is this really the best travel jacket ever?

Last year, it was impossible to miss the huge number of column inches generated for a simple product aimed at the travel community.

The BauBax range of jackets broke all records when it became one of the most successful Kickstarter projects ever - raising a quite frankly insane $9,192,055 USD from 44,949 backers! 

Now, as the dust has settled and most of those early investors have received their goods, the jackets are available on-line for people like us to buy. 

We were given a complimentary set of the BauBax sweatshirts (or hoodies as we prefer to call them) by eBags to try for ourselves, so we could see what all the fuss was about and work out if it really lived up to its title of "the world's best travel jacket". 

To test it out, we decided to act like tourists for the day in our very own city. Big Ben, the London Eye, Buckingham Palace and St Paul's were on our itinerary and all my essentials were stored not in my bag, but in my charcoal-coloured hoody.

The ability to carry most of your travel items in one place is the USP of the BauBax jackets and the reason CNN called it 'the swiss army knife of travel wear'. 

Essentially, it boils down to the jacket having nine specially sized pockets which can, respectively, hold your passport, tablet, wallet, charger, sunglasses and a blanket. They also have one for a drink, but that just seems a little silly. Additionally, the jacket has an easily inflatable neck pillow in the hood, little half-gloves in the sleeves, a zip which extends out into a pen or stylus, headphone holding loops and the hood also pulls down to act as a sleeping mask.

In theory, that means one should not require anything else on a short or long-distance plane journey and, clearly, 44,949 backers viewed this innovation as a panacea to a core travel problem they were having (which may not have been immediately obvious to the rest of us!). 

The reality is that having all those items in one jacket weighs you down a little. I carried all of the above (replacing a tablet with a guidebook and adding in my house keys) in London and certainly felt - and looked - a little boxier than usual. There was a big lump on the left of my chest and the right side of the jacket sagged down. Although it wasn't uncomfortable and didn't cause me any mobility difficulties, it wasn't necessarily ideal. 

But that shouldn't really come as a surprise. After all, putting a number of disparate items in a jacket is always going to affect its fit, line and shape for the worse. However, it was an item which already comes with the jacket which proved most problematic - the inflatable travel pillow. It is quick and easy to inflate/deflate but, if it's kept in the hood when you're not using it (as it's supposed to be) then it renders the hood into an unwearable big lumpy mess when it's worn atop your bonce and an awkward lumpy mass on your back if it's left down. 

But, aside from those storage issues, the BauBax jacket definitely served a practical purpose. 

As someone who suffers from an unfortunate predilection for skinny jeans on my short, squat legs, I absolutely hate having all the unflattering bulges (!) caused by my wallet in my back pocket, smartphone in the front, keys and change in the other. It's not comfortable and really ruins the look of my jeans. 

So, having everything moved up into the hoody was a much better alternative; everything was securely stored in its own pocket and within easy reach when I wanted it (whilst being difficult for anyone to pickpocket). And the bulgy, bulkiness of carrying a number of items was less of an issue on my torso than on my little legs.

Unfortunately, I do feel that for any fashionistas, form may trump function and having to put your items into a handbag or satchel on any journey is unlikely to be viewed as too much of an inconvenience when it allows you to wear something a little more on trend.

However, for those that don't really care about such things, and for whom comfort and practicality are more important when travelling, then the BauBax jacket may actually be ideal. 

Since we've been back in the UK, I've had the distinct pleasure of traipsing up and down to Aberdeen on the infamous Megabus on several occasions.  For those of you who don't know, that's a rather unluxurious, but very cheap, overnight bus service lasting 12 hours or so. And, if you followed our Latin America trip, you'll know that we spent A LOT of time on buses (we're still working it out, but we think it was at least one calendar month in total).

So, we're both very well-versed in what is essential and non-essential for enduring that type of travel both at home and abroad.  

We've always opted for a hoody as it's the most comfortable option, you don't mind it getting a little dirty or smelly and, importantly, it would keep us warm when the aircon was jacked up to 11 on a night bus (they love to do that, especially in Colombia). When you're backpacking and going from one bus journey to one bus journey, style concerns and a focus on aesthetics really do go out of the window. Instead, it becomes all about what's comfortable and what works - and I honestly think this jacket does. 

The features of the BauBax hoody would have made those journeys a little easier, especially the travel pillow and built-in eye mask. Its ability to keep our some documents, cash and electronics securely on our person overnight (very important for your paranoia when trying to sleep) are positives, whilst always having a pen at hand is a solution to our habitual misplacing of writing implements. From our use of it this week, I can confirm it also passes the comfort and cosiness test which is essential. 

Even if you're not carrying 101 items in it, it becomes a pretty decent hoody to have with you on your travels to wear around the hostel or when exploring the city.

So, given the above, we will definitely both be opting to take these jackets with us on our next adventure.

However, we can't forget price when talking about BauBax jackets. Listed at just under £125 GBP, it's a significant investment for what is, without the marketing blurb, just a half-decent hoody with lots of pockets and a few gizmos. (Update 2018: Jackets now available from £59.99 - find out more here.)

Useful? Yes. Practical for travellers? Absolutely. Good value for money? Probably not. 

If you're a frequent backpacker or short-haul trip taker (who tries to go hand-luggage only) - and you don't flinch at that cost - then it would certainly be a worthwhile and useful addition to your packing list.

What did Emily think?

"This jacket is comfortable, super comfortable. I could imagine falling asleep (before being awoken by Latino music from a loud phone, of course) in a warm snuggly cocoon of neck pillow, eye mask and gloves.

However, for a girl who has more than her fair share of boobage, there are a couple of problems. Simply put, if you need a bra, chances are anything you put in the top pockets is going to look weird and potentially be bloody awkward. One way around this could be to order at least one size bigger, but for the larger chested amongst us, even that may not work.

So, for me, it will be a good hoody for bus journeys, but the design means that unfortunately, there are some features that I'll just never use."

Thank you to eBags for providing us with the sweatshirts in exchange for our honest review. If you are interested purchasing a BauBax jacket - they have three other styles aside from the sweatshirt we reviewed - then click here.