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Worth a Look: Cyberwear

At first glance it may seem odd that this month’s “Worth a Look” item is not a computer accessory or high-tech gadget, but rather a jacket. But it’s no ordinary jacket; it’s made to meet all the needs of cybersavvy travelers as well as physical security professionals who need a way to stow all their gear, from PDAs and cell phones to anything else that needs to be holstered.

This is the Covert Jacket from SCOTTeVEST, and it’s been designed with the needs of travelers who need to carry an array of equipment but don’t want to lug everything around in a briefcase or bag.

Most of the dozens of pockets (that’s right, dozens) hang freely inside the jacket—that is, they’re not completely sewn into the lining of the jacket—so they don’t bulge out even if you’re carrying bulky items.

Other pockets can be found in convenient but odd locations, such as at the ends of the sleeves (this helps keep USB flash drives handy). Across the entire back of the jacket is one enormous pocket big and strong enough to hold a small laptop.

But what makes the jacket perfect for those who like to carry an array of electronic devices is what the manufacturer calls a “personal area network” (PAN) inside lining. This is a series of channels through which wires can be run. Say, for example, you’ve got a cell phone inside a pocket. A wire for an earbud or mike could be guided through a small hole in the back of the pocket (there are such holes in most of the pockets) and through one of the channels up to the collar. There, plastic collar loops can secure the wires so that they don’t disappear when not in use; nor do the wires get caught and pulled out. You can also connect devices, such as a PDA to a cell phone for Internet access, via these channels, which solves an irritating problem of exposed wires getting snagged.

In tests in various weather conditions, the jacket was well worth its price. Magnets inside the storm flap keep the jacket from opening at the slightest breeze when the jacket is unzipped. Its lightweight lining wicks moisture so that if you’re active, it doesn’t get very uncomfortable. It’s too heavy to be worn in summer, but the sleeves are removable, and on rainy days it sheds water quickly. Jackets for all seasons are available, as are similarly made shirts, pants, and hats.

There are side access zippers that provide quick access to anything holstered, and other features—a plastic flip-out case on a chest pocket that can hold an ID, epaulettes, and magnetic flaps on gun pockets (to allow for silent opening)—might make the jacket a good fit for security and law enforcement personnel.

Pros. It’s convenient, lightweight, strong, and fairly stylish.

Cons. It’s expensive.

@  Where to get one. The jacket is available at the manufacturer’sWeb site for $199. Get there via SM Online.