Jackets of Holding

23:40 Thu 27 Sep 2007
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I’ve always been a fan of utilitarian clothing, and a lot of the time that just means pockets. Useful, numerous, accessible, capacious, well-designed pockets. So when I first read about ScotteVest‘s line of jackets, I had to try them out.

The first one I purchased was the Tactical 4.0, a waterproof jacket with removable sleeves, a removable (and concealable) hood, and 40 pockets. That’s not a typo, there really are 40 pockets in this thing. More or less anywhere you want a pocket, it has a pocket. The design of the jacket, and the pockets, is good, and you can see that they’ve put quite a lot of thought into it. This jacket does a good job at hiding some of the bulk from the pockets. It’s an excellent jacket for travel—especially now that the airlines, by enforcing strict weight limits for carry-on luggage and also tending to lose checked bags, are providing a strong incentive to cram as much stuff into clothing as possible. You can cram quite a lot into 40 pockets… I think the bulk of my reading material, last time I wore this while flying, was in it.

However, it’s too heavy a jacket for most of the year in San Francisco. It’s only in the coldest month or two that it’s really worth wearing here (although it’s clearly useful more often in Ireland). I can wear it when it’s warmer, and it’s not unbearably warm, but it’s certainly not a summer jacket.

So I purchased the Fleece 4.0 to cover the rest of the year. I like this jacket too, and it’s what I have been wearing the majority of the time. It only has 12 pockets, but it can still carry a lot of stuff, enough to cover day-to-day needs. It has more downsides than the Tactical 4.0. It’s not waterproof. The pockets are not quite as well designed, and the inner side pockets have annoying divisions that make it difficult to carry any but the smallest books in them. It still works for travel, but nowhere near as well as the Tactical 4.0. Lastly, it inexplicably has a penholder pocket on the left only—that is, only on the side that suits people who write with their right hands. The Tactical 4.0 is symmetrical in this regard (and most others), and obviously that makes a lot more sense. This is made more annoying by the fact that the penholder pocket is really just a stitched hole in the lining near the zipper, and hence would be extremely cheap to add.

As a side note, you can zip the Fleece into the Tactical to make one larger jacket if you’re in a particularly cold climate.

While I like the Fleece 4.0 a lot (otherwise I wouldn’t use it as my everyday jacket), I consider it far from perfect, and occasionally chafe at its shortcomings. So when they came out with another jacket, the Evolution, I was unable to resist, and bought one. It arrived earlier in the week, and so far I’ve been very happy with it. It has 25 pockets, clearly superior to the Fleece. It’s waterproof, again a major advantage. It has penholders on both sides. Its inner pocket on the left is larger than any of the inner pockets in the Fleece, and can carry books comfortably. The only annoyance so far is that I expect there to be another pocket of the same kind on the right. Instead there are two small phone/music player pockets. These are useful, but they’d be even more useful in the outside of another large inside pocket. It’s not too heavy, so could be worn more or less anytime one needs a jacket in San Francisco (which, given how quickly the weather can change, is most of the time). It doesn’t have as much storage as the Tactical, but it’s quite good.

The ScotteVest people make a big deal out of some features I don’t use, especially the “Personal Area Network”, which is essentially a series of holes allowing one to thread wires through the inside of the jacket. I’m sure that could be really useful for some people, but I’m not one of them. Oh, and the Tactical has an optional add-on of a solar panel, to allow charging of one’s devices while somewhere that’s sunny but lacks electrical outlets. Yes, really. That’s not an add-on I went for, but it’st here.

All in all, I recommend these jackets highly, with the caveats above. I’ve been quite happy with them, and now chafe when I wear jackets lacking in pockets and storage by comparison.

2 Responses to “Jackets of Holding”

  1. JC Says:

    Normally I would make fun of you for wearing something with so many pockets, but I don’t want to get pepper sprayed……

  2. Tadhg Says:

    JC: Hmm, maybe I should add pepper spray to what I carry—but that seems like an item with which many things could go disastrously wrong.

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