A big thank you to Chris at Volt Heat who provided the Fusion 12V/7V Dual Source Heated Vest for this review along with the (reviewed) Fusion 12V/7V Dual Source Leather Motorcycle Heated Gloves and a 12V Heated Jacket Liner with Therm Controller for a future review.
Compared to what is happening on a global scale now, the past winter months weren’t all that bad and as spring unfolds, I am thankful to be healthy and have the ability to work on the motorcycles in the garage, while squeezing in some short self-isolating riding.
Aiding all these activities is the new dual-source heated gear from Volt Heat. Whether working out in the garage, the yard, or out riding, this new heated gear is put to daily use in some way or another. Particularly the Fusion Heated Vest, the subject of this review, worn frequently to provide a warming, soothing, and therapeutic layer.
Suffering from cold is or can be both a painful experience and an unsafe one. Cold (and wet) riding environments contribute significantly to physical and mental degradation, with reflexes and situational awareness abilities all impacted. Keeping the body core warmed, along with circulation maintenance and/or heating of exposed extremities is critical.
And after decades of riding through thick and thin, wet and dry, warm and cold, one learns, usually the hard way, but one learns must learn that there are options and solutions, like heated gear.
Being wired in with a 12V connection is more than tolerable as long as a good controller is in the loop or a power distribution device, such as the Neutrino Black Box systems used on home fleet motorcycles – they provide PWM output on the circuits all managed thanks to a wireless BT and App interface (a review is pending on the latest versions…)
Being able to dispense with a separate 12V controller and related wiring is one thing, but a dual power approach for the heated gear itself offers an even better solution over a wide range of user applications. And thanks to technology, mass production and of course consumer demand, this approach is becoming more widely available.
Heated gear can be utilized anytime or anywhere, with the proper power source available. As such, when outdoor enthusiasts in motion (human or motor powered) can have a portable power option, it is a (very) positive contribution regarding comfort and safety.
The first look of the Volt Heat Fusion 12V/7V Dual Source Heated Vest is positive in virtually every way. Like the Fusion 12V/7V Dual Source Leather Motorcycle Heated Gloves, this new heated vest reflects a very good design approach – everything is well laid out and well finished, including the electrical components.
And until the battery is added to the garment this heated vest is one of the lightest used and arguably one of the most comfortable. It also packs down (with or without battery) to a very small footprint.
Accommodation for the single large battery (the same model used for the Fusion Heated Gloves) and the 7V connection harness resides in a small inner pocket accessed from the main left vertical pocket. Nearby, stitched between the shell and liner, is the wiring and the small BT Therm Controller that provides the wireless feature.
The 12V connection harness also tucks away nearby in a small zippered pocket on the lower-left inside of the liner. With the battery installed and the vest zipped up the bulk of the battery can be felt to a degree but the weight not so much – good placement regarding weight distribution and impact to the user, standing or sitting.
With the smooth-running fine-tooth zipper pulled up from the hem to the top of the full mandarin collar the torso and neck are fully covered. The arm cutouts are well shaped with bottom flex or stretch provided thanks to the stretchy comfortable side panels.
About Volt Heat
Volt Heat or H2C Brands, LLC is a FL based company whose mission and goal is “to develop heated products to help people feel good while looking good regardless of cold temperatures… Nobody likes to be cold.”
The company has evolved, moving from its first product, heated slippers, to an extensive line of wired and portable multi-voltage personal clothing and personal use products Of particular note is their (patented) Zero Layer® heat system that eliminates bulk while providing efficient heat transfer; more on this technology in the following section.
Volt Heat offers a full range of heated products – indoor/outdoor slippers, light to heavyweight gloves, mitts, single layer and insulated jackets, insulated vests, heated mid and base layer clothing, socks, scarf, travel pillow and heated seat cushions, along with the newer 12/7V Fusion products. A full range of batteries, harnesses, and controller accessories is available.
Zero Layer Technology & Connectivity
The Zero Layer approach sees ultra-thin heating panels constructed using tiny (imperceptible) stainless steel fibers woven into the insulating fabric panels. These heating elements are then encapsulated to protect the heating panels and connections from wear and tear for proven durability while eliminating bulk.
Application of the Zero Layer Technology is indeed a layered approach: (1) the top or outer layer is the shell fabric or mix of material (textile and leather) to keep the elements at bay; (2) insulation – advanced material to reflect heat back to the body and create a ‘cocoon’ of warmth; (3) the Zero Layer with its ultra-thin heating wires; and, (4) heat conduction and radiation – these heat transfer methods keep the user warm and help you resist the cold.
Conduction is the direct heat flow through matter resulting from physical contact; whereas Radiant heat is generated by infrared rays that emit towards the body.
All the Volt Heat products are tested at an Institute for Environmental Research so that the warmth and efficiency of the garments are both tested and validated for optimal performance.
Research is done under ATSM standards, with a thermal anatomical manikin utilized for precise computer-based measurements. The results of the research activities provide the means to engineer the heating system to each product for optimal performance over a wide range of temperatures.
As identified above the patented Zero Layer® heating system is engineered for and used between the 3V, 5V, 7V, and 12V products, with connectivity across the heated product line provided by: 3V – 1.3mm x 3.5mm coaxial DC connectors; 5V – USB-A; 7V – micro-USB style power connector; and, 12V – 2.5mm x 5.5mm coaxial connectors.
Fusion Dual Source Heated Vest Breakdown
Packaging for the Heated Vest kit is basic with everything needed to get up and heating included. Along with the neatly folded vest sealed in a plastic bag is the separate AC/DC charger and the packaged battery and 12V battery connection harness.
Optional accessories are a Y-splitter for powering the Fusion Heated Vest and Fusion Heated Gloves from a single battery harness and a 60cm (24in) coaxial extension harness.
- Dual voltage heating, 12V wired coaxial and 7V battery with micro-USB type connector
- Uses Volt’s new patent-pending Fusion Heating System
- Zero Layer® Heat System provides efficient heat transfer without the bulk
- While riding and powered by 12V, the vest battery is trickle charged
- When 12V source is disconnected, the 7.4V 3350mAh battery provides heating portability
- Power draw on 12V is 1.6A and on 7V it is ~0.8 – 1.0A
- 4-zone heating – two panels in chest, two large panels in upper & mid-lower back
- Includes 7.4V rechargeable battery and charger and 12V battery harness
- Push-button control on the lower left of vest (Red = High, Blue = Medium, Green = Low)
- Bluetooth Therm Controller with (downloadable) App for wireless control of the garment
- Typical battery output duration; High = 1.5hrs, Med = 2.75hrs and Low = 4hrs
- 7V battery and connector harness stored in a zippered pocket inside the left-hand pocket
- 12V male coaxial connector harness stored in lower left liner pocket
- Made with silky soft 30 denier quilted ripstop nylon with 150gr of insulation
- Stretch side panels for custom fit and comfort
- Elastic cinch adjusters on the left and right sides of hem
Sizing & Fit
Based on the sizing guide and my current light jackets and vests, XL seemed to be the logical choice, and indeed, it was the right choice.
Slipping the vest on and zipping it up fully makes for an encompassing but not tight torso fit with the side expansion panels doing what they do – allow stretch and flex.
This sleeveless vest, less the battery, is a real lightweight even in considering a few grams for harness and connectors. The battery adds about 127gr or 4.5oz.
Vest Features & Construction
Classic open arm or sleeveless styling never goes out of style…and why mess with something good, right? And Volt Heat hasn’t messed with anything; the result is a svelte looking and very thin garment perfect for mid-layer or outer layer use.
The 30 denier, quilted ripstop nylon shell is indeed “silky soft” and extremely lightweight; between this shell, the 150gr insulation layer and the extremely thin heating panels, there is very little bulk to this garment – it looks like a ‘puffy’ but really isn’t.
There are three main pockets, all with zippers. There are vertical hand warmer style pockets on each side and the third is a phone/wallet/glasses pocket in the usual upper left chest position on the inside beside the zipper.
As identified earlier, a smaller pocket in the left side hand pocket houses the 7V connection harness and the battery when installed. A small zippered slit pocket on the inside left liner houses the 12V connection harness.
The push-button control is located on the lower left front of the outer nylon shell just above the hem. It is the standard Volt Heat control – tactile friendly and surface lite for visual communications.
A new function is also assigned to the control, that being the prolonged press and hold step to initiate Bluetooth pairing between the small BT Therm Controller module and the host smart device (pairing and App use is described in a later section).
Fusion Power Options
As the name implies, the Volt Heat Fusion 12V/7V Dual Source Heated Vest offers 12V and 7V power options as well as two input or management options. The first option is direct input by accessing the control button, with the second option being the wireless Bluetooth remote control capability; is this being spoiled or what?
12V Wired Option
The 12V power source harness is 100cm/1m (39.3in) long with an in-line fuse holder; both positive and negative leads have ring terminals to facilitate battery connectivity.
7V Battery Option
Prepping the 7V option for use is easy. Full charge the battery using the provided AC/DC charger – full charge is indicated by all four tiny Blue LEDs lighting up on the battery when the (very) sensitive test button is pushed.
Unzip the pocket in a pocket on the left side, extract the 7V power connector, and once properly oriented push the connector into the battery port until it clicks into place. To remove the connector, push the spring-loaded tab on the battery and pull the connector out; this lock-in feature is a very good detail inclusion.
Fusion Heated Vest Control Options
In the ‘old days’ (I say knowingly), the simplest and usually the only way, to use heated gear was to connecting it to the power source along with some form of adjustable output control (temperature regulating device) so that slow-cooking didn’t become reality (been there, toasted that); progress is good.
But many lighter load (draw) devices, such as heated gloves or lightweight vests began to utilize a multi-step single control typically located somewhere on the garment for easy and safe access…
And the Fusion Heated Vest does indeed use a three-position (four with its BT mode) button (marked with a prominent ‘V’) and when held for two seconds it activates heating with the default setting being Hi (Red), unless it was set to another output level through use of the Bluetooth interface (see below).
But if “easy and safe access” isn’t possible, often due to the fact that the heated gear can be under one or two layers of riding gear, then either a secondary external controller can prove handy or, wireless management or remote control option – which the Fusion Heated Vest provides.
The wireless ‘remote control’ option is not a new capability for many accessories including some personal gear, but it seems Volt Heat is or could be one of the first to offer this capability for heated gear.
This feature or capability is most beneficial if/when the heated vest is a mid-layer under the outer riding gear, allowing remote control access of settings without having to stop and unzip or unbutton layers to access the push-button control…
Bluetooth Therm Controller
A close look at the Fusion Heated Vest control reveals a small Bluetooth logo in the lower right corner indicating that the garment is Bluetooth ready through use of the integrated BT Therm Controller, a small module stitched into the lower left front of the vest along with the connection wiring.
If this nifty feature is to be used, some preparation steps are necessary, so that the smart device or host can pair with the BT Therm Controller and the Fusion Heated Vest controlled wirelessly.
To get started, download or open the two .PNG files posted on the Volt Heat Fusion Vest page. These files are Page 1 and Page 2 of the Volt BT App Therm Controller Quick Start Guide. One page is somewhat of a summary page with a point-form setup listing while the other page is more visual based; but they do contain all the information needed.
A point form installation summary is provided here:
- Make sure Bluetooth (BT) is activated on the smart device to be used
- Download and install the Volt Heated Clothing App, available for iOS and Android
- Make sure the battery is connected to the vest; in doing this, the Control Button (‘V’) may light up Red/Blue/Green momentarily and then go off…mine doesn’t
- Launch the Volt Heated Clothing App on the smart device
- Press the Control Button for seven to eight (7-8) seconds until the control flashes ‘Blue’ (not white per the instructions) – the BT Therm Controller is now in pairing mode
- Press ‘Devices’ on the lower right of the App screen to bring up the Paired Devices page
- Press the ‘+’ sign on the upper right of the App screen to initiate the search between devices (note – depending on the devices, the next step may take a few seconds)
- When “hotup1213” appears along the top of the App screen the pairing is complete
- Press the ‘Home’ button on the lower left of the App screen, this will take you to the input or control screen
- From this screen, the user can choose between Low, Medium, High or Off (or On) by touching the respective icon
Note – if this sequence (based on the Quick Start Guide) does not work, turn everything off and try it again. This situation occurred with the iOS iPAD Mini 4 and the Nokia 7+ running BT5. But after deleting the original event pairings and doing it all again both devices successfully paired and were usable as remote controls for the Fusion Heated Vest.
Warranty & Product Support
Volt Heat products are covered with a Lifetime Limited Warranty, and if purchased from www.Voltheat.com directly, a 30-day money back guarantee is included.
If a Manufacturer’s Defect is determined within the first year from original purchase, Volt Heat will replace or repair the product at no cost, less shipping back to Volt Heat. Batteries and chargers are covered for 90 days from purchase.
After the first year and for the lifetime of your product, a Warranty Processing Fees table identifies the warranty processing fees by product. The Volt Resistance Lifetime Limited Warranty can be downloaded for reference and use.
Using the Fusion Heated Vest – Versatility in Action
For heat, health, and safety, one of the most effective solutions is to use heated gear. Through the years, technology has pushed, and consumer demand pulled so that now we have a lot of choices regarding heated gear, in virtually any form of garment, wired or portable, and some with the dual power source feature.
For me, heated gear over decades of riding has been an on and off thing – on some travel it proved essential, on others it was a burden gear-wise; but its value was always recognized.
In returning to the present I have become a frequent user of heated gear and the Fusion 12V/7V Dual Source Heated Vest with its functionality and portability is now a go-to garment.
Whether out for some limited riding forays, working outside, taking a self-isolation approach walk or working in the garage, and factoring in cool nights and slow to warm days, there are plenty of opportunities to utilize the Fusion Heated Vest.
Riding-wise, between some time in Virginia and here at home, riding temperatures ranging from -3C (26.6F) to 10C (50F) were the norm during this review, with both 12V and 7V modes used on a 50/50 basis to get a good sense of the deltas between the two modes and battery performance.
The Fusion Heated Vest, in 7V portable mode, with output set to Low or perhaps Mid, is the perfect warming mid or outer layer when working in the garage or outside and it makes transitioning between the house, garage and the outdoors much less noticeable when the vest is keeping the core insulated and warmed.
As a mid-layer under the riding gear, like the Rev’IT! OffTrack Jacket that is also a very versatile piece of gear, the Fusion Heated Vest, whether on 12V wired or 7V battery power, does the trick.
Around town, using the 12V power source, the Lo setting is usually enough – almost undetectable but warming and once on the back roads or highways at speed, Mid or Hi becomes the norm, especially Hi if wind chill and time spent in the saddle are factors.
By comparison, disconnecting the motorcycle supplied juice and letting the 7V battery take over, usually requires one step up, from Lo to Mid or Mid to Hi, to more, or less, provide the same feel and comfort levels vis-à-vis 12V mode.
For longer rides, battery life and output settings are factors to consider; but simply reconnecting the 12V source brings the warming back to expected levels in seconds and allows some adjustment down in output mode; and, the battery is being recharged, all within one to two hours of running time – sweet.
As with the batteries on the Fusion 12V/7V Dual Source Leather Motorcycle Heated Gloves, battery performance with the Fusion Heated Vest is good, so the stated run-time per power setting (Hi (Red) at 1.0hour, Med (Blue) at 2.0hrs and Lo (Green) up to 3hrs is close – usually within ten minutes on either side of the approximations.
This is all good from a predictive perspective; knowing the typical run time for any of the modes, the user can plan accordingly. The great thing here of course is that when running 12V mode the battery is constantly trickle charged; all good as a valuable ‘fail-safe’ if 12V power is lost for some reason…
As expected, there is a decrease in heating efficiency and thus warming effectiveness when going from 12V to 7V output, most often felt in ambient conditions with significant wind chill values. But this is a known and very acceptable tradeoff in getting the dual output capability.
Outside of the slightly large battery, an observation carried over from the Volt Heat Fusion Gloves review, there isn’t anything else to raise as an issue with the Fusion Heat 12V/7V Dual Source Heated Vest.
The XL Heated Vest is a near-perfect fit for my torso and neck and its warming can be felt and appreciated whether wearing a light long-sleeved base layer or even when worn over a secondary light fleece layer that is the norm when layering for cold weather riding.
The single push-button control delivers positive manual switching, although if desired and so configured, the integrated BT Therm Controller provides a simple remote control capability that once used is appreciated and typically, a safer option.
There is a bit of late-breaking news on the battery front…Chris from Volt Heat is sending a couple of the newer VB734U 7V 3400mAh replacement batteries to test with the Fusion Gloves and Fusion Vest – these batteries are listed on the Volt Heat Products/Batteries /Accessories page.
An update to both the Fusion Glove posting and this review will be done to provide the in-use findings with these replacement batteries. Down the road, an even larger capacity battery is a possibility as well.
The Bottom Line – an outstanding example of modern heated gear. The Volt Heat Fusion 12V/7V Dual Source Heated Vest with BT Therm Controller is one of the most versatile and (now) valued pieces of riding gear used. In 7V portable mode it has even more versatility; think of the possibilities… A highly recommended investment for many very warming returns.
- Dual source heating for versatility, efficiency & portability
- Lightweight comfortable garment
- Quality materials and build
- Stretch side panels provide comfort no matter the activity
- Excellent heating coverage for core back and chest areas
- Outstanding heated gear versatility on/off motorcycle
- Integrated 3-position output controller with wireless BT and App for remote control
- Big battery with very good capacity
- Limited lifetime warranty and direct purchase return guarantee
- Great return on the investment
- Battery is a bit large & heavy
- Battery can lose some charge when idle and connected (alternate battery options now available)
- Initial $$ outlay
- Manufacturer: Volt Heat
- Price when tested: $249.95 USD regular, may be available for less if on sale
- Made In: China
- Colour: Black
- Sizes: Small, Medium, Large, XL and 2XL (see Volt Heat sizing chart for details)
- Warranty: Lifetime Limited Warranty – one-year standard, with pro-rated product fee table beyond this time; 90-day warranty on batteries and chargers; 30—day money-back guarantee upon purchase directly from Voltheat.com
- Review Period/Date: February to March 2020