to get us through a two-day business trip—and still have our hands free. It will never be mistaken for high style, but this wearable briefcase has what could be described as “deep fashion”—a certain functional beauty completely under its hood.

Not just pockets, mind you, but dozens of artfully arranged pouches, from a Velcro-closure square intended to hold a single digital memory card to a plastic-lined receptacle for the TSA-approved toiletry bottles to space for an iPad—all constructed in a way that layers everything for the slimmest possible silhouette and distributes the considerable weight of the contents.

Just one caveat: Layering only helps so much. If you decide to cram it to the gills to avoid paying an airline-imposed luggage fee, know you will risk walking into the airport looking like someone with 30 pounds of gear hidden in his overcoat. But look at the bright side: At least your hands will be free to raise high above your head.