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Bruno Valeri
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Product Evaluations

Widder: Motorcycle Electric heated vest System2 Lectric-vest and ArmChaps product review

Original posting Nov 03
Updated Nov 05

category: Motorcycle riding Electric heated vest review

I'd been considering adding heated arm coverage to my motorcycle electric heated vest for quite some time. That and heated neck coverage too. Though my regular Widder electric vest was plenty warm, my thinking was that by heating more surface area, I could use a lower setting. And to my mind a low simmer is more comfortable for long rides than a setting at roast (for more info).

However, I wasn't sure I wanted a full sleeve model. While there's nothing wrong with full sleeve heated garments (they're convenient), it seemed to me that they might also decrease versatility.

Over time I've developed a method of dressing when dealing with the elements (whether skiing, hiking, riding etc). To avoid the Michelin man feeling, every piece of garment has to give maximum return for its bulk. That's why the Widder arm chap system seemed like such a clever and elegant solution. When I don’t need heated arms, I unsnap the chaps and roll them up. Simple.

I can turn the electric heated vest on during a chilly morning ride and have the arm chaps provide welcome warmth. As the day heats up, I turn the vest off. The arm chaps don't add any bulk around the shoulder/arm junction. Nor do they prevent cooling ventilation with my jacket vents open the way attached sleeves would. In fact, if the temperature is not too warm, they can stay on all day and not cause discomfort.

In addition, the System2 Lectric heated vest has a heated collar. I find it very effective and comfortable. Of course this is a personal preference. Some like a vest with a collar, others prefer without. I like with.

The outer shell is constructed of a light windproof Cordura-type material and seems quite effective, though I have to wonder if a wind flap over or under the zipper wouldn't further increase sealing against cold wind. For warmth retention there is a light layer of Thinsulate.

What I found:

Vest: The Widder heated vest is very effective. It provides good heat and is comfortable to wear. It is rated betweem 33 and 35 watts for most sizes. This makes is particularly suited to motorcycles with lower output alternators.

However, this lower watt rating also means a lower total heat output. To get a fix on this, I set up a standardized test and took some temperature readings. I was not concerned about temperatures achieved by the heating elements. Rather, I was interested in seeing how much heat was radiated by the liner to warm up the internal air space.

This involved suspending the Widder heated vest on a hanger and sealing off the sleeve and neck openings. I then suspended a heat probe at about sternum level and at about the same distance from the front and back of the liner. I was looking to measure how warm the internal air space would become from the radiated heat. No contact with elements allowed.

I observed the following: At full power and 20 minutes from cooldown, I measured 36C (96.8F). It's not that the individual elements don't reach a high enough temperature. They do. It's just that, for the 33 watt draw, there are relatively fewer elements, not enough to raise the inner air temperature higher. This means that the Widder vest needs to be worn very snuggly and close to the skin for best results. It warms best by contact, and puts out relatively low amounts of radiated heat. This is not a fault but a result of the low watt draw.

Heated Chaps: The heated chaps draw a total of 20 watts, 10 watts per arm. As such, they put out relatively less heat than the vest in terms of surface area. Again, this is not a surprise but is a function of the low watt draw. Keeping this in mind, as they warm stricly by contact, best results are obtained when wearing the arm chaps very close to the skin ie over a t-neck sleeve.

Overall:

The Widder System2 heated vest and ArmChap combo provides good versatility. I think of it in terms of technical clothing. Wearing it close to the skin results in maximizing heat transfer.







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