Field Test – Royal Robbins Field Guide Vest
Pockets… pockets… pockets… Did I mention pockets! I lost count at 10 and started again. Seventeen in all – 13 exterior and four interior. If you manage to fill all of them, you are a better man than me. It is rather like having a 35L rucksack, when 20L will be fine. The more room you have, the more you fill it with paraphernalia you think you might, but probably do not, need. The vest comes in a traditional styling, and looks ideal for birders, anglers, woodsfolk, or for general outdoorsy people like myself.
In the Field
Once up a time, as a photographer it was de rigueur to own a field vest, one with ample storage for a camera light meter, rolls of film, etc. Today, with digital cameras the norm, the only thing you will probably require to carry is a spare CompactFlash card. I found the vest comfortable to slip over a shirt, with ample room around the arm openings. In a relaxed fit, the vest is a tad heavier than it looks, but is neatly balanced once on. Durability came into play when trudging across fields and over rocky crags to gain good vantage points.
Constructed in 100 per cent 2-Ply Nylon, the vest is coated with UPF 30+ protection, is quick drying, with micro brushing on the face giving a soft hand while the full dull nylon ensures durability, and there is also a full mesh lining. The collar and shoulders have integrated soft padding, and you can also unzip one side of the back for increased ventilation. Other key features include a snap tab at the back of the neck, D-ring on the right shoulder yoke, and a chest pocket with key lanyard. One of the inside pockets has full Velcro closure, whilst the left side inner pocket is staggered and will take a mobile phone and a pair of sunglasses. There is also a further large zipped pocket on the inside. Vest closure is via a two-way zip. You can give yourself plenty of aeration by placing the zipper pulls together in the centre of the vest, thus avoiding the nuisance of the vest flapping around, should the wind suddenly make an appearance.
Now for those pockets. Wearing the vest out and about, I have loaded it variously with snack bars, iPhone, pen, notebook, knife, car keys, and a small water bottle, courtesy of one of the elasticated side pockets. Money went into one of the discreet zipped front pockets, accessed just above one of the button-down bellows pockets. Actually, those clever designers at Royal Robbins have made the bellows pockets wide enough for the wearer to be able to slide the hand in for quick access, without using the poppers. Ah, and a bit cheeky, too, as at first count I could only find 10 exterior pockets, that is until I came across the final three, which are housed in the rightside bellows pocket, and are for pen, pencil or slimline pentorch. I did not manage to fill all the pockets, although I could have continued the packhorse route with passport, maps, small camera (not really necessary with an iPhone to hand), and more snacks. Name it, and I guarantee you will find a place for it, common sense prevailing.
Do I like it? Yes I do. The Royal Robbins Field Guide Vest comes in a traditional, neutral khaki, so I can imagine myself blending perfectly into the African veld when I am on safari in a few months’ time. £80, sizing s-xxl, www.royalrobbins.co.uk