Warming technology heats up

Products that warm, whether with battery packs or adhesive heating pads, were prevalent at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market. Find out what you can stock up on for your stores.

Manufacturers are moving beyond just fabrics to keep consumers warm.

From gloves to base layers, outdoor apparel and accessories with battery packs and heating pads are gaining popularity, evident with numerous new items in the category at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2012.

SNEWS spotted some cool — or would that be hot? — new products (and some that have been out for a few seasons) on the trade show floor. 

Electric clothes?

Columbia Sportswear made a splash with its Omni-Heat Electric items released for Fall 2011, and now the company is offering one new and a few updated items in its collection, including the new Electro Amp Core Vest (MSRP $400).

It’s not only the industry giants making a play for this market. Thermo Soles makes heated shoe insoles (MSRP $149), heated glove liners, a jacket (MSRP $199), slippers and a heated pad to sit on at outdoor events (MSRP $50). Plus, the company added a heated headband. All products have three settings — low, medium and high.

The ActivHeat product line from Adventive Ideas includes a heated vest, gloves, socks and a new base layer.

Simon Richmond, president of Adventive Ideas, said the company has been producing electric heated products for about six years and the biggest challenge is ensuring wearers don’t feel wires through the clothing.

Heat without batteries?

Anybody who stopped by the Polartec booth got a glimpse and industry newcomer Toast Heated Clothes. Though the company didn’t have its own booth at this past Winter Market, it did bring a few samples of its base layers for men and women to the Polartec booth, where company founder and designer Julia Aiken gets fabric. 

It’s not a battery-heated base layer, rather it has pockets in the backs of shirts and pants to slip in a heated pack, such as the thermal pain relieving packs you can find at the drug store, like ThermaCare’s line. Aiken, a former professional snowboarder, was competing at Mt. Baker one day when the Northwest cold and wet climate caught up to her.

“I felt like I’d been in a shower with all my gear on,” Aiken said. She was soaked and so cold she wanted to quit the competition. But before she could drop out, a friend offered her a heating pad she could stick to her skin. It warmed her instantly and she was able to compete, and even win her division.

She and her husband kept using the adhesive heating pads while snowboarding. One day, while riding a chairlift wearing the heating pads, the pair thought it would be a good idea to have this warmth without the stickiness. That’s when the idea to create a base layer with pockets for the heating pads was born.

–Ana Trujillo