It’s gettin’ cold outside (well, kinda cold, here in Florida) and even the toughest gearheads get chilly. For that, heated jackets are a great way to stay warm in the garage, on the job site, or while building a 12′ snowman with the little one.
There are lots of options when it comes to heated jackets. When shopping around, the idea is to find one that fits snuggly against your body so the heat generated by the jacket isn’t lost. Also, you won’t want to wear layers under the jacket—the heat won’t penetrate something like a sweatshirt nearly as well as a t-shirt or one of the available cold-weather base layers offered by some brands.
Here’s an overview of five popular brands’ heated jackets that I’ve personally considered. Although not a prerequisite when choosing, if you’ve already bought into a particular brand’s cordless battery platform, your choice may be easier. But do compare because some features may be more important to you than already owning the batteries—like being able to machine wash and dry a jacket that will almost certainly see some abuse.
Milwaukee offers several machine-washable heated jackets for both men and women. All of their jackets are powered by the compact M12 battery, which plugs into the included adaptor and then into the jacket. When using the M12 REDLITHIUM 2.0 battery, the Milwaukee jackets can provide heat for up to eight hours with the jacket on its lowest heat setting. There’s also a built-in USB port in the adapter to charge various mobile devices under cover and on-the-go.
New for 2016/17 is the TOUGHSHELL Stretch Polyester outer shell, which Milwaukee says will last five times longer than traditional soft shell materials. Another welcomed addition is what Milwaukee calls its Freeflex Mobility Gusset System—or what we call stretchy underarms. Basically, when you’re working on something overhead, the jacket will stay in place instead of lifting up off of your waist when you raise your arms.
Along with the TOUGHSHELL design, the Milwaukee M12 heated jackets are also available with the GRIDIRON Ripstop Polyester shell or as a cotton/polyester blend hoodie. The GRIDIRON shell is more resistant to abrasion, prevents tearing in high-wear areas, and reduces the jacket’s overall weight. It’s also wind and water-resistant.
Milwaukee’s Heated Hoodies incorporate a waffle weave interior lining to trap heat and will almost certainly be more comfortable because it’s cotton. Obviously, the cotton hoodie won’t be very weather or water-resistant. Milwaukee also sells a kit that includes both the Heated Hoodie and the GRIDIRON shell.
All of Milwaukee’s heated jackets have three heat settings with front and back heat zones, which are controlled by depressing the small M12 insignia located just above the left breast of the jacket. Certain models also have integrated hand warmers, controlled via a second button next to the insignia. The M12 battery rides in a hidden pocket on your left back/side, but not far enough back that you can’t sit comfortably.
Available in sizes small to 3x and in red, black or gray, Milwaukee heated jackets are available from Amazon and other online retailers, and Home Depot. Prices range from about $150 for the hoodie to about $250 for the 3-in-1 kit softshell w/ Heated Hoodie, battery, and charger.
Here’s a video tour of the Milwaukee line of heated jackets:
DEWALT’s heated jackets are available for both men and women and are powered by either the 20V MAX or 12V Max batteries. On their lowest settings, these jackets can warm for up to seven hours when using a DEWALT 20V MAX 1.5 Ah battery.
The battery pocket is located on the back of the jacket but a built-in extension cord allows you to store it on the inside if it’s more comfortable. And it just might be. When combined, the battery and required USB adapter are quite bulky. The battery adaptor also has two integrated USB ports for charging various mobile devices on-the-go.
One thing to note when comparing DEWALT and Milwaukee jackets: the DEWALT heated jackets are not machine-washable/dryable and cannot be dry cleaned. So… hand-wash only; no wringing; hang to dry. That may be a deal-breaker for some, considering this is a work jacket that’s likely to get dirty.
Like Milwaukee, the DEWALT heated jackets are available with a wind and water-resistant softshell exterior, or with a wind-resistant cotton/polyester blend fleece outer shell with a thermal-lined inner shell. The feeling I got was that the DEWALT softshell jacket was not as durable as the Milwaukee, but I also did not put them to the test, so-to-speak.
The DEWALT jacket has three heat settings, which are triggered using an LED button on the inside lapel—red indicates max heat, white for medium and blue for low heat. The softshell heating zones include the upper left and right chest, mid-back, and collar, while the hoodie heats all but the collar.
Available in sizes small to 3x, the DEWALT heated jackets are available from Amazon and other online retailers, Home Depot, and Lowes. Prices range from about $100 for the hoodie to about $200 for the softshell with a battery and charger included.
The Makita heated jackets appear to be unisex (although some retailers list them as men’s only) and are powered by either Makita’s 18V LXT or 12V CXT, depending on the model. The 18V LXT jacket has a power source that accepts Makita’s 18V LXT and 18V compact lithium-ion batteries for up to 28 hours of heat (with BL1850 battery, sold separately) according to Makita. That’s 3.5x longer than the competition if it holds up to be true. An onboard USB power port also allows for charging various mobile devices.
One cool feature of the Makita (and Bosch heated jacket, below) is that the battery adapter has an integrated belt clip, making it much more comfortable to carry the battery around to power the jacket. The Makita jacket also has removable sleeves, which is a great feature. Both Makita and the competition sell heated vests separately.
The 18V LXT model has three heat settings and three heat zones—the left and right chest, and back. The heat output is adjusted via a button on the outside just under the Makita insignia. The jacket has four pockets, including a zippered chest pocket, as well as left and right side pockets and a sleeve pocket. The battery pocket is on the rear-left side, similar to the others.
The outer shell of the Makita heated jacket is made from a polyester/spandex blend and is designed to be hand-washed only. Like the DEWALT heated jackets, not being able to machine wash and dry a work jacket could be an issue for some. It kinda is for me.
Available in sizes small to 3x, the Makita heated jackets are available from Amazon and other online retailers, and Home Depot. Prices range from about $140 for the heated vest to around $170 for the jacket. I did not see a kit with battery and charger included, so that’s a bummer.
Bosch heated jackets are available for both men and women and are powered by the Bosch 12V MAX battery, which is compact like the Milwaukee battery vs. square and bulky like the DEWALT and Makita batteries (although DEWALT’s are the largest of the group). The jacket can heat for up to six hours on its lowest setting. The battery adapter also has an integrated USB port for charging most mobile devices and a belt clip, like the Makita model, for more convenient battery placement.
The outer shell of the Bosch heated jacket is made from a wind and rain resistant polyester material but cannot be machine washed or dried. So, like all other heated jackets mentioned in this article—except for the Milwaukee M12—hand washing is the only option and could be an issue for some.
The Bosch jacket does have integrated, yet subtle, reflectors near the front and back shoulders, and forearms—an added bonus for nighttime safety. Velcro adjustments make for a tighter fit around the waist and wrists. A high zipper collar will help to keep your neck and even lower face warm, too.
The Bosch jacket features three heat zones: left and right chest and on the back. The heat output is adjusted via a push-button above the Bosch logo on the front chest area—just like the others, except the DEWALT, which is inside the lapel. The LED button manually cycles between high (red), medium (green) and low (blue).
There are five pockets on the Bosch heated jacket, including a cell phone, document, battery (inside left vs. outside left/rear), and two hand pockets. Wires for mobile devices and/or headphones can be routed through the internal holes keeping everything under the jacket, which is cool. The Bosch jacket does have a left-side zipper (at least the one we saw)—a feature found mostly on women’s jackets. Not a deal-killer, but odd. Perhaps it’s a German thing… like driving on the left side.
Available in sizes small to 2x, the Bosch heated jackets are available from Amazon and other online retailers, Home Depot, and Lowes. Prices range from about $100 for the hoodie to about $200 for the soft shell with a battery and charger included.
Available for men and women, the Craftsman Heated Jacket is powered by the Nextec 12v battery and can provide continuous heat for up to five hours on its lowest setting. Like the others, mobile devices can be charged via the battery adapter’s integrated USB port. The battery is also compact—like the Milwaukee and Bosch heated jackets—and stows away in an inside front pocket.
The Craftsman jacket has five heating zones—more than most of the competition—located in the chest, back, and pockets. Heat output is adjusted just like all but the DEWALT—via a push-button just above the front breast of the jacket. Unlike the others, the Craftsman heated jacket has four heat settings: low, medium, high, and max. The max setting provides 25% more heat for up to 30 minutes, which is designed to warm you up faster in extreme conditions.
The outer shell of the Craftsman heated jacket is made from a wind and water-resistant mid-weight fleece and is machine washable, as the Milwaukee M12. The men’s model has a foldable velcro collar so it can fully cover your neck or even lower face, or not. The women’s model has thumb holes, too—a unique feature not found on any of the other jackets I looked into. Like some of the others, the Craftsman heated jacket has cable routing holes to keep mobile devices and their cables under the jacket.
The Craftsman heated jacket is available from Sears, KMart, and Ace Hardware for around $180 and includes one battery and charger.
Here’s a video tour of the Craftsman heated jacket:
So there you have it—some cool… er… warm cordless heated jackets to help keep you warm this winter. Me personally? I’m going with the Milwaukee M12. I absolutely want my jacket to be machine washable and I like the much more compact M12 battery.
What say you?