ScotteVest Transformer Jacket (color options)

SCOTTEVEST Transformer Jacket: The Travel Jacket+Vest That Doubles as Carry-on Luggage

OK, I admit to being a bit of a fan boy about SCOTTEVEST travel clothing. Even though, up until a few weeks ago, I’d never actually owned one. But if you’ve spent any time perusing the glossy travel mags, you’ve seen the ads: clothing that’s made to carry your most essential travel gear. It’s like a carry-on bag that you wear – the kind of getup MacGyver wouldn’t leave home without.

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I through out a casual Tweet about how I was seriously considering buying one of their jackets. The company’s CEO, Scott Jordan, almost immediately reached out, kindly offering to outfit me with same. More specifically, he provided a sample of their latest bit of genius – the SCOTTEVEST Transformer Jacket.

SCOTTEVEST Transformer Jacket (color options)

The Skinny

There are two primary features that travelers will love:

#1: It’s a travel jacket and travel vest. This is accomplished with the incorporation of twelve magnets embedded in the shoulder seam, allowing easy conversion from jacket to vest and back again.

#2: It’s carry-on luggage that you can wear. On the outside, the jacket’s clean lines reveal nothing – it appears as any other travel jacket. The inside features 20 pockets for storing your mobile phone, wallet, keys, passport, water bottle, the sleeves and even an iPad. All at the same time.

In Detail

The Transformer’s Transformation

First things first: the transformation. There’s not much to say because it just plain works:

In practice, it took me only two or three times to nail down the process. The magnets essentially “auto-align” meaning you don’t have to think about anything. Just pull the sleeves on over the vest and let the magnets do their magic. The whole affair snaps into place in a matter of seconds.

Design & Construction

We’re big fans of gear designed for the urban traveler: sleek, minimal lines, form follows function and all that. The Transformer Jacket is just that. The exterior is much like any other lightweight wind breaker style jacket. Appropriate sizing charts on the SCOTTEVEST website and Velcro at the wrists ensure a comfortable fit.

The real magic is on the inside. Now, cramming a ton of pockets inside a jacket isn’t necessarily groundbreaking. But the way in which the pockets are laid out is, well, damn near perfect. Heavier items (iPad, water bottle, camera) towards the bottom and lighter items (wallet, iPhone, sunglasses) towards the midsection/top of the jacket.

All of this ensures a nice, even weight distribution. Even fully loaded, I found the jacket to be quite comfortable. What’s more is that the smart design of each pocket means you don’t look like you’re sneaking around with $2K worth of gear on your person.

SCOTTEVEST Transformer Jacket (X-ray)
SCOTTEVEST Transformer Jacket (X-ray)


A few other features of note: the Transformer even provides a pocket for stashing the sleeves inside itself. Two of the interior pockets feature clear-touch plastic so you can access your iPod and/or mobile phone’s touch screen without removing them from the jacket.

On the outside, the exterior is wind resistant with a soft, breathable lining. Lastly, the whole thing is machine washable. For travelers who like to put their gear through its paces (read: beat the bloody hell out of it), this and the fact that it’s available in black are essential features.

Pricing & Availability

Available now in ash (grey), blaze (red), or coal (black) for $160 USD directly from SCOTTEVEST.

Bottom Line

I was a fanboy before reviewing this jacket; and now even more so. I can’t say enough good things about it.

Modern travelers who value paying a little more for well made gear would otherwise spend upwards of $200 USD on a high-end rain shell or similar lightweight jacket. That The Transformer offers the same comfort/protection and all of the above features for just $160 make it a must-buy for gear savvy travelers. Highly recommended.

Founding Editor
  1. As nice as these jackets might be, having a CEO who acts like a jerk (on the recent Shark Tank episode) really turns off consumers. Why would I ever want to give money (purchase a product) to someone who is rude and disrespectful on national television?

  2. I’m unclear as to the water-resistant/waterproof capability of the Transformer. You mention buying this instead of a rain-shell but neither you nor Scottevest address this directly (that I could find). If I am, indeed, carrying expensive electronic gear I’d want it to be protected (as well as moi).

  3. Bob,

    I have had many interactions with Scott Jordon and his staff. I’ve never met him in person. I’m just a customer and very impressed with his products.

    Never, in any of my interactions with Scott Jordon, could I say he acted like a jerk. As his company grows, he continues to interact personally with his customers. He stands firmly behind his products. I find him to be a very impressive CEO. More companies should model their leadership after Scott Jordon.

    As for Shark Tank, please remember it is a television show and the editing room can pick and choose camera angles, sentences or parts of sentences to convey the tone the director wishes to convey. Television is a medium to be taken for what it is..entertainment not nonfiction.

    Who would want to give their money to such a company? I would and I do.

  4. …ahhh, getting hooked on SCOTTeVEST garments is a condition from which you will never recover! I gave my first Womens Vest to my niece, who was working in a large cold warehouse. They were allowed to listen to ipods, yet needed to be completely “hands-free” 8 hours per day. She is their star employee. OK, to be fair, she was already a focused, hard-working young women. Wearing a SCOTTeVEST just helped boost her to the “brilliant” catagory. I always say, use every advantage you can find!!! ~ MER

    1. @Mary: Ha – preach it! I’m a complete convert now. I review a ton of travel gear here for our Modern Vagabond column and I can safely say that the Transformer ranks in my top 5 all-time favorite bits of travel gear.

  5. If you’re aggressively putting on and taking off the jacket (like you are in a rush), do the sleeves stay intact? They seem to come off a little too easily in the demo.

    1. @Mark: I was a bit leery about this at first. But I haven’t had a single instance where it was a problem. The magnets are *very* strong.

  6. @Dan, the jackets are water-resistant and Teflon treated to prevent stains. We do not use waterproof zippers as we have found they can be very sticky, and that is why the jacket is not waterproof.

    @Doug thank you so much for your kind comments, how’s the juggling going?

  7. I have to agree somewhat with Bob. The problem for me on the sharktank episode wasn’t that the Scottevest CEO wanted to keep a portion of his company for himself (that’s his prerogative) it was that he is a patent troll trying to sell a business that makes its money off of suing other businesses for patent infringement for the use of obvious designs that someone else easily could have thought up on their own. This type of behavior is shameful as it stifles innovation and limits creativity and new startups.

  8. Have been looking at the Transformer jacket but have a question… I often wear a photo-pack and/or camera harness on field shoots. I am a bit concerned that the pack straps would dislodge the magnets on the sleeves. Comment? If you agree with this observation which of your products would you recommend. I tend to get very warm while hiking so need a light jacket/vest to keep warm in the mornings and to act as a windbreak. (XXL) Thanks for the help

  9. Wrote on April 26th. but didn’t receive a reply… If one is wearing a camera pack or other gear employing the use of sholder straps, is there a potential problem with the the sleeves dislodging due to stress on the magnets? Thanks for any information

  10. It may be a bit late for Bill, but I’ll respond on what a poor design I think the sleeves are for people who regularly commute or travel with any kind of bag. I use a Domke camera bag (usually, a small one) and anything you put over your shoulder will cause the magnets to come apart. If you don’t plan on carrying a bag of any sort, sure, this is the typical great Scottevest pocket design, but the sleeve/magnet design is the least useful part of this jacket, despite it being the big selling point on their website.

    You look at this jacket on the site and the magnet design seems whiz-bang and cool, but once you wear it for 2 or 3 days, you realize being able to “transform” quickly from a jacket to a vest is a problem not in need of a solution, least of all one like this. Maybe there are some people who want to whip the sleeves off their jacket quickly. I’m not one of them. I think most people would rather have a jacket with stable, zippered sleeves, so they can actually travel with stuff that doesn’t fit into the jacket in a shoulder bag or backpack. You simply look silly with the sleeves coming apart on your jacket and it is annoying trying to put them back in place every few minutes.

    My jacket was a Christmas gift, so I figured I would wear it for 2 or 3 days to see if I liked it and exchange it for something else if I didn’t. Beware of the Scottevest return policy, however, because you can’t return or exchange items that have been worn. That seems a little strict compared to company’s like L.L. Bean, Eddie Bauer, and REI. Too bad, this jacket will probably sit in my closet for the next 4 or 5 years until I decide to take it to Goodwill.

    1. Based upon both the various issues and valued attributes of a jacket that converts to a vest—I would recommend people have a look at the Tilley Jackets. They are built to last many lifetimes.

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