I used to think heated apparel was for wusses. Older and somewhat wiser, I now understand that avoidable suffering is nothing to be proud of. So in preparation for a fall ride over the Sierra Nevada Mountains, I ordered a Gerbing heated jacket liner and a pair of G3 heated gloves, as well as a Dual Temp Controller to regulate their output.
Both garments utilize Gerbing's Microwire heating elements, a technology the Washington-based company developed in response to a Department of Defense contract. Stronger, thinner and lighter than standard heating elements, the Microwires are made of bundles of tiny stainless-steel threads that each measure 12 microns thick-a quarter the thickness of a human hair. These thin strands are the key to the apparel's near-instantaneous rheostat response, as well as the garments' light weight and durability.
The G3s are all-leather and feature an Aquatex waterproof liner. Microwire runs the length of each finger (top only) and crisscrosses the back of the hand for all-over warmth. The jacket liner is thin and comfortable, and takes the place of a regular base layer. It fits well thanks to Gerbing's quasi-custom sizing, which lets you mix and match sleeve length and torso size.
The dual controller makes it a cinch to dial-in the desired flow of supplemental heat, and when you're crossing the 9860-foot Sonora Pass in late October, you want a lot! Cranked to about 75 percent, the Gerbing gear had me toasty inside my Aerostich Roadcrafter suit, despite the 35-degree air temperature. For comparative purposes I clicked the units off, and within minutes the frigid air had sapped me of all my warmth, leaving me shivering and tense with the familiar feeling of my lumbar muscles cramping in protest. That little experiment opened my eyes to the most important benefit of heated gear: Not only does it keep you comfortable, it keeps you relaxed and alert, which makes for a safer ride.
Gerbing's proprietary Microwire was specially designed for soldiers. If it's good enough f
But not everything had me feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. While the internal electronics are entirely unobtrusive, the exterior wiring lacks refinement. The main power cable is thick, stiff lamp cord of the 12-cents-per-foot Home Depot variety. A slimmer, more flexible cord would befit this urbane apparel while improving its comfort and ease of use.
Even though the dual controller is bulky and cumbersome to mount, the knobs are the right size for gloved hands and easy to manipulate on the fly. As with any insulated glove, the G3s are a tad bulky and inhibit control feel, but I'd rather grip with limber hands through thick gloves than clutch numbly with stiff digits through thin leather.
With Gerbing's heated jacket liner and gloves, I was entirely comfortable and warm on an otherwise miserably cold day. From now on, if there's any chance of encountering cold weather on a ride, I'll be packing my heated apparel-even if that makes me a wuss.
Gerbing Heated Apparel
Price: Jacket $199.95, Gloves $139.95, Controller $99.95
Verdict 4 stars out of 5
Like basking on a sun-kissed beach on a warm summer day.