#girlstravel: Cactus Creek’s SubRosa scarf makes life a little easier for women travelers. Well, OK, a lot.

  • May 31, 2013
  • 729 words
  • 3 minutes
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When I travel, I never keep all of my valuables in one place, and I often feel a bit cartoonish as I divide my cards and cash among numerous inserts, pouches, wallets and pockets. Last fall, my frustration came to a boiling point. I was monitoring the Ukrainian election, and I had to carry large amounts of cash so I could pay my interpreter and driver. I didn’t like the options I had, and got pretty freaked out about carrying what amounted to a year’s worth of wages for most locals with me for over a week.

My go-to for secret storage has long been a bra pouch. I would definitely notice if someone tried to take it, but it basically has to stay put all day. No matter where you are in the world, it isn’t exactly socially acceptable to be pulling things out of your bra in public. Waist and necklace travel pouches often sit very obviously under form fitting women’s dress clothes, thus defeating the purpose of concealing it in the first place.

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Exploring old churches on the Wales Coast Path

When I found out about Cactus Creek’s clever solution to this problem, I was elated. The $33.99 SubRosa scarves made by the Surrey, BC-based company look like they’re just a fashionable accessory, but they’re so much more than that. Available in a variety of colours and prints, the scarves each have two hidden pockets that are convenient for carrying small bottles of medication or sanitary products, and serve as a subtle stash where cards and cash can be hidden. The beauty of this product is it keeps your valuables easily accessible at a point on your body where you are constantly aware of them.

The scarf’s zippers blend in, so even if someone did see you access the secret pocket, it isn’t easily visible, and would be very tough for potential pickpockets to get at. I also like the fact the scarves are designed to double as a head covering. If you find yourself in a situation where modesty is required, the SubRosa scarf will help you blend in with the locals.

I recently tested one of the scarves on a trip to London and Wales. Its pockets managed to conceal my passport, cash and cards. However, you do need to be aware of how much weight you add to the pocket. If it gets too heavy, its symmetry will be thrown off. When carrying multiple passports in the scarf, it was noticeably weighed down. The heaviest part hung low on my body, and caused a slight tightening around my neck, but when the scarf was used as intended, this wasn’t a problem.

As I expected, the scarf made me feel more secure about my valuables, but it also made feel more at ease organizationally. Having two large pockets readily accessible meant I worried far less about losing things. I could keep my passport close at hand, but also my day pass for the London Underground and my sunscreen when I was walking the Wales Coast Path.

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Walking the Gower Peninsula portion of the Wales Coast Path

The SubRosa scarf isn’t only useful for travelling. It could work well as an accessory for a night out if your outfit doesn’t have any pockets. The pockets of some SubRosa scarves use RFID-blocking fabrics, a feature that can help prevent criminals from scanning the chip cards in your pocket and hijacking your identity, as reported by CBC. Because these pockets are made from a different material to the SubRosa itself, they are slightly less subtle and scarves that have this feature do sit a little differently.

The scarves are still a novel enough product that airport security doesn’t quite know what to make of it when you send it through their x-ray scanners. In both London and Ottawa, air security agents did a double take when they spotted the secret pockets on their screens. The SubRosa scarf’s subtleties and good looks have quickly made it one of my favourite travel accessories. It can go anywhere, more or less unnoticed, and it helps smooth over some of the unique challenges that women travelers face.


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