In a Nutshell: Radio frequency identification or RFID skimmers that thieves use to read and store information on a credit, debit, or passport card in a matter of seconds aren’t yet as prevalent in the US as they are in Europe and other countries. That didn’t stop SCOTTeVEST, a manufacturer of comfortable clothing with as many as 26 hidden pockets, from adding a pocket on certain vests, jackets, and hoodies lined with a proprietary RFID Armor material that blocks the 13.56 GHz frequencies used by skimmers. The company is so confident in its design, SCOTTeVEST men’s and women’s products are covered under a $1,000 pickpocket-free guarantee.
I travel enough to have favorite eating spots in most major US airports. There’s nothing like a quiet table overlooking a concourse so I can people-watch while I pass time during layovers.
Over my years of eating overpriced and undercooked food, I’ve noticed an increase in the number of bags travelers are dragging to their gates. A decade ago, most people brought a good book to entertain them on a long flight. Today, the average passenger carries a cellphone, tablet, laptop, e-reader, and external batteries to power each. And don’t get me started on the size of some people’s headphones.
Most major US airlines allow travelers to bring one small bag and a personal item (usually a purse or a backpack) onboard without a fee. If your luggage exceeds the allowance, you can expect a checked-bag fee that averages around $25 for the first bag and increases with each added piece of luggage— a fee you’ll have to pay again on your return trip.
The rising costs associated with travel make it more important than ever to pack lightly and efficiently, no matter how long you’ll be away from home. For many travelers, that means ditching the expensive checked bag and opting to wear their luggage instead.
Back in 2000, founder Scott Jordan accepted an offer by the website’s designer to add a storefront for an extra $500 making SCOTTeVEST the world’s first clothing brand to sell directly to consumers online.
The small investment paid off with the company’s line of pocket-packed vests, jackets, shirts, and pants that comfortably and stylishly carry as much as your average piece of small luggage.
In 2014, the company introduced its RFID Travel Vest for Men with Proprietary RFID Armor material lining one of its 26 pockets. The material blocks the 13.56 GHz frequency of skimming devices thieves use to read and record a card’s data in seconds, and steal information from credit, debit, and passport cards.
The vest became an instant bestseller and prompted the company to offer it in a women’s model — and later expanded the technology to most of the SCOTTeVEST jackets, hoodies, and other outerwear for men and women.
While the RFID-blocking items are popular with travelers, Luke Lappala, Director of Communications at SCOTTeVEST, says they’ve also been adopted by fishermen, hobbyists, and busy parents.
“Our clothing works for anyone who has a lot of stuff to carry around and lives an active, mobile lifestyle,” he said.
The RFID Travel Vest has more pockets than do previous vest models (26 compared to 24) and is available in men’s sizes in black, navy, khaki, and olive green. The women’s model has 18 pockets and can be purchased in black, khaki, grey, and red.
And these aren’t your average pockets. Some are large enough to hold tablets, water bottles, and cameras without looking frumpy like some clothing does with full pockets.
$1,000 Guarantee Against Pickpocketing or RFID Skimming
SCOTTeVEST offers a $1,000 anti-pickpocket guarantee which refunds customers for losses if one of its products is pickpocketed anywhere in the world. Lappala said the guarantee includes losses due to RFID material failure, though the company has never had a claim of such losses.
“RFID skimming isn’t as big of an issue yet in the United States, but it’s really prevalent in many parts of Europe and other popular overseas destinations,” Lappala said. “Many of our customers travel around the world. We developed the RFID items to help protect them when they’re away from home.”
The company was motivated to add the material to one of its pockets after listening to customer suggestions and studying the current trends in travel security, where RFID-blocking material is becoming an in-demand commodity.
“We decided to add RFID blocking after we listened to customer feedback and studied the industry,” Lappala said. “We are always looking for new ways to provide added value to our customers and this pocket does just that.”
Practical Clothing for Parents, Travelers, and Hobbyists
Lappala said SCOTTeVEST was designed as a vest for fishermen but its functionality helped it expand to a wide range of customers, led by travelers and tech-lovers who carry around multiple devices at once.
The addition of a full line of clothing designed by and for women added new possibilities to an already thriving business.
“People like our products because they’re stylish, practical, and affordable,” Lappala said. “On top of that, they just make life easier.”
The hidden pockets also feature added value, like an elastic tunnel that allows headphones to run through a pocket to the top of the vest. A plastic covering over the cellphone pocket allows touchscreen access while the device is being stored.
SCOTTeVEST places comfort at a premium with every item it designs, which is why the RFID pockets are available only in certain products.
“The material wouldn’t be comfortable enough to put it in a shirt, so we offer it mostly in our outerwear like our hoodies, jackets, and vests,” Lappala said.
Clothing with Abundant Storage and a Tailored Look
Since 2000, SCOTTeVEST has provided consumers with new ways to store portable electronic devices and other personal items without the hassle of cumbersome bags or the discomfort of bulky pockets. Many new-age hobbyists like drone pilots prefer the company’s vests to store and quickly access the gear they need.
The company’s line of clothing for men and women make traveling by plane easier and more affordable by eliminating the expense of checked bags. The addition of an RFID-blocking pocket to protect against thieves using skimming devices to steal card data adds peace of mind to anyone carrying credit, debit, or passport cards.
The proprietary material lines a pocket large enough to fit a wallet and full-sized passport and is covered under the company’s $1,000 pickpocket guarantee.
“The future of the company is bright,” Lappala said. “We continue to innovate new ways to carry around the things our customers’ need without looking like they’re weighed down or uncomfortable.”