It’s amazing how much technology has started to pervade into our outdoor gear these days. As someone who gets dozens of pitches in my email each and every day, I’ve seen a sudden rush of gear that uses battery packs to bring warmth to the wearer. In the past few weeks, I’ve seen jackets, shirts, pants, and even slippers. Do all of these gadgets work as advertised? It’s hard to say, but at the moment heated gear seems to be one of the biggest fads on the fringe of the outdoor industry. I say the fringe, because until someone like The North Face or Columbia joins the fray, it will remain a feature for companies that are looking to find a way to distinguish themselves from the competition.
But, I have had one piece of gear that does heat itself waiting in the wings for testing once cold weather had arrived. That happened last week where I live, with more to come in a few days. That made it the perfect time to give the new Heated Insoles from Thermacell a test run. After all, no one likes cold feet in the winter, right?
As with most insoles, Thermacell’s offering is designed to slip inside your boots and provide a little extra cushion while walking. But more importantly, these insoles are meant to keep your feet warm too. They have a heating element that runs throughout the product, and a small rechargeable battery that slides into place to supply the power necessary to keep them functioning. When activated, the soles do indeed provide a steady supply of warmth that can keep your feet comfortable, even in very cold conditions.
The mode of the Heated Insoles that I tested are also equipped with Bluetooth technology, which when paired with your smartphone (iOS or Android), can be controlled remotely. When connected to your mobile device, a special app allows you to set the exact level of warmth that you would like for each foot individually. That way if you need a little extra warmth on your right food, you can simply crank up the heat. And if you find that one of your feet is getting warmer than you need, simply dial back the temperature. The app also allows you to monitor battery life of each of the insoles too, so you’ll know just how long you have before they quit working and need a recharge.
Speaking of battery life, Thermacell says that the lithium-ion batteries are good for as much as 8.5 hours between charges. That’s when the temperature of the insoles is set to low of course, so the warmer you run them the faster the battery will die. Fortunately, it only takes about two hours to recharge the batteries completely once they are fully drained, which means they’ll certainly be ready for you overnight or even if you come in from the cold for a brief break from your winter adventures. So far, in my testing I haven’t completely run the batteries down yet however, so I can safely say that the estimates of their charge are fairly accurate. On top of that, Thermacell offers additional battery packs for $59.99 if you’re unable to charge them as often as you’d like.
Thermacell also claims that the insoles are highly durable, saying they are rated for over 1 million steps. I’ll have to wait awhile to get to that loft number, but I can say that they do indeed feel very durable in hand. Chances are, you’ll be able to slip them into place and forget they’re in your boots, except when you want to warm things up. Over time, they’ll even mold to your feet, making it even easier to forget they are there.
So, how well do they work? Extremely well actually. The Heated Insoles are very easy to use, warm up quickly, and stay warm for an extended period of time. In fact, they’ll make your feet feel incredibly cosy no matter what you’re doing outside in the cold conditions, allowing you to stay out longer than you ever expected.
The one knock I have against the Heated Insoles are the price. At $199.99 they are fairly pricey, and probably out of the budget for most outdoor enthusiasts, some of which may not even have spent that much money on their boots. But, it is important to point out that Thermacell does offer a more basic version (without Bluetooth for instance) for $134.99. That’s still pricey, but a bit more palatable.
Now, that said, if you’re someone who spends a lot of time outdoors in cold weather, or whose feet get cold easily, the Heated Insoles are definitely worth the investment. Polar explorers, mountaineers, and hunters who stand around a lot will probably call this product their new best friend. For those folks in particular, I’d recommend picking up additional battery packs too, as you never know how long you’ll have to go between charges. Yes, $200 is a lot to spend on a pair of insoles, but for the right market segment, these are going to be extremely popular.
Find out more at Thermacell.com.
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