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SCOTTeVEST Tactical 4.0 System

Review posted August 2006 by Tanker Bob

Tanker Bob recently returned from a trip to Northern Europe—seemingly poor timing considering the severe, late winter they experienced this year.  Not having a heavy winter jacket, I harkened back to my earlier review of the SCOTTeVEST Sport TEC and TEC Windshirt here on MobileTechReview, and decided to see what SCOTTeVEST has been up to lately with their Technology Enabled Clothing.  To my delight, I found the seemingly perfect combination of warmth and carrying capacity in the Tactical 4.0 System.

The Tactical 4.0 System consists of two key parts:  the Tactical 4.0 jacket and the Fleece 4.0.  Both can be worn separately in whole or as vests without their sleeves, providing seven total configurations.  For maximum warmth, the Fleece 4.0 securely zips into the Tactical 4.0, combining their total storage capacity as well as providing a comfy combo in very cold conditions.

Tactical 4.0
ScotteVEST Tactical 4.0

 

The Tactical 4.0 stands as the latest evolution in jackets designed for undercover police and military special operations personnel.  Its 40 pockets reflect careful planning and development over several release editions.  The earlier noisy Velcro attachments have been replaced with positive-action magnetic catches.  These magnets proved quite strong, so much so that I rarely zipped the pockets so-equipped closed.  Beware that they will completely erase hotel room key cards every time they pass the magnets into your pocket.  For this reason, SeV recommends against people with pacemakers wearing this jacket.

The 4.0 includes a variety of handy pockets cleverly designed for a variety of common purposes.  Many pockets, like the hand warmer ones, consist of pockets in pockets.  These can be zipped apart to make one larger pocket.  There are also pockets behind pockets, making a “secret” place to hide valuables.  The pockets inside the lower left of the jacket are designed to hold flash memory cards and spare PDA or cell phone batteries.  Even the sleeves have small outside pockets for light items.  The inside deep pockets will hold water bottles or even a sub-laptop computer--standard file folders and magazines fit just fine.  The nearly-invisible elastic epaulets hold a cell phone for speaker phone use.  The back pocket has a custom pouch designed to hold a CamelBak® water system, with a channel leading to the collar for the drinking tube.  This jacket will hold the entire contents of my briefcase without a problem.  More on that later…

The other unique feature lies in the Personal Area Network or PAN.  Channels run throughout the jacket in which to run wires for your cell phone, iPod, PDA, etc.  This keeps the headset wires from interfering with the wearers activities.  The collar sports “clips” to hold ear buds at the ready when not in use, or you can store them in a provided ear bud pocket.  I usually keep my Dell Axim X50v in one of the upper outside pockets for easy access, but put my cell phone down in the outer section of the hand-warmer pockets.  The cords for both snake through the jacket to the ear bud holders.

The Tactical 4.0 sports the new Detachable Cargo Cache+ (DCC+) in each of the hand-warmer pockets.  These are large patches of Velcro inside the pockets with an elastic strap across them.  For undercover law enforcement, military applications, or civilian concealed carry, a medium-sized semi-automatic pistol with a four inch barrel easily fits inside the elastic loop and holds there nicely.  A suitable holster will also attach to the Velcro if you prefer that mode.  For belt carry, the sides of the jacket zip up a bit to facilitate convenient access to your weapon.  It’s no wonder that the Secret Service highly prizes this jacket.

All this pocket loading can really add up.  To distribute the jacket’s weight across the wearer’s shoulder, SeV included a weight management system.  It really works.  Other nifty features include a detachable lightweight hood, a baseball cap holder, two key-holder clips, an eye-glass cleaning chamois, four pen/pencil pockets, change pockets, four AA or AAA battery holding straps, and a two-way front zipper to ease sitting and driving.  In addition to a name tag inside the lining, there’s even a badge holder for law enforcement or other ID display when needed or desired.

The external shell of the Tactical 4.0 consists of Finetex®—a high-tech material like Gore-Tex® only less expensive.  Finetex® facilitates water repellency and blocks the wind, yet allows the jacket to breathe.  Teflon coats the exterior to enhance its ability to shed water as well as resist staining.  The jacket interior boasts Coolmax® material, which wicks moisture away from the body and dries very quickly.  The pockets themselves feature a free-hanging design that prevents objects from “printing” (bulging out) under normal use.

The Tactical 4.0 doesn’t have any formal insulating padding.  That’s not a problem with the body of the jacket because all the pockets and the Coolmax® provide plenty of insulation.  However, the sleeves only consist of the Finetex® shell and Coolmax® lining with no real insulation, the same design as the hood.  While this provides a minor amount of dead air space, the jacket could use another layer of something in the sleeves to match the warmth of the main body section.  For extra comfort, soft material lines the collar.  The jacket zips up to your chin to help keep the wind off of your neck.

Overall, the Tactical 4.0 presents a professional and stylish appearance that would fit in anywhere, including a business setting.  Thanks to the smooth appearance enabled by the free-hanging pockets, no one will guess what you may be carrying in all those pockets.

Fleece 4.0


SCOTTeVEST Tactical 4.0 System

The 12-pocket Fleece 4.0 can stand alone or complete the Tactical System.  It shares many of the major features of the Tactical 4.0, including magnetic catches, deep pockets, key holder, and bottle holder.  Coolmax® again lines the inside of the fleece, which helps keep the wearer dry and warm.

Like the Tactical, the Fleece sports hidden epaulets, collar loops for ear buds, zip pocket in pockets, and the excellent hanging pocket design to help conceal what you carry.  It also has two pen/pencil pockets and the rear pocket is designed to hold a Camelbak®.  The improved Personal Area Network keeps all your headset cords neat and hidden.

In the interest of safety, the Fleece sports subtle reflective accents on the front and back.  These adorn the Fleece so attractively that they look a natural part of its lines.  The overall effect comes across as very tasteful and stylish.

Tactical 4.0 System

Do the math and you’ll figure that the System boasts 52 total pockets.  Wow!  I can almost hear your thoughts:  “If you zip the Fleece inside the Tactical jacket, then you’ll lose all the Tactical’s inside pockets.”  Not so fast.  While you can’t readily reach the Tactical’s inside pockets, you can still store things there that don’t require ready access.  Because of the way the Fleece zips in, you can also reach the inside left pockets on the Tactical.

The Tactical 4.0 has inside zippers to connect to the Fleece 4.0’s normal zippers.  That means one zipper head faces in, the other faces out.  This approach worked smoothly and reliably.  The combination provides a cozy, attractive, and incredibly versatile outer garment for all kinds of weather.

In the wild…

I bought the Tactical 4.0 System immediately before my trip to Scandinavia.  If you’ve been watching the news, you know that Northern Europe experienced one of their worst winters on record this year.  Lucky me.  The weather varied from light rain and icy winds to light snow with the same winds.  The System proved warm, comfortable, and water repellant under all conditions.  It blocked the wind marvelously.

I estimate that the Tactical 4.0 is good down to about 40°F (4.4°C) when wearing a long sleeve dress shirt.  Wearing a sweater will provide adequate warmth at somewhat colder temperatures, perhaps down to around 32°F (0°C) or lower depending on the weight of the sweater.  Although I didn’t test the System below about 23°F (-5°C), I suspect that it will be good to about 0°F (-18°C) or better with a sweater underneath.  That’s great performance.

There seemed to be no end to what I could stuff into the System.  I routinely carried my Axim X50v in one top outside pocket, an electronic translator in the corresponding pocket on other side, my passport in the inside pocket behind my Axim, other credentials in one of the top pockets over the clavicle, keys on one of the key holders, gloves in one side’s hand-warmer pocket towards the inside, cell phone on that side in the outer part of the same pocket (the hand-warmer pockets are the pocket-in-pocket design and split into two pockets unless the divider is unzipped).  On the other side’s hand-warmer pockets, I carried my Blackberry attached to the elastic DCC+ strap of the inside portion.  The bottom inside pockets on the left held one CF and one SD card holder each, ear bud case, 1 GB USB Flash stick, and the spare, large capacity battery for the Axim.  The corresponding pocket on the other side held my immunization records and plane tickets.  I also carried a Surefire E2L Outdoorsman LED flashlight in an inside pocket.

The Outside bottom pocket on one side held my business card holder, facial tissues, and change.  The other side held ear plugs (compensators for screaming kids on the airliners—never fly without them) and a Tide-to-Go® stick.  The deep pocket on the right side held, at various times, either a book, several file folders with key notes, some greeting cards, or a water bottle.  The deep pocket on the left side usually held a map of the current city, though I put my bag of souvenirs in it one time when I didn’t have time to drop it in my room before dinner.  I carried a pencil and a pen in the front flap on the left side, which proved incredibly handy.

On photo excursions, my Kodak Z740 with its 10x optical zoom lens slipped nicely into the right hand-warmer pocket.  Its spare AA batteries occupied the ear bud holder pocket.  I carried spare lithium batteries for the Surefire in the jacket’s battery holding loops.  Even with all this loading me down, the System proved comfortable due to the weight management system and didn’t noticeably bulge anywhere.  Amazing!

The real pièce de résistance occurred at airport security checkpoints.  I simply tossed my wallet and glasses in the jacket (everything else was already there), zipped up the hand-warmer pockets, and tossed the jacket in a bin to go through x-ray.  I should have gone this route a long time ago…

 

SCOTTeVEST

The length of the Tactical just about matches the average sport coat.  Hence, you can wear the Tactical over a suit, even with the Fleece zipped into it.  You can get the System in any color you like, as long as the color you like is black.  What did you expect?  Black is the most covert color to the human eye, rarely drawing attention, and hence the perfect color for a tactical jacket.

The Tactical 4.0 System served me better than I imagined on my trip.  I never felt the need for another jacket at any time, nor to carry anything in my hands.  The refinement in design between the 4.0 series and the earlier series jacket that I reviewed earlier stands out immediately.  The magnetic catches themselves represent a mark of genius.

Higher tech options

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the Tactical 4.0 may optionally be had with built-in iPOD volume control, and/or a solar powered, battery recharging system.  The solar panels add $150 to the Tactical.  They keep an internal Lithium-ion battery charged so that it can in turn charge or power your electronics.

Of course, SCOTTeVEST sells more than the System.  They offer quite a range of tech enabled apparel, including a variety of jackets for all weather conditions, a pull-over fleece, sport jackets, leather jackets, baseball hat, and two styles of pants.  All sport personal area networks and maximum carrying capability for their type.

Company interface

SCOTTeVEST’s website sets the standard for ease of use, attractiveness, and information content.  The site uses Macromedia Flash to good advantage in illustrating their products.  Sizing and clear ordering information help you buy with confidence.

Best of all, the customer service proved both prompt and personal.  I asked a number of questions via email, and SeV answered all promptly and fully.  They even measured to ensure a particular pocket fit my need.  This company stands firmly behind their products and beside their customers.

Ultimate endorsement

A variety of local, state, and federal agencies put SeV apparel to good use.  The GSA schedule lists a number of SeV products.  The Secret Service and military special operators are huge fans of the Tactical in particular.  In fact, the president saw his personal protection detail wearing the Tactical and wanted one of his own with the Presidential Seal.  Talk about the ultimate endorsement!

Bottom line

The Tactical 4.0 stands as the flagship of SCOTTeVEST’s product line.  I found that the Tactical 4.0 System could literally substitute for my briefcase, including comfortably carrying file folders.  Both pieces of the System can rightfully boast about their attractive style.  The Tactical 4.0 would look equally at home on the ski slopes or arriving at the board room.  This level of design, function, and style doesn’t come cheap, though.  The Tactical 4.0 retails for $229.99 and the Fleece 4.0 for $139.99.  They discount slightly when bought together as a System, the combination retailing for $339.98.  That’s a lot of carrying capacity, warmth, and style for the price.  Nothing else comes close.  Tanker Bob doesn’t leave home without the System.

Pro:
Very warm with the Fleece zipped into the Tactical jacket
Incredible attention to minute details in the design
Perfect for undercover law enforcement or civilian concealed carry
Near infinite flexibility in what to carry and where
Top quality, high tech materials and construction
Personal Area Network ideal for connected and audio geeks
Sharp styling that doesn’t call attention to itself
More helpful features than Italy has political parties
Who needs a briefcase?
So many pockets that I sometimes forgot what I put where

Con:
The sleeves of the Tactical jacket could use more insulation
So many pockets that I sometimes forgot what I put where

 

 

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