Jackets and sweatshirts are, of course, primarily designed to keep us warm and dry. But that’s a solved problem: I have a closet full of nice fluffy sweatshirts for when the house or work is a bit cold, and my San Francisco Giants coat does its job outside in the winter.
But while my sweatshirts and Giants coat work as designed, that design is a bit lacking when it comes to pockets. Some of my sweatshirts have pockets, but they don’t tend to be big enough to hold more than my hands and maybe my phone. Same with my coat: I can put my phone in my pocket, but I’m always a bit paranoid it’ll fall out. But also, the pockets don’t really do much to keep my phone dry if I’m going somewhere in the rain, and they do nothing to keep it safe if I’m in a big city where pickpocketing is a concern.
And those are just a few of the problems Baubax is seeking to solve with its line of outerwear. These things come loaded with pockets and hidden treasures.
Designed for travelers, Baubax currently offers jackets, sweatshirts, windbreakers, and blazers for both men and women. They were nice enough to provide a jacket and a sweatshirt for me to review. They come in a variety of colors, depending on the style.
What really sets the line apart is the feature list. It’s clear that the designers really thought through the problems often encountered by travelers and designed their jacket to address most of these.
Neck pillows are ubiquitous today, and while they are great while on the plane, they can often be a hassle when you’re getting to and from the flight. They super soft ones are bulky and often won’t fit in a carry-on. The inflatable ones take up less room but can be a pain to inflate and often make you feel like you’re resting your head on a rock.
The Baubax handles all of these issues. All of the products come with a neck pillow that stores in the hood, so it’s completely out of your hands and your luggage. And while it is inflatable, it inflates with a single breath, and when inflated is much softer than similar inflatable pillows I’ve had. You also won’t have to fight with the pillow to try to keep it from falling when you sleep, since you can easily wrap the hood around it to keep it in place. This only works if you keep the jacket or sweatshirt on, but pretty much every flight I’ve ever been on has been cold enough where that’s not an issue.
Built-in Eye Mask
The hoods also feature a built-in eye mask, so when you’re ready to doze off, you inflate the pillow, but it behind your neck, pull the hood up and the mask down and you’re off to dreamland… until your seatmate needs to bother you to go to the restroom, of course.
The sleeves of the jacket are lined with fleece, which is nice. But even nicer is that the ends of the sleeves pull out and become gloves, so if you need your hands, you can keep them warmer. The gloves are fingerless, so having them on won’t interfere with your ability to keep playing Blossom Blast.
The left breast pocket is sized for a passport, so rather than having to hold up the line at TSA or immigration, you can have your passport at hand when you need it. Plus, the pocket zippers shut, keeping this vital document safe and secure.
Traveling with family? The pocket is spacious enough to fit all four of our passports.
Not leaving the country? Our National Parks Passport–the thing you use to stamp what parks you’ve visited–its as well.
Inside the left breast is another zipper pocket, designed for your phone. It’s great to have it right at hand with no chance of falling out, no change of being lifted off your person in a crowd, and because the pocket is inside the coat, your phone is also completely protected from the elements. It also works nicely with the next two features…
Inside the coat, but towards the bottom, are two side-by-side pockets. The smaller one is designed to fit a portable power bank. So slide that in, run the cable up to the phone in its pocket, and you’re going to have plenty of power when you get to your destination.
Running from the phone pocket up and around the edge of the coat are a series of small elastic bands to hold the cord for earphones. So you can jam out to your rockin’ tunes while you walk, but as soon as you need to pause to get through security or check in for your flight, you simply pull the earphones out of your ears and let go, secure in the knowledge that they’ll safely dangle there. No more stuffing them in a pocket and then having to spend the first ten minutes of the flight untangling them. No more worrying about dropping them. And when you’re ready to retreat back into your world of solitude, the headphones are right there, ready for you.
If you’re bringing along a tablet for the trip, there’s a nice big pocket just for that inside the right side of the jacket. Just like the phone pocket, it zippers shut, keeping your tablet nice and secure but within easy reach. And really, there’d be nothing stopping you from plugging that power bank into the tablet instead of your phone.
Planning to go old school and read instead? No problem: a book fits in there as easily.
Remember above when I mentioned there were two pockets on the left side? The bigger one is designed for a travel blanket. I tried one of the blankets we got from a flight last summer and it fit nicely, but Baubax also sells its own blanket, obviously designed just for the pocket.
Inside the right breast is another pocket, designed to hold sunglasses. It has a handy elastic cord at the top to hand the glasses off of so they don’t fall too far down the pocket, but even better, inside the pocket is a built-in micro-fiber cloth to wipe off the glasses before you put them on. (Also handy for those of us that wear glasses all the time and just need to keep them clean.)
Most of the other features of the coat at kind of obvious designs I’ve seen elsewhere (although rarely combined into a single product), but the outside right pocket is one of those truly ingenious features: a drink pocket. It’s big enough to hold a standard-sized can of soda or your energy drink of choice. (I’m a fruit punch Rockstar fan myself.) At first glance, this seems kind of strange, but think of it: how often have you been thirsty but also had your hands full? Normal coat pockets aren’t great for drinks since the angle means they’ll fall out. And having to hold a cold can of soda on a cold day is entirely unpleasant. But with the Baubax, than can nicely slips into the pocket, freeing up your hands, and it’s sitting straight up so it’s not going anywhere. I even tried bending over with the can in the pocket, and it didn’t go anywhere.
(Um, hopefully, it’s obvious that you want to carry a closed can of soda here. The pocket isn’t going to keep you from spilling all over yourself if it’s open.)
Extra Warm Pockets
Despite all of the cool hidden pockets, you still have two normal pockets, but these are also fleece-lined to keep you warm. And best of all, they’re lined all the way around. I used to have a jacket I mostly loved, except that the pockets weren’t lined on the side that faced into the coat, which meant they weren’t really very warm.
Stylus/Pen Zipper Pull
The feature my son thought was the coolest is that the zipper pull detaches into a stylus and pen. It’s a bit thin to use as a regular pen, but for those times when I just need to sign a receipt or something, I think it’s going to be very handy to have a pen at the ready. I personally don’t use a stylus for anything, so that won’t help me at all, but I know plenty of other folks who do, so it’s cool that it’s there.
One more feature that isn’t specifically called out on the Baubax website is that the jacket (but not the sweatshirt) has a detachable hood. I for one don’t plan to detach it very often–I like jackets with hoods–but it’s nice that it’s an option nonetheless.
Both the jacket and the sweatshirt are very comfortable. The sweatshirt is nice, thick fleece that is just as warm and soft as any other sweatshirt I own. The jacket is nice and thick and very warm. Both the inner and outer shells are 100% polyester. By chance, we got hit with a major rain storm last night, right as I was beginning to test the jacket, and I was definitely warmer in this jacket than I was in my old one. Plus, the outer shell very nicely repelled the rain, keeping me nice and dry. I’m going camping next weekend in the mountains, and will definitely be bringing both the sweatshirt and jacket with me, not only so that I can show off the cool features to the other adults, but also because I think I will be a lot warmer and more comfortable with them.
All of the pockets and hidden stuff do add weight. The sweatshirt is noticeably, but not horribly, heavier than other sweatshirts made of similar material. Personally, I’m willing to make that trade-off, but if you were packing for a backpacking trip or something similar, it would be a consideration.
Obviously, fully loading the jacket or sweatshirt with stuff is going to add a lot of weight. For the sake of testing, I did just that: I put my phone, my daughter’s iPad (I’m not a tablet user myself), a powerbank, travel blanket, passports, glasses, and a can of Rockstar in the jacket. Yes, of course, it was heavy. But it also felt balanced. The weight was nicely distributed. I didn’t feel like things were pulling down on me, as often happens when I try to stuff a tablet or can of soda in a pocket. And I didn’t feel like I’d have to constantly worry about something falling out. I wouldn’t want to hike three miles to my hotel like that, but I could definitely see doing it to get through an airport.
To me, this is the biggest advantage of this system. When I travel, I always pull my phone, wallet, keys, passport, earphones, and anything else on me and throw them into my backpack when I’m in line for security. That way, I can just drop my backpack on the conveyor belt and not have to worry about using those little trays for the small stuff. But then when I get through security, I have to take some time to dig everything back out of my bag and put it back. For my next trip, that won’t be necessary, since I can keep all of that stuff in my jacket instead of my pants pocket, to begin with. Then, I simply slip the coat off, send it through security, put it back and on and off I go.
Somewhat surprisingly, one of these jackets isn’t going to set you back much more than a similar jacket that will keep you as warm but not give you all the added features. The Bomber Jacket is $179 (women’s styles are the same price). The sweatshirt is admittedly expensive at $149, but for frequent travelers who are going places where the jacket is too warm, that’s probably worth it.
The Baubax 2.0
One last quick note: the company is currently running a Kickstarter campaign for the “2.0” version of their product, which adds even more features including a built-in footrest, whistle, keychain, bottle opener, water bottle, and much more. You can check out the campaign for more details, but hurry–it ends on Sunday.
When I reached out to Baubax to see about reviewing the jacket, I was expecting to end up liking it, but honestly, I’m surprised by how much I like it. Right away, I realized that this is going to become the jacket I wear all winter. The sweatshirt I may end up wearing a bit less, but it’ll still be my go-to. Both are stylish and comfortable, but then add all of the features that make them convenient to boot. It’s a perfect combination in my eyes. It’s also something I’m going to be recommending to my friends, particularly those who travel a lot.
Note: I received testing units for the purposes of this review, but all opinions are my own.