Every hunting season there seems to be a big emergence of items featuring heated garments to help us to face the cold outdoors. Many times, these cold-weather clothing items come from manufacturers who normally produce only clothing. I recently had the chance to test the clothing made by tool manufacturer Milwaukee. I received a jacket, hand-warmer, a battery with charger, and two battery holders.
This was my first experience with Milwaukee equipment and I was curious how the clothing would hold up to the rigors of hunting. The company starts with a really well-made jacket. The material is a rugged wind- and water-resistant shell with a respectably warm liner. All the exterior zippers are sealed to be water resistant, and the zippers are silenced as well.
I received a large-size jacket and it fit a little tight in the shoulders. This is only an issue when I am actually aiming my rifle, bow, or other weapon of choice. I would recommend going a little larger in size to have a bit more maneuverability.
The heating elements are located on the front and rear of the chest area, and also each pocket has a small heating area (facing the inside of the jacket). To see the areas more specifically, I would check out the manufacturer’s page. While wearing this jacket in 15 mph winds on a 45° day, with only a long-sleeve t-shirt underneath, I did not even need to turn on the electrical heat.
The battery is a standard Milwaukee M12 compact battery that works in every Milwaukee M12-series tool (made up of over 50 different tools). That’s the really great story here; you really need to treat yourself to a Milwaukee compact power tool. I purchased the M12 drill/driver and was very impressed (but that’s a review for another day). I would strongly recommend that you have a minimum of two batteries to alternate charging. Which brings me to price: these batteries are not cheap. You can get one for $39.00, or a two pack for $69.00. Of course, you can also go for the 2.0 battery version which lasts about 20-30 percent longer for $49.00.
On the jacket, the button to activate the main heating area (as well as the pocket warmers) is inside the jacket and has three heat levels to choose from: high (red light), medium (white), and low (blue). There is also an identical button that operates the pocket warmers, located right next to the jacket button. Inside the jacket liner, you will also find one mesh pocket and one phone pocket with a headset opening. The jacket has a battery compartment on the left rear side of the jacket. If you are sitting in a car, you will feel the battery pressing against your back, which isn’t ideal. This exterior pocket seems about the right size for a small handheld radio (8 x 4.5″).
The hand-warmer is also made with similar-quality materials. The cuffs have elastic to seal out the cold air, though you really could just wear a glove liner on very cold days (I’ve tested this unit down to a windy 22°). The battery compartment is located directly in front and therefore is very obtrusive. The battery sits right on your hands, and each time you bend at the waist, the battery can be felt. I really did not care for using the battery with the hand-warmer, and resorted to using disposable pocket warmers instead.
Overall, I would say that the Milwaukee M12 jacket and hand-warmer are well made and will provide an additional layer to keep you warm. They also allow you to move through the woods quietly and without too much hassle from the brush. On the coldest of days, that extra heat from the battery packs will go a long way to helping you stay comfortable, and that translates to more time in the woods.
- Wind and rain-blocking material that will not snag on thorns.
- Well-designed jacket and hand-warmer that still offer some warmth when the batteries die.
- Great for a second or third layer.
- Extra batteries are expensive, unless purchased with a tool.
- Location for battery pocket could be better – hopefully that will be an improvement seen on future models.
- Batteries are heavy, bulky, and expensive, but do work with other Milwaukee M12 products.
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