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Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Wearable tech to keep you warm

Thanks to continuous advances in technology, in recent years more companies are introducing wearable technologies – jackets, vests, gloves, insoles, face masks, tops and bottoms – that can literally keep you warm for hours. There are even battery-powered electric-heated socks.

Volt Heat is one such company that manufactures and distributes electrically heated clothing utilizing its patented Zero Layer® heating system.

“We mainly sell our Volt-branded products through specialty retailers and catalogs like Brookstone and Sharper Image, but also private label for some large original equipment manufacturers,” said Colby Wright, a customer service representative for Volt Heat, which was founded in 2010 in Olympia, Wash. The company merged with another company in 2012 to create H2C Brands LLC, which owns the Volt brand.

“Our business has been trending more towards direct to consumer sales, which benefits the customer, allowing us to offer some products at lower retail prices,” he said.

With a unique patented Zero Layer® heating systems that was developed in the U.S., Wright says it is used exclusively in all of the Volt products.

“We don’t use ready-made heating systems out of carbon fiber or other cheap heating materials. We make every Zero Layer® Heat System in our own factory,” he said. “For instance, our heating panels will provide over 150 degrees (F) of heat on the highest power level setting where other heating systems max out at 135 degrees. Our technology allows us to achieve higher heat using less or the same amount of power. Our products can reach temperatures on a medium setting that most competitors can only get to on their highest setting.”

One of the Volt Heat’s most popular items is its heated gloves, which come in many different styles and are designed for different cold environment activities.

“Our customers like our heated gloves as they provide more heat output and heat coverage than other heated gloves in the market,” said Wright. “Most heated gloves only heat one side of the fingers, where our gloves provide heat around both sides of the fingers, as well as the back and palm of the hand. We have a couple of new styles of ski gloves that we are excited about that will be available in November only through brick and mortar retailers.”

Helly Hansen is another company that knows a thing or two about outerwear. Founded in 1877 in Norway, the company began manufacturing and selling oilskin jackets. Today, the company has offices in Vancouver, Seattle, Germany and China, and with its main headquarters in Oslo, Norway, offers a wide range of wearable technology outerwear. Two of Helly Hansen’s most popular technologies are Life Merino Baselayers and H2Flow Temperature Regulation technology.

Damien Etchaubard, Canadian marketing manager for Helly Hansen, says that the Lifa Merino base layer (which is proprietary) pulls the moisture away from the body and out to the next or outer layer so you stay dry and comfortable with no moisture touching your skin. Lifa technology was actually introduced in 1970 and was the first synthetic base layer to come on the market globally.

“The wool keeps you warm, while the synthetic Lifa fabric moves the moisture away from your skin,” he said. “And with our H2Flow technology, this allows hot air to escape and keep you dry. It also keeps warm air inside and circulates and captures it when you need the heat.”

Etchaubard adds that Helly Hansen continues to develop new and innovative H2Flow designs every year. Since 2012 (when H2Flow was introduced), the company has used different types of insulation in various formations inside jackets to regulate temperature in a way that makes the most sense given the general usage meant for a specific jacket.

“In some jackets, we’ll use pillows of insulation on the back, while in others there will be visible holes in the insulation to allow air trapping and/or release,” said Etchaubard. “All of which is designed to allow air to circulate or be trapped depending if you want more heat or to cool down.”

With respect to cost, over the past few years, Helly Hansen has been able to maintain a competitive price point for these technologies, he says.

“Since we are always evolving and making our technology better, the price has remained stable and competitive. We’re always seeking new ways to make clothing more comfortable, which allows you to stay outdoors longer and feel alive. Two years ago and continuing to this day, we partnered with a Ph.D. student who specializes in body heat mapping. Due to this partnership, we evolved H2Flow and our base layers to make these technologies more effective and performance-oriented for both men and women.”

At Volt Heat, Wright says they have been able to remain competitive in an increasing competitive market because their products are neither the most or least expensive option in wearable technology.

“Our goal is to provide the best quality product that will exceed your expectations at a fair price. We incorporate our heating system into stylish designs, while using technical fabrics and advanced insulating materials. The Zero Layer Heat System is so thin and versatile it allows us to create fashionably modern products without adding bulk.”

Offering extreme durability, ultra-thin heating panels are constructed using tiny, imperceptible stainless-steel fibers that are woven onto an insulated fabric. These heating elements are then encapsulated with a special thermal bonding process that permanently protects the heating panels and connections from the wear and tear caused by the rigors of daily use.

The Volt brand also uses use four different heating systems that are designed to be powered by different power sources – 3v, 5v, 7v or 12v. “We use the highest quality lithium battery cells to power the Volt products,” said Wright.

The Volt brand and product line was created by a team of specialists that have been developing and manufacturing heated clothing for more than 15 years. “This includes products for consumers, professionals, athletes and the U.S. military,” said Wright.

Wearables keep you connected, too

If keeping you warm for hours on end during cold winter activities isn’t innovative enough, there is outerwear on the market that can charge your gadgets, too.

Ravean, a U.S. company that offers heated outwear, sleeping bags and accessories, also has a jacket that keeps you warm and – because it’s equipped with a long-lasting polymer battery – allows the wearer to charge their smartphone on the go. You can also buy heated gloves that provides ability to interact with the display on your smartphone, all without removing them, which connects directly to the jacket itself.

What will they think of next?