Whenever I go camping or hunting I always bring more gear than I need. I think it was ingrained in me during my time in the military, “you know you will need it if you don’t bring it”. This creates a lot of clothing redundancies for myself. I have clothes for when it is cool/windy, hot/dry, wet/warm, wet/cold, and so on. What if I could bring a single jacket system that could adapt to my environment, instead of bringing a jacket for every possible environment I may encounter?
Never did I think that my hunting clothes problem would be solved by a company primary known for tools. Milwaukee has power tools ranging from routers to diamond coring tools and hand tools ranging from utility knives to screw drivers. They also carry an extensive line of instruments: fork meters, thermal imaging, clamp meters, lighting tester, temperature meters, and more. What do a lot of these tools have in common? A large portion of Milwaukee products run on rechargeable battery systems, which are interchangeable amongst different tools.
Bridging this technology to clothing was a no brainer. Milwaukee is specifically looking to outfit outdoor workers, outdoor enthusiasts, and hunters with their designs. They offer four products that utilize their heated gear technology: 3-in-1 system, vest, hoodie, and jacket. Each selection comes in a variety of colors, and sizes. I went with the 3-in-1 heated jacket system.
The 3-in-1 system is made up of: an internal vest (this is where your battery and heating technology is), an outer jacket (mine was RealTree Camo), and M12 Redlithium battery and charger. Like all good hunting gear, the outer jacket is made of noise reducing fabric, which is both wind and water-resistant.
- Removable hood
- High loft insulation (traps air, and body heat)
- Thermal fleece lining
- Carbon fiber heating elements
- Washer and dryer safe (awesome)
- Multi-heat settings (high, medium, low)
- Heat location selection (core, hands [pockets], etc.)
- Up to 8hrs of continuous heat
- M12 Redlithium battery doubles as a USB power source (phones)
- Battery is comparable with 70 tools
I recently did an overnight, grouse hunting trip with this system. I forced myself to leave all other clothing at home. I wanted to rely solely on this system and see what it could do. The first thing that I noticed is when I used the vest independent of the outer coat, I went far longer than I normally would before adding the next layer. In fact, I could have gone without adding the outer coat at all. I didn’t need the camouflage for grouse, it wasn’t raining, and the area I was in just wasn’t that cold. Nevertheless, when I added the outer coat I was pleasantly surprised that it had cut out sections in the pockets so you could reach into the vest to use the hand heating section.
For the majority of the night I cycled through different settings, I wanted to see how warm the system could get. It would need to be pretty cold for me to use the vest, jacket, and heat system on continuous high. What I did like was just using the vest with a hoodie. I was way more mobile than I would have been in a jacket. This is extremely important to bow hunters. If any piece of equipment makes using my bow cumbersome, it’s out. As the temperature dropped, and we worked through our beers, I remained warm, and comfortable. I was impressed, and I can’t wait to take it on a more extensive test run.
- Reduce the need for excess clothing
- Stay comfortable longer (lets you stay in that blind longer)
- Power source for anything that uses a USB
- Compatible with your tools (Milwaukee tools)
- Massive style/color selections
- Simply to use
- More mobility because of less layers
- Increased productivity
- Battery charger needs a standard wall outlet
If you hunt, or work, in an area where you will have daily access to a wall outlet (generator), then the charger issue isn’t a big deal. Sometimes, I hunt for days at a time where I rely on small solar panels to provide me power. In an effort to make this system more compatible with my hunting style, I purchased a power Inverter (12V DC Car cigarette lighter to 120V AC). I have a canopy on my truck and I usually use it as my base camp. This power inverter was cheap, and solved my charger problem.
The cost of this system could seem high to some. However, if you take into account all the clothes that this single system can replace then there is actual savings in its purchase. With little perks like the USB power source, it is hard to even compare it to a non-powered setup. I am about to embark on my Elk hunting adventure and I plan on testing this system more extensively. Bow hunting in western Washington has the uncanny ability of showing you the weaknesses in your gear. If this system has any, this trip will surely expose them. Look for a more comprehensive review in late fall.
You can get your own Milwaukee M12 3-in-1 Heated Gear here.