Let's see. There is the laptop, the PDA, the digital camera (for taking high-resolution pictures of documents) and perhaps even a pocket scanner. If you are a photography buff, you may want to take lenses, a tripod, a remote flash, and other doodads. Don't forget the cell phone; you never know when you might need to make or receive a call. You may also want to add a "low tech" item or two, such as a water bottle. For an airline trip, you might want to carry a magazine or a good book for reading. An iPod music player with earphones helps make the trip shorter as you listen to music.
Of course, you can stuff all this into a briefcase or book bag, but what about when you are "in the stacks?" Carrying a briefcase with you every moment is awkward, to say the least. Of course, if you leave the briefcase with all the high-tech goodies back in the reading room, you will have some security concerns. More than one laptop has "walked out" of a library without the owner's permission!
Cheer up! There is a solution for you.
You can carry all those devices (and more) in a combination vest and jacket with many pockets and zip-off sleeves. It has places for everything. You can protect everything by keeping it with you at all times. Best of all, you don't have to have exposed dangling wires. This jacket has built-in "tunnels" for the wiring. The concealed wires are referred to as a "Personal Area Network," or PAN. If you carry an iPod-type music device, it even has tiny pockets for the "earbuds" sewn into the collar. Those same pockets can also be used for any of the hands-free microphone/earpieces used on cellular telephones.
The Scott eVest was invented by Scott Jordan, a lawyer who went through a career change to become a high-tech clothing designer. He formed Technology Enabled Clothing, LLC. Jordan apparently loves high-tech gadgets but didn't want to look like a geek by wearing an electrician's toolbelt. Quoting from the Scott eVest Web site:
Now, it's easy to connect cell phones and music players to PDAs, power sources, and/or listening devices, such as earbuds and headphones. In addition to connectivity, special pockets are designed to accommodate digital cameras, portable keyboards, GPS devices, small laptop computers, two-way radios, bottled water, airplane tickets, magazines, wallets, keys, and much more. In cities and areas requiring hands-free devices while driving, the PAN is the ideal solution.
The Scott eVest speeds up the process of going through airport security. With all your devices stowed in your eVest, just take off the jacket and put it through the x-ray machine. Security will still ask you to remove the laptop computer, but everything else can remain securely in the eVest. I also place my small change and car keys into the eVest pockets. There is no need to take things off your belt, out of your pants pockets, shirt pockets, etc. What's more, with the one carry-on rule, your eVest effectively doubles your storage capacity - you can even fit a small laptop computer into the back pocket! Airline personnel will never count your jacket as a piece of "carry on luggage," even though you are using it as such.
This should work for the gadget-carrying genealogist. It also works for undercover police officers. They find that it is possible to carry badges, walkie-talkies, firearms, handcuffs, and more, and yet still blend into a crowd. Undercover police officers reportedly are snapping these things up. I found an interesting testimonial from a SWAT Team member:
The Scott eVest allows me to look like a normal human and yet carry all of my concealed equipment: gun, badge, nightstick, walkie-talkie, handcuffs and doughnuts.
I first wrote about the Scott eVest several years ago, and two lady newsletter readers have since told me that they purchased an eVest after reading my earlier article. Both are very enthusiastic about their eVests and report that they wear them often, both on genealogy library visits and on airline trips. While the eVest is listed as a man's clothing item, many women purchase eVests as well. It does have a unisex look.
I recently purchased the Scott eVest "Tactical 4.0" outer jacket with fleece liner. This is a three-season jacket and even can be used at times in the fourth season. With the inner fleece liner it is a very warm winter jacket, suitable for temperatures of zero degrees or above. When you remove the fleece liner, the Scott eVest "Tactical 4.0" becomes a very nice lightweight jacket for spring and autumn use. On cool summer mornings in the northern climate where I live, I can unzip the sleeves and even use the lightweight vest and still have many remaining pockets.
When outfitted with the fleece liner, the Scott eVest "Tactical 4.0" includes 54 pockets. Yes, that's right: 54 pockets! Removing the fleece liner reduces the storage capacity to "only" 40 pockets. Unzipping the sleeves drops the total to "only" 36 pockets. Some of the pockets even have secondary pockets in them. In addition, I can run the wire from my iPod music player to the "earbud" earphones up through the personal area network tunnel sewn into the jacket.
To be sure, this jacket becomes quite heavy when you add several pounds of electronics, water bottles, and magazines to the pockets. Then again, that is the same weight that I would be carrying if the same items were stuffed into a briefcase or book bag. I find it more convenient and less tiresome to carry that weight evenly distributed in my jacket pockets instead of in a hand-carried bag of some sort that keeps me off-balance when I carry it.
I now understand why these jackets are so popular with law enforcement plain-clothes personnel. It does not look like law enforcement apparel. Indeed, the wearer is really in "plain clothes."
The Scott eVest appears to be very well constructed with rugged fabrics and heavy-duty zippers. I suspect that it will last for years. It is also the only jacket I ever purchased that came with a user's manual!
With the Scott eVest, I am now prepared for any trip to the library, the courthouse, or the airport. Now that all my gadgets slide through the x-ray machine in my eVest, I no longer have to spend five minutes repacking or "getting dressed again" after going through security.
To be sure, this clothing is expensive. Prices vary from $60 (fleece pullover) to $450 (leather jacket). The ultimate geek can even add removable solar panels to recharge a walkie-talkie or cell phone for another $150. I decided to skip that option on the eVest I purchased! I can add it later, should I change my mind.
I could never justify the price of an eVest for casual use. However, if you are already looking for a jacket and also are thinking about purchasing another briefcase or suitcase to carry all your gear, it may be more cost-effective to purchase an eVest. I know I would hate to part with mine!
Scott Jordan started his company by selling the eVest with the zip-off sleeves but has since expanded the clothing line to include all sorts of jackets, vests, t-shirts, pants, and even a baseball cap with a hidden pocket. (You won't carry a laptop in the baseball cap, however!)
You can read more about the Scott eVest at http://www.scottevest.com.
You can read more testimonials about this versatile clothing at http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=scott+eVest&btnG=Google+Search