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Can You Ski in Heated Jackets?

Woman with hot drink staying near car trunk in a snowy pine forest.

Yes! Heated jackets are a safe option for staying warm and comfortable while skiing or snowboarding. Although people sometimes worry about overheating while exercising in a heated jacket – while skiing or snowboarding, for example – it’s very easy to turn down or turn off the heating elements inside the jacket, and most heated jackets will automatically shut off if they reach a higher than average temperature. The likelihood of danger, or even discomfort, due to overheating is minimal.

It just isn’t a problem that people normally have. You can wear heated jackets anywhere you can ski or snowboard. There is no requirement that you use the heating element inside a heated jacket, and if you do, it is only helpful in giving you the best athletic performance and the most enjoyable experience you can get on the slopes.

I learned to ski in some extremely cold conditions where I live on the east coast of Canada. In conditions below -20 C, it is just hard to feel comfortable even in the dry beauty of those crisp, cold days. Exercise and movement help to keep your core temperature high, but with each breath, you are inhaling cold air, and no matter what you are wearing, as you gain speed, the apparent wind takes the heat out of you and leaves you feeling cold on the inside.

When your core temperature is too low, both your decision-making and your overall performance suffer. This can be uncomfortable and inconvenient, or downright dangerous. Skiing and snowboarding depend on second to-second reflexes that are significantly dulled in the coldest of conditions.

How Do They Work?

Most heated jackets are powered by rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that run heating coils embedded in their linings. Many have multiple temperature settings to ensure your jacket doesn’t overheat, but none will add more than 30° F to 40° F of heat to your body. Some outdoor enthusiasts consider heated jackets to be unnecessary for ski trips, arguing that clothing isn’t what keeps skiers warm.

Instead, they say it’s more about staying active on the slopes and choosing thick layers. That said, heated ski jackets can keep your core warm even when you aren’t skiing, and some models even have a water-resistant outer shell, so they can handle snow showers better than traditional winter coats.

Are Heated Jackets Heavy?

Blue winter jacket isolated on white background.

Some heated jackets are also heavier, but on average, there’s not much of a difference between normal and heated jackets when it comes to weight. For example, under most conditions, a non-heated down jacket will weigh about 10 ounces.  A premium quality down heated jacket might be an ounce or two heavier.

A fleece heated jacket will only be one or two ounces heavier than an identical model without heating elements. So, while they can make jackets heavier, there aren’t generally significant weight increases that would make them impractical for everyday use.

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Finding a Quality Heated Jacket

Batteries

3D render graphic of batteries.

If your heated jacket doesn’t have quality lithium-ion batteries, there’s a chance that it won’t perform at optimum levels. Batteries are very important, so always make sure that your jacket uses top-of-the-line lithium-ion batteries before purchasing. Quality batteries will last much longer than cheap options and provide more consistent heat for longer periods of time.

Be careful about purchasing products that run off disposable batteries—the battery life might not be what you want or need while on the slopes.

The Heat Can Be Adjusted

The best heated jackets can be adjusted to have either one or all three heaters running at once. If you’re just going out for a quick jaunt to warm up, you may want to go with only two heaters on your chest and back. A one-heater vest that’s paired with an insulated jacket underneath can offer plenty of warmth without overdoing it.

However, if you intend on spending hours on the slopes, then you may want more than three heaters inside. Doing so means that your body is perfectly warm throughout, making you less likely to get cold during rest breaks. Your whole body will be warm while every part can maintain core temperatures as you slide down mountainsides at top speeds.

It’s like skiing in your sleeping bag!

Fit

Don’t go cheap when it comes to your winter wear; get a jacket that fits you properly. If it’s too tight, you may have trouble adding layers to stay warm if you need to, which is potentially dangerous on a slope. It should also be thick enough so that you don’t feel the wind getting through from underneath.

A nice middle ground is a synthetic puffy—it won’t be as warm as down, but it’ll still keep you cozy.

Weather Resistance

No matter how impressive a jacket looks, if it isn’t wind and waterproof, it’s not going to be very comfortable on a ski trip. One of the best types of membrane for jackets is Gore-Tex. This material provides waterproof protection from precipitation as well as a breathable layer that allows body heat to escape without letting any cool drafts get through.

The great thing about Gore-Tex is that it allows moisture out but keeps moisture in—unlike neoprene membranes that tend to get sweaty when wet and lose their insulating qualities. If there’s one type of membrane you should look for when buying a heated jacket, it’s definitely Gore-Tex. Don’t want to get wet? No problem!

What about base layers, mid-layers, and outerwear in between?

Base layers are exactly what they sound like—the layer closest to your skin. The purpose of base layers is to provide warmth and wick moisture away from your body, so it’s important that base layers are made with materials such as merino wool or synthetic blends that keep you warm and dry. Next up, mid-layers! Midlayers help hold in heat and keep out cold air.

They typically consist of fleece or puffy jackets that can be worn under an outer shell on cold days or alone on milder ones. Some people even choose to wear light rain shells over mid-layers when temperatures dip too low for their outer shell but not quite low enough for an insulated one (such as skiing).

See also  What is a Heated Jacket?

Outerwear wraps things up by keeping out wind and water. It also protects your base layers from getting dirty. If you’re looking for a good all-around ski jacket, look for one with at least two waterproof layers to protect against snow and moisture.

If you tend to ski in colder weather, look for a jacket with extra insulation such as Primaloft® or ThinsulateTM. And if it’s really cold out there, consider layering up with some mid-layers underneath your outerwear—it will make all the difference between feeling comfortable and freezing your butt off!

What Material Are Heated Jackets Made Out Of?

Nowadays, heated jackets are made with a nylon shell with a heated inner fleece jacket. The inner fleece is usually brushed cotton on top, lined with flannel to give it a nice soft feel. The insulating part of these jackets is usually synthetic or down feathers, or both, sandwiched between layers of nylon shell.

The inner lining can be made from nylon and polyester too.

How Long Do They Last?

Because lithium-ion batteries lose about 2 percent of their charge per month, even if it’s on standby, many companies recommend you fully charge them before storing them for months at a time; most claim that their battery life is good for up to three years.

Temperature Level of Heated Jackets

As mentioned, adjustable heated jackets run anywhere from 86 degrees to 122 degrees (Fahrenheit). The thing to consider here is that many ski slopes have average temperatures of around 28 degrees. Obviously, there are other outside factors—wind chill and precipitation being two of them—that can make it feel even colder.

So, for those cold-weather skiers, we recommend an adjustable heated jacket that can be cranked up to at least 105 so you stay comfortable during your entire ski day.

How Do You Wash Them?

Close up of a washing machine in a wash cycle.

If your heated jacket is fully machine washable, take out the battery and put it in the washing machine. Dry it flat and preferably not in direct sunlight so that the fabric stays nice and soft. You can also hand wash your jacket and just let it dry naturally after use and charge it again later.

Are heated jackets harmful? Can they catch fire or overheat?

No – heated jackets are not harmful. They will not catch fire, electrocute you, or burn your skin. It’s easy to understand the anxiety around heated jackets.

Carrying around a little battery that powers heating elements in your clothes can lead to logical (but misguided) thoughts like – could these clothes catch fire? Could I overheat and not be able to get out of my clothes in time? The copper that heats up in a heated vest or heated jack is never going to get that hot.

The maximum temperature for most heated vests or jackets is 122 F, or 50 C, which might be uncomfortable, especially indoors, but is unlikely to be harmful. Most heated vests enclose their heated zones in carbon fiber, which has a flashpoint as high as 3000 F. Heated vests or jackets never catch on fire because they can’t get that hot.

Heated vests and jackets for skiing and snowboarding include an internal thermostat with automatic shutoffs. If your body heat, plus the heat generated by the battery exceeds a certain temperature, it will shut down. This is a simple failsafe that makes it almost impossible to overheat.

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Do heated jackets cause cancer?

Like cell phones, heated jackets include computers that release small amounts of electromagnetic radiation. This has led some people to speculate that they could cause cancer. There is no evidence to support this, but you don’t have to take my word for it: the World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer did a complete report and ruled that there is no evidence that heated jackets cause cancer.

Do heated jackets affect pacemakers?

Although electromagnetic energy does not cause cancer, it can affect pacemakers, unfortunately. Anything with electricity gives off electromagnetic energy (EMC). Heated vests include a battery that gives off electromagnetic energy.

Therefore, heated vests are not recommended for those who have pacemakers.

How long does it take a heated jacket to charge?

Although different brands have batteries with different charge times, most heated jackets take between 2 and 3 hours to charge completely, and should not be left to charge overnight.

How long do heated jackets last?

How long a heated jacket will last depends on the brand of the jacket (which includes the model of the battery), and for heated jackets with multiple temperature settings, on how high the temperature was set. Most heated jackets last between 2 and 10 hours when fully charged, depending on the temperature settings they use. For example, a heated jacket will last longer by using less energy in the “low” temperature setting.

How Much Do They Cost?

You can pick up a decent one for around the price of a weekend lift ticket, but if you’re looking for quality and durability, it’s worth investing in a really nice one.  You’ll find models with Bluetooth connectivity so that your phone can talk to them (or vice versa) and adjust settings like temperature and intensity of heat.

They also tend to have better battery life—some claim more than 10 hours on one charge—and thinner insulation, which may feel less bulky while you’re skiing.

Can you put a heated jacket in the dryer?

If you put a heated jacket in the dryer, you need to use a lower temperature setting. The battery inside heated vests and heated jackets needs to remain below a certain temperature or there is a danger of explosion. With this little detail in mind, it is possible to put most heated vests and jackets into the dryer safely, as long as it is run on the gentlest setting with a low temperature.

Heated jackets for skiing and snowboarding

If it’s too cold to enjoy yourself on the slopes, heated jackets are a great piece of gear to have for skiing and snowboarding. They are safe to wear, with no danger of overheating or catching fire. Unless you have a heart condition and a pacemaker, there is no reason to avoid using heated jackets.

They can last for 2-10 hours on a single charge, which typically takes 2-3 hours. You can machine wash most heated jackets and throw them in the dryer afterward, as long as you use a lower temperature setting. Heated jackets and vests are great for skiing and snowboarding.

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