Normally when I go on a motorcycle road trip I need all the layers I can carry. And so when I was offered one of the new 8K Flexwarm heated jackets to try out on my trip up to the northern parts of Scotland, I got very excited. No more morning chills on the bike, or evenings shivering in the tent. This jacket was going to be the answer to all my “think warm thoughts” wishes.
But it turns out that I picked the wrong week to test out a heated jacket. We headed up to ride the North Coast 500 route during the last week in June, during which the whole of Great Britain, including the north of Scotalnd, was experiencing something of a heatwave. Temperatures of the mid to high twenties were absolutely wonderful, I loved being off work and able to enjoy the great outdoors without the threat of cold or rain, I have no complaints. But my new heated jacket stayed firmly in one of my panniers without a second thought.
That was, until the sea mist came in. Within a few minutes and a handful of miles the temperature dropped as much as the visibility – 26 down to 12 degrees is a significant difference that does not go unnoticed when you’re atop a motorcycle along the coast. It’s okay, I thought, it’s passing, it’ll be gone in the hour. Nope. The misty fog stuck around for that evening and overnight – hooray I thought, I’ll grab my jacket!
The heat from this jacket is subtle; it’s not the same as hugging a radiator or a hot water bottle or anything like that. But it is definitely there, and it works a treat. The heating element is formed of a very thin wire layered onto the inner fabric, which evenly distributes heat without being super-hot in one area and freezing cold in another. It’s therefore much more like putting on a few extra layers than it is like having a heat pad – I have found myself reaching for this instead of a thick fleece, it certainly takes up less space when packing.
Powered by a rechargeable battery pack that fits nearly in the inside pocket (and can also be used to charge your phone, if you like), there are three heating zones that can be controlled via the easy-press buttons on the side of the jacket, or via the Powered by Flexwarm app that connects to your jacket via Bluetooth. That’s right, there is an app for that!
Fit-wise, these jackets come up a bit on the tight side, but I just about get away with the small. The figure-hugging cut is designed to fit the contours of the body, to make sure the heat doesn’t escape and the body is insulated even when the heating element isn’t on. Being a close cut and short in the body, with no hood, means this jacket can very easily act as a mid-layer as well as a nice looking outer. I made use of it in the evening while relaxing at our campsite, and then the following morning under my motorcycle jacket for warmth until the sun came out. And I’ve got it packed ready for a quick camping trip at the weekend, it’s one of those things that will always be there just in case now.
At just shy of £200 this is certainly a luxury item, but it one of those nice-to-haves that I can definitely see catching on. Ideal for camping, for keeping warm after active days, for wearing when motorcycling in the colder months, for after an open water swim, or simply for wearing for the walk to work when it’s freezing outside.
Find out more about the 8k Flexwarm Heated Jacket over on their website. There’s a men’s fit and sleeveless version also available.
With thanks to 8k Flexwarm for sending me one of their heated jackets to try out.