Product Category: Clothing
Where to Buy: SeV Store
Price: $340 USD ($250 for Quantum Jacket; $140 for Fleece 5.0)
System Requirements: Body ranging from XS to XXXL Sizes
Specifications: 52 pockets, cable management through channels / pocket passthroughs, removable hood (Quantum Jacket), removable sleeves (Fleece 5.0), various specially designed features such as key holders, bottle holders, and pockets accessible from the interior or exterior.
- Be an unabashed geek without having to look like a nerd;
- Attention to detail and usability;
- Eliminates the need for a separate bag (some days).
- Price (for some), Sizes (for others);
- Does not connect (as in previous SCOTTEVEST systems);
- Lack of color options.
The first SCOTTEVEST product I ever purchased was the 4.0 Tactical system, the closest thing to a predecessor to the Scott Jordan Signature Series. I was blown away and since then have reviewed many other SeV products. The direction foreshadowed by last year’s “Evolution” jacket has now come to pass with the release of the Fleece 5.0 and Quantum Jackets (together they make up the series). But with any new thing, old favorite features can be lost or changed – and new features added can somewhat make you forget about the old. How does this system stack up to its past, and pave the way to the future? Read on!
The Signature Series has many new features as well as SCOTTEVEST classic options. The most apparent new feature is the change in fabrics in the jacket. The Tactical 4.0 jacket was, well, tactical – it felt like something I’d wear if I was a secret service agent or SWAT officer. The material was a bit coarse, with a nylon base.
Figure 1: SCOTTEVEST branding in the velcro section used to tighten the sleeves around the wrist. Notice the material has a grain, yet feels smooth.
The new material used in the Quantum jacket is very similar to shell of the Evolution jacket. While the material has a grain to it, it feels very soft to the touch, likely due to the Teflon fabric protector used. In the rain, the jacket does not soak up water but rather promotes beading and flowing of the water off – keeping the occupant drier than the alternative.
The Fleece 5.0 also gets a subtle change in fabric. On the inside the fabric mesh is more accented, allowing you to easily see where pockets lie and where your gear is going. On the outside, the material feels a bit more plush and soft compared to the 4.0 fleece. At least it did to me, my wife insists that it’s closer to the 4.0. In any event, we both agree it’s nice and cozy.
Figure 2: Exterior of the 5.0 fleece.
Another new feature to the 5.0 fleece and Quantum jacket is the introduction of Clear Touch fabric. Clear Touch is designed to replace those awful hard clear pieces that clothing manufacturers sometimes place on their products to let you “see” what’s inside a pocket. The plastic is always rigid, and feels like, well, hard plastic! Clear Touch pockets on both the Quantum and Fleece are clear, but feel like fabric. Or at least best approximation of fabric that plastic can get to.
Figure 3: A Clear Touch pocket in the Fleece 5.0. Both jackets feature two Clear Touch pockets. Notice the red piping also present on the interior.
Clear Touch is a winner when it comes to controlling a touch sensitive device while it is safely stowed. Lastly, a very pronounced difference in both jackets is the red piping around the interior pockets, similar to what was done on the Evolution jacket. It sounds really strange, but I was always able to ‘lose’ pockets in my Tactical jacket. Trying to remember where they opened or where they hung so I could see if I had something in them. With the red piping, it’s easier to find the pockets, and the overall pocket design has been streamlined substantially.
SCOTTEVEST has been careful not to call this the direct update to the 4.0 line because some of the 4.0 series nuances are missing in the 5.0 Signature series. For example, on the jacket, a front right breast pocket with ID card window has been removed. The new version in the 5.0 line is a internal lower-left pouch specifically to hold your ID and provide quick access. Yet you can’t be wearing your ID here and have others see it, a potential problem for those of us who must wear visible ID.
Here are some other quick differences I’ve observed:
- The hood on the jacket, while still removable, does not roll up and tuck away like previous versions.
- The sleeves on the jacket are not removable. Scott Jordan told me this in a phone call earlier this year when I told him about the zippers breaking on my Tactical 4.0. Apparently this was a feature only of use to a few, and since it had issues, it was removed.
- The jacket used to have two small pockets below the right and left “hand” pockets that weren’t very deep and sometimes hard to open. I used to keep my gloves in those pockets but alas they are now gone. They do allow the other pockets that you normally throw your hands into to be deeper.
- There is only one key-chain holder on the jacket, in the front right pocket (unlike the tactical 4.0 that had a key chain holder in both the front right and front left – two different styles). This holder is the better of the two styles, with a retractable rubber chain.
- At least one of the deep pockets on the jacket has been removed (on my Tactical I have a deep pocket on the inside of both sides, the pocket on the right side has been removed on the Quantum). Given the fact that I once used both deep pockets to carry (on one side) a large bag of potato chips, package of cookies, and on the other side two 2 liters of soda, I guess I’ll have to cut back during grocery trips!
- The fleece shows only minor changes over the 4.0 version, such as the red piping and clearview pockets.
Overall while things have changed, the core features remain the same. I’m not sure which jacket I’ll end up using this winter more – the 5.0 or the 4.0 – so check in with me in the spring to see if the above changes proved to be dealbreakers.
Finally a note about sizing. Anyone who has met me in person knows I’m on the large side (some would even say Scary Large). The 4.0 series XXXLT fit me just fine, however with the removal of the tall sizes in the 5.0 line, the XXXL jacket is a bit snug (like the Evolution jacket that I reviewed last October). The 5.0 fleece fits just like the 4.0 did. While I could wear the 4.0 Fleece and Tactical Jacket at the same time, I doubt I’d be able to do that with the 5.0 series. Then again they were not meant to go together like their predecessor, so I doubt many will try to do this (e.g. the 5.0 fleece does not zip into the 5.0 jacket). If you’re a “big” man wondering how you may compare to me and if the XXXL will be big enough, feel free to drop me an e-mail with any questions if you’d like to be discrete and not post them here.
Scott and his team have done a wonderful job with the Signature series, something I know Scott takes great pride in. I do have a few suggestions though, some easier to implement than others:
- A padded compartment (possibly removable) for a sub-notebook or netbook. I travel with a 14 inch Lenovo Tablet (the x60s), and it fits nicely into both the deep pockets on the 4.0 and the 5.0. However a bit more protection would be nice.
- Similar to the above suggestion, a removable accessory pouch that would connect up within the jacket. This way I can keep my AC adapter, mouse, and other computer accessories with the computer and completly get rid of the bag.
- Pre-wired “Options”. While wiring up a SCOTTEVEST isn’t terribly difficult to do, it may interest some to have pre-wired options available straight from the factory. iPod owners could order the “iPod version” which would come wired with headphones, and an iPod charger connected to an external battery safely stowed (such as a Proporta or Pocket PC Techs extended battery). GPS enthusiasts could order a “GPS version”, etc… Of course these would cost extra, but may appeal to some who would love something tailored to their needs.
- SCOTTEVEST is able to embroider logos onto corporate orders, but why not offer custom embroidery to individuals? I’d be very tempted to embroider my name discretely on my SeV fleece, if for no other reason than to wear it to parties where everyone’s already forgetting each other’s names!
- I’m a lover of basic black (I own many, many black shirts, much to my wife’s dismay). However when it comes to jackets and fleeces, colors can be very nice – and the Signature series has only black as of this writing. Perhaps one or two other colors might be a nice addition.
Some of you may be wondering if the first two bullets above would really be prudent to implement. Surely you can’t carry all your gear (including a laptop) in a SCOTTEVEST, can you? Well let me share a story:
Last April I was in a hotel room in Seattle the first night of the MVP Summit when my roommate asked me a question. He’d seen my SCOTTEVEST in the closet and asked “Is that one of those technology vests?”. Being from Australia, he was aware of SCOTTEVEST but hadn’t seen one in person. I told him it was and gave him a brief tour of its pockets. In the process I realized that it was pointless for me to take my messenger bag with me to the Microsoft campus the next two days when I had a SCOTTEVEST with me. I quickly took stock of what I had to transport (Lenovo laptop, adapter, a few cords, a small camera, 2 or 3 Windows Mobile devices, proporta battery, and a few other things) and realized that I could put them all in the vest. I loaded up and over the next two days fellow MVPs were amazed as I walked into a conference room and within 2 minutes had “unloaded” my mobile workstation for the day! So yes, you can in some cases ditch a computer bag for a SCOTTEVEST.
As I write this, I sit in my office (a converted attached garage) wearing my 5.0 fleece. It’s keeping me nicely warm as I wait for a FedEx truck to bring me a few gadgets for my latest geek project. Tomorrow I’ll probably wear it as I walk to my office in Toledo – switching proverbial hats as I go from Geek to Doctoral Candidate in Psychology. While my work today is tinkering with VoIP codecs and tomorrow will be proofreading decision making problems, my SCOTTEVEST keeps me warm, connected, and fairly stylish. No matter how geeky you are, part or full time, you don’t have to look like Goofy with bulging pockets and bulky bags. After all, no self respecting geek could ever stand being called a Nerd!
Jon Westfall is a Microsoft MVP for Windows Mobile devices, contributor to the Thoughts Media network of sites, and full time academic, currently finishing is PhD in Experimental Psychology. He studies decision making and interhemispheric interaction while teaching undergraduates a variety of things they didn’t know! Want to know more about him? Visit JonWestfall.Com