Heated Clothing Basics

Heating Methods

When it comes to heated jackets, there are two main methods to deliver heat to the shell of the coat. Both involve a flexible thread like material that conducts heat. These threads are woven into heat zones in the coat where they generate heat that radiates around the shell of the coat.

Most coats and vests have heating elements built into the chest and back area, ranging from three to five different zones.

 

At this time, no battery heated jacket will have heated sleeves because current battery technology doesn’t have enough power to heat sleeves as well as the back and chest zones. However, most wearers find that the chest and back zones are plenty to keep their bodies warm.

 

Here is a quick overview of the two primary heat sources:

Carbon Fiber Heat Zones in Heated Clothing

One of the more commonly used heating elements in clothing is carbon fiber. This technology uses strips or tubular heating elements (much like a wire) made of carbon fiber to heat the coat. The carbon fiber elements are spread across sections of the jacket to provide warmth.

Carbon fiber works well providing uniform heat as well as flexibility. While slightly stiffer than the material used to make the jacket, it is unlikely that you will ever notice or experience any reduction in flexibility. Numerous heated clothing brands use carbon fiber technology, just a few examples include ORORO, Venustas, and Milwaukee.

Conductive Thread Heat Zones in Heated Clothing

Conductive thread is an e-textile that carries an electrical current much the same way an electrical wire does. This means that it can be used to create a circuit that will generate heat.  Conductive thread is very thin which keeps the weight and bulk down. It is also very flexible which means it will not impact the flexibility of the coat or other heated garment. Conductive thread is secured within the heating zones of the jacket and creates the heat that warms up the jacket. The majority of heated jackets have three to five heating zones.

Conductive thread is an excellent choice for heated clothing and is used by a number of apparel companies but is not as popular as carbon fiber at this point. Conductive thread is often used in headed gloves, socks, and base layers due to it being so thin and light. A few examples of heated clothing makers that use conductive thread include Gobi and N NIFVAN.

How warm does heated clothing get?

While it varies by manufacturer and product, in general, most heated coats will hit 113° F on a low setting, 131° F on medium, and 140° F on high which means they provide plenty of heat for even the coldest conditions.

 

How long does the battery last on a heated jacket?

How long the battery lasts in your heated apparel will depend on a number of factors and will vary by product and manufacturer. It is usually possible to purchase additional batteries if you need additional time. The following is from Gobi and should give you a general idea of how long your product will stay warm:

  • 3 Zone Jackets: Low - up to 10 hours, Med - up to 7 hours, high - up to 5 hours.

  • 5 Zone Jackets: Low - up to 9 hours, Med - up to 6 hours, high - up to 4 hours.

  • Gloves: Low - up to 6 hours, Med - up to 3 hours, High - up to 2 hours.

  • Socks: Low - up to 12 hours, Med - up to 6 hours, High - up to 4 hours.

  • Beanies: Low - up to 7.5 hours, Med - up to 5.5 hours, High - up to 3.5 hours.

  • Base Layer Pants: Low - up to 10 hours, Med - up to 7 hours, high - up to 5 hours.

How do I adjust the temperature on heated clothing?

While the temperature control can vary by apparel maker, the majority of them are pretty standard. You simply press a button to turn it on and then press it again to turn it down to the next level. Press and hold the button to turn it off. Most heated clothing uses the following color code for temp levels:

  • Red=High

  • White=Medium

  • Blue=Low

Is heated clothing safe? 

A common misconception about heated clothing is that it can electrocute you if it starts to rain or otherwise gets wet. This is completely false. It is impossible to be electrocuted by heated clothing as the heating elements run on voltages of 12 volts (the majority of them use 7.4 volts) or less which is simply not enough voltage to electrocute a person. You can safely wear your heated clothing in all weather situations. However, water will damage the battery so do not jump into a river or otherwise submerge the coat with the battery in it.