One of the best ways to start the riding season earlier in spring and extend it later into autumn is heated grips, seats, jacket/pants liners and gloves, even socks! As wonderful as heated gear is, most of it doesn’t work unless you’re on the bike or tethered to it by a black electrical wire. Mobile Warming’s Softshell Jacket, which draws its power from a rechargeable battery, allows you to take the heat wherever you go.
Designed as a stand-alone garment, the lightweight Softshell is thin enough to be worn under a motorcycle jacket. Its outer layer is made of Windshark, a proprietary polyester/spandex fabric that’s windproof, waterproof, breathable and four-way stretchable, allowing a wide range of movement. Inside, the upper shoulders, chest and back are lined with athletic mesh, while the lower back, arms and collar are lined with soft fleece. Between the mesh and shell are three heated panels—two on the chest and one between the shoulder blades—each about twice the size of a credit card. A wire connects the heated panels to the battery inside one of the two handwarmer pockets, which includes a small battery storage pocket. There’s also an outer chest pocket and, to keep wind from creeping up the sleeves, stretchy cuffs that extend over half of each hand and include thumb holes.
The 7.4V, 2.2Ah lithium-ion battery has a built-in four-level control (25/50/75/100 percent power), and it recharges with the provided wall charger in a little over an hour. Mobile Warming claims up to 10 hours of heating on a single charge, but on the lowest setting, the battery lasted about three hours; on the highest setting, it lasted less than an hour. I ran multiple tests on two different batteries and got similar results.
Mobile Warming claims up to 135 degrees of warmth on the highest setting. With power set at 100 percent, I pointed a laser thermometer at each of the three heating panels (through the athletic mesh lining) and got readings that ranged from 120-145 degrees when the ambient temperature was 72 degrees. With power set at 25 percent, I got readings that ranged from 85-95 degrees. Out in the real world, with temperatures in the low 60s and wearing the Softshell under a mesh jacket while riding a motorcycle without a windscreen at 65-70 mph, I couldn’t feel the heat on the lowest setting and felt it only mildly on the highest setting. But standing around on a cool morning or evening, the heat was more noticeable and took the edge off nicely.
The Mobile Warming Softshell Jacket retails for $199.99, which is comparable to other heated jacket liners. It’s a comfortable, stylish, wear-it-anywhere jacket that resists both wind and rain, but its short battery life is a drawback. Spare batteries (2.2Ah, $40; 4.0Ah, $70), a dual battery charger ($20) and 12V charger ($20) are available. The men’s jacket comes in blue, black and gray and sizes S-5XL, LT-2XLT. The women’s jacket comes in blue, black and red and sizes XS-XL, 1W-2W. Heated gloves, hooded jackets, vests and long-sleeve shirts are also available.
For more information, call (888) 222-0745 or visit mobilewarminggear.com.
(This Gear Lab Review was published in the July 2013 issue of Rider magazine.