Testing out heated gear while riding in the middle of winter
I’ve never been one to wear heated gear. Sure, I hate the cold, and yes, when I see others with a heated vest on a cold day I can’t help but be a bit envious. I’ve just always found it to be bulky and expensive, and to have limited use.
But I regretted doing a motorcycle trip on ice in the middle of winter without heated gear and I was signed up to do it again this past February, which posed the question: Why wait to buy heated gear?
I had borrowed an ewool vest before from my father on a bike trip we did, and quickly found out why bikers drop a few pretty pennies on good, heated gear. The vest was easy to use, the charge lasted for hours and I could barely feel it under my riding jacket.
Luckily, at the Toronto Motorcycle Show, ewool had a booth and I was able to see other products like heated gloves and socks. I ordered an ewool Pro+ heated vest, heated glove liners and heated sock covers. The company is based in Canada and the products are designed with an enthusiasm for the great outdoors, no matter the temperature. Their products are best in class for heating power, fit and comfortable design, and offer an all-day battery life.
Pro+ Heated Vest
The Pro+ heated vest delivers up to 51W of torso warming in just three seconds. Overall, based on competitors, ewool’s vest offers seven times more heat and six times more surface heating area. The vest is nicely fitted, with large stretch panels on the sides, which allow the heat to more directly reach you.
The vest had enough battery life to last throughout most days, ranging from 6-8 hours. I left the vest on low throughout the day to ensure all-day heat. (The vest’s literature claims a single battery will heat the vest for seven hours on low, 3.5 hours on normal, and 1.75 hours on high.) The vest has a heated collar plus large panels on the chest, back and shoulders, offering astonishing torso coverage. It’s incredibly quick to heat up upon start-up, and the vest is thin enough overall to fit under any current gear you have without much hindrance.
The battery fits in a large back pocket or a side pocket on the front. While the battery is very thin and light, if wearing a backpack, or with a tight jacket on it’s likely you’ll feel it slightly. The vest is equipped with three pockets, one of which has an input for an auxiliary cord to plug into your bike for those extra-long days. On the inside of the vest, there is also a charging port, so that you don’t have to pull the battery in and out of the vest each time while charging.
The PRO+ heated vest retails for $598, which isn’t cheap, but for something that works as efficiently and provides all-day heat I think it’s worth it. ewool does have a step down from the PRO+, the PRO, which will save you a few bucks. The downside is the PRO vest neglects to heat the lower back and stomach, so if you’re willing to give up that heat and save $100 then go for it, but at $498, I think it makes sense to pay the extra and stay with PRO+ for a long-term choice.
ewool Heated Sock Covers
The heated sock covers are made of a thin, stretchy material that comes up to the top of the calf. Although thin, you can still feel a difference, so wearing larger boots or thinner socks underneath will help to compensate for the additional material. The covers are comfortable, but because they have a heel cut out you want to be mindful about the cover’s edge under the arch of your foot when donning your boots. I wore custom insoles in my boots with a high arch which made the feeling of the heel cutout uncomfortable at times.
The socks heat incredibly well, offering heating coverage on the top and bottom of the toe box, as well as through the ball and arch of the foot and up the legs. One of the greatest losses of body heat is through the bottom of the foot through conduction — the ground’s temperature often pulls heat from the foot, even with a boot on.
While the socks weren’t created specifically for motorcyclists, they were certainly designed with the extreme outdoors in mind. I wore the socks with my dirtbike boots — it may not have been the smartest choice as they had little insulation and a harder rubber exterior which allowed for generous heat loss. However, I was pleasantly surprised that on the sock’s low setting, I still had warmer feet than some of those riding with big, insulated boots.
The socks are tall enough for most moto boots, and the button and battery sit at the very top of the socks, making them easy to access and adjust without taking your boots off.
The ewool heated socks boast a battery life of eight hours on low heat (five hours on normal heat and three hours on high heat), while I found that in temperatures ranging from -6 C to -20 C, the battery on low lasted between five and seven hours each day. It made for an interesting gamble when our longest day of the winter ride came with the coldest temperature. We rode for 10 hours at -20 C — I had gotten used to turning the socks off every time we would stop to save the battery’s charge. Luckily this was easy to do with large buttons on the socks and haptic feedback with each setting.
The ewool heated sock covers retail for $398, and surprisingly these became my favourite piece of gear while on the trip. I fear I would’ve gotten frostbite on my toes otherwise.
ewool Heated Gloves
The heated glove liners offered efficient heat on low and normal to make the ride enjoyable while not having heated grips. I did equip the bike with Hippo Hands, which are neoprene handlebar wraps to insulate and cut down the wind. These, paired with the heated glove liners, made the ride as enjoyable as can be in February’s sub-zero temps.
Because these are liners, you’ll want to be sure the fit is snug. The palm does not have a heating element and is instead replaced with a thin, stretchy material to allow for comfort in the palm. The top of the hand is fully heated from the tip of each finger to the wrist.
Although mine fit quite well, I did find that putting on the gloves posed some challenges with getting the seams of each finger in a comfortable place while riding. The feeling of having a seam pressing on your finger or the side of the hand can be distracting, especially when you can’t adjust it.
To wear these gloves, you’ll also want to consider finding a larger or packed-out pair of outer gloves to wear if you’ll be riding. I certainly enjoy wearing my tried and trusted gloves with these liners. The ewool heated glove liner retails at $379.
All ewool products use high-quality, rugged materials and a heating system with a waterproof rating of IP67 and have a large button that illuminates a different colour for each heat setting. Press and hold the button to turn on, and it will automatically turn on to the highest heat setting with the button illuminated red. On both the sock and gloves, there is also a haptic vibration to easily identify what setting you’re on if you’re not able to see the button.
Both the socks and the gloves have “SnapConnect” which is an easy-
connect magnetic charging system. The vest comes with a 70W battery, with the option to buy additional batteries or a dual battery. It’s also important to note that I always take the batteries off charge once full; it can be harmful to battery life to keep batteries on charge for too long.
ewool offers free shipping across Canada, the USA, and Europe, and an exchange within 30 days. All products come with a one-year warranty. To order these great products and others, got to www.ewool.com.
I’m a Believer
I can now completely understand why it’s worthwhile to consider heated gear: having the comfort of being warm is not only more enjoyable, but staying warm helps to keep you focused and helps to save valuable muscle and mental energy.
This year, while riding the ice roads, I was no longer envious of others — I was, however, warm, and had a big grin on my face.