Right around early November, I usually get a familiar sliver of fear riding up my spine. It happens in anticipation of the horrific winter that’s on the way. Minus-20 temperatures (minus-four to Americans), back-breaking snow shoveling, winds that can flay the skin from your bones… it’s enough to scare one into a four-month-long hibernation.
We’ve been lucky this year, with an unseasonably warm winter here in Toronto. So far, there has been virtually no snow and temperatures near zero. I don’t know what that means in the larger ecological sense, but for the most part, all hail global warming!
In any event, I’m not sure why it never occurred to me that enduring such hardship is entirely optional in this modern age. I’m not talking about moving to Hawaii, there’s actually a much easier way to cope with winter: technology.
Imagine my joy when I recently discovered that Columbia, the sportswear maker, has a whole line of clothing that is heated with batteries. The Omni-Heat Electric line uses rechargeable lithium batteries to heat jackets, boots and globes. It sounded too good to be true, so I had to try it out.
Columbia sent me the Circuit Breaker Softshell to test. Fortunately, we had a cold spell this weekend where temperatures indeed dipped into the minus-20s, so it was good timing. The Circuit Breaker features heating elements around its mid-section and wrists, so it’s supposed to keep your body and hands warm. The jacket has two inside pockets on each breast where the batteries are stored, and there’s a further pocket that holds a small controller device. The whole thing can operate with just one battery, but when both are fully charged and connected they can provide heat for up to six hours. Read the rest of this entry »