You love your good old ski jackets and baselayers, but lately, you've been finding that your usual outfits cannot ward off the cold whenever you're carving up the slopes.
You want to buy a new set of clothes for skiing, but you're worried that you're just going to waste your money on apparel that wouldn't quite live up to your expectations.
If your clothes do not provide adequate protection from the cold and your muscles are always stiff and aching by the time you head indoors, then it's time to explore heated apparel.
What Is Heated Clothing?
If you're like most people, this is probably the first time you've heard of heated apparel. Heated clothes have been around for several years now, but the mere mentioned of the words can often draw puzzled looks from shoppers. So what exactly are heated clothing and how are they different from your regular winter wear? Moreover, how will wearing heated clothing help you ski and enjoy the slopes longer?
For all practical purposes, regular and heated clothing look so much alike it can be hard to find the differences between them without tearing the heated apparel apart. Heated apparel have these super-fine and pliable wires called heating elements.
These super-light wires are typically made of carbon fiber, while others are made of composite materials. The heating element is typically powered by a portable and rechargeable lithium-ion battery or powerbank.
Wearing heated apparel have a lot of benefits for skiers and snowboarders. When your body feels cold, your muscles tend to become tight and your movements become slower and more uncoordinated.
Apart from keeping you warm while it's freezing outside, wearing heated apparel reduces muscle stiffness brought on by the chilly air and increases your flexibility. It helps prevent soreness, relieves muscle pain, and improves your performance on the slopes.
Take a look at the types of heated clothing you can wear while skiing or snowboarding.
Some of the areas of your body that are most vulnerable to the cold are your extremities. The pain doubles if you're recovering from a hand or wrist injury, or if you have poor circulation and other health issues that leave your fingers feeling cold, aching, and unable to grip your ski poles properly.
The good news is you can wear heated gloves or mittens on and off the piste to protect your hands from the excruciating cold.
The price of heated gloves ranges from $14 to more than $400. These gloves are made of cotton, nylon, synthetic and genuine leather, or a combination of these materials.
The position of heating elements vary; some manufacturers place the heating elements on the back of the hand and the fingertips, while others are positioned on the palms and fingers.
Heated jackets are probably some of the most popular heated apparel on the market today. Apart from skiing or snowboarding, you'll find them most useful during those long and chilly rides on the chairlift.
These jackets are available in a wide array of design -- from lightweight jackets with a hood to soft puffers to bulky parkas. But since you're going to wear it while skiing, any heated jacket that you come across won't do.
When choosing a heated jacket for skiing, there are some factors you might want to consider. These include the type of outer layer and insulation material the jacket has and whether or not it is waterproof and windproof. How hot it gets, how long it lasts, and the price of the jacket are also crucial.
The outer layer of heated ski jackets are typically made of nylon or polyester-based fabrics, and the best ones should be waterproof, windproof, and breathable. When checking the features of the heated ski jacket, check for garments that come with DWR or Durable Water Repellent treatment.
Some heated ski jackets are padded with synthetic or natural down fill. These jackets are warmer and you can wear them even without turning the heating elements on.
But they are bulky and can be a hassle to pack especially if your luggage is already overflowing with gear. Heated ski jackets that do not come with insulation are more lightweight, but you will have to rely on the garment's heating elements inside to make sure that you stay nice and toasty. Depending on the jacket's design and the bulk, you can either use it as an outer layer or a mid-layer.
Heated ski jackets also have heating elements, and they are typically positioned on the left and right chest, as well as the upper or mid-back. If you're not satisfied with this configuration, there are heated ski jackets that have heating elements positioned on top of the abdomen so even your core is protected from the cold.
The average temperature of a heated jacket typically ranges between 100 °F to 140 °F. Some of the best heated jackets have batteries that can last more than 10 hours at most when set on low.
But keep in mind that this technology comes at a premium. These jackets cost anywhere between $30 and $600. Note that you'll need to purchase a separate battery if you're going to buy jackets that are on the cheaper side.
Just like heated jackets, heated vests typically have an outer layer made from nylon-based or polyester-based fabric. It can be a puffer, which means that it has a synthetic or natural down fill inside. Others, on the other hand, are more lightweight and only contain the heating elements inside. It is then followed by a lining.
The heating elements of heated vests are positioned at the back, as well as the right and left chest. Some vests can also have heat zones positioned on the core which can also double as hand warmers.
A heated vest's average temperature ranges between 100 °F to 140 °F. The cheapest heated vests available right now begins at $20, while the most expensive ones costs more than $100.
Heated vests are great mid-layers or outer layers because of their versatility. Although nothing beats the protection and warmth heated jackets offer, heated vests provide more mobility to your arms while insulating your core.
They are also lighter, less expensive, and easier to pack than bulky jackets. You'll probably be fine without having a heated vest during a ski trip, but it won't hurt to bring one either.
Aching joints and sore leg muscles are par for the course for skiers. But thanks to heated pants, you won’t need to worry about sore muscles and aching joints. These base layers are usually made of insulating and water-resistant polyester or nylon mixed with some spandex.
They have a fleece lining for maximum insulation. The heating elements are usually located on the knees or upper legs, but other manufacturers take it a bit further by adding heating elements at the lower back, lower abdomen, or lower legs.
Average temperature ranges from anywhere between 77°F and 135°F. You can find a pair of heated pants online for as low as $30 or more. But if budget is not an issue, then go for thermal base layers that cost more than $100
Heated Socks And Boot Heaters
If your feet are the part of your body that are most vulnerable to the cold, then you'll benefit from wearing heated socks, ski boot heaters, and heated insoles. The heating elements of the socks are usually located at the instep while others extend up to the toes.
Heated socks are typically made of cotton, Lycra, spandex, and polyester (or a blend of these materials). You can buy heated socks for as little as $10, but if you want to splurge a little bit, then go for socks that are priced at more than $100.
But if you want to customize your ski boots or you think that heated socks are not enough to keep your toes warm, then ski boot heaters or heated insoles are perfect for you. Unlike heated socks, you'll need to spend several minutes installing ski boot heaters inside your gear.
Installing heated insoles, on the other hand, is much easier. Simply trim the insoles, turn the heating elements on, put them inside your ski boots, and you're good to go. You can buy heated insoles for as low as $7 or more, while you need to shell out more than $100 for the pricier ones.
The most popular heated hats are knit beanies that are typically made of elastic acrylic fibers. These heated beanies are lined with polyester for better insulation. Others heated hats resemble skull caps, and are usually made of fleece or nylon. You can also opt for a heated balaclava or even a heated trapper hat.
The heating elements are usually positioned around the ears to better protect them from the cold. The power and temperature adjustment button are located at front, while the battery is neatly stored in a zippered storage pocket in the hat itself.
Despite the presence of the battery and heating elements, heated hats are designed to be worn underneath your ski or snowboard helmet. These heated beanies typically cost anywhere between $50 and $130.
The price can be pretty steep especially if you're just going to use it for a week-long ski trip. But if you're a professional skier, trainer, ski resort employee, or even someone who lives near the polar region, then a heated beanie is simply a critical part of your wardrobe.
How to Choose Heated Clothing
1. Expensive doesn't always mean high-quality or long-lasting, so choose your heated gear wisely. Plus, you don't need to buy all heated gear all at once (and you probably won't wear them all at the same time too). Start with a reasonably priced heated jacket or a pair of heated gloves first before taking the plunge.
2. Stay away from cotton. Make sure that you are still adequately protected from the cold even when you don't turn the heating elements on. Stay away from gear made of cotton since the fabric is absorbent and is not much of a help when it comes to insulation. For better protection from the cold, go for fabrics such as wool, polyester, nylon, and other synthetic materials.
3. Set the temperature on high while you're still on the chairlift. Since you're going to work up a sweat while skiing or snowboarding anyway, conserve your battery and turn the heating elements off before the drop in.