Travel Security & Pants (Part 1) : Columbia’s Travel Pants

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4/05/2009 – Travel Security & Pants (Part 1) : Columbia’s Travel Pants

When on the road it is important to keep certain items secure. No matter where you are you need to keep your wallet safe, however more important than your wallet when travelling internationally is keeping your Passport safe.

On the road I constantly see people out about in ‘travel pants,’ however these pants really should be referred to as ‘tourist pants.’ From Hong Kong to Paris, Manama to Honolulu you can easily spot these pants in high-density areas and these pants stand out like a sore thumb to thieves.

As a photographer I may travel with a tan-nylon photo vest, but I never go out shooting with one…and just like a tan-nylon photo vest attracts the attention of thieves those wearing tan nylon cargo pans stand out to thieves.

I understand the attraction to these pants, as I own a significant collection of kaki and green cargo pants…all of them are cotton, not nylon. Cargo pants are functional and comfortable. Nylon pants are lightweight; take little space when packing, breathable and easy to wash and dry in a hotel. Of course wearing a nylon pants that are designed to look like cotton pants is a dead give away to thieves that there is better than average chance that you are a tourist. If you are wearing these pants at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, in Times Square, strolling along Victoria Harbour or browsing a Souq in Casablanca there is an ever higher likelihood that you are tourist, you have cash, probably a few credit cards and quite possibly your passport.

The hidden pockets on these nylon pants stand out if you know what to look for, and thieves in high-density tourist areas know what to look for.

To carry what I need to keep secure I have turned to travel pants that simply don’t look like travel pants. My pants are cotton, twill or jeans with security featured built into them. While a thief may be able to spot the hidden zippers on my pants they’d need to be paying close attention to my pants rather than doing a basic wide-area visual search for the easy targets.

Columbia Sportswear makes the most common travel pants I wear. Columbia makes a few different types of excellent travel pants, most of which are cotton and simply look like every day run of the mill pants. Columbia’s pants, such as the Armitage and Utilizer, have hidden vertical zipped pockets that are directly behind the standard side pockets. The small zipper for the hidden security pocket is along the side seam so it blends in perfectly with the pants.

There is nothing about many of Columbia’s travel pants that do not stand out. Nothing leaps out visually. When traveling and especially when working in high-density areas you do not want to stand out. You want blend in and not be seen

Below are three photos of me and my well-travelled Columbia Sportswear travel pants…all packed up and ready to go.

Happy Flying!
–Click Images Below To Enlarge–

a man with a camera in his pocket

a person holding a camera and a pocket

a person putting their pants in a belt


  1. Dave,

    Well I had two hands when I brushed my teeth this morning. One holding the toothpaste the other holding the toothbrush.

    Four would be handy at times, especially when reloading my equipment quickly after airport security has unloaded my bag.

    Happy Flying!


  2. Well, my Columbia Utilizer pants came today. But it doesn’t have security pocket behind the right front pocket as your picture shows. Are you sure it’s not just the Armitage?



  3. Paul,

    I have a pair of Columbia Utilizer pants. Columbia may have altered the pants with an updated line of clothing, mine are from 2007. I’d be happy to contact Columbia Sportswear for you tomorrow and find out what pants in the 2009 line have the pocket.

    …I hate when clothing companies update their clothing line and remove vital features from clothes!

    Happy Flying


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