Apr 15 2011

Scottevest Pack Windbreaker Review

I should probably begin this review with a bit of a disclaimer. I own a Scottevest jacket. Well, more than one. 4 actually.

There…I said it. Also, 2 pairs of the cargo pants…and a Tek shirt. But that is it…I promise. At least until today.

I live in the south, and the “jacket temperance zone” only really runs about 6 months out of the year. For someone with my level of tech dependence, a jacket with as many pockets and storage tricks as a Scottevest is a necessity. Well, at least I have convinced myself it is! Please don’t let my wife know that I might not need this much kit to drag around.

But what is a gadget junkie like myself supposed to do when the temperature gets above the 70s? For me, the answer has been suffer, or convince my wife that a Batman style utility belt really is a good idea. (wife’s note: No chance, sweetie.)

Earlier this year, SEV put out a couple of lightweight jackets that looked like they might get me another month or two of jacket wear. The Pack Windbreaker and the Tropical Jacket/Vest both aim for a warmer climate solution.

The major differences between the two are that the Tropical is made of Supplex and has removable sleeves, and the Pack Windbreaker is nylon and has fixed sleeves. This makes the Tropical a bit more flexible, but I caught the Windbreaker on sale, so I went that route. The Windbreaker also features a hideaway hood, which is a nice touch.

17 pockets is a bit marketing driven but there are a host of storage options in the Windbreaker.
This number counts the headphone “budbuckets” and the coin pockets inside of the main outside pockets. Even giving them benefit of the doubt, I can still only get to 15 pockets…but there is likely another couple I will stumble upon in time.

The fabric is a really good weight and the retractable hood came in handy the very first time I wore the jacket. A southern spring is as changeable as 13 year olds fancy for pop stars, so having the jacket in the car was a perfect test.

The water resistant nylon kept me dry and actually dried itself with a shake and an hour in a backpack. The verdict for this application was definitely a big thumbs up.

SEV has gone to clear plastic windows on the two internal breast pockets to allow you to use your phone and MP3 player while they are still in their pockets, safe and dry. Since one of their core technologies they pitch is the PAN (Personal Area Network), hooking them up to a headset is simple. The clear window control worked great with both the Android phone and Iphone that I tested it with.

An EVO under the clear widow

The PAN sounds high tech but it is really just a way to channel wires and cables inside of the jacket so that they are always where you need them. Quite clever actually! This jacket actually has more wire management than any of the jackets I currently own with clips, snaps, loops and velcro fold overs to keep your earbuds in place.

Collar routing on the earbuds

Also, as a long time SEV user I was interested to see that they have changed the approach on something. The larger jackets have a range of pockets on the inside of the jacket facing. These are typically accessed from above with a horizontal zipper or magnetic closures. This makes it a bit difficult to be subtle about pulling something out of these pockets but makes them very secure against accidentally spilling stuff out of them.

The Pack Windbreaker has a large pocket on each side of the inside of the jacket, but these are accessed via vertical zippers, which makes getting a hand in to root around for something easier and not quite so obvious. To help keep these pockets from dripping your tech toys on the ground, the zippers do not run the whole height of the pocket. Gravity tends to work for you on making them hold onto stuff you have stowed here.

The large, lower left pocket really will hold an Ipad! It looks like they would fit most of the low profile cases but my Sena Keyboard case is a no go. I am pretty sure the low profile Zag keyboard case will go in however.

In fact, every zippered pocket on the jacket is vertical with the exception of the large pocket on the outside back of the jacket. This pocket can’t be easily accessed while the jacket is worn, but it is a great place to stuff a spare shirt or some workout clothes if you are packing light.

The back pouch is roughly 10×5 inches and doubles as a pouch you can stuff the jacket into. It can then function as a little travel pillow, and has a small hook to allow you attach it to a D ring on your luggage.

The collar and the waist of the jacket are both adjustable with pull cords. This is useful, because as the website warns, the jacket is an athletic fit. I bought a large and ended up having to send it back for an XL.

I love the color choices on the jacket as they are a bit out of the typical black and khaki offered by SEV. I looked hard at the racy red but ended up opting for the olive. It looks quite nice!

The jacket has a lot of great little touches and works really well playing the role of a light purse for me and my gear. The mechanics of the jacket are well enough designed that it does not bulge when you fill it up and it does a great job of balancing the weight appropriately.

I do wish that their QC were just a bit tighter. There were several loose threads, my jacket was missing the eyeglass chamois, and one of the two clear pockets was not divided into two sections as it should have been. With as much going on and as many layers as are in the jacket, I can see how this could happen, but it was a bit disappointing. SEV was very quick to jump on solutions for all of these issues for me. They sent me a replacement jacket with a prepaid shipping bag to send the other one back in.

The customer service is excellent and I have always found them to be beyond reproach in this area. Plus, they are just a fun company to deal with. The fake SEV Tuxedo for April fools was awesome!

To wrap it up: Lots of storage, light enough to wear into May, and even packed with kit it doesn’t add to how dorky I already look. Totally flexible and it will not break the bank. Two thumbs up from me!

411 E. 6th Street, Suite 2
P.O. Box 2626
Ketchum, ID 83340-2626

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