Last year I found that I needed a real winter jacket. Maryland doesn’t have much bad weather (it’s rarely down to 0 and we don’t get that much snow.) Still, I found that most of my offerings were either not warm enough, not waterproof enough, or not really appropriate for the workplace. I’ve gotten by the last ten years on an old London fog trench coat and a gortex jacket with removable liner. I didn’t know what I wanted, but I knew I needed something. My work schedule had changed and I was out in the weather more than in the past.
So I started looking around. What I wanted was a durable winter leather coat. I expected to pay some for it (I’m a big guy and cow hide aint cheap.) But the prices for what I was looking for were either beyond our reach or low enough that I wasn’t sure of the quality. I found my answer at a company called scottevest. They specialize in multiple pocket clothing that can be wired for earphones and other electronic devices.
I have a scottevest windbreaker and a wired fleece. They are of between middling to high quality. The fleece is very nice. I would buy more of them if they weren’t so expensive to begin with. The windbreaker has started to fray a bit but is still serviceable. It has tons of pockets which makes it one of my favorite warm weather jackets.
Enter the search for the almighty coat. I didn’t really want to get a scottevest coat; my second choice would have been an army surplus store or maybe old navy. Still, once I started looking through their products they grew on me. I had K look through the catalog and do a style check. We settled on the revolution+
“SeV Revolution Plus
Ideal for the winter traveler, the Revolution Plus is the warmest SeV ever. Whether it's traveling on a cold January day from Paris to London, or braving wind and snow in Sweden, our customers love the protection, adaptability and innovative pocket system this jacket offers. The breathable shell, sealed seams and quilted lining keep you warm and dry, and adjustment to temperature fluctuations is simple: just remove the hood and sleeves and pop them in a pocket!
Airline baggage fees don't apply to SCOTTEVEST clothing, so you can load up the 26 pockets with gloves, digital cameras, travel documents, cell phones, GPS units, flashlights, glasses, whatever you may need, and easily replace a carry-on. Revolution Plus utilizes our Weight Management System with NoBulge™ pocket design to conceal your goods. The iPadPocket™ to accommodate an iPad® (in sizes M and up) and clear touch interior pockets (so you can see and control your iPod®/iTouch®/iPhone® right through the cloth) are additional reasons to love the Revolution Plus Jacket!
Who says the best thing on a cold day is a hot bowl of soup?
Available in Black, made of a water-resistant material with sealed seams.”
With that description who wouldn’t be interested? I viewed several reviews which seemed to bare out the manufacturer’s high opinion of the product. I ordered my own just before Christmas and have been wearing it ever since.
The revolution+ is a medium weight jacket built for the technology savvy traveler who wants insulation, water resistance, flexibility, and a metric ton of storage options. It features a light but very warm quilted lining, a water resistant outer material, 26 distinct pockets, zippered pocket opening with magnetic closure backups, removable hood and sleeves (effectively converting the jacket into a heavy vest at will), and features to enhance your portable media experience, and pockets, pockets, pockets. The jackets come in sizes up to a 3x which I can testify is a genuine 3x and not a 2x pretender. At $200 it isn’t inexpensive but it is at the upper end of reasonable for all the features the product has to offer.
The jacket is marketed as being “warm.” It delivers in spades on this promise. The water resistant outer material hasn’t leaked once and even in sub freezing temperatures I’ve been perfectly comfortable. The hood folds up into the collar where a quilted shield creates a nice padded support for your neck.
When they say this jacket has lots of pockets they aren’t kidding. The internal Ipad pocket on the left hand side is wonderful for documents and such. Since the full internals of the front of the jacket can be accessed with the hand warmer pockets, I can fit my cane plus any number of other objects in side. There’s actually more space than one really needs in terms of sheer cubic storage. I can see where this bad boy can carry an entire sweet of traveling gear and still keep you warm.
When I say the jacket has 26 pockets, the picture I get in my head is a layered storage vest with all sorts of custom compartments. The reality is a bit less impressive. First, many of the “pockets” are actually sub-compartments nested within other pockets for the purpose of storing change and memory cards and the like. While one can technically call them “pockets” It’s more accurate to say that there are really ten major pockets with 16 assorted smaller divisions and containment options. That’s still a lot of storage on tap, but it isn’t the portable hole that the product description implies.
Second, the manufacturer markets the jacket as a sort of wired urban survival construct, able to simultaneously store and operate a variety of portable devices. All of the advertized features work as described. But (and this is a major but), they don’t operate comfortably or seamlessly. Sure, the clear plastic inner pockets can be used to hold and operate an Iphone. Of course, if you have to actually look at the screen the angle required to pull off this feet of contortion isn’t what I’d call pleasant. While the wired functionality of the jacket is nice, it’s an all or nothing deal. Once the earphones are in the jacket, you can’t remove them quickly (you can but not with the delicate cords and connections intact.) If you’re using multiple portable media devices or you want to use the device outside the coat, you’ll need another set of ear buds or time to remove the coat’s set.
Finally there are the magnetic closures for the pockets and the front of the coat over the zipper. I loves me some magnets, but this coat takes things to ridiculous levels. To be clear, the magnetic closures work just fine. That said, they’re backups and not primary closures. The magnets on the front of the jacket can’t hold it closed without the zipper engaged. The pocket magnets are nice but do slip from time to time. I found the designers’ obsession with magnets gratifying but essentially a nonstarter where the usefulness of the jacket is concerned.
The description of the jacket says that the shell material is breathable. This has not been born out in my experience. I have worn the jacket on several occasions in cool weather. Although I was not warm, there was so little circulation and my arms were perspiring so heavily that I had to take the jacket off. I’ve had the same problem with the scottevest windbreaker, all be it less often as the windbreaker is a much lighter garment. The jacket is advertised as a versatile coat for mid to cold temperatures, but I’d say it’s really a cool to cold garment unless you want to take the sleeves off and wear it like a vest. This took 50% of its usefulness away, so I’m more than a little annoyed with the description.
There’s a certain feel to high quality fabric. The weather resistant synthetic materials that are out there have a weight and thread count that give them a special heft which is nearly impossible to mistake. This jacket does not use such materials. I didn’t expect a search and rescue garment. I did however expect a certain minimum quality standard based on the price, company reputation, and description. The jacket is supposed to be a world traveler’s best friend in bad weather. Part of that functionality is a resistance to scrapes and ruff use. The material is slick and thin, feeling more like cheap nylon than an expensive gortex super jacket. As I said, I don’t expect SAR quality gear, but for $200, I expect something of reasonably high quality, and this jacket doesn’t deliver in my opinion.
To add to this feeling, the compartmentalized nature of the jacket allows one to inspect the pocket layout and fastenings from within the liner. For a product that is supposed to carry a batman utility belt’s worth of gear, I found the limited support and inexpensive quality of the fabric used underwhelming. In fairness, nothing has exactly failed, but there have been small signs of stress and the materials and design really aren’t up to the standards I would expect. The key fob, lining, and water bottle holder are all of cheap manufacture. I get the impression that the jacket will survive until I try and put it through something major, at which point its disintegration will be rapid. C got a messenger bag as a parting gift for some seminar she attended at one point. It was perfect (fit wonderfully, held everything I needed it to, and man was it comfortable.) After two months of hard use, starting with gencon, it completely fell apart (as in unraveled most of the major stitching outright.) That’s the feel I get with the materials and design for this product.
Finally, the design of the storage space and access there—to is subpar. Although there’s a metric ton of storage slots on the jacket, the two main storage options are the front hand warmer pockets. That’s where the key fob and water bottle holder are located. Though the storage area is large, it’s difficult to get items out of the pockets due to the small vertical design of the zipper access points. You end up having to maneuver objects like doing a three point turn. So while you can use the space to hold uncommonly large objects, getting them in and out of the main pocket areas is ocward at best. If you use the internal Iphone pockets for a cell phone, the half—zipper and Velcro mean that you spend an extra second or so fumbling with the catches to bring the phone out and answer the call. I think the worst part of the pocket design is the claim that they are “no bulge.” I’m not entirely sure what this is meant to represent, but the pockets are absolutely not “no bulge.” I suppose if the only thing you are transporting is a few sheets of paper there’s no problem. But if you have anything bigger than a match box, there’s going to be a bulge. The net result is a jacket that does have many storage options to choose from, but that over promises and under delivers on the practicality of said storage.
This is a decent product. It presents allot of utility to a traveler in winter conditions. Despite my somewhat negative impression of the jacket, it isn’t a bad garment. On the other hand, the company’s reputation for innovation and quality combined with the description lead me to some significantly high expectations. The jacket, while meeting my basic requirements, falls short of my expectations in almost every category. The result is that I am happy with my purchase, but for $200, I won’t be buying a replacement in the future.
I get the sense from the company newsletter and publications that scottevest feels (with some degree of justification) that they have a stylish and practical line of products that fills a unique market nitch. Unfortunately, when a product costs $200, style and function aren’t enough. I expect that investment to perform at a certain level. Sadly, this product doesn’t measure up.