A company apparently either manufactures or distributes several different battery heated vests, which are sold under various brand names by both small and large retailers.
As we reported in the addendum, the “Electra” battery heated vest, sold by Hammacher Schlemmer, is sold on the Hammacher Schlemmer website as of this writing for $129.95 plus shipping and handling.
We had problems with that vest — the batteries would not take or hold a charge.
After contacting the manufacturer, we learned that some of the batteries used in these types of vests have a limited shelf life and must be used and recharged on a regular basis.
The company said they redesigned the batteries, but apparently some of the older versions are still in stock (as of this writing, December 2006). We have since returned the vest for a refund.
So we decided to continue the search, based on your enthusiasm and interest in this topic.
Several visitors told us about the Brookstone (U.S.A.) “Tri-Zone Heated Fleece Vest”, which is the black vest shown in the photo above.
We also received an email from Warmthru, a manufacturer of battery heated clothing in Scotland (see the Warmthru battery heated gloves review). They sent us one of their vests to try; it’s the tan-colored vest in the photo above.
We had problems with the batteries in both of these vests; they have been reluctant to take and hold a charge.
The shelf life of the batteries seems to be very limited — if the vests aren’t used within a couple of days, the batteries lose their charge.
Although we initially could not recharge the batteries in the Warmthru vest, we were able to get them recharged again after the third attempt. We’re not certain why we’re having the battery charging problem with these vests.
The bottom line is that it’s our opinion that the Jett Battery Heated Vest provides a much higher level of noticeable heat than any other battery heated vest we’ve tried as of this date.
It’s nearly equivalent to the best of the wired heated vests we’ve tried and the Jett’s highest setting is almost too hot when the vest is worn underneath a cold-weather motorcycle jacket.
In comparison, the Warmthru vest is a distant second; if it’s kept on the “Hi” setting, it provides some heat, but it feels to me more like a good insulating vest rather than a vest that has its own heat source.
I rate the Venture Brookstone Tri-Zone Fleece vest is last and it doesn’t seem to provide the kind of warmth I need.
It should be noted that the Jett, Brookstone, Warmthru (and Hammacher Schlemmer) vests are not specifically designed for motorcycling.
The Jett vest is more “motorcycle user friendly” than the others, because it has a short extended control switch, it fits nicely underneath a motorcycle jacket and it has a flat battery pack that is relatively unobtrusive.
NOTE: As of July 2007, the manufacturer of the Brookstone vest claims to have improved the product, but we have not evaluated the updated designs.
Both the Warmthru and Brookstone Tri-Zone vests use two smaller, square shaped batteries that can be felt when the vests are worn underneath a snug-fitting motorcycle jacket.
The batteries in the Warmthru vest are located in small pockets inside the right and left sides of the front of the vest.
The batteries in the Brookstone Tri-Zone vest are located rather unfortunately in the outer zippered hand pockets instead of in their own dedicated pockets.
The Warmthru vest is made from 100% polyester, while the Brookstone vest is constructed from a heavy fleece material, which makes it more bulky underneath a close-fitting motorcycle jacket.
It also has a high thick fleece collar, which may not fit under some winter motorcycle jackets, many of which have collars that are too tight to begin with.
Also, the black fleece on the Brookstone jacket picked up a huge amount of lint, hair and dirt as I used it.
It’s very hard to keep clean — see the photo below. Black fleece is probably one of the worst fabrics in this regard.
The Warmthru vest seems light weight in comparison, but our example has many loose threads, which doesn’t provide much confidence in its construction.
The Warmthru vest weighs 1.0 pounds, while the Brookstone vest is the heaviest at 1.6 pounds and the Jett weighs 1.3 pounds.
This may not seem like much of a difference, but the combination of the weight and the heavy fleece make the Brookstone vest seem heavy and bulky while riding a motorcycle.
Both the Brookstone and Warmthru vests have hidden switches.
The Brookstone switch is located inside a zippered pocket on the outside of the left chest and the switch on the Warmthru is located in a small Velcro covered pocket inside the right chest area.
The Brookstone vest switch controller is a two-part affair and is relatively bulky.
It is supposed to control both the heat level and the location of the heat (front or back or both), but the vest doesn’t put out enough heat to notice a difference.
The location of the switches on both of these vests makes it impossible to change the heat settings while riding, although both vests put out so little apparent heat that the setting can probably be left on “Hi” anyway.
The batteries, switches and chargers are slightly more complicated and use more parts than the Jett vest.
There’s no question that battery heated clothing is a revolution for motorcyclists and we’re certain that it will only get better as this type of clothing evolves.
Although the Jett vest could use a slightly longer cable for its switch and perhaps a more centrally located battery pack, based on our experience, the vest puts out much more heat than the other three battery heated vests we’ve tried.
From “L.K.” (4/10): “I have had 3 Warmthru heated vests in the last 12 months. On every one the switch has broken, often getting stuck on high to start with and then when it does turn off it will never turn back on.
Sometimes the switch broke in a matter of days, sometimes months. It is now out of guarantee and I have no vest and no refund.”