We live in Canada. We all get cold now and then when on the road, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
There’s no question that heated clothing can increase your riding time in the spring and autumn shoulder seasons. I wish this stuff existed when I first began riding some 40-plus years ago. When a few pieces of heated gear did emerge on the market, I tried some of it; it was hit and miss as to how well each item worked. I had a pair of gloves that actually burned my skin in a half-dozen places because the heating wire was so close to the inner liner.
These days there are many companies delivering heated clothing, and Canada-based ewool is a company that seems to have it figured out. The vest was designed and tested in Canada and, after all, if you’re based in Canada, you understand winters and cold extremes.
The ewool Pro heated vest features three zippered pockets and can be powered in two ways. Power can be supplied by a 70-watt flat battery that measures 200 mm x 100 mm with a depth of only 12 mm. The battery resides in a dedicated pocket on the back of the vest, and it’s comfortable enough on your back if you’re sitting in a chair. There is room in the same pocket for a second battery, and a dual battery kit is available. The other option is to purchase an accessory power harness that connects to a 12-volt power source such as a motorcycle or snowmobile. In addition, if your bike has a power outlet, there is a 12-volt universal power outlet adapter available, so no hard-wiring is required.
Obviously, the 12-volt power source keeps you tethered to your ride for heat, but the battery is helpful for everyday life when you’re not riding – for instance, working outdoors, going for a hike, walking the dog, clearing snow or any other activity that keeps you outside in the cold.
Operating the vest is simple: a quick press of single button on the bottom of the left front of the vest reveals a series of four LEDs, which indicate the battery’s charge. Hold the button for three seconds and the vest turns on at the high setting (indicated by a red ewool logo); pressing the button again changes the heat setting to medium (the logo turns steady white); and a third press lowers the heat setting to low (indicated by a pulsing white logo). On initial activation, the vest starts on high for a quick burst of heat that you can feel almost instantly for immediate relief from the cold; after 60 seconds, the temperature automatically cycles to medium heat.
Charging the battery is just as simple. Inside the vest is an easily accessible plug for the 120-volt power adapter, as is the plug for the 12-volt accessory cable. A fully discharged battery takes about two-and-half-hours to fully charge. Full disclosure: I don’t have a 12-volt auxiliary cable, so I didn’t wire my bike for it; I used only the vest’s battery.
Like all heated clothing, the ewool vest should fit snugly against your body with just a light shirt underneath – the stretch-fit material on the vest’s sides allows for a comfortable, snug fit, which provides the most efficient heat transfer. You will feel most of the heat on your back, but the ewool vest is designed to distribute heat to the front of your body as well as the tall collar, which keeps your neck toasty warm. This combination works very well, particularly in the your neck area when the wind is whistling through your riding jacket’s collar.
During our test, we determined that the single battery lasts just shy of two hours on the high setting, for about three hours on medium, and for seven hours on low. Medium worked fine for most cold riding days and low worked well to keep the chill at bay with a good riding jacket.
The heated liner is flexible, so you can store the vest in your saddlebag. If the vest gets dirty, just toss it into a washing machine.
The ewool Pro vest is available for $498 in both men’s and women’s sizes. A sizing chart can be found on the company’s website. Visit ewool.com to learn more about the vest or to order one. You won’t be disappointed.