Helpful tips to help you find the best travel vest

Extreme packing beats baggage fees

How long this will last, nobody knows…but people want to know how to beat extra baggage fees…and they want to know what the best travel vest or travel jacket is to help them do that.

In the spirit of my travel vest reviews, I’ll tell you about this new approach to avoiding baggage fees, and which of the products on the market today, I think is the best travel vest for the job.

In a June 2012 article, the Seattle Times wrote about this extreme travel trend.

Basically, because you are not weighed when you get on the plane, anything you wear is not considered extra luggage–even though you could pack 30 pounds of gear in your pockets–you’d still avoid an extra baggage fees.

This is good news to the savvy traveler out there, because at the time of writing this, the airlines have yet to start weighing passengers. So, you can still wear your gear on you, take off your travel vest or jacket when you go through security, put it back on, and off you go.

I use this method to avoid checking a bag for short trips, and for trips that are casual.

If I don’t need a suit or sport coat, I’ll wear my preferred travel vest (which happens to be the Scottevest) and then will have one carry one bag, plus my computer.

What do I put into my vest?

  • All my documents
  • Tickets
  • License and passport (if needed)
  • Phone, iPod, iPad
  • Headset
  • Wallets
  • Digital camera if I am using one
  • Book to read
  • Journal or pad of paper, with pen
  • Sunglasses

That’s just a short list. Funny how having these items in your vest really opens up extra space in your carry on bag. It works great for me, even though I am not stuffed to the gills with extra gear in my pockets–but I could be.

Will this “extreme packing” trend continue. I predict: yes.

If airlines continue to jack up prices on extra bag fees, and luggage fees, then I think people are going to get creative about how they get their gear on board.

So, if you want to minimize your carry on bags, and want a practical travel vest for keeping you organized on the go, then I’d suggest the Scottevest. The Magellan and VOMP, also on the travel vest reviews here, do not carry what the Scottevest can manage.

Plus, the Scottevest actually looks good when you are not “packing” gear. I’m not one for looking like a fisherman all the time, so I have found the right vest for me.

Let me know if you are extreme packing these days, and what kind of tricks you use to avoid baggage fees.

Maybe you think you know the best travel vest to use, or have your own travel vest you’d like to review?

Go ahead and tell me all about it below.

Full Review
Magellan Travel Vest Review $55 USD

Magellan Travel Vest Review

  • Price
  • Fabric weight
  • Workmanship
  • Pockets
  • Color selection

The Magellan Travel Vest Review

The 30,000 foot overview:

The Magellan light weight travel vest is made of windproof, soft touch Supplex® fabric, meant to be fast-drying, stain-resistant and moisture wicking—keeping you cool, calm and stylish when you are out-and-about on your travels.
You’ll feel like a Whippet in a windstorm with this thing on your back– and if you don’t know what that means, I’m sure this review will clear the air.

Read on.

Here’s what’s under the hood of the Magellan Travel Vest

Claim to fame: This is an “ultra-light” vest that is meant to keep your documents, passport, wallet and small carry-along items with you while you travel.  Its light weight nylon fabric makes it a quick-drying, easy-packing vest that lets you carry a few light items with you on your journey.

Fabric: Light weight 100% nylon Supplex ® material that has a “windbreaker” feel to it, and a mesh lining for ventilation, and to speed up wicking and drying.

Colors: Olive, Terra Cotta, Light Taupe, Black, Dark Brown

: You’ll find a wide range of unisex sizes for men and women, ranging from XS-2XL.

Care instructions: The Magellan is meant to be washed separately, by hand or machine-washed on gentle. Since it’s so light, this vest is designed to line dry. No bleach and no high heat drying. The manufacturer says you can touch use a cool iron if you want to smooth out any wrinkles after washing, but I wouldn’t bother, unless you’re picky like that.

Fabric weight:  Weighing in at only eight ounces, this vest is the lightest of the bunch. It feels like a cloud drifting on your shoulders when it’s not loaded with gear. This would be a good vest weight if you travel in the tropics or similarly hot conditions–provided you don’t have to carry a lot of gear with you.

If the Tilley VOMP is the heavyweight travel vest contender, then the Magellan is in the featherweight division.

Pocket types and number:  8 pockets in total

Here’s how Magellan vest lays out its 8 pockets design:

  • Five exterior pockets to keep your cell phone, and other items, close at hand
  • Three interior pockets– including one that zips shut– to hold your money, and personal items

Organization rating: I’d give this vest a 7 out of a possible 10 points, for organization. This vest shines if you want to stay organized and travel light. The number of pockets is limited, so you’ll only want to carry your essential and personal items with you with the Magellan travel vest.

None of the Magellan’s pockets will handle an iPad or similarly sized electronic items, so if you plan on bringing larger electronics with you, this vest would not be my first recommendation to you.

What this vest says about you:  This vest doesn’t scream “tourist”, so you can likely slip along on your travels without standing out like a sore thumb. I would wear this vest if I was taking a hike, or going around sight-seeing, and wanted to take a minimal amount of things with me—like my keys, wallet, camera, passport or journal. If the weather turns chilly, though, you’d better have another layer on hand since this vest is not insulated.

Blimp factor: No worries here. The vest itself is a slim fit and when empty, it is “windbreaker-light”. Even fully loaded, the vest maintains a slim profile if you are carrying small items. Just remember, you won’t be able to carry too many gadgets at any given time in this vest.

Who’s got your back:  Magellan offers a product-wide guarantee that covers anything that makes you unhappy with your purchase. As they say, “If for any reason, at any time, you are not completely happy with your purchase, let us know. We’ll make it right or cheerfully refund the full purchase price of the product.”  Enough said.

What Magellan wants you to know about their vest:  It has eight pockets. The simple V-neck style makes this vest is a good layer to wear over a shirt, blouse or light sweater. With a snap-tab closure across the front, you can opt for zipping or snapping the vest closed, as you see fit.

Magellan’s You Tube video, highlighting their vest:

Thumbs up: Light, packable, sleek and stylish. The Supplex ® fabric makes it windproof, fast-drying and a good option to stuff into your backpack or travel bag.

Thumbs down:  Slightly limited storage, with only eight pockets—you won’t be able to bring your larger electronics (think iPad® or Kindle®) with you. If you are looking for a warm vest, this vest will only work for you if you wear it over a base layer of warmer clothing, since it has no added insulation. The Magellan travel vest would be a good choice if you are traveling in tropical areas.

Your takeaway points—At $55 USD, the Magellan is what I consider an “entry level” travel vest. It has enough pockets to be convenient for organizing your travel basics—but it may be inconvenient for you if you are looking to carry many gadgets or larger items. If you are a gadget-lover, then take a close look at the Scottvest, as a better option.

Windproof, lightweight, and packable—this is a good vest for sleek traveling without looking bulky, or making you stand out as a tourist.

Full Review
Scottevest Travel Vest Review $125 USD

Scottevest Travel Vest Review

  • Price
  • Fabric weight
  • Workmanship
  • Pockets
  • Color selection

The Scottevest Travel Vest Review 

One of the most exciting travel vest reviews I’ve done, is for the Scottevest.  They’ve had massive media coverage, and have been on top of this market for over 10 years now–and I happen to wear mine all the time.

Scottevest is the “go-to” travel vest for serious gadget-lovers, and people who want to stay organized while on the move. This mid-weight vest is a great choice for layering, without adding bulk.

Plus, with 24 pocket in all, this vest is designed to carry all your gear (from cameras to travel documents) in a style that might make James Bond wonder why he keeps Q on the payroll.

Does 007 have grounds for firing Q?  You’ll have to read the review to find out.

The 30,000 foot overview:

Scottevest’s Travel Vest is engineered with a smart Weight Management System ™ that evenly distributes the weight of the items you carry in your vest, across the entire garment, in such a way that your vest won’t look lopsided or bulky, no matter what you put into it.

The Scottevest Travel Vest has 24 pockets in total, the most of any vest I have reviewed. With this many pockets, you can carry everything with you that you need for a day around town, or for many days on the road—it’s up to you.

Scottevest maps out their 24 pocket design to keep you organized

You can even use this vest to stand in for a carry-on bag, or to give you more room in your carry-on bag if things are running a little tight in the packing department.

As an added benefit, Scottevest’s Deep Pockets ™ design, allows you to carry your larger electronics, phone, iPad, laptop and more, right in your vest. You can imagine this makes much easier to get through airport security without having to empty (and reload) your pockets. You just take your vest off, put it through the security x-ray scanners, and off you go.

Also unique to Scottevest, is its patented Personal Area Network™ (PAN) system that lets you connect your headsets or earbuds to your iPhone, MP3 player or other electronic devices inside your pockets, through a special conduit system that hides (and prevent tangling of) your headphone wires

Scottevest travel vests get favorable reviews for all their storage capacity

X-ray view showing how your gadgets nest in your Scottevest

If you travel through airports with any frequency, this vest will keep you organized, and save you a lot of hassle.

On the right, you’ll see the “x-ray” view of the Scottevest, so you can get an idea of how all your gadgets, gizmos and documents nest within the pockets. There’s even a place for a water bottle–something I never would have thought to put into a vest–but a very nice touch when you are on the go.

Here’s what’s under the hood of the Scottevest Travel Vest

Claim to fame: Scottevest was the first travel vest to really study pocket design, and take the time to engineer a vest that allows you to carry all of your gadgets, personal items and travel documents, while still remaining stylish. In fact, Scottevest has a passionate following among celebrities, travel writers, and fashion-bugs worldwide.

There’s also this guy, who travels the world with no bags, putting everything he needs into his Scottevest. Check it out and see how he does it.

No other vest that I’ve seen has been reviewed by USA Today, Tech Crunch, The Robb Report, The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly–not to mention television reviews from The Today Show and more. If you want to read more about, click this link for a full list of Scottevest’s travel vest reviews.

Their No Bulge™ pockets are sewn into the vest in such a way that no matter how much you fill your pockets, you will still look streamlined. Because the pockets are staggered in their placement within the vest, the things you put into them are not laying one on top of the other.

Therefore, you keep a streamlined look to your vest, and avoid the Goodyear ® blimp look that bulging pockets nearly guarantee.

Fabric: The Teflon®-coated, poly exterior finish repels stains and water. You’ll notice that the soft-touch exterior fabric has a brushed-cotton feel to it.  Take a look inside, and you’ll find a mesh finish that improves ventilation and speeds drying times, to keep you cool, calm and collected when you are on the go.

Colors: The men’s vest comes in Navy, Black Lava and Khaki—the women’s travel vest is available in Black Lava or Oatmeal.

: The Scottevest Travel Vest is available in men’s Small through XXXL, with women’s sizes available in Medium through XXL.

Care instructions: The Scottevest is machine washable, and is best to line dry.

Fabric weight:  Super-lightweight poly fabric. This vest is not as light as the Magellan, but it is much lighter than the VOMP. Overall, I prefer the weight of the Scottevest, because it has a sturdier feel than the Magellan, and has a nice feel to it.

Pocket types and number:  24 pockets in total, with the following layout


  • Two cell phone, MP3 or iPod pockets on the left, near the chest
  • One airline ticket pocket, perfectly sized to fit your boarding pass
  • One ID pocket with closure to hold a photo ID (sits on top of boarding pass pocket)
  • One right-sided pocket for sun/eyeglasses—complete with chamois cleaning cloth
  • One camera pocket for your camera on the lower right
  • Two BudBucket ™ pockets—one on each side to hold your earbud headphones
  • Two Pen Pockets
  • One My Memory ™memory card pocket, next to the camera pocket
  • One magazine of iPad® pocket, on the inside lower left front of the vest
  • One USB /My Memory ™ pocket inside the magazine or iPad ® pocket


  • Two Napoleon zip-pockets on either side the vest, over the chest
  • Two double-layer mesh pockets (MP3 or iPod-sized) inside left Napoleon pocket
  • One 2×2 bartack pocket (inside right Napoleon pocket)
  • Two hand warmer pockets (one on each side of the vest)
  • Two coin pockets (one inside each hand warmer pocket)
  • One center back pocket in the vent
  • One Pip-Zip pocket (inside the left hand warmer pocket)

Organization rating: Of the vests I’ve reviewed so far, the Scottevest gets the highest score for organization, coming in at 9 out of 10 possible points. The reason this vest is far ahead of the others, in terms of organization, goes back to the attention to detail put into their Weight Management System, PAN™, NoBulge ™ pockets and the overall design of the vest.

This vest will keep you organized when you are on the go. For travel, I don’t think you can beat the Scottevest.  You can get all your gadgets into the pockets, without any problem—making it a great choice for sailing through security check points in the airport, or just keeping all your “things” in one place.

What this vest says about you:  This vest is the most stylish of the travel vests I have reviewed, to date. The exterior soft-touch fabric has a nice weight to it, and stands up to the wear and tear of traveling. My Scottevest looks nearly wrinkle-free after being stuffed into my backpack for a recent day hike.

Heavier than the Magellan, this vest provides a bit of insulation, and is meant to be worn over a t-shirt of base layer. For added warmth, I’d put a light coat on over this vest if the weather was cold enough.

This vest is attractive enough to wear for everyday use, which is how I get the most mileage from mine. Because this vest can handle your laptop, iPad, phone and other gadgets—you can use the Scottevest to replace your computer bag for out-of-office business meetings, or coffee shop computing—something that you’ll find very convenient.

Blimp factor: No need to worry about that. The Scottevest maintains its sleek profile when fully loaded, largely due to the No Bulge ™ pocket configuration and Weight Management System. Even when filled to near bursting, the Scottevest feels well balanced and easy to wear.

Who’s got your back:  Scottevest offers a 30 day warranty on all products, and will exchange or replace your item if returned in its original condition–details here.

Within two years of the purchase date, they will repair or replace your Scottevest at no cost to you, including paying shipping.

According to the reviews online, their customer service is friendly and prompt when it comes to helping your return, exchange or replace a product.

What Scottevest wants you to know about their vest:  It has 24pockets—which is more than any other vest I’ve seen on the market, by far. With a Weight Management System, smart pocket designs and a patented PAN ™ wiring system, this vest goes the furthest toward keeping you and your electronic gadgets well organized.

Stylish enough for daily use, you can take your Scottevest with you to the office, on the plane or out on a hike around town. Dress it up, dress it down—this versatile travel vest is a must-have for your wardrobe.

Scottevest product tour on You Tube:

Thumbs up: Stylish, 24 pockets, well-crafted seams and fabrics, quality zipper pulls, eyeglass pocket and room for all your gadgets make this the most versatile travel vest I’ve seen on the market.

Thumbs down:  The collar of the Scottevest has a Collar Connect™ Velcro ®conduit that allows you to wire your vest with your ear buds or headset. This Collar Connect™ area has edges that can chafe against your neck, if your vest is zipped up completely, and you are not wearing a collared shirt (I noticed some chafing when I wore my vest over a t-shirt). This is not a major issue, and after your vest is broken in, it may not be an issue at all—just something I wanted to mention.

Your takeaway points—At $125 USD, the Scottevest is a far better value, and far more stylish, than the VOMP—and it is a more substantial vest than the Magellan. Overall, I’d say the Scottevest is the best value, since it offers the most pockets, the most storage, most style and best overall quality.

You’ll get a vest with Teflon ®stain-resistance, 24 pockets, comfortable fabrics, mesh lined interior, PAN ™ technology and more. This makes the Scottevest  my top pick for a travel vest, or “everyday” vest, that you can load up with your gear, your computer, your travel gadgets…while still looking stylish.


This is my “Editor’s Favorite Pick” and here’s why:

By now you should have a good sense of what each of the reviewed travel vests offer—including their technological features, their number of pockets, the type of fabrics used, and how they might best be used, and by whom.

The good news is, all of the manufacturers of these vests offer hearty warranties and product guarantees. The best advice I have is to order the vest you think might be your best bet, try it on and see if it works for you. If not, send it back and try another.

Having traveled with a Scottevest, I have to say it’s my favorite. The weight is “just right”, and it can dress up a pair of jeans and t-shirt, and offers the most versatile pocket solution of any vest I’ve seen.

It’s time for you to decide with travel vest is best for you. Share this review with someone you think would like to find a great vest for traveling or knocking around town.

And please leave me a comment telling me about your favorite travel vest, how you use it, and why you like it. It’s helpful to me, and other readers, to hear real stories from real people, putting their travel vests to the test!

Hey…now that you have your travel vest picked out…what are you going to do? Travel, that’s what! And maybe you want to start by taking a look at some of these mellow travel destinations.

Full Review