Heated Vests Compared

By Randy Wakeman

Over the years, there have been many attempts at electric vests, socks, and gloves going back to the old, horrible C and D cell powered units. At the time, they were generally poor due to the excess weight of the large, disposable batteries, poor heating in general, and short battery life. That was a very long time ago, so I thought it was time to take a look at a couple of inexpensive lithium battery powered units.

The first unit I purchased from Amazon, https://amzn.to/3TqPEKs , is the Unbon brand vest, that uses an included 7.4 volt 14400 MaH rechargeable battery. It has six heating areas and one switch that turns them all on with three temperature settings. It is claimed to work at the lowest setting up to ten hours. I used it on a few hunts and, to my surprise, it works fairly well. However, the front zipper is female style, and the battery pack sits in the left front of the vest which does not feel balanced. At the $55 dollars or so it goes for, it is still a decent value for intermittent use, and the supplied battery can be used to charge up your cell phone or other devices.

Suitably impressed that the Unbon unit actually worked, I decided to try another economical electric vest, the Snow Leopard: https://amzn.to/4cokXOD . Now that I had a point of comparison, it was easy to see that the Snow Leopard was a far better made, more effective vest. It comes with a slightly higher capacity 7.4 volt 16000 MaH battery with eight heating zones and three temperature levels. Not only that, you can turn on the front and back heating areas separately, giving you a six different levels of heating to choose from.

The battery of the Snow Leopard sits more comfortably and better balanced to the left side of the vest as you wear it. This vest is has a more substantial 'male' zipper in front, and the collar is fleece lined as well. The basic premise of using a vest like this is to cut down the number of layers you are wearing. As long as your upland jacket is a good wind break, for example, you may start out at dawn wearing this vest over a flannel short on “low power” and by mid-morning, you can just shut it off. Like most things electric, they do not last as long as the “up to ten hours” stated in cold weather-- the only time you would use them. On the “low” setting, about 7 hours is a more realistic heating duration.

Like many things imported from China, it seems that several brands are likely made in the same factory, with only the logos applied being any different. The pricing varies all over the place as well, and there are often dramatic discounts applied as well. Some allegedly premium vests sell for $300 or more without a battery.

While I have no intention of trying dozens of different electric vests, I can tell you that the “Snow Leopard” is a big jump up in quality of the zippers, battery location, and general build quality from the Unbon. Separate front and back heat switches are very helpful, it has a nice travel case and a laundry bag is included as well for washing after removing the battery. Some will no doubt pop it on, on the way to the car for a cozy drive to the office on a zero degree morning as well. It heats up in seconds. Though not tested, this https://amzn.to/3PxamXY “Sevdiea” product seems to be a very similar vest, with an added zipper in the front.

I'm happy to recommend the Snow Leopard, https://amzn.to/43sFf5m , the Unbon not so much.

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