Winter Coat Turns into a Sleeping Bag for the Homeless


Written by Bonnie Alter

You could call these coats “transformer clothing” because they do change from a coat into a sleeping bag. But you could also call them humanitarian and inspirational because they save homeless people from freezing in the winter.

The coats were created by a student industrial designer from Detroit.

The Element S (Survival) Coat is self-heated and waterproof and transforms into a sleeping bag at night. It took the designer a long time to test out the possibilities–the first one weighed twenty pounds and was terrible looking. After taking advice from homeless advisors at a local shelter the latest version is made of water and wind and air-resistant polyethylene on the outer layer, which acts as a barrier.

The inner layer is made of Thinsulate and Steelcase fabric to store body heat. It also turns into an over-the-shoulder bag with the arm sockets acting as storage. The design is so clever that it won an International Design prize.

To date 275 coats have been made and one hundred of them have been given to homeless people in Detroit. Two were donated to Occupy Wall Street supporters in New York this past winter.

As explained in the New York Times, it has been quite a journey for Veronika Scott, the designer. It all started with a Detroit professor who had a design activism class where students were given the instruction to “Design to fill a need” and Veronika Scott did just that. Let’s hope she got an A+ on the course.

She has now started up a small non-profit business, Empowerment Plan, which provides homeless women with employment opportunities. In preparation, she has travelled to social entrepreneur fairs, met manufacturers, renovated a space in Detroit on the cheap.

She has had help from her friends. Carhartt is a local company which specialises in work wear and they have donated industrial sewing machines, materials and training guidance. In addition, a local industrial fabric company, is helping her with manufacturing so she can make her coats more quickly

As for the women who are working at the Empowerment Plan, they have been taught how to sew them and are paid for their work. So not only does the coat help the homeless, its creation is providing long-term education and opportunities as well. If you are inspired, you can donate to the project.

This post was originally published by TreeHugger.


Related Stories:

It’s A Homeless Man. It’s a Wireless Connection. No, It’s Both!

Diocese Puts Religious Dogma Before Helping the Homeless

Homeless In Hungary? You’re a Criminal, Says New Law


Photo from Ed Yourdon via flickr


.2 years ago

Your blogs are easily accessible and quite enlightening so keep doing the amazing work guys. Sarees online

Michael F.

Life in an uncaring world. people should not be homeless while billions are spent on useless things.

Robert Tedders
Robert T5 years ago

@Terri H.: The problem is forcing people to give a damn and showing them this could happen to them if they were unlucky!! Kudos to whatever brainiac came up with this but one caveat - make sure the dang coats are waterproof - otherwise....

Melania Padilla
Melania P5 years ago


Terri Hughes
Terri Hughes5 years ago

This is great that they are making these coat/sleeping bags, but, NOBODY should have to sleep outside in the cold. This is NOT right. There are homeless shelters. And there are TOO many houses, apartments and even office buildings, sitting empty to let the homeless stay out in the cold. Something needs to be done to help these people. There is NO reason to let people live like this. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!!!

Morgan Forrester
Past Member 5 years ago

Thank you Veronika & Carrhart! You are making an extreme difference to many!

B Smith
Barbara Smith5 years ago

Would be much better to have places like in UK for them to sleep at night and to get a hot meal. I suppose the coats are better than nothing. Maybe your next task could be to find a way to open Centres where they could go.

Jamie Clemons
Jamie Clemons5 years ago

What about turn the repo houses into homeless shelters instead of tearing them down.

Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle5 years ago

This is wonderful. There are gems among us on this earth, who care about doing things that are worthwhile. Thank you, Veronika.

Jason S.
Jason S5 years ago

Thanks, Good Posting