As we opened gifts this Christmas my lovely and talented lady handed my this large, unwieldy bundle in bright Christmas paper. As I was the one playing “Santa” and passing around gifts I was at first confused: “Who is this one for?”, the reply, “You.” caught me slightly off guard and I stared at her blankly for a moment, resulting in a rather acerbic, “You need to open something instead of just handing stuff out!” There is a time to say “Yes dear” and just go along right? This seemed to fall under that heading and the intensity with which she watched me caused a tad bit to dread, what if I didn’t like this gift that she had obviously invested so much time and thought into? I am a lousy liar and there was no way I’d be able to hide it from her if I was even lukewarm on it. Oh well, better get after it…
As I unwrapped the large package I felt it was a clothing item of some sort. What could she have found in clothing that she felt would make the day of a geek like me that dresses in such boring fashion most of the time that I am the despair of fashion designers everywhere (if they only knew me anyway)? Slowly, a large softshell coat in dark gray emerged from the wrapping. Anticipation around me went up a notch, I already own a very nice softshell from Loki in a green about as dark as this gray one so what was the big deal? Then I found the tag, SeV Alpha Jacket to the right of the chevron/flag Brad Thor logo. Shock. I had seen articles on this jacket coming out and was generally familiar with Scottevest and their line to tech enabled travel clothing but felt that the $200.00 MSRP was a bit steep to go experimenting when I already owned an excellent softshell. It isn’t really over the top for a high-end softshell these days but it was more than I could justify pulling out of the ammo budget. It had been one of those “It’s cool but…” kind of things and now here it sat, right in my lap! Two conclusions were reached immediately: MrsSARGeek knows me entirely too well and she is one of the great joys in my life. On to the jacket.
First, a quick rundown for this not familiar with the jacket. For those not familiar with Scottevest their line of tech-enabled, travel oriented, clothing can be found at there website: http://www.scottevest.com/ for information specific to the collaboration with author Brad Thor resulting in this jacket you can go to the product page here: http://www.scottevest.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=sev&Product_Code=ALPHA&Attributes=Yes&Quantity=1
From the included tags and owner’s manual:
- 35 Pockets
- Weight management system
- Armor cut (yes, designed to be worn over concealable body armor)
- Dark gray “squid ink” color blends with shadows and dark backgrounds better than black
- Matte finish absorbs more light than typical softshell jackets
- Soft & quiet, not “crunchy” sounding
- Subtle exterior pockets and panels
- High end sportswear/outdoor jacket appearance, does not scream tactical, LEO, or .mil
- IR-reduction treatment. While this will not make you invisible to night vision, it does cut down the IR-reflective signature over other non-uniform “tactical” jackets.
- Side seam zippers can be opened to allow easier access to belt mounted gear
I have a size Large and it fits my 6’2″, 200lb frame pretty well. Roomy but not overly big would be my description. I usually buy XL shirts as my arm span (fingertip-to-fingertip) is very close to 6′ and many large shirts leave quite a bit of forearm exposed when I reach forward or across the body. The Alpha jacket did not pull back appreciably from the wrist when I extended both arms forward. I attribute at least some of this to the “armor cut” mentioned in the features since it does not pull across the shoulders to reach forward as is common with other shirts and outerwear in my experience. I can easily see wearing class IIIa soft armor under this jacket without it showing so long as you don’t overload the pockets. I don’t have any such armor to test so I can’t certain but the room is there inside the jacket. Cuffs, seams, finish, and general workmanship seem very solid. I was dismayed to see that the jacket was made in China but quality control seems to be in place. Room for armor translates to room for other layering if you desire to do that instead or armor but it will have to be pretty cold for that to be needed.
In the course of using this jacket I have found that when carrying at 3:00 when driving, the side zip allows access to my XD almost as if the jacket were not present. And covering back up is very easy as I get out of the vehicle.