As the worst of winter dawns on the Northern Hemisphere, people around the world are preparing for winter by stocking up on the modern technologies that make even the coldest environs livable and practically comfortable. Whether it’s thermal underwear laced with advanced insulated materials or a comforter filled with synthetic down that retains heat better, sometimes the new ways are the best. With winter already here and millions of people preparing for a cold, harsh season, many people are wondering how outdoor workers manage to keep themselves warm while they can barely handle half an hour outside in the worst of the cold. Electrically heated clothing provides the extra warmth that is needed for those conditions.
Heated jackets for the worst of the winter season work differently from regular winter coats. The typical winter jacket focuses heavily on insulation, an ancient and time-honored method that none the less has its disadvantages. Regular insulation works by trapping the body’s natural heat generated during typical work rather than expelling it into the cold. Because the heat stays inside the clothing and the body within, the human body stays warmer by heating itself. Some materials contain heat better than others, and some modern materials keep the heat on a body more efficiently than even thick furs. These modern materials have seen use across the planet, from places where winters are short but cold to all the way outside of Earth’s atmosphere in outer space.
Heated winter jackets work quite differently. Instead of simply retaining the body’s natural heat, heated clothing generates heat itself. There are a few ways to achieve this, each of which has its advantages and disadvantages. The first and least complicated method is using heating packs. These are similar to hand warmers, both disposable and reusable that people use during the winter, but built into the winter jacket. These heating packs are of course the reusable kind and contain a special chemical mixture that can absorb and slowly release heat. These devices can typically be removed from the jacket to be heated in a microwave or pot of boiling water.
Another option for heated winter jackets is electrical heated jackets. These jackets use an uncomplicated electrical system, usually 5, 7 or 12 volts, that generates heat inside a carefully engineered set of heaters and wires lined throughout the coat to the keep the wearer warm as long as the power supply holds out. Recharging these systems can, of course, be a bit of a hassle, but the 5 volt systems are rechargeable in any 5-volt plug such as those used by smartphones and similar devices. The 7 volt systems tend to require specialty rechargeable batteries that need their specialized charger. The 12 volt systems are the most powerful of the lot and are intended mostly for people who will be sitting on top of powered devices such as motorcycles for their time outside so the heated jacket can absorb heat from the vehicle’s power supply. If you are in need of extra heat in winter, take a look at this Bosch Heated Jacket. It was tested very well, and although it’s designed for outdoor professionals, it has been keeping me very warm and comfortable.
Finally, there is a different type of gel pack, chemical reaction packs. Like gel packs, these are packs of heating material lining the jacket and keeping the user warm. Chemical reaction packs, however, generally create heat with specific chemical reaction packed that last for a long time, usually triggered by a simple, uncomplicated action. As might be expected, these are difficult to construct to be reusable, and few winter jackets are built with them specifically in mind. This the least used solution and for good reason. It’s just not very convenient.
Hopefully you have some information to stay warm this winter. And don’t worry; after winter, there is always summer to get warm again.