Over the last several years I've been dealing with various stages of disability thanks to ALS. My goal is to share solutions and review various products/tools/devices that I have found particularly helpful.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Milwaukee battery powered heated jacket.

Jacket heating zones
Back in the fall, my father had his birthday and he's a bit of a wimp with the cold. So we thought that would make a cool gift to try to buy him the Milwaukee battery-powered heated jacket. Especially now that he will be spending more time Montréal and it's a lovely winter climate.

As winter arrives, he loaned it to me to try out for a few weeks as he was going to be away and I needed to go collect my son from daycare in my wheelchair (with the help of an assistant).

Winter has posed to serious issues for me, And sometimes you absolutely need to leave the house to attend appointments or whatever.A

First off is due to the amount of muscular atrophy, I don't have as much muscle mass to keep one. This my core body temperature is at risk of dropping much more quickly.

It would seem winter is getting a bit out of hand here in Montréal
Secondly, and is apparently a fairly common issue for people with ALS is the cold can really exaggerate muscular spasticity. I have found that on occasion, being outside at -15 or less (And this year we've had cold snaps down to -40 before Wind chill!). Even for a very short duration, say transiting the distance from house to car of around 40 or 50 feet can be enough to trigger a rather serious reaction. To give you some idea, on Christmas Day we visited my wife's parents place for dinner. When they left the house around midnight, I had to walk a very short distance to get to our warm vehicle. By the time I made it from the door to my vehicle, the muscles in my jaw tightened to the point that I could no longer hold my mouth. I had to talk soon my teeth. And my legs were stiffening up to that point I could barely walk.

The most annoying about this, is my body starts reacting this way and as though I have hypothermia. But I don't feel cold at all… Once everything warms up, I'm okay.

The jacket works as advertised and has three heating modes. When set for high, the heating zones actually do get quite warm (but comfortably so) for a duration of up to 4 hours. But I'm finding consistently of the less, closer to three.

The jacket is not constructed as a winter jacket. I would say more of a spring or autumn jacket men's for the person that works who is someone physically active in the cold, humid environment. The biggest issue I found using it as a winter jacket is it did not have a sufficiently good windbreaker. Once we got down to about -10°C, the call would go right through the arms and the non-heated areas. He really does require a shell.

Flame on!
We tried removing the lining for my present winter jacket (shell) and using this jacket in its place. While that works quite well, between the weight of this jacket and my winter shell. I found it to be quite heavy, and I was unable to move my arms, and as you know, my arms are suffering from significant atrophy. But with the shell on, want wise it was much more comfortable.

The temperature was controlled by the power button located on the left lapel. We push and hold for 4 seconds to power on, and when ready to go it lights up. Due to the placement of the button, and the difficulty of pushing it, I am unable to actuate it myself. I require assistance. But those light up quite bright, and my four-year-old finds that be pretty cool. :-)

The jacket, complete with the charging unit and one battery retails for about C$200 at Home Depot. I find this to be quite well priced in the jacket is very well made. But unfortunately, because it didn't need to use my shell over top of it I can't justify going to buy one for myself. It doesn't quite suit my needs, as matter of fact it complicates things a bit.

That being said, they do have a hooded jogging suit version which is much lighter and retails for C$150. I think this might suit my needs much better, It should be sufficiently Lite that would fit well in my existing winter jacket with the liner. It should not add as much weight or inflexibility. I plan on trying this out.


  1. Milwaukee heated jackets are really great. The style of their jackets is also good. I've been using their heated jackets for some time now and I'm very satisfied with it.
    Anyways, this is a very nice review. Thanks for sharing.

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