January 7, 2011

Milwaukee M12 Heated Jacket - Review

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Once you've conquered the massive 12-volt Pex expander market, there's really nowhere left to go but casual outerwear. And that's what Milwaukee has done. Their crushing domination of the 12-volt world is fully on display with the release of their new M12 Heated Jacket. It's almost like they're taunting the other companies at this point. Whether or not that's actually the case (it probably isn't), they nicely sent us one to check out.

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Heated jackets aren't new things, they've been circulating around the motorcycle world for a while now, but this is the first one that is compatible with a power tool battery. The Milwaukee coat actually looks like any other sporty looking bright red coat (with a Milwaukee lightning bolt logo), and if the indicator light isn't on, no one would think it was any different from your blue Bosch coat or your yellow DeWalt coat.

A few things about the coat:

1.The battery hides in a small zippered pocket to the rear of the left hip. The battery location is in a spot where it's not a bother and I know this because as soon as I put the coat on, I would immediately forget it was there. In the time I've been wearing this coat, I've been in and out of trucks, up ladders, working in the shop, working on projects, stacking wood, and all those other things you do when it gets chilly out. The only time I noticed the battery was when I was on my back working under a cabinet and even then I was able to easily shift the unit to the side to get it out of the way.

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2. The coat warms up three distinct areas; the center of your back and two spots on your chest (right where your man-boobs are).

3. According to Milwaukee, a battery gets you about six hours worth of heat. We put a battery in, set the coat to the hottest setting and exactly six hours later (to the minute), the battery died. Keep in mind we were using one of Milwaukee's new Red Lithium batteries, so if you use one of your older batteries, don't expect to get that kind of duration.

To test the coat I just wore it around for about a month or so and it honestly wasn't what I was expecting at all. When I first heard about the coat, I was thinking more along the lines of 'heating blanket.' Something that would actively heat you up and keep you toasty, but that's actually not the case. I found that the jacket doesn't so much keep you warm as it prevents you from being cold. There's no blazing heat and sweaty face. Instead, it's like there's a little buffer between you and the harsh, terrible, brutal and cold world. Like an added foot of R-30 insulation around your torso.

milwaukee_jacket_front.JPGWhen I wore a t-shirt directly underneath the coat, I could feel the warmth coming off of the jacket, but not a whole lot. Once a flannel shirt went on, I didn't actually feel any heat, but I did notice that while my face was damn cold, my body wasn't.

Where this coat is really going to be valuable is around 2:30 on a cold work day. You've had lunch and you're slowing down and it's around that point when your body starts giving up and getting really, really tired. There's no exhaustion quite like the kind you get from being outside all day in 10 degree weather and this coat should go a long way towards holding that feeling at bay.

And this coat sure is a show stopper. Everyone I met noticed the little glowing button and was fascinated when I explained the jacket to them. To a person, they all thought it was the coolest thing they'd seen in a long time. I'd have to agree.

The M12 Heated Jacket is selling for $120 with no battery or charger and about $170+ with charger and one battery.

At Amazon.com and Ohio Power Tool.

Read More in: All Reviews | Clothing | Cordless | Lithium-Ion

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Posted by Doug Mahoney at January 7, 2011 6:03 AM

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Recent Comments

I have this jacket and it really is awesome. Even if it didn't have the battery and heating elements, it would still be a warm jacket. Where the jacket really shines is just as Doug said, when you start slowing down. I've found when I'm working hard outside I need to turn it off because it is roasting. I took it ice skating the other day and anything above a gentle glide was too hot. I do wish it came with 2 batteries because it seems to run out at inconvenient times. Mileage may vary on the battery, I certainly get less than 6 hours per charge and I mostly have it on medium (white) or low (blue). Perhaps the warm-up cycle drains the battery. A couple of those and then running on low and I get less than 6 hours. The only time I notice the placement of the battery is when I sit in an automobile seat that has side bolsters. A quick shift of the coat though keeps the battery from poking the kidney. Overall an excellent product and worth the purchase even if no other M12 tools are owned. In my opinion the coat is the "killer application" in the M12 line.


Posted by: jeff_williams at January 7, 2011 10:26 AM

For the sake of science we need comparisons between the jacket and the aforementioned torso wrap of r-30. With pictures for documentation purposes, of course.


Posted by: Paul at January 7, 2011 7:56 AM
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