Scottevest has been making its “technology-enabled clothing” for years. These specialty garments, which feature scads of pockets for gadgets and hidden conduits for routing the cables for those gizmos, have always been cleverly designed, but in the past have at times looked as geeky as they they were functional. For example the company’s older fleece hoodie had a huge Scottevest logo on the back–the biggest logo you’ve ever seen, essentially screaming “Geek Clothing Alert”–and some of the garments just fit or hung oddly thanks to large pockets designed to hold too many gadgets.
Thankfully, as the company’s products have become more popular, they’ve also become more fashionable (or is it the other way around?). The current Ultimate Hoodie Microfleece is a perfect example. It looks like your basic fleece hoodie–a zip-up sweatshirt with a hood, for those unfamiliar with the term. The “microfleece” fabric–black, moss green, or gunmetal gray–looks and feels comfortable, and the overall fit of the Hoodie is very good, with no noticeable bulges or bags. The only complaint I have in this department is that the zipper doesn’t quite extend all the way up to the neck; a couple more inches would make a big difference in keeping out cool air.
What makes the Ultimate Hoodie unique is the various pockets and pathways in and on the garment. On the left arm is an external pocket for an iPod or other portable player, with fabric thin enough that you can control most touch-sensitive controls–such as an iPod’s Click Wheel–through the fabric with a bit of pressure. Inside the left chest area is a narrow pocket for a pen, as well as a large, zippered pocket with a stitched-in divider for holding, say, a pair of sunglasses and a thumb drive. There’s also a “hidden” zippered, external pocket just under the right armpit that’s large enough for a passport.
The two outer hand pockets also have internal amenities: small, velcro pouches for coins; an elastic strap for keeping your phone or other gadget from falling out; a removable key fob; and magnetic closures.
Throughout the Hoodie is Scottevest’s Personal Area Network, a system of loops, holes, and Velcro tabs for keeping your gadgets’ cables hidden and untangled. For example, if your iPod is in the arm pocket, you can route your headphone cable into the sleeve and up your shoulder under the garment. You can even attach each earbud to an elastic loop near your neck (one on the left, one on the right); when you’re not listening to music, the earbuds rest conveniently in those loops, rather than dangling around.
This Personal Area Network is convenient, and for the most part well-planned in the context of the jacket’s various pockets and pouches. However, it’s worth noting that if you frequently switch between jackets/sweatshirts, it’s a bit of a hassle to thread and unthread your cables each time.
If you’re a fan of comfortable hoodies, but you can’t seem to leave your gadgets at home, the Ultimate Hoodie is an appealing option, so long as you don’t get scared off by the price tag.–Dan Frakes