It was early last year that the Brad Thor/ScotteVest Jacket caught our attention. Now we have a review from the wild. Mad Duo
How Many Pockets Does One Person Need?
Erik A. Dewey
35, apparently. That’s how many pockets are in my Scott eVest Alpha Operator Jacket. In addition to this jacket, the company continues to put out many different types of vests, pants, and jackets full of pockets allowing you to carry just about anything you feel you could need. But how well does it work and can you actually find anything in there?
The original concept of the Alpha Operator jacket was that in addition to the normal places to stash electronics, the jacket would include pockets designed to assist with concealed carry. There are three main places where this comes into play. First, on the front of the jacket are two large “slash” pockets. They ride at mid chest and each have a long zipper with a reasonably sized pull. The pockets themselves reach from pectoral level all the way down to the bottom of the coat, almost 21” deep and about 10” across on the bottom. You could store a small PDW in there if you wanted to. Inside the pockets are strategically placed sections of Velcro, straps, and sub pockets so you don’t have to reach all the way inside to pull out whatever’s on the bottom of the pocket. I’ve comfortably carried a Glock 23 in a holster and it was not only placed at a good height to draw, it also stayed put. The right slash pocket also has two magazine-sized sub-pockets to store reloads if desired.
The second CCW addition consists of two sleeve pockets, designed primarily to hold sleeve daggers such as a Cold Steel Spike, Gerber Guardian, or similarly-sized knife. Velcro closes around the front to keep the knife from slipping out, and the design makes the knife lie flat against the forearm. I’ve carried a Cold Steel Tanto and sheath in it and it works well, although the handle does tend to poke its way into the palm of your hand while your arms are down. The main reason I carried the knife was to have it available as a tool rather than a weapon. I have no training in knife fighting so I can’t say how easy it is to draw in a combat situation, but you have the option. If you don’t carry a knife up your sleeve you can store tactical pens, small flashlights, or anything else that meets the general dimensions.
Last, on the side seams of the jacket near the bottom are two zippers than when unzipped break the bottom of the jacket into flaps, allowing you to reach under to draw a weapon without needing to move the entire jacket up and down. I’ve found that not only do they work well with that, but they also make the jacket a lot easier to maneuver in. For instance, buckling a seat belt in the car just requires a flip up of a section rather than lifting the whole jacket up.
Many of the rest of the pockets have specific uses built right into them. There are three different pockets on the inside near the zippers to hold pens, pencils, or pointers. There are two pockets for sunglasses, one that zips up and one mesh. Conveniently, inside the glasses pocket is an attached cleaning cloth with a map showing where all the jacket pockets are. There is also a pocket in the inside front designated for your phone. It has a clear plastic screen allowing you to manipulate your phone while in the pocket, and there are guides to clip earbuds in place.
The main two front pockets, the ones you stick your hands into, are deep as well. In one pocket there is a round stretchy band to hold a water bottle upright inside. In the other, you’ll find a small clip with a springy cord allowing you to use keys without unclipping them. Each pocket also has two small change pockets that close with Velcro. In addition to holding change for the meter, you can place weights in them to keep the jacket more stationary.
Although there are more pockets, there are two which deserve some discussion. First is an almost hidden one in the inside back of the jacket. A small zipper pull is there and reveals a pocket designed to store manila-sized folders flat against your back. There is also the main interior pocket, sized to hold devises sized up to an iPad. In front of that pocket is another for your wallet, currency, passport, or other documents to protect from pick pockets. It is secured with a zipper and deep enough to hold everything you’d want without making you fish for it. Inside this pocket is yet another pocket that is supposed to be RFID shielded and can hold passports, credit cards, or anything else you don’t want scanned.
Clearly you can carry a lot of things in this jacket, and the engineering behind it is impressive. All of the zippers, connections, and fasteners are sturdy and hold up to abuse. The jacket itself is fashionable and doesn’t scream “tactical jacket.” It is cut a little larger than normal to allow its use over body armor, but it still hangs comfortably on the body. Everyone I show it to is surprised by the pockets all over it. It does a reasonably good job of not printing when a pistol is carried in it, although what type of weapon and where you carry would obviously make a difference.
There are a few drawbacks to the jacket. First, it’s a little heavier than a normal jacket you’d wear in the same weather. When you start carrying everything the jacket can carry, even without the addition of a firearm, it just gets heavy. It’s designed for medium weather, warmer than a windbreaker but cooler than a coat, so it should be fairly light. But even empty, all the fabric and zippers add weight.
Second, it’s easy to forget what’s in it or where it is. While the main pockets are easy to keep track of, when you get to some of the pockets in pockets, you may not realize something’s in there. As I’m writing this article, I’ve discovered an airsick bag (unused) folded into one of the pockets. Great to have around but no way I’d have found it in time if I needed it.
The big test for this jacket for me was earlier this year when I took the family to London and Paris. My goal was to carry everything we’d need on our various excursions in the jacket. I held all of the passports, a couple of bottles of water, snacks, the aforementioned barf bag (apparently), brochures, and whatever else we needed. It worked amazingly well. It got a little bulky near the end, but was much nicer than lugging a backpack and stopping to open it every time we needed something. We remained pickpocket-free the whole trip and when we had an unexpected layover in New York missing half of our luggage, having more stuff on me helped.
Scott eVest makes some very unique products designed to hold all of our stuff and they do a great job at it. I’ve been very happy with my Alpha Operator jacket and encourage you to check out what they have to offer. Currently, it is undergoing a redesign and will be renamed the Enforcer. Scott eVest says it will be available in December.
Swinging Dick Approved.
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About the Author: Erik Dewey is a prolific writer some of you may remember from a book often used for pre-deployment: the Big Book of Everything (which you can download here). Believe it or not, Erik was the boss’s roommate in college and a source of much completely heterosexual torment (you might note that he actually graduated, something our editor did not). He teaches at a local college, is a recreational shooter and perhaps most importantly a fierce 80s metal fan. When not running assorted progeny to Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts or basketball he strives to make all his friends feel stupid by working on his Doctorate. His pulp fiction novels about the PMC Acute Operations are legendary in many homeless shelters, under at least one bridge and (probably) at his mom’s house. Those books include Mercenary Blues, Mercenary Rules and Mercenary Duels. He also co-edited Attack of the Zombie Hippies, a book Breach-Bang-Clear published a few years back to raise money for Independence Fund. Like so many of our minions, Erik is a former Boy Scout and unabashed, accomplished nerd who married above his station and will be really pissed when he sees which picture we used for his bio.