Living in the Midwest brings me a deep appreciation for the return of warm weather after a long snowy winter. In addition to riding for miles each day on my recumbent bicycle, I enjoy hiking and exploring the natural environment. Living in the modern world, I also need to be connected and leverage the latest conveniences that technology has to offer. Combining these two passions used to be a struggle, especially since unprotected electronics don't hold up too well in unexpected thunderstorms. Also, nothing is worse than traveling all day to discover that your favorite gadget's battery is dead. Fortunately, several companies have come up with innovative products that will help protect and power your mobile electronics all day long!
SCOTTEVEST Travel Vest
When it comes to clothing tailored to the gadget guru, SCOTTEVEST is one of the best. They have nearly 10 years of experience designing high tech clothing, and their quality line of jackets is worn by tech luminaries including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. For someone who carries three or four electronic devices at a time, SCOTTEVEST is a real winner.
Perhaps the most attractive aspect of SCOTTEVEST clothing is the ability to inconspicuously carry various gadgets in the jacket's numerous pockets. The Travel Vest shown here provides a snug, comfortable fit and maintains its fashion-savvy shape with iPhones, iPads, cameras and other portable electronics stored securely in its pockets. And unlike traditional jackets, there is little chance that your devices will slip out of these internal vest pockets. The smaller gadget pockets along the chest area also keep the devices from getting in the way while hiking or riding.
These jackets look sharp and project quality. Hardly anyone noticed anything out of the ordinary when I wore the vest, but they did a double take when I opened the vest and showed them my iPhone, FlipVideo camera, Olympic recorder, Canon camera, and ear buds that were conveniently and snuggly pocketed inside the vest. And for fans of the Apple iPad, SCOTTEVEST jackets feature a larger pocket suitable for carrying the iPad (see my interview with SCOTTEVEST CEO Scott Jordan in sidebar for more details).
Anyone looking for attractive active-wear that does a spectacular job storing and carrying your iPhone and other high tech gadgets should definitely check out the Travel Vest and other SCOTTEVEST jackets and vests.
I have used numerous solar devices to charge my gadgets, but none have come close to the "coolness" of Sunlinq Plus. When not in use, the Sunlinq's ultra-slim flexible panels fold down to the size of a compact, lightweight billfold that can easily fit in a backpack or large coat pocket. Unfurling the Sunlinq Plus exposes 4 flexible panels that can recharge an iPhone in little more than 2 hours. And because the Sunlinq connects via a standard USB port connection, you can charge just about any gadget with a USB-power port.
The folds in the plastic have a tendency to spring back to the folded (billfold position), so I had to use a water bottle to hold down the ends. As the sun heats up the black vinyl base material, this spring-back problem becomes less of an issue. (Note: Be sure to fold along the fabric separating the panels; creasing the panels themselves will damage the electronics.) I also had moderate success at attaching the open Sunlinq to my backpack so I could use it to charge my iPhone while I hiked. That encouraged me to consider attaching a USB-powered mini-fan to the top of my pack and have the Sunlinq power it on those hot scorcher hikes and bike rides.
If you're looking for a light weight and effective solar battery charging solution, check out Global Solar's Sunlinq Plus.
Sound Demon Vest
For the more active individual who prefers to listen to music and podcasts without headphones clamped around his head or ear buds inserted in her ears, The Sound Demon Vest is ideal. This lightweight vest has stereo speakers and a power pack built into it. The speakers are fitted into specially stitched inside pockets and secured with Velcro. The power pack accepts four AA batteries and has an automatic shutoff to conserve battery power.
The Sound Demon Vest is designed for active outdoor enthusiasts who not only play hard but also enjoy sharing their audio with others around them. Though the audio quality wasn't exceptional, the overall experience was very enjoyable. And for those who prefer heavy musical bass lines, the speaker vibrations add the extra sense of immersion
The 4 AA batteries last a few hours; those who intend to use the vest regularly should invest in rechargeable batteries. The plastic enclosures coupled with an attached iPhone zipped up in the external left pocket do add bulk to the vest but it's not uncomfortable—I found myself acclimatized to the feel and found the listening experience truly liberating. Having worn some form of headgear for years, it was a great feeling to bike and hike without an object hanging off and weighing down my ears. The vest's fabric is thin and primarily serves to provide scaffolding for the speaker arrangement. Though it's not the kind of attire to wear in cooler or inclement weather, the Sound Demon Vest is perfect for everything from riding and skateboarding to inline skating and jogging on warm sunny days.
These three products are just a small sample of the types of outdoor accessories available to iPhone users. The products highlighted here are ideal for people on the go. Combined with hiking and camping applications available for the iPhone (see page 43), these products are sure to deliver plenty of summertime satisfaction.
An Interview with Scott Jordon , CEO of SCOTTEVEST
MR: What gave you the initial inspiration to create a clothing line centered on gadgets?
SJ: About ten years ago, I was commuting weekly to a business casual environment and I had no pockets to put my stuff in. I looked around and saw that others were in a similar space. I also hated practicing law, which is what I was doing at the time. I always wanted to do something for myself, and that's what gave me the inspiration to start the company.
MR: What are the gadgets you carry in your vest on a daily basis?
SJ: I usually carry two iPhones—one for cell calls and one for video. Power is always an increasing issue so I carry additional batteries. I also carry my keys, a miniature camera, a Kindle, sunglasses, cases, pens, pocket change, earphones… all the things you want to carry if you could, I get to carry them!
MR: What is the most remarkable thing your customers have done and/or traveled to wearing your line of clothing?
SJ: There are so many stories I could tell. Right now, we're planning something called the "No Baggage Challenge," where we will be sponsoring someone to travel around the world for six weeks with no luggage—only what they can carry in their SCOTTEVEST.
MR: Immediately following Apple's iPad announcement, your company boldly stated that your line of outerwear was fully iPad-compliant. How is that possible?
SJ: Each of our jackets has what we call a PubPocket designed to hold a magazine. It can also carry a Kindle or a netbook. Since this pocket could hold a larger Kindle, it would also hold an iPad. And sure enough, it did.
MR: Are there any designs in the works to specifically tailor a jacket to the weight, placement and protection of the iPad?
SJ: Weight isn't a problem. As for protection, frankly, we rely on the case companies to design a container that does the job and that encased device can be held within our SCOTTEVEST pockets.
MR: Thank you for your time and your unique line of exciting hi-tech clothing, Scott!
SJ: I appreciate the opportunity, thanks a lot!