For those of you who are always cold, heated apparel can be a revolutionary solution to improving your day-to-day comfort. Whether you’re a ski enthusiast, school crossing guard, or 4x Olympic gold winner Adam Peaty, anyone can benefit from the warmth-on-the-road versatility of a battery powered, portable heated jacket.
But as you've shopped for your own perfect heated jacket, you may have noticed that there is an overwhelming number of options. Perhaps you've even purchased a promising-looking heated jacket, and disappointingly, found it to be no better than wearing your normal winter jacket. What do volts, wattage, or amps mean exactly? Should you consider zones or runtime? And how do you compare two jackets that seemingly look the same, but are sold at wildly different price points?
Fortunately, we’re here to tell you that it’s easier than you think.
For 20 years, Venture Heat has been the foremost manufacturer of heated modules and heated apparel, and this is our simple buyer’s guide to the DOs and DON’Ts of shopping for heated apparel.
The Secret is Simple: Watts = Warmth
If you click away from this article having learned just one thing, let it be this: watts = warmth. The wattage of a heated jacket is directly related to how much heat it can produce, and the higher the number, the warmer you’ll be. The range can be quite diverse, but generally you’ll see advertised wattage on a portable battery heated jacket range anywhere from 7W to 40W. As you might correctly assume, a 40-Watt jacket will produce almost six times the warmth of a 7-Watt jacket.
So which jacket do you need? The answer is, it depends. If you’re doing something active (i.e. working out and generating your own body heat), a lower wattage jacket might give you just the boost of heat you need to stay comfortable. If you’re sensitive to cold, or sit and stand in the cold for long periods of time, you may want to choose a higher wattage heated jacket to replace the heat you're losing.
Here's a few examples from our own collections, and the intent behind their design:
Heating: 16 Watts
Designed for day-to-day functions, like walking the dog or morning commutes
Not Every Metric is Useful
So, what about voltage, amperage, mAh, or runtime? While these numbers do factor into the manufacturer’s design of heated apparel, we generally don’t recommend customers focus too much on it. The problem is They can be easily made to sound enticing, but almost always at the cost of other valuable features.
Here’s a few examples of commonly advertised, but misleading features:
The Claim: An "all day" 20-hour runtime. Why wouldn't you want a jacket that can run from sunrise to sunset? Buying a jacket with an extremely long runtime might sound like a sensible solution, but the reality is that implementing this feature requires manufacturers to reduce the heating output of a jacket to preserve its battery life so it can last longer. The effect? You might wonder if the jacket is heating at all. At Venture Heat, we prefer a happy medium between runtime and performance, and generally aim for 10-12 hours of max runtime.
The Claim: A 12 Volt jacket is more “powerful” than a 7 Volt jacket. Unfortunately, a voltage metric is generally meaningless without wattage information. Picture this: an economy car (7V jacket) and sports car (12V jacket) might have different max speeds, but if the road’s speed limit is 60 mph, they both arrive at their destination at the same time. Similarly, some heated apparel brands will install smaller heating panels (read: lower wattage) into their 12V heated jackets to save on costs, so it’s not uncommon to uncover specs where supposed "high-performance" 12V and "mid-performance" 7V jackets produce exactly the same amount of heat.
As you can see, none of these commonly advertised “features” show the true real-world heating performance of a heated jacket.
Our 6 Must-Know Tips for Buying the Warmest Heated Jacket
Ok, what should you look for? Here's our comprehensive list of what to look for when you're shopping for your next heated jacket.
Shopping for Heated Apparel: A Checklist
- Pay attention to advertised wattage. Wattage equals warmth, and any reputable heated apparel company will have this information readily available on their website or advertised on their clothing tag. If this information isn’t listed, don’t be afraid to ask customer support to provide it.
- Pay attention to build quality. Not all heated apparel is made equal, and this is especially true when it comes to the safety of wiring inside wearable clothing. A reputable heated apparel brand will proudly advertise heat-sealed nano-carbon fibers, machine-washable wires, and overheat protective microchips that keep you both warm and safe.
- Consider the benefits of warranty and regional customer service. As with all technology, it’s important to be confident that your product is backed with reputable service, and be able to troubleshoot issues or send in your product for repair.
- Be misled by a long runtime. These numbers can be easily adjusted, and are often misleading in terms of heating performance.
- Be misled by heating zones. Zones are the number of heating panels built into a garment, and manufacturers often use multiple smaller, cheaper panels to cover the same area and advertise them as “zones”
- Be misled by over-the-top graphics that over-promise and under-deliver. Graphics showing glowing warmth and all over heat can be decieving, and are often used to hide lackluster specs and low heating wattage.
Not all heated apparel is made the same.
Over 20 years, we have perfected our exclusive system of heating technology, utilizing heat-sealed nano-carbon fibers, insulated machine-washable wires, and overheat protective microchips to keep you both warm and safe.
Discover the philosophy behind what makes us one of the oldest and most reliable heated apparel brands in the world.
We never compromise on quality.