Let’s face it; it’s far from being a winter wonderland out there. The cold can be bitter and cruel – and sometimes you have no choice but to be outside, enduring the worst of it.
Imagine you could take your home’s central heating system around with you everywhere you go, even in the most inclement conditions.
Essentially, that’s what heated jackets can do for you. To find out more, read our handy guide and see for yourself.
CONQUECO Heated Jacket
PROSmart Heated Jacket
DEWBU Softshell Heated Jacket
ARRIS Heated Jacket
SHOOT Heated Jacket
1. What is a Heated Jacket?
A coat is a marvellous thing, it can keep the rain off your back and the cold off of your skin, but it cannot produce any actual heat. In fact, all that even the thickest coat can do is keep the body warm by trapping layers of air between it and the body wearing it.
When the body is cold, it diverts blood away from the extremities and towards the core. This is why your fingers and toes can sometimes become numb in cold weather. This is also why you usually feel very tired after too long spent in cold weather, as your body is constantly exerting much needed energy in order to keep you warm.
These are designed to put a stop to all that. As the name suggests, a heated jacket is a jacket with its own internal heating system built into it.
In the past, such garments have been impractical and generally quite cumbersome, but today, newer, slimmer and more comfortable heated jackets are being produced. These can be worn on their own, or as an addition to your favourite winter coat.
Most new jackets can be customised to emit as much or as little heat as required by the wearer and are stylish enough to appeal to anyone. With this said, they are usually designed with outdoor workers (e.g. construction workers, security personnel etc.) in mind.
As we shall see, today’s jackets are really a Godsend to those operating outside in cold weather.
2. How Do they Work?
Heated jackets are lined with small wires that carry a low electrical charge. In a way, this is not unlike the body’s own circulatory system, which keeps us warm via constant blood flow. When this charge passes through the wires, heat is produced by the jacket and transferred to the wearer.
The electrical charge usually emanates from a 3 or 7-volt battery, which is rechargeable and therefore never needs replacing. For some more advanced (and usually bulkier) garments, a 12-volt battery is used. The battery is accessible via a special pocket located somewhere on the jacket.
Most heated jackets place their focus on heating the body’s core. They do this via two rectangular panels on either side of the chest, with a third, larger panel that covers the back.
A waterproof membrane separates the heating elements from the wearer’s body. This makes the jackets safe to wear in wet or damp conditions.
However, no jacket is 100% waterproof and they should never be submerged in water (mainly because it damages the battery).
The actual temperature of the jacket is usually controlled manually. Most jackets feature 3 levels of heating, ranging between 40℃ and 55℃.
3. Benefits of a Heated Jacket
The immediate benefits of heated jackets are obvious. They allow the wearer to operate well, even in bitter cold, by providing a secondary heat source.
Another benefit comes from the fact that less layers are actually needed by the wearer, which allows for a greater degree of mobility. This is especially useful on the Doors or areas where intensive physical activity is required.
Pain relief is also a benefit, as the extra warmth provided by one of these jackets has been shown to promote blood circulation, which relieves pain from conditions such as rheumatism, arthritis and other ailments that can be aggravated by cold and damp.
Believe it or not, some of today’s heated jackets also feature USB-enabled pockets for charging various devices, as well as storing necessary items. So a key benefit is that you can charge your phone while it is in your pocket.
These jackets are also lightweight, which means that they don’t add to the wearer’s burden if he or she is carrying heavy bags or items.
4. How Long Do Heated Jackets Last?
The battery life of a heated jacket depends mainly on two factors, namely how high the temperature setting on the jacket is and the capacity of the power bank.
For example, if you have a lower quality battery and set the temperature to its highest setting, the jacket will not stay hot for very long, perhaps only a couple of hours. However, if you have a more powerful battery and keep the jacket on a low or medium setting, you should be able to get between 8 and 12 hours of heat out of it.
For certain (not all), extended life batteries are available and some models require batteries to be purchased separately, which gives you the chance to buy the battery that best suits your specific needs.
Another issue that can affect the battery life is whether or not you choose to charge a portable device from one of the USB-enabled pockets. This, of course, will also drain the battery.
Some jackets now feature heated sleeves or attachable gloves in addition to breast and back panels. This will also impact the life of the battery, as there are more areas requiring electrical charge. Some leading designs actually allow the wearer to adjust heat zones separately (for example, heating your pockets at full temperature while reducing the temperature of the back zone), which could also affect the battery life.
Two factors are especially important with regards to the battery; these are the voltage and the milliampere hour. Batteries with a higher voltage will enable the jacket to reach higher temperatures, while the milliampere hour pertains to the battery’s overall capacity. Consider this well before purchasing any type of heated garment.
5. Are These Jackets Safe?
Heated jackets are usually quite safe. Although the panels do get quite warm, protective materials inside the jacket ensure that there is never any risk of damage to the wearer’s skin.
A waterproof layer, placed around the heated panels themselves, removes any possibility of the jacket’s electrical components becoming wet, regardless of the weather.
Heated jackets do not use live electrical currents, so you can breathe a sigh of relief if you were worrying about electrocution. In fact, the voltage used is about as low as that of a small toy, so it is certainly nothing to worry about.
It may also be a surprise to learn that quite a few jackets are actually washer/dryer safe (take the battery out first though!).
Good quality jacket will not catch fire, as they are specifically designed not to do so. Limits on temperature are also present to help the wearer stay safe.
As an addendum to this, however, it is worth noting that some lower quality jackets do carry a slight fire risk due to bad or faulty wiring. There are a lot of heated garments on the market, and it would be wrong to simply say that none of them carry a fire risk.
Despite being mostly safe, the heating system in your home or your slow cooker carry with them a slight risk of fire, which must be considered at all times. It is recommended that you don’t buy the cheapest models, that you do your research thoroughly before making a purchase and that you investigate the wiring to make sure the jacket is safe before wearing it.
Most jackets will come with a warranty, and can be easily replaced if found to be faulty in any way.
6. Are These Jackets Waterproof?
By and large, these jackets are not completely waterproof. Even the best winter coat you have can still get soaked if bombarded by enough rain for an extended period of time, these jackets are no exception.
So although the heated elements are well protected and will not get wet, the jackets themselves are usually only water resistant, not waterproof.
Heated jackets are designed to withstand the cold temperatures and are often quite hard wearing. They are especially useful in strong winds or snow, and you always have the option of wearing a raincoat over the slimmer models.
7. How Do You Wash a One of These?
Heated jackets are actually easy to wash. The battery packs, heating panels and any other internal technology must, of course be removed first, but after that you can wash your jacket the same way you might wash any other coat or jacket.
It is advisable, however, to use a gentle wash cycle (not too hot) and to allow the coat to air-dry, rather than putting it in a tumble dryer. The dryer probably won’t ruin the jacket, but air-drying is better for the shape, structure and quality of the jacket overall.
These jackets have moved away from the cumbersome, awkward models of the past. Today’s heated jackets are sleek, high tech and often quite fashionable. They are a perfect addition to any outdoor worker’s wardrobe, but you really have to try one to see just how big a difference they can make.
8. What is the Material that is used?
Externally, these jackets are usually made of specially treated polyester (often with a DWR coating). This is designed to be resistant to wind and rain, and to help keep warm air trapped within its layers, making them relatively effective even without the heating functions.
They usually sport a soft, comfortable inner lining, which can be made from any number of materials, such as fleece. Some designs feature removable hoods and gloves as well.
Heated jackets often take the form of softshell jackets, a type of outdoor clothing designed to bridge the gap between the outer layer and mid layer by keeping the wearer warm without restricting mobility.
The heat elements used in these jackets are usually either thin steel plates or carbon fibres.
Carbon fibres are, as the name suggests, fashioned from carbon crystals. For context, remember that diamonds, one of the hardest substances known to man, are simply chunks of superheated carbon.
Carbon fibres, often interwoven with other materials to create a composite, are typically low weight, have a very high tensile strength and are highly heat and stress resistant. In short, they are the perfect material for a lightweight, hard wearing, heat producing jacket. This is probably why they are used in aerospace engineering, motorsports and anywhere else mankind might need an edge.
DEWBU Softshell Jacket
CONQUECO Heated Jacket
With a simple, no frills design and 3 large-sized carbon fibre heating elements, the Conqueco men’s heated jacket is a good, reliable model.
The 3 heating elements, located on the left chest, right chest and mid back of the jacket, feature 4 adjustable heat levels (preheat, low, medium and high). These heating elements are powered by a 3.7V, 10000mAh lithium battery, which is capable of warming the wearer for 12 hours on the lowest setting, 5 hours on the medium setting and 3.5 hours on the highest.
The pocket charger can be also used to charge a phone or portable device, but be aware that this will drain the battery even more rapidly.
It is here, unfortunately, that we come to the first of this jacket’s drawbacks. The battery takes 8 full hours to fully charge.
That’s 8 hours charge for 3.5 hours’ usage (on the highest setting). Whilst this is a relatively minor quibble, it is definitely worth mentioning to those who may be considering buying this jacket for outdoor work.
The Conqueco does have a lot of good features, however. The jacket itself is sturdy and well made, sporting a polyester outer layer that is DWR protected. This means that the jacket is not only waterproof, but is also generally durable and tough.
The soft velvet inner lining is warm and welcoming, even without the heated elements.
In addition to being hardwearing, the Conqueco is also pretty lightweight. It features an adjustable hem, as well as elasticated cuffs with thumb holes, so the wearer can really lock in the heat.
The jacket comes with a thermal protection nodule, which means that should the jacket overheat, it will automatically switch itself off until it returns to the standard temperature. This is a great feature and very welcome indeed.
Probably the biggest knock on this jacket is that it doesn’t actually get very warm. At best, the heating elements only take the edge off and, quite frankly, would not be of much use on a really cold day. With the high setting only lasting a couple of hours, this isn’t what you want or need from a jacket.
In summary, the Conqueco is a great jacket for popping to the shops, or getting a quick temperature increase if you’re waiting outside for someone on a cold day, but it is not recommended for outdoor staff or people spending long periods of time in cold climates.
PROSmart Heated Jacket
PROSmart’s jacket line includes this low key, smart little number that combines high functionality with efficient design.
The left chest, right chest and back section all sport large heated elements. These heated elements can be made to last for up to 10 hours (on the higher settings) and a whopping 18 hours on the lower settings (wearers have a choice of low, medium or high settings. These are colour coded).
The jacket’s 12-Volt battery is both detachable and portable, meaning that it can be charged in multiple places. This is a useful feature that allows the jacket to get a little charge whenever the user happens to be near a power outlet.
The PROSmart jacket warms up rapidly, even in really cold weather, and the resulting warmth lasts for a good long time. The maximum temperature it can reach is 60℃, with the lowest being 40℃. A full charge takes roughly 7 hours, but that’s forgivable given how long the battery generally holds out for.
Additionally, this jacket is fairly well protected against the elements. It can be worn in rain, snow or high winds. It is also more or less waterproof, as the polyester exterior has been subjected to DWR coating.
In terms of design, the look is basic, appearing to be halfway between a raincoat and a fleece. It could probably be worn beneath a bigger coat, but maybe not comfortably due to the hardwearing outer layer.
It is worth noting also that the PROSmart heated jackets are fairly poorly labelled, at least in terms of sizes. What might be considered ‘large’ or a ‘medium’ by a high street retail outlet or online seller is more or less completely ignored by PROSmart, who seem to size their products considerably smaller. Maybe they’re staffed by oompa loompas, who knows? In any instance, be very careful when ordering this product. Be sure to look up the exact dimensions you’ll be getting instead of simply clicking ‘XL’ or ‘S’ and hoping for the best.
DEWBU Softshell Heated Jacket
Warm, lightweight and, um…Grey to some extent, the DEWBU softshell heated jacket actually looks quite nice.
The design is stripped back, aiming for quiet functionality over boisterousness or bombast. However, the light tan colouring of the jacket also offers a welcome contrast from the usual drabness of greys and blacks. The addition of several zip-up pockets is also a welcome feature.
Manufacturers do not often take fashion into account, which is sometimes to their detriment. In this case, simply by adding a couple of superficial elements (patches on the pocket sleeves, for example), DEWBU have created a jacket that stands out from the crowd a little bit. It won’t necessarily be wowing Parisian fashionistas any time soon, but the design is certainly smart and aesthetically pleasing enough to be worth a look.
The battery lasts for a solid 10 hours, which is reasonable enough. It also features adjustable temperatures (the usual three modes). The carbon fibre heating elements for these jackets are situated in the left breast, the right breast and the mid-back. Heating elements elsewhere might be nice, but that doesn’t mean the jacket functions badly or ever allows the wearer to feel cold.
As a safety feature, this jacket will automatically switch off in the event of a short circuit. It also automatically cools down after 5 minutes of continuous use on the high setting, which is either helpful or annoying, depending on your perspective.
The jacket is windproof, as well as largely weatherproof. It is therefore suitable for activities such as hiking, motorcycle riding and skiing. As another fun extra, this jacket has a special hood (referred to by the manufacturers as a ‘hat’ for some reason) that comes neatly folded into the jacket’s neckline.
Some jackets have detachable hoods, which means they can be left at home (where they are, of course, absolutely useless if needed). The inclusion of the little folded hood is nothing revolutionary, but nice nonetheless.
ARRIS Heated Jacket
An excellent jacket stuffed full of great features, this really is one of the best ways to keep your ARRIS warm this winter (sorry – couldn’t resist!).
The wearer of an ARRIS Men’s Jacket benefits from 8 heated panels situated throughout the garment. There are two on the left breast, two on the right, three at the back and one more at the back of the neck. These panels can all be controlled via individual buttons, which means that you can have your neck or chest at a lower temperature than your back, should you so desire.
The panels themselves actually get very hot indeed, although this is only when set to the highest of the 5 heating levels, which range between 40℃ and 80℃. It is possible to be gently heated up or nicely toasted, depending on your preference.
The very powerful battery will run for a full 15 hours on the lowest setting, and about 10 hours on the highest. It can even keep your phone charged whilst you’re out and about. As a negative point, this battery does take rather a long while to charge up, but this is a problem that can be solved by purchasing a spare. Another negative is that the battery provided is somewhat heavy and cumbersome compared with some others on the market.
The built-in thermal protection will shut your jacket down in the event that it overheats. This means that it will simply stop working until the jacket returns to the standard temperature.
Elsewhere, the ARRIS comes with extra pockets (always a welcome feature), as well as FIR (Far Infrared Ray) technology. This has been found to carry a number of healing benefits and be more efficient than some conventional heat therapy.
The exterior of the jacket is both windproof and waterproof. It probably won’t be able to replace your winter coat, but it will definitely provide the wearer with comfort and warmth this winter.
SHOOT Heated Jacket
This is a thin, lightweight jacket, which benefits from a four-piece carbon fibre heating system located on either side of the chest, the lower back and the neck.
SHOOT’s heated jacket has a heated area of 10 – 15CM, which is roughly 20% larger than that of most other jackets on the market right now. The heating element in the neck is also a very welcome feature, as these are especially good for easing rheumatic (joint) pain.
The jacket heats up quickly, so much so that you’ll be feeling toasty and warm about 30 seconds after activation. The lowest setting will provide around 40℃ – 45℃, while the medium setting heats up to between 45℃ and 50℃. The highest setting offers the wearer between 50℃ and 55℃.
SHOOT makes use of a decent battery, which can last as long as 15 hours on the lowest setting, 7 hours on medium and 5 on high.
On to the jacket itself, the SHOOT men’s jacket is served by a basic, functional, no frills design. The fleecing on the inside is soft, snug and helps to keep the warmth in. The outside is wind and waterproof, with the welcome addition of adjustable cuffs, which are actually fairly useful for preventing heat escaping from the jacket.
The jacket is very easy to look after and is machine washable (always remember to remove the battery pack before washing!). Use cold water when machine-washing, however.
To offer a criticism, this jacket sometimes feels like little more than a raincoat, as it is very thin and provides next to nothing in the way of padding or support.
Another nice feature of this SHOOT jacket is that it comes with its own storage bag, this can make both storage and travel easier for the wearer.