Tuesday, June 07, 2005

For People Who Carry Too Much Stuff Around

When my wife calls me her "White Knight" she means it in the Lewis Carroll sense. I haul around way too much stuff, as much as ten or fifteen pounds not counting books. Backpacks and messenger bags have their place but can't go everywhere. Things are jumbled together, and the small pieces get lost on the bottom. Purses aren't acceptable for American men. Calling one a leathery man bag doesn't help. Besides, I'd end up leaving it on the bus.

No, I need clothes that can carry things and keep them organized. My basic equipment includes:
  • Phone/PDA
  • Wallet
  • Keys on lanyard
  • Leatherman Tool and bit set
  • Inova or Streamlight flashlight
  • Field dressing or pocket first aid kit
  • iPod
  • Voice recorder
  • Paper
  • Pen
  • Memory Stick
  • Metal match, lighter or waterproof matches
  • Pocket knife (got bit by the leatherman tool once too often)
  • A week's worth of medication
  • Wire tightening tool
  • Camelback (usually empty)
  • Life-giving caffeine

Those are the basics. For special occasions there might be other things - a camera, computer repair tools, space blanket, GPS unit, compass, water bottle or a book. To complicate matters Oregon and Washington are very reasonable about concealed carry . Sometimes I take advantage of those laws and need clothes that will conceal a small pistol or revolver, dejammer, and a couple of reloads.


5-11 Tactical
, recently spun off from Royal Robbins, specializes in carry-friendly clothes.

SigArms recently introduced its SigTac line of clothing. From what I've seen they are almost identical to 5-11's line. The main difference is that they trade on Sig's good name in firearms.

Scottevest is the line of clothes for gadget lovers. They started off making vests for wearable computing enthusiasts but have branched out to include jackets, pants, hats and accessories. All of their clothes have more pockets than a herd of kangaroos and conduits to wire all of your electronics. They aren't set up as well as the other two for firearms.


A number of manufacturers make pants specifically for concealed carry. One of my favorite is the Blackie Collins Toters line. They've got clever nylon-lined double pockets that can hold a full sized pistol, spare magazines and a pocket knife. They only do two things - serve as jeans and a holster - but they do them very well. The first time I wore them I was in a room full of police officers and didn't get the "You're carrying, aren't you?" look.

5-11's "tactical" pants have plenty of pockets (including internal pouches for kneepads) and fasteners and don't look too much like BDUs. They are comfortable, tough and allow good freedom of movement. I especially like the back pockets which are actually slash pockets on the side. You can put things in them and sit down without misaligning your spine.

I've only seen, not worn, SigTac's pants. They look a lot like the 5-11 product.

Scottevest's pants and shorts look like regular slacks and shorts. But they have about a dozen pockets including pockets inside pockets, specialized pockets and a design that doesn't show bulges. I was able to carry almost all of my usual stuff in them. They aren't as sturdy as the jeans or the 5-11/Sig pants.

The Toters are the only ones designed to carry a pistol. The others work well with pocket holsters like the ones made by the John Noble company in Vancouver WA.


Photographer's vests have become more popular lately. At least people besides photographers wear them. They have plenty of pockets and are great organizers once you have a place for everything.

People speak highly of Concealed Carry Clothiers ,but I haven't actually seen their products. The website advertises a number of garments which look like traditional vests. They have modular velcroed pouches which fit inside the pockets.

5-11's vests look like other photographer's vests but have a small built-in backpack and large pockets between the shell and lining designed for cross draw. They sell their own velcroed pouch system aimed at law enforcement. SigTac's design is, once again, very similar down to the arrangement of the outside pockets and fasteners.

Scottevest has not gone with the modular velcro patch-and-pouch system. Instead they've opted for pockets. Lots and lots of pockets. Their current line, the version 3.0, builds 32 pockets into a lightweight jacket. There are pockets for water bottles, a built in backpack designed to hold a camelback hydration system, pockets built into sleeves, pockets inside pockets that don't let things fall out. Most of the jackets have removable sleeves and can be worn as vests. All of them have conduits to wire your gadgets together or run headphones from phone or MP3 player to the ears.

I only have a few complaints with the line. They tend to use small zippers that require both hands where a larger zipper would be easier. Adding modular pouches would be welcome.


SigTac has its Tobacco jacket. 5-11 has a line of coats and jackets. Both are set up for concealed carry. Both have large pockets between the shell and lining and use a velcro pouch system. The 5-11 has slightly more storage space on the inside.

5-11 and Scottevest both have blazers. The former is optimized for a pistol. The latter is designed to carry a wider variety of things in its 14 pockets including one which will hold three normal sized magazines - the paper sort, not the kind which holds bullets.


Chris Clement said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris Clement said...

good read.