I recently picked up the Scottevest Fleece 4.0 Jacket. I don't know if there were even versions 1.0-3.0, but I'm pretty happy with this latest build. It was on sale for $139.99 and I had a discount code. The whole thing came to $130 with 3 day shipping.
The Review First off, this thing is the best fleece jacket you can get for your gear. Before I get to all of the go-go gadgety goodness, I want to highlight what a great jacket it is. It's made of pretty thick material. Almost too thick. This isn't the kind of fleece you would were when it's 70+ outside. This sucker is WARM. The cuffs have elastic banding, which I'm not really a fan of, but if you are then you'll love it. The stitching is surprisingly not that sturdy, but definitely adequate. I have a Patagonia and a Northface fleece. As far as construction, the Scottevest is on par with the NorthFace fleece, but inferior to the Patagonia. But hey, this jacket is not about becoming an heirloom for your kids. It's about hauling all that electronic gear around with you.The jacket has 12 pockets of varying sizes and positions. It almost has too many pockets if that's possible. I can see losing stuff in this baby pretty easily. The jacket comes with little cards in some of the pockets describing special features. I really appreciate that level of concern for their users (I consider this jacket to be a piece of hardware more than a simple garment). Two of the cards actually have this printed on them:"Special Features: It's a hidden pocket! Other than creating an extra pocket where there was none before, there are no special features associated with this pocket". I think that says it all about the number of pockets this thing has.Several of the pockets have magnetic closures. Apparently magnets are the new velcro. They are definitely convenient, but I'm left wondering why some pockets have velcro and some have magnets, while others have zippers. I think I would prefer magnets instead of Velcro for most of the pockets.The pockets are positioned conveniantly for all of the primary gear. Many of the gadgets are accessable from both inside and outside of the jackets (this is a very handy feature). The jacket also has something called a Personal Area Network (PAN) which is essential a channel to route the various cables that usually end up dangling out of your pocket. With the Scottevest, your iPod headphones now run up the inside of the jacket to the colar.There is a microfiber cloth clipped inside one of the pockets. Now this proves the jacket was designed by fellow geeks. Several times a week, I wish I had a microfiber cloth in my pocket to wipe my iPhone screen (I even considered carrying a hanky in my back pocket like grandpa did). The little extras There are wide elastic bands inside some of the larger pockets. I mean large enough to put around your phone or iPod to secure it. The shoulders of the jacket are extra thick to help support all the weigh of your gear. My other jacket would really start to slide off my shoulders when the pockets were laden with tech treasures.An id badge clip is included inside the jacket, but it is far too flimsy to be useful. It's actually surprising how crumby it is, as it stands out from the great quality of the rest of the jacket. The Key clip in the outside pocket is of much better quality, albeit too small for my keyring.The drawstrings at the bottom of the jacket are thick and sturdy. While the front zipper is smooth, it's feels a little cheap in comparison the outer fabric of the jacket.There is a large pocket on the inside of the back panel. It is suggested that this be used for a hydration pack (such as a Camelbak). I can see using it to hold a magazine or files during a commute. I'm sure it wont go to waste.
Shortcomings Finally, the two areas I would like to see improved in the jacket, is the quality of the mesh used for the pockets and the quality of the small zippers on the pockets. Considering that the pockets are really what make this jacket unique, I expected more attention to detail here. The mesh is fairly thin and I can imagine it getting ripped pretty easily. The zippers are small toothed and get snagged a lot. I with they would have gone with a more dense mesh and some large tooth nylon zippers like on a Timbuk2 bag. I'd like to see the innovation of Scottevest merged with the quality and simplicity of Timbuk2. I'd pay double for that product.
Conclusion The Scottevest Fleece 4.0 Jacket is worth more than the $150 price tag. You get some really innovative layouts for your gear and a high quality fleece to boot. This would be a great jacket for the most of the year but I'm a little worried about the durability of the pockets. I'll have an update at the end of winter on its durability.