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, 14 January 2015

Beating the Cold with Milwaukee's Heated Hoodie & Camping Slippers

Seeing as it's freakishly cold here in Montréal right now, swinging between a balmy -20°C and -40°C. It seemed like a good time to introduce a proper Canadian tradition, the good old the Canadian "two-fer". As in two for one… But sometimes also applies to a case of 24 beer… Sorry kids, not that one. ;-)

Before hoodie...
Around about this time last year, you may recall I posted an article about the Milwaukee heated jacket. While the jacket was very good, it was just not quite right to replace a winter jacket. The big issue lies in the fact that, by itself, it was quite warm enough. Especially in the arms. So I would find I had to put on another layer between my skin and the heating elements, which in turn reduced the effectiveness of the heating element.

This is where the heated hoodie is really great. The material is made from is basically like a jogging suit. But a bit heavier, so it's quite warm as is. It has the same heating elements and functionality as Milwaukee heated jacket. But, being a hoodie . I find I am able to put on a regular T-shirt (sometimes longsleeved), hoodie and then my regular winter jacket. And this combination works out really quite well. Beginning elements of liberty are brought much closer to my skin and consequently have much more affect. This also means I can run it on the lower setting and still have a similar effect. Usually, when I first leave the house I turn it on medium. Only posting at the high after I have been out for a while. Needless to say this extends the battery life by about an hour.

I should however mentioned that I've only tested this off to about -20. I have not tried going out in colder weather. Mostly because the sidewalks are not that clean. Makes it hard on my neck, and is a real mess in the house afterwards.

If I have to say anything against the hoodie, is that the battery pouch is a little bit awkward. In the jacket, it's a nice tight pocket. They keeps the battery in place and consistently oriented in a vertical fashion. The pocket in the hoodie is much larger and looser, causing it to travel in more of a horizontal position. Which can sometimes get in the way when sitting down. It is usually easily adjusted to fit in the void of my wheelchair back. Also, unlike the jacket the battery pouches on the inside of the hoodie. Meaning that if you have to change it, you have to open the hoodie up. This is not an issue for me yet.

After hoodie...
One item I've been looking at is an extension wire for the battery. That way I could leave the battery in the pouch on the side of my wheelchair and easement. The changeup while I'm out. However, I have only found one with a car adapter. Not only did it yet, so I'm not too sure if we will suit my needs.

So all told, the heated hoodie is great! For the price of the $150 (including the battery and charging unit) At Home Depot.ca (Pro tip: I found it to be about $20 cheaper in-store than online) it's kind of like wearing a portable electric blanket. It comes in four colors: Black, gray (I have this one), khaki and special edition red. If you have a disability that impairs your ability to keep warm, get one! Well worth the money.

I have also been wearing a pair of down camping slippers quite a bit. The original idea, based on my reading was that I could possibly wear these out instead of winter boots (given the fact I'm not walking anymore). They were after all kind of like sleeping bags for your feet and being down feather they are in fact we comfortable and warm. But not quite good enough to replace winter boots simply because the wind goes through them pretty easily which quickly translates into cold feet. Even with heavy winter socks…
I bought the red ones just to be different

That being said, the slippers are still extremely good and works just fine for short trips outside. For example, going from the car into the shopping mall. I'm finding I am wearing them a lot. Especially around the house.

Been made with down feathers the weigh practically nothing  (Less than 300 g for both of them!) and are extremely comfortable. Also, because they are feather I find that they keep my feet at much more of a Goldilocks temperature. Not too hot, not too cold… Just right.

They also have a very good, durable no slip sole. But because of my particular walking technique, I preferred to kick them off when I have to walk. It's easier for me to shuffle my feet in my socks.

I bought them from Mountain equipment co-op for about $65. A bit more than one we usually consider spending for slippers, but at the same time I'm using them much more generally then I would a pair of slippers.

I'm finding I'm very pleased with the slippers and recommend them. You can also order them online from MEC.ca On this link, you will find several different styles and colors of the slippers, ranging in price from $39-$89.

To summarize, both of these win the awesome award!

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