Tuesday, January 7, 2014

My Heated Gloves One Year In

This article is updated for 2015 at the end.

So last year I finally gave up on cold hands and bought a pair of battery powered heated gloves (see that blog post here: http://ianloughead.blogspot.ca/2013/02/winter-cycling-and-cold-hands-part-2.html ).

My main goal was to use these gloves for my winter commute via bicycle in Halifax. While the temps rarely get down as cold as places like Ottawa or Calgary, they do sometimes dip into the world of  -20C. Also as I have be growing older I have noticed my tolerance to cold, especially on my hands has been getting lower and lower. At this point when things hit -5C or less and there is any wind (welcome to Halifax, there is always wind) my hands just can't seem to take it. And it is really my fingers which get so cold. I doubt this is true Raynaud's, but it doesn't matter because my fingers get numb and then painful. And I have tried numerous gloves and mittens, all of which are okay, but not good enough for my cycling commute of 45 minutes to an hour (depending on road conditions).

So why not just drive you ask? Well I certainly could, but I don't want to. I want to remain active and cycling to work as much as possible helps me do that, and frankly, it was only my fingers that were a problem.

So anyway, I searched and read reviews and searched some more and finally came across the gloves which I bought from a Calgary company called Power in Motion.  What first drew me in was that they were a Canadian company, but also that they were a cycling company and an electric bike company at that. They researched and designed their own gloves which seemed a far better option than the other heated gloves I cam across, most of which were meant for snowmobiling or motorcycles, or were just sad cheap gloves with batteries that did next to nothing.

So what drew me in most of all was the fact that these gloves heated your fingers! Yes, not your palms, but your fingers and knuckles. And these were glove liners, so you could use them with your existing gloves. This became an even better feature as I found out later.

Now they may seem expensive at first, but when I figured out how many tanks of gas I would not have to use by being able to cycle in the winter I was sold. For most cars with the price of gas these days it was equal to about 3 tanks for the gloves, wires and a battery. It was a little more money to go for 2 batteries, which is nice, but certainly not essential.

I emailed the owner of Power in Motion, Ken and we chatted about the gloves and he hooked me up with his partner John in Ottawa who had a pair in my size in stock. John owns Bay Cycle and Sport and was super easy to order from, with the gloves shipped to me with a few days. If you are in Eastern Canada and want a pair I would deal with his shop, http://baycyclesports.com/ .

Okay onto the gloves one year later Ian. Move along as we read last years report (well maybe we did).

One year later and the gloves are still great. I charged them in the Spring and stored them in a cool place for the summer (my basement) and then pulled them out as the temperatures dipped below zero. This is where I really found that having liners instead of full fledged gloves was a bonus.

These gloves operate at three temperature settings, 30C, 40C and 50C. So depending on the weather of the day I can adjust the heat the gloves put out, with my choice of over glove. Sometime I use a leather work glove, other times my wind proof fleece lined lobster mitts, and even my heavy mittens if it gets that cold. And I can adjust the temp on the fly with the easy to push button on the wrist. That button is generally bright enough to show through even my heavy rain coat I wear as a top layer, while riding at night.

The gloves themselves have been robust and have shown me no signs of wear. The batteries still hold a good charge, and though I have not tested them to their max, they are able to keep on max setting for my entire commute in to work and back home, which as I have said can take close to an hour each way some days. This is both with the 2 battery or 1 battery setup. On a lower setting there is no worry about losing charge.

I rode much of last winter on a one battery system and it was fine, before I switch ed to the 2 battery system.  The advantage is that with 2 batteries, you get a much longer run time and complete freedom of movement. The disadvantage is a little bulk on your wrists. For me this isn't an issue, especially when riding either my daily commute or on a mountain bike taring through the woods.

The one battery system was much lighter and felt quit nice while riding. Where I didn't like it was when getting dressed. The wires ran down my sleeves and to a back pocket which held the battery. It was sometimes annoying getting the ends plugged into the gloves, until I found a system that worked well. This was a slight annoyance though and not a huge bother. They have since altered the design though, which I might like to try out. The newer design seems easier to get sorted out in the morning before your ride.

Now as I said, I originally bought these gloves for commuting, but this season they have been used for many more things. I am also a runner and while my hands don't get as cold while running, once the temperatures hit below -10C, my fingers get chilled easily and any run over 30 minutes is hard. So I tried these out this year for running, wondering they might be a bother. They weren't. I wore the 2 battery system and tucked the battery under my tight base layer. This prevent any jostling for my entire 45 minute run, and my fingers were warm and happy. As the temperature rose near the end of my run I was able to turn the heat down easily enough as well. Bonus!

And Halifax now has an outdoor long track speed skating oval, which is open to the public most of the time. Again, skating with these on was no issue and kept my hands nice and happy.

And just to show that they are durable, I use them on cold morning like we had recently when I have to shovel snow for extended periods. I put my work gloves on top and shovel away with no cold hands.

Oh and another reason it is nice that these are glove liners?

See the finger and thumb? Those let you use your smart phone or tablet or any touch screen without needing to take the heated portion of your glove off. You slip off the top glove, talk, take a picture, whatever, but your hand stays warm. Brilliant.

I am free for any other questions people have, leave me a comment or chat with me on Google+ at http://google.com/+IanLoughead . I know it it tricky to want to spend money on an unknown quantity and I hope this blog post or my previous one has assured you that this is a quality product. 

Update 2015:

I have noticed that the newer gloves coming out don't have the smart phone/tablet sensitive finger and thumb any longer. I contacted the company about that and apparently it was prone to failure in the early gloves (not mine), so for the time being that feature isn't on the gloves anymore.
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