I’m not usually thrilled about jacket weather in May. Especially not jacket weather in late May. As far as I’m concerned, every day after Mother’s Day that I have to wear something that’s not shorts and a Cow’s parody t-shirt is a crime against all that is good and true. This May, however, I’ve been happy to make an exception. Which is good, because Mother Nature has been only too obliging in supplying all the chilly weather you could ask for. So, why am I happy for the colder temperatures? Well, that’s got a lot to do with the jacket in the below pictures.
The jacket you were just looking at is the Venustas Men’s 7.4V Heated Jacket. As the name suggests, this is a heated jacket. In other words, it comes with a battery pack and heating patches that make you feel like you’ve slipped a handful of hot water bottles into the lining of your jacket, without all the water weight. I don’t know who came up with the idea of heated clothing originally, but whoever they are, they’re a genius. Venustas is a relatively young company, they were founded in 2018, but they’ve carved out a niche in the heated apparel space and now offer over 40 products. The 7.4v jacket was, however, their first product, and it’s clear that they’ve taken the time to refine it over the years.
While I’ve always been curious about heated gear, I hadn’t yet made the leap. However, a Venustas rep reached out recently and asked if I’d like to try out their jacket and I was only too happy to jump at the opportunity (in other words, Venustas offered me the jacket to try out). Here’s what I found:
Design & Fit
This is a hooded jacket, so you’re covered from the top of your head to just below your hips. This version of the jacket is a combination polyester shell and silver thermal mylar lining. Mylar is the same material they use to line some sleeping bags and emergency blankets, and I can say that even without the heating elements on, the jacket does a good job of retaining heat. The jacket is mid weight jacket and feels solid without feeling heavy. I’m a medium in Venustas’ sizing (I’m 5’10, 165 lbs, pretty average chest size), and the fit was really good for me. The jacket feels snug in all the right places, while allowing for decent movement if you’re engaging in a more active activity like hiking
There are five heating panels sewn into the jacket’s lining. Two on the chest, two on the shoulders and one on the upper-mid back. Venustas says that these are there to target your core, and I’m not going to argue with them. The heating panels are controlled by a button on the front of the jacket. Pressing the button once for 3-5 seconds turns the elements on and starts the pre-heating cycle. While the jacket is pre-heating the button will blink red. The good news is that you can feel the heat almost immediately, so you don’t have to wait for preheating to finish to start reaping the benefits. Once the pre-heating cycle is done, you can press the button to toggle between three colours which correspond to three settings: blue is low, white is medium and red is high. I found that blue was good enough to take the chill off, while white was noticeably warm and red was hot.
The jacket comes with a dedicated rechargeable battery, a USB-C cable and an adapter to plug that cable into the wall. Charging takes about six hours to get to full. There’s a handy digital charge meter on the side of the battery that lets you know how far along you are. Once the battery is fully charged it plugs into the jacket via a DC cable in an inside pocket. The battery isn’t very heavy, and is barely noticeable once you’ve got it plugged in. It basically feels like you’ve got a phone in there. Battery life depends on how hot you’re keeping the jacket. The warmer the panels, the shorter the battery life. Venustas says that the battery will last 3 hours on high heat, 5 hours on medium and 8 hours on low. I found that to be more or less the case out of the box. I do wonder if I’d get the same result after a year of use and recharging, but I guess I won’t know the answer to that until next year (coming in 2024, the Venustas 7.4v heated jacket review, part two!).
I’m a fan of this jacket so far. It does a great job of taking the chill off of a cold day. I wore it with just a t-shirt underneath when the temperatures got around zero and had no trouble staying warm. I haven’t had a chance to try it out during true winter temperatures, and with any luck I won’t get that chance until sometime next December, but so far it’s been more than a match for what this (surprisingly chilly) spring has thrown at us. I wouldn’t expect the heating elements to completely negate an Ottawa winter on their own, you’re going to want a layer or two underneath, but it’s going to take the edge off. The warmth is just that, warmth. It doesn’t feel like I’ve wrapped myself in an electric blanket, more like I’ve just put on a jacket that was hanging by the fire, but that keeps that toasty feeling going for hours.
From a camping perspective, I think this jacket is extremely well suited for shoulder season hiking and car camping. As far as canoe tripping is concerned, it’s a bit on the bulky side if space in your pack is at a premium. It comes with its own water resistant sack, but it doesn’t pack down all that small. It’s going to take up a chunk of the real estate in your backpack if you carry it with you. If, however, you’re doing some front country camping and have the luxury of a vehicle to carry extra gear, this would be a fantastic addition to your packing list.
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