Welcome to EN’s Product Review series! Who doesn’t love shopping, especially when the object of your search is new gear for yourself or your horse? As an enthusiast of all products equine, I LOVE trying out new gear. Please join me as I narrate my personal journey of trying out all of the products featured. While I will make no recommendations, I hope you have fun reading about my many adventures of trying new products, and that hearing about my personal experiences helps you on your own quest for new gear. Go Shopping.
Back in the days when I was a bright eyed schoolgirl who was fresh of face and sharp of wit, I’ll admit to being a little bit of a bookworm. From a young age, I always liked to read — in fact, my mom would often catch me trying to get just one chapter further in my book after lights out.
But I just had to know if Misty’s foal was delivered safely during the hurricane. Or if Alec and the Black Stallion were rescued from their island. Or if Ashleigh’s Wonder won her first race. These are important things, after all!
I just consumed one book after another, and thirsted for the next, as any self-respecting horse girl would do. And my affinity for books carried over into my schoolwork, so I guess that you could call me a little bit of a geek. Because geeks don’t always wear big horn-rimmed glasses — sometimes they are just little girls with curly hair tied into pig tales by ribbons to match my frilly dress.
I turned into one of those super students, who wanted nothing more then another A, unless it was one of those classes where the teacher gave out A+’s. Because then I wanted an A+. Being a studious bookworm type of student came with a books though, and I remember having to try to pack my backpack so full that I could barely get the zipper shut.
But I did get the zipper shut. Ok, maybe that was after I had to rearrange my books once. Or twice. Ok, ok, it was probably three times. And I usually ended up carrying a book in order to get everything to fit. I had my fair share of zippers getting stuck, and at times splitting.
Which meant that in order to haul around all of my school books, my personal reading books, my Five Star trapper keeper, my awesomely cool Lisa Frank folders, and my school supplies, I needed a bigger and better Jansport backpack.
You remember those Jansport backpacks, right? I always thought the ones with the cool colors and brown suede bottoms were pretty cool – but those didn’t have enough storage space for all of my stuff. I mean, serious student, party of one. So I needed the extra big Jansport backpack with all of the extra zipper storage compartments, so that all of my stuff had a home inside the bag.
Never mind the fact that by the time that I had packed my bag with books, binders, notebooks, folders, pens, pencils, erasers, and everything else that MacGyver might need during the school day, I looked like I would tip over backwards. That was simply just a part of the charm. Because I finally had all of the storage space that I could possibly need in my awesomely big Jansport, and that was enough for me.
Life around the barn can be much the same for me — one thing that I never seem to have enough of is storage space. I always end up with my hands full, because I don’t seem to have enough pocket space — there’s my gloves, my utility knife, my keys, my phone, an apple, and toss in some horse cookies for good measure. That’s in addition to needing to carry my tack and helmet.
So you see, I really need to be able to store all of the small things in pockets, because I really don’t have the extra hands to be able to carry them with everything else. Fortunately, I found my match when I tried out the El Paso Utility Vest from Carhartt this season. Because it has So. Many. Pockets.
The first feature that attracted me to the El Paso Utility Vest is all of the pockets – because I absolutely positively can use all of the storage space that the vest has to offer. The vest actually includes a total of 10 pockets. Yup, you read that correctly, ten whole pockets. Sound like a lot? It sure is. So let’s go through a recap of them all.
Let’s first go to the front of the vest, where there are two generously sized pockets located down in the area of the waistline. Each pocket has a flap over the top and a snap closure, so that the contents will be secure. But what’s really cool each pocket as an opening on the side into a secondary compartment, which brings us to a total of four pockets so far.
Now let’s travel upwards, to the pockets on either side of the chest, which also have a flap over the top with a snap closure. The pocket on the left chest even has a stylish Carhartt logo patch, to add some additional style. And once again, both of these pockets have an additional opening on the tops which open into secondary compartments. And that’s eight pockets.
Travelling to the inside of the vest, you’ll find the final two pockets. Hidden away from sight, these two pockets are simple and provide a good sized storage compartment with an opening on the top. The great thing is that all of the pockets together offer enough storage space to be functional enough for me around the barn; and it does so in style. For the 10 whole pockets are seamlessly integrated into the design and don’t look overdone or out of place.
While I get so excited about the amount of storage space that the El Paso Utility vest has to offer, I can’t forget about the other features that make it so functional either. The fabric outer of the vest is made out of 100% cotton, and it has been designed to be able to tough enough to stand up to a working environment with it’s ripstop properties.
The ripstop outer shell is also nice and lightweight, which has made it an excellent piece for me to be able to layer. In fact, when selecting my normal size, the El Paso vest allows me plenty of room to layer both a tee and a hoodie underneath of it. And it still fits me very nicely and gives me plenty of freedom to move around, work and ride.
The El Paso Utility vest also features a full front zipper. The zipper itself feels heavy duty, and it also features a pull tab that has the Carhartt logo imprinted into it. Another feature that is oh-so very flattering in my opinion, is the drawstring that is integrated into the waistline. Looking to the inside of the vest, there are two pull tabs located at waist height that can be tightened to help the vest hug closer to your curves. Which helps give a feminine and flattering look!
There is also a mesh lining in the upper part of the back, which helps to provide additional ventilation. And in the area of the mesh ventilation — there is actually relief and freedom of movement built in, in the area of the shoulders. So whether I’m reaching forward to grab a bale of hay, or to give my horse a pat, I don’t feel the vest tighten across my back.
The El Paso Utility has been proven to be very versatile for me. I’ll be honest, I have yet to actually to fill up all of the available pocket space. So the vest definitely offers enough space for me. More then enough, actually. I also really like the ‘double pockets’, that have both a flap and snap closure for securing contents, as well and additional opening to the secondary compartment.
I also find that the fabric seems rugged to me, as it has been tough enough to hold up to the work that I’ve put it through…and it still looks as good as new. The relief that is built in across the back of the shoulders also helps to provide comfort along with the function of the vest – so instead of tightening across my back, it has give to it.
The styling that the vest has offer also fits in perfectly around the barn. I like that the vest is offered in a fun gray colored camo, or in a more traditional solid dark shale. Since I’m a self-proclaimed country girl — I mean, I do love me some country music, bonfires, sloshing through the mud and jacked up pickup trucks — so the gray camo really matches up with my personal taste. And I like the fact that the white colored stitching that is on the vest stands out against the fabric, for a rugged look.
The El Paso Utility Vest from Carhartt has a very affordable retail price of $69.99, and you can find it here. The El Paso is also available as a Utility Jacket, which boasts the same great features as the vest…simply in jacket form. The Utility Jacket has a retail price of $94.99, and you can find it here.
Go Super Storage Capacity (while remaining stylish). Go Carhartt. Go Eventing.