Thursday, April 5, 2012

Gear Reviews: Keeping Valuables Safe While Traveling

Even though I'm a very savvy traveler, skillful pickpockets -- they're pretty much all skillful if they want to survive on the streets -- managed to get into my backpack when I visited Madrid several years ago. Within seconds, while I was engaged in conversation with a stranger, the second member of what was a team took all my valuables: passport, driver's license, all my credit and bank cards, and my money (luckily there was only about 50 Euros). Since then, I altered the way I carry my gear but a number of theft-proof items are also now available.

Below are my reviews of two of these products: Adam Rapp of http://clothingarts.com/ offered me a pair of his Pick-Pocket Proof Pants (the Adventure Traveler Pants model), and Alex Ivory, the founder of Dovetail Travel in Peace, sent me a small zippered black pouch containing two of her body bands. While the latter is a women's product, the Adventure Traveler Pants are currently only available for men -- though Clothing Arts will soon be manufacturing women's pants. (My friend tested out the pants and provided detailed feedback while I also tried them on to check out the multitude of features.)


1. Clothing Arts - Pick-Pocket Proof Pants - Adventure Traveler Pants


Sure, these cargo-type pants are expensive at $110, but they're absolutely worth it. After all, if a pair of pants could positively protect you from theft of your passport, money, credit cards, cell phone and more, how much would you be willing to pay? My friend at first was shocked at the price. But he found these pants to be nicely tailored with a perfect fit. He noted the high quality production, whether the zippers, stain-resistant material, and thick, slash-resistant pockets. Though he doesn't travel anywhere near the amount I do, he admitted that he'd definitely wear these if pickpockets were a threat. Sometimes he has to do business in some not great neighborhoods here in New York City and these pants would come in handy. He'd put his most valuable items (such as a wallet) in one of the zippered pockets that are covered by buttoned flaps. (There are also flaps over the vertical zippered pockets.) The flaps on the rear pockets, he added, were so hard for him to unbutton that he thought it would definitely stymie a thief who, after fiddling with buttons would then have to also undo the zipper. (It took my friend 10 to 15 seconds to undo the buttons and the zipper on a pocket.) Plus, one pocket has a hidden -- so hidden that we both had difficulty finding it -- inner zippered pocket that fits your most valuable item: your passport. It's hard to imagine how a pickpocket would navigate inside that pocket. In my opinion, you'd have to be unconscious for a thief to get into these pants pockets.


These pants have so many pockets, including one that's attachable to hold a small water bottle, that you could skip carrying a tote bag. (The pants can easily accommodate a guidebook, small camera, cell phone, note book and more.) You don't even have to wear a belt since there is a buttoned waist cinch system.


My friend said he'd wear these pants if theft were an issue, which it is in many cities around the world. If you are placing valuables in the rear zippered and buttoned down pockets, choose items that you won't need to access frequently during the day. (It'll just take too long with the buttons.) He decided that around town here in New York City, he'll just forgo the double layer of security and use just the zippers. That's an option here, of course. But it's nice to know that so much thought went into the construction of these pants. I can't wait until the woman's version is available.


2. Dovetail Travel in Peace

I've been in plenty of situations, such as an overnight train to Sicily and the souks in Morocco, where I wished I could really hide valuables so no prying hands can get to them for the entire day or night. These two super slim body bands -- the Travel Band and the Travel Wing -- to the rescue.  When I opened the petite zippered bag, I found two black items that resemble lingerie of sorts. Both items (and they can be worn separately over your underwear: the wing goes over your bra and the band slips over your panties and sits on your hips) are mostly black nylon with a little spandex. The idea is that the stretchy pocket in each band is supposed to accommodate a plastic portfolio where you can slip your passport, money and credit cards.


 I found that the portfolio (stuffed with my passport and credit cards) was a snug but good fit in the Wing, which you wear with the pocket along your upper back. However, I just didn't like what appeared to be the plastic odor off-gassing from the portfolio so I dumped it in favor of simply placing my passport in the Wing. That worked out fine. Then I donned my ExOfficio shirt and my Horny Toad jacket or I wore the Wing under one of my Icebreaker dresses, and I felt perfectly comfortable and secure. (The Wing has a very low profile so it was not visible under my clothing.)

I also tried out the Band which has a stretchable inner pocket that's also supposed to accommodate the portfolio with your passport and valuables. However, no matter how much I stretched and tugged, I couldn't get the portfolio or the passport by itself into the narrow pocket. The portfolio just is too wide to fit into this pocket. No worries, though, because I simply put my rolled up bills and credit cards in a small zip lock and easily folded it into the pocket of the Body Band, which you wear with the pocket towards the back of your hips. It was plenty comfortable with its one-size fits all, up to size 10 for both bands. (At this time, these only comes in black but other colors probably will be available down the road.)


Of course, both the Band and the Wing are meant to hold items that you won't have to access during the day. They're for close-to-the-body safe keeping. It's not like you're going to peel back your shirt to access your passport at customs, or lift up your skirt every time you need money to make a purchase.

I think Dovetail Travel in Peace is a great idea for female travelers who need to keep valuables secure no matter what. And, at the price of $48 for the set, it's definitely worth it.

17 comments:

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Alex Ivory said...

Many thanks for reviewing my 'travel safe body b~a~n~d~s', though in fact they were specifically purpose built to securly hold the passport, bank cards and extra travel cash. My passport which has 24 extra pages and a multitude of visas which is at least 1/4 of an inch thick was used in the patternmaking and prototypes for both the travel band and the travel wing. In defense of the passport fitting into the band, it does but the pocket must be stretched and then adjusted within the seams so it is a tight, secure fit. I just used the travel band on the night bus/boat to Ko Payam in the Andaman Sea and it worked as intended. The portfolio may need to be tweeked or simply not used as a little zip bag works perfectly and slides into the band a bit easier. I will make a video to show exactly how to set up both travel safe options. Many thanks and safe travels!
Alex Ivory
www.dovetailtravelinpeace.com
dovetailtravelinpeace@live.com
alexivory@dovetailtravelinpeace.com

JTravel said...

Hi Alex, Thanks for your comment. I understand the Body Band is designed to fit the portfolio with the passport. But it definitely would not stretch to fit it. I tried numerous times. Plus, I also found other bloggers (including this one http://practicaltravelgear.com/dovetail-travel-in-peace-body-band-set/) who had the same problem as I did. Maybe it's a production error with quality control.

Alexandra said...

Wow! My husband has had his pocket picked in New York, Paris, and Boston. Next time we go traveling, I will look into getting him some new pants where no one can manage to get his wallet!

Brette Sember said...

My grandparents traveled the world in the 70s and my grandfather used to safety pin his pocket shut to prevent pickpocketers! It's great there are so many options now.

JTravel said...

Hi Alexandra, Glad these pants could help your husband when he travels. Let me know what you think.

JTravel said...

Hi Brette, Well, a pinned pocket could work, too. I've sometimes used a safety pin to keep a zipper on my handbag from opening.

London Removals said...

Interesting ideas, I would never had such a wise idea, thanks for sharing!

merr said...

What smart products and good descriptions. Glad to learn about these items and going to tell others.

MyKidsEatSquid said...

My dad had his wallet swiped in Russia. Surprising even though I've traveled throughout Europe, Mexico, I've never had a problem. Knock on wood!!

Jane Boursaw said...

These are great ideas! Yeah, I'd definitely worry about theft during travels. Great solutions.

JTravel said...

Hi London Removals, Yes, totally cool and practical products.

JTravel said...

Hi merr, I love practical apparel especially those that keep valuables safe.

JTravel said...

Hi MyKidsEatSquid, It's amazing how even savvy travelers, like myself, can get robbed.

JTravel said...

Hi Jane, After getting all my valuables stolen in Madrid several years ago, I completely changed how I carry my credit cards, money and other items.

Alex Ivory said...

Dear Jeanine,
Based on the initial product reviews of my 'travel safe body bands'for women travelers and your suggestions, I have made some nuanced improvements. I have produced two sizes, in both black and nude as well as a 'limited edition' set in a stretch jersey. The prototype for men is being developed now as well as a new travel toiletry system!
I appreciate your support,
Best Wishes & Many Thanks,
Alex Ivory
Dovetail travel in peace
@travelinpeace

Jeanine Barone said...

Hi Alex, I'd be glad to review these new products of yours. Drop me an email, if you would, and we can chat about this further.