As a professional travel writer and photographer, I have to pay special attention to what clothing I wear on the road. Above all I want functionality, which means jackets, vests, cargo pants and shorts with lots of pockets for all the stuff—from notebooks to camera paraphernalia—I need to carry.
Having been relieved of much of my travel gear courtesy of ladrones (thieves) in Colombia  last year, I’ve been forced to restock and rethink, not least as I gear up again for another lengthy research trip in coming months.
Enter ScotteVest .
You’ve probably seen the ScotteVest ads popping up on websites around the globe. Or seen the company’s amazing gear written up or mentioned on TV shows, from the Wall Street Journal  to the Colbert Report .
Fellow travel writer Rolf Potts  turned me onto this company and their unique travel wear when he set off around the world for six weeks without luggage on the No Baggage Challenge . As Rolf’s introductory video demonstrates, we’re talking about versatile gear here.
Since I work mostly in tropical climates, like Costa Rica  and Cuba , I like to wear vented sleeveless vests with a million pockets in which I can carry my notebooks, pens, guidebooks, maps, and camera gear such as spare SIM cards, and batteries, etc. To date, I’ve used photographers’ jackets, such as Domke, and a fantastic Silver Ridge Vest  made by Columbia with a million pockets. The only problem is that I look like I’m going fishing! At the very least, I look like a professional journalist, which isn't always the best advertisement.
So I ordered a ScotteVest Travel Vest for Men , with 22 NoBulge pockets that ostensibly allow electronic devices to be carried without showing obvious bulges. One thing I love about this vest is that the majority of pockets are on the inside. Now I won’t be walking around like a billboard advertising my electronics goodies in bulging exterior pockets.
How versatile are these vests? Well, check out the video at ScotteVest’s YouTube channel . It even has an iPad pocket, plus conduit systems for iPods MP3 player cables.
I've also ordered ScotteVest's Fleece 5.0 Jacket . One problem I have with most fleece jackets is their lack of sufficient pockets. I’m thrilled to find the Fleece 5.0 combines lightweight microfleece fiber (perfect for mountain hiking) plus removable sleeves (so it becomes a cold-weather vest, as needed) and an astounding 24 pockets.
(Postcript: ScotteVest provided the above gear free of charge. They also provided additional clothing, but none fit. A consistent problem I'm finding is that the "medium" and "large" items are consistently X-Large or even XX-Large!)
For my cold weather city work, I’ve opted for a National Geographic Microbifer Travel Coat . This I absolutely adore. It looks great. It has a removable down lining. Plus it has four deep exterior pockets and plenty of inner pockets. And it’s long enough and baggy enough that I can wear two camera systems, including a long-lens set-up on my shoulder under the jacket, so that they can’t be seen. Amazing! And perfect for shooting in cool-climate but dodgy cities, such as Bogotá.
I’ve also been stocking up on new camera gear, including:
• Camera bag: Tenba Shootout Backpack . This is the only bag that I found has the versatility I sought for my 2nd Canon 5D digital cameras with 70-200mm lens. It also proved perfect as a dual-function system for climbing to Colombia’s Cocuy glacier (16,500 feet) last year.
• Tripod: I just bought a fantastic medium-weight Giottos MG 8250B  carbon-fiber four-section tripod, perfect for my heavy camera gear yet small and light enough to not be too bulky and imposing for travel. And check out this little beauty: the ZipShot  super-lightweight tripod instantly unfolds and is perfect for light camera gear, although it will also support a 35mm SLR.
Learn more about Christopher P. Baker .
For further information about travel in Costa Rica, buy Moon Costa Rica 
For further information about travel in Cuba, buy Moon Cuba 
Disclosure: I occasionally accept free or discounted travel when it coincides with my editorial goals. However, my opinion is never for sale. The opinions you see in Cuba & Costa Rica Journal are my unbiased reflection of the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Copyright 8 Christopher P. Baker