As the weather heats up, it’s kind of ridiculous that I’m writing about heated clothing. To be fair, this column was initially slated for December. But shipping logistics prevented me from being able to test the products until last week. Thankfully, we’ve had some cold mornings lately.
The products, from Fieldsheer, do exactly what they’re billed to. That is, they are “mobile warming” battery-operated clothing that heats up with the push of a button. I tried the Thermick heated base layer shirt and the Ranger heated gloves. For the shirt, which is really a comfortable, long-sleeve thermal crewneck undershirt, I had to first heat the thin and small lithium ion battery pack. It looks like an external battery for a cell phone. Anyway, you charge it up for a couple of hours – it has several white lights on it that let you know the remaining battery life – and then insert it into a pocket on the front side of the shirt. You plug it into a cord that’s embedded in the shirt, make sure the battery is on, and then simply push a button on the shirt front. It has four levels of heat output, which will last about 10 hours, according to the company. Although I can slightly feel the wires in the fabric by hand touch, they are imperceptible once wearing the shirt. And I was stoked to discover that the heat starts churning within seconds of pushing the button. I only felt the heat on my back – not even sure it’s supposed to generate any on the front side. But regardless, it worked as advertised. I wore it on a brisk morning, sitting at Starbucks outside. And it was heavenly. Pushing the button to toggle between temperatures was also instant and I could completely tell the difference between low, mild and high heat. Honestly, the worst part of the experience was trying to see if I’d activated the heat and to what level: The button lights up different colors for each level, and it was just difficult in daylight to see which color I was on. But once I got to a shaded area, seeing it was easy. The shirt is machine washable, by the way.
The gloves work slightly different. There’s a double battery pack for each glove. So the kit comes with one charger that has two charging ports. Each of those ports connects to one of the double-battery cords – essentially letting you charge all four battery packs at once. Then you simply insert the batteries into the cuff of the glove – one pack goes into a pocket, the other into an adjacent pocket – and plug its port into the power port of the glove, then zip up the pocket. While it may sound difficult, it’s super easy. From there, it works the same as the shirt by pressing the button on the outside of each glove – with four levels of heat. The gloves themselves are upscale – made of calfskin leather, waterproof lined, palm reinforced, and a wrist velcro cinch sloure system to make a snug fit. And you can also navigate a cell phone screen through the leather fingers, although it’s clumsy because the glove fingers are large. Regardless, I will definitely be using these in the winter. They get up to eight hours of heat per charge on the lowest heat level and two at full blast. Also, many Fieldsheer products (jackets, especially) are apparently Bluetooth-based and can be controlled with the company’s smartphone app.
Hey, I get cold easily these days. So these items may be the perfect antidote to winter later this year. I’m already looking forward to my next snowball fight.