I needed a pair of pants that could hold up to the demands of travel, offer security, and look good too. Clothing Arts delivered.
Over the past couple of years I’ve had a problem: a wardrobe problem, for lack of a better term. As my travel writing/ journalism has been putting me in more formal situations, I’ve found the need to wear nicer, semi-formal clothing. Fair enough, except for the fact that clothing that’s suitable for the rigors for travel is generally anything but.
While clothing that’s suitable for doing interviews with CEOs, government officials, and various other higher-profile researchers tends to be well-fitting natural fiber slacks, dress shirts, and blazers, clothing that’s suitable for travel tends to be baggy, water-resistant, fast-dry nylon or polyester cargo pants, rain jackets, t-shirts, and pocket-laden vests. I’m a traveler; I have only what I can carry in a backpack, so I can’t haul around two completely different sets of clothes. My work clothes and travel clothes need to be one and the same. So I have a choice of dressing inappropriately for travel or dressing inappropriately for my work.
As there is no way that I can show up at a five star hotel to interview some CEO dressed like Safari Man, I’ve lately been choosing to dress sharp and hope for the best in terms of weather or road rigors. This decision didn’t fare too well during my last bout of travel in China and Kazakhstan as I got soaked in the rain a half dozen times. While freezing on the side of the road in sopping wet boots and pants during a rain/ snow storm in Urumqi I knew that I had to do something about my choice of clothing.
So it was with great anticipation that I opened up a pair of Clothing Arts’s P^cubed Business Traveler Pants. With a claim like “The first pair of pants equally at home in the office or exploring the outdoors,” these seemed to be what I was looking for.
The story of these pants is that their designer was walking one day in the underground circle beneath the Bell Tower in Xi’an and someone nearly pick-pocketed him. He then declared that he would create a pair of pick-pocket proof pants that could endure the rigors of travel and look good while doing so.
I was holding the result of this in my hands.
What is first noticeable about these pants, which is perhaps the thing that’s most important of all, is that they are very well-made. The stitching is solid — most of the seams are double or triple stitched, the material is light weight by design but is heavy enough to feel sturdy, and the zippers (all of them, there are many) are high-quality. No matter how creative a piece of travel gear’s design is, it’s all moot if it’s not made well. These pants passed this first test.
Pockets inside of pockets
The hallmark of these pants is its nine pockets. Touted as being “pick-pocket proof,” these pants seriously have pockets inside of pockets to secure valuables and prevent theft — a full six of which being zippered.
The hidden pocket scheme is similar to what I’ve experimented with before. After trying many different locations for hidden pockets in pants, I’ve found that the place where pockets are conventionally placed is truly the best location for them to be — anywhere else is either awkward or renders your possessions inaccessible without removing your pants. Clothing Arts apparently realized this, as all of their hidden pockets are well placed in conventional pocket locations — in the front at the sides and in the back over each butt cheek. Exactly where they should be.
All of these outer pockets are zippered, and the two pockets in the back are zippered and buttoned. The magic of these pants is what happens from here. These pockets in are arranged in layers. By layers, I mean pockets superimposed over and behind other pockets. So in front of the main side pockets are velcro pockets large enough for a passport and behind them re zippered pockets that are sized for a mobile phone.
This pocket arrangement means that even if a pick-pocket was able to get his fingers through an outer zippered pocket he or she would need to open a velcro or another zippered pocket in order to get the valuables inside. Unless you’re passed out drunk in the streets or being publicly molested, this just isn’t going to happen.
Beyond being secure, another thing that’s clutch about these pockets is that they are big. To put it bluntly: these pants are built to haul gear.
Safari Man fabric that looks good
I don’t know how they did this, but the fabric these pants are made with is 100% nylon but doesn’t look like it. While nylon pants are good for travel because they are water resistant and dry fast they usually look like something befitting a caricature of a tourist. I can’t go around the world looking like I’m ready to elephant gun a lion. But somehow these pants really look like the “business traveler pants” they’re touted as being. The company trademarked the fabric “Nature-like Nylon” and intentionally made them to look and feel like cotton. Whatever they call it, they look good. You could sport these in a boardroom without anyone wondering where your pith helmet is.
Beyond that, the fabric is water and stain resistant, is durable (boasting 10+ lbs of tearing strength), is quick dry and breathable, and is wrinkle free. All very right on.
I speak of all the technical demands that a pair of travel pants must meet but it’s all for nothing if they aren’t comfortable. The Clothing Arts Business Traveler Pants took a few hours to break in, but after two days of continuous wear they’ve molded to my body rather nicely. They are lightweight but not flimsy, they are not too tight but don’t billow around like I’m wearing a parachute. They are made to look good on a set of human legs. They also feel good to wear and I’m looking forward to adding them to my first string rotation of travel gear.
Someone put a lot of thought into these pants. They obviously went out and designed them to be what they themselves would like to wear. Fortunately, what they clearly want in a pair of pants is very similar to what I want. I am going to wear these pants until they’re bare threads, which seems as if it won’t be for a long time yet.
Clothing Art’s Business Traveler Pants list for $99.95 and can be found here.