**Update Below with a response from Adam Rapp, owner and designer of Clothing Arts**
When you travel frequently, you’re always looking for that “thing” to make life a little easier on the road. The prefect bag, the fast drying towel, the universal charging station. The idea is to take as much worry and inconvenience out of what can sometimes be a challenging journey.
I was shopping online awhile back and Clothing Arts popped up with an ad meant for the person who travels. I mean think about it… if you travel internationally, won’t an opening banner that screams pick-pocket proof pants, besides the alliteration, get your attention?
Who hasn’t worried about losing your passport, wallet, and ID when you’re overseas? It’s one thing here in the US, but if you are half way around the globe, without your ID, there’s virtually no chance you’re getting a replacement anytime soon. Or even getting on a plane home in this post 9/11 world.
I had a small group with me a few years back in Oaxaca and as we came out of one of the local markets, it happened. One of the guys said he remembered getting bumped and by the time he was free, his wallet was gone. Taken right from a velcro pocket on his North Face cargo pants. Another time a group member traveling with me had her backpack cut and her passport taken.
Because of those issues, I’m somewhat hypersensitive to additional potential occurrences. When someone traveling with you gets picked, even though it is not your fault, you feel bad. That might explain why I decided to check out Clothing Arts when I saw their ad. I sent them a note saying that I wanted to “test” their pants and write a review. Within a couple of days they offered me a one time half off discount.
Their online process was easy and painless. Not a single hiccup along the way. Quickly after ordering, I received a confirmation saying my order would be shipped in 1-3 days. Perfect I thought.
Sadly, that’s not what happened.
After waiting two weeks, I sent Clothing Arts a letter with my confirmation number asking where my pants were. Here’s the reply I got from Clothing Arts Founder, Adam Rapp…
“Your pants will be arriving in our delivery this week. Once they do, our shipping department will get all orders out the door as soon as possible. Look for a shipping confirmation by end of the week.”
At the end of the week I received news that my Convertible Travel Pants had finally shipped, but that my nylon Business Travel Pants had not. Finally, a full month after I was promised 1-3 shipping on my order, I received half of my order. And no idea when I would receive my other pair of pants.
I called them to ask when my other pants would be delivered and Clothing Arts could not give me an idea of when I would get them. I canceled my order for the dress pants and decided to proceed with just the convertible pants. To date I’ve never received a refund for my order being shipped late.
First Impressions… these pants are heavy! My advice? Wear them on the plane, otherwise you might get some excess weight charges thrown your way. They also come with about a thousand buttons, zippers and security flaps. And secret compartments. There’s no doubt that if you utilized all the security features on these pants, you’d never lose anything, unless someone like Hulk Hogan or Rowdy Roddy Piper was tearing you apart.
Seriously, check out their video. First you’ve got to undo a button flap. Then unzip the pocket just to get inside. And then, there is a velcro secured compartment and another zipper secured compartment. Maxwell Smart would love these pants! About all that’s missing is an interior bear trap! I’m not sure the US gold reserve at Fort Knox is this secure.
But here’s the thing, and we’re all aware of it. Security these days comes with a cost and for these pants, that cost is convenience. If you’ve got your passport and wallet secured in your pants vault, it’s gonna take you awhile to access your money, or ID if you need it.
The pants come with UV protection and a stain blocker, handy if you tend to spill your margaritas as the night wears on. They fit well and were true to their size. The zip off legs functioned well and because of the heavy material, the pants themselves are sure to last and stand up to lots of abuse. They also look good on, as either long, or as shorts.
The cost of the Convertible Cargo Pant is $124.95. It’s not cheap, but it’s not too much more than a similarly styled pant from Columbia or North Face, and you’re not getting the security features on those thin nylon pants.
Final thoughts… If you are the kind of guy who keeps a lot of stuff in your pockets and needs quick access, these pants are probably not for you. However, if you worry about losing your passport, ID and money when you travel, why not spend a few extra bucks for peace of mind?
In the end, much like when I visit, or review a restaurant, I’ve got to ask myself if I personally would get another pair of pants from Clothing Arts and I have to say I’m not sure. The product is great, as was my initial contact with them and the ordering process. However, their customer service was lacking. I was given conflicting information and were it not for my persistence, I would have had no idea what was happening with my order.
For a company trying to win in the lucrative travel market, they need some work in the customer service area before I’d be willing to recommend them over a few of the other brands available out there.
Bottom line? Again, these are good pants, loaded with lots of security bells and whistles. If you feel you’re worried about getting your pocket picked, something like this can be useful. Otherwise, you’ll be pretty happy sticking with North Face or Columbia. And you’ll save a few bucks!
Want more info on travel pants? Here’s a great discussion thread on Rick Steve’s Europe.
Clothing Arts… Convertible Cargo Pant… $124.95, Nylon Dress Pants… $99.95.
*Update* Since I wrote this, I have been contacted numerous times by Clothing Arts, to offer apologies, and some reasons as to why I did not receive my full order. As I suspected, they were backordered and behind on orders, something many startups experience. Where they fell down was not communicating that with a potential valued customer.
Response from Adam Rapp, owner, designer of Clothing Arts…