In my decade-long career as a food, drink and travel writer, I’ve learned to really appreciate the value of versatile, intelligently designed travel clothing. Believe me, I’ve tried all sorts of potential solutions before I settled on my new go-to brand, Bluffworks.
Designed with the road warrior in mind, Bluffworks clothing combines style with truly useful features that ensure that my suitcase almost always has at least one piece of their gear packed on top, or more likely, I’m already wearing it on the way to the airport. Since I was already predisposed to like them thanks to my previous purchases, when the opportunity arose to try out two of their newer products, I was all in! Here’s another sign of my affection for my Bluffworks khakis: as a writer, I’m usually walking around with at least a couple of pens in my right front pocket. Unfortunately, sometimes those ballpoints get clicked or the cap slips off, so you can recognize me as a working scribe by the multiple ink dots showing through below the pocket. Much to the chagrin of my girlfriend, I still wear them all the time despite my Bic tattoos.
I just can’t quit these khakis because they are virtually wrinkle-free and machine washable. I’ve even washed them in a hotel room sink on long trips, and they bounce back good as new after a quick dry over the top of the shower curtain. Made of lightweight technical polyester fabric, the khakis are cool and breathe well in the summer. Thoughtful features like a hidden zipper pocket allow me to stash my passport or keep some pocket change separate from all the other junk in my pockets. (Like my pens…maybe I should’ve thought of that.)
But not every situation calls for khakis, so I was delighted to hear that Bluffworks had expanded their product line to include jeans made from a blend of cotton and stretchy synthetic fabrics. Their Departure Jeans feature some of the same clever features of the khakis, including two hidden zippered pockets under the belt line in the back that are perfect for foiling pickpockets or for ensuring your phone stays safe during outdoor activities. Even though there’s a little spandex in the materials, these aren’t skinny jeans that look like denim yoga pants. Let’s just say everybody doesn’t have the build for that style. Instead, they are a comfortable cut, not too tight but not blousy like “mom jeans.” They do suggest selecting a size smaller than you normally buy to account for the stretch of the fabric, so it was nice to be able to proudly order a 35 waist! (Even if it was pretty much a lie.)
Available in a medium wash, they look classy enough to wear out to a restaurant that you might not feel comfortable in sporting your old faded denim. They do promise that they will fade over time, which will make them look even more like the regular part of your wardrobe I anticipate they will become. The ultimate test for me was when they promised that they would be comfortable enough to wear while riding my bike to work. While I rarely commute to work via bicycle because I’m not sure I could stop my bike safely at the bottom of the steps leading down from my bedroom on the way to the kitchen table, I do wear my Departure Jeans while running errands on two wheels. This is not something I would normally attempt with traditional jeans because I imagine I’d get too hot and that there might be, shall we say, chafing issues, but biking with Bluffworks is no problem at all. A pair of these jeans combined with a set of their original khakis or their slightly more formal chinos would really be all the pants you’d need for a week-long business or tourist trip.
The second product that Bluffworks sent to me was their Horizon Quilted Vest. If you’re a TSA-Pre traveler, one of the perks of that status is that you can keep a light jacket on while you pass through airport security. While that’s nice, a jacket or a vest is my secret weapon to zipping through the metal detectors while traveling. I always pack my pockets with everything that might set off the alarms, including keys, my phone, wallet, those infernal pens, my notebook and whatever other ephemera I happen to be traveling with. Then I toss the whole package on the belt for the scanner with my computer backpack and stroll quickly and confidently through the detector before retrieving it and restocking my pants pockets on the other side.
This is all to say that I like a lot of pockets, especially zippered ones, on my regular rotation of travel outerwear. Unlike some other travel vests which shall go nameless here (but not here,) the Horizon Vest doesn’t go crazy with so many random pockets, headphone channels, inner sleeves, hooks, rings, and other wacky features that it’s impossible to remember where you stashed your stuff. Instead, the vest is thoughtfully designed with seven zippered pockets that are placed exactly where you’d want them.
Two side pockets are ample enough to hold most of your gear without looking too bulky when filled. An outside breast pocket is the perfect spot to stash your phone or a paperback or Kindle for some in-flight reading. Inside pockets are positioned to hold your tickets and sensitive papers or passports hidden away from the eyes of potential thieves. The zippers have fabric pulls that can still be manipulated even if you’re wearing gloves, which is a nice touch.
The quilted diamond pattern of the fabric is more interesting than your typical travel vest, and it looks good layered over a blazer or under another coat for extra warmth. There’s just enough Primaloft insulation inside the vest is just enough to keep the chill off while on a plane, but it’s truly a three-season piece of clothing. Wide-cut arm holes are very comfortable to move around in and stylish enough to wear out to a nice event. (At least my girlfriend says so. I’m not the best judge of that.)
Another nice feature is that the closure of the Horizon Vest is both a full zipper and a set of snaps that go all the way to the top to create a standing collar. With everything zipped and snapped up, it’s extremely wind-resistant, but on warmer days you can wear it unzipped and snapped to let some cooling breeze in. Available in Dark Sapphire and Olive Green, either color is extremely versatile to pair with almost any color combination of pants and shirts, especially since wearing brown belts and shoes with navy pants is apparently a thing. So I guess everything goes with everything now. (Again, ask my girlfriend.)
Now that I have a pair of Bluffworks Departure Jeans and their Olive Green Horizon Vest, I fully plan to fill out my travel wardrobe with other colors and products. They also offer blazers, dress shirts, polo shirts, and tees, so keep your eyes on this space for details of the next smart solutions from Bluffworks!
Source: Manufacturer supplied review samples of the Departure Jeans and Horizon Vest
What I Like: Travel clothing that combines intelligent functionality hidden inside the stylish design
What Needs Improvement: Not much, maybe a few more color options for the vests and different shades of jeans