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Christmas Gift Guide
Culture

These jackets built to pocket your gear make me a sad panda

My friends and I were psyched to try on three different Scottevest jackets designed to stash phones, tablets, sunglasses and more...until they actually arrived.

Josh Miller/CNET

On a good day, I slip my phone in one jacket pocket and keys and ID in another, slide my sunglasses over my head, and be on my way.

That's a good day though. Usually, I'm burdened by a giant backpack and one of those overstuffed purses that look like both a gym bag and a handheld shopping bag -- because, you know, I have stuff. So I really wanted to try out one of those jackets with a million pockets that's specifically designed to hold my tech gadgets, keys, sunglasses and more. You name it, they hold it.

Look, a pocket for your head!

Jason Parker/CNET

Scottevest makes a bunch of clothing for men and women with pockets galore and were kind enough to send some jackets I picked out for real-life testing: one men's jacket and two for women.

Unfortunately, nobody liked them

.

The size-large men's jacket (Enforcer, $325 -- that's roughly ‎£230 or AU$430) has zip-away sleeves and 30 pockets for everything from a tablet to a (licensed) handgun. This model was designed with military and security personnel in mind, but of course, anyone can use the pockets for anything they'd like.

Of the three friends who tried it on, only one was willing to wear it for the week, my colleague Sean Hollister.

Why? Mostly because of its style. The Enforcer looked bulky and oversized on all three dudes, and these are men who typically wear large or extra-large coats. They complained it was too hot, too ugly, and pocket placement was less convenient than they hoped.

On the plus side, Sean did like the pocket key leash and built-in wallet straps, and he said that "even with some large sunglasses and a Nintendo 3DS inside, my wife couldn't see any bulges".

Meanwhile, my roommate, my co-worker and I were just as disappointed by the women's outerwear: a soft, fluffy hoodie (Chloe, $95 or roughly ‎£70 or AU$125) and a trench coat ($175, £125 or AU$230). It's really too bad, as my roommate has been eyeing Scottevest for the past couple of years. At size-small (the smallest they have), they were still about two sizes too big and sloppily tailored. Pockets were hard to access and if you don't stuff your things in right, your body feels imbalanced. Internal zippers especially stuck and pulled, the liner didn't breathe and the clothing got hot.

Scottevest's biggest problem isn't the concept, it's the execution. You can't charge these kinds of prices without paying the same attention to detail as technical brands like Patagonia and North Face. You can't design gear around a plethora of pockets, then tack on cheap components and lazy tailoring. I'd rather carry fewer things in a jacket that I love than stash everything into one I can barely tolerate.