Are you one of those people that struggle to get warm no matter what?
If you love the outdoors but don’t love the cold then the Flexwarm® jacket from 8K is well worth a look. It’s like being wrapped up in a warm electric blanket, only its stylish and safe to take outside with you.
Design, Comfort & Durability (Rating: 95%)
At first glance, the Flexwarm® jacket I’ve reviewed is quite a standard looking down-style jacket. It has no hood (although a hooded version is available), a centre zip that runs from top to bottom and two zippered hand pockets. On the inside, it has a small internal pocket that sits behind the left external hand pocket and some pull cords around the bottom to cinch it up tight. On closer look though there is nothing ‘standard’ about the Flexwarm® jacket. It’s like a sleeper car with a monster engine hidden under the bonnet that no one knows about. The only subtle hint looking at the jacket that it’s something a bit different is two small buttons on the left side that sit just behind the external pocket.
Flexwarm® is printed and layered between the inner and outer layers of fabric to create 3 controllable heating zones. Compared to traditional Carbon Fibre heating technologies which a large number of heated clothing products use, Flexwarm® is claimed to be 50% more energy efficient meaning your battery last longer and you stay warmer for longer. The Flexwarm® heating elements are amazingly thin and while you can feel a few thin wires running inside the jacket when you really try, they aren’t in a position that effects the comfort of the jacket when wearing it. I mainly felt them when I put my hands inside the pockets as there is no lining between the pockets and internals of the jacket.
8K claim the jacket is designed to be worn in any weather conditions and provides the perfect balance of warmth, weight and style. As with most down style jackets the shell is water resistant but it’s not a rain jacket so you wouldn’t want to wear it out in the rain without something weatherproof over the top. A light shower shouldn’t bother it though and it does well to shed wind as well..
Now heated jackets aren’t new and most people would have seen that there are several other ‘heated jackets’ available. The problem are that they are generally made for tradies and most if not all use a specific type of battery and are sold in hardware stores or tool supply shops. That battery is usually also used in the same brand power tools and most of those jackets are heavy soft shell jackets.
While those jackets are great for a tradie who already has the batteries and wants something warm to wear to work in the morning, there not ideal for people wanting to comfortably explore the outdoors. You may also not want to get around on the weekend in a jacket the same brand as your favourite power tools. The 8K Flexwarm® jacket as I mentioned earlier is a nice plain looking jacket available in several nice colours and would not look out of place worn to a café, standing on the side of a cold sporting pitch watching the kids play sport or worn around a campsite out in the bush.
The power source for the jacket is a supplied 7500Mah battery bank. The battery goes in the internal pocket and plugs into a USB cable inside the jacket. The cable has a dust/moisture cover for when the battery isn’t plugged in. The battery is quite small and relatively light weight at 170 grams. It has 2 USB ports (one for the jacket) and an extra USB socket so that you can charge your phone or device on the go. It has a small power button used to check battery status which is indicated by 4 LED lights and it also has a small LED that can be switched on and used as a small torch light.
The advantage of using a standard style battery bank to run the heating elements is that you could swap it out for a larger size battery bank if you had one or you could carry a spare to increase the jackets operating time. The other advantage of the battery style is for people who tour via car, as you can charge the battery on a USB plug in the car while travelling meaning you’ll always have a charged battery ready to go when you get to camp.
The jacket itself has 3 heat zones, two on the front which cover the lower part of the jacket and the hand pockets so you can keep your hands warm. The third zone is in the lower and mid-section on the rear of the jacket. The front and rear zones can be controlled separately and have three heat settings per zone. The low setting is 40 degrees Celsius, the medium is 45 degrees celsius and the high is 50 degrees celsius. 8K says you can go from 40 to 50 degrees in around 6 minutes which is pretty fast considering it’s a jacket, not a microwave. In my experience it wasn’t quite that quick to warm up to the maximum heat setting but it wasn’t slow enough to be a problem either. It’s really just a nice gradual heat build up so it’s quite pleasant feeling the jacket slowly getting warmer and warmer. I was pretty happy on low to medium settings most of the time but I can think of plenty of occasions in the past I would have happily had the high setting on and been loving it.
There is one thing that really stood out with this jacket to me and that’s the ability to link the jacket to a smart phone or tablet via the app. There is an app available for Apple and Android so no one is left out. The app then gives you the ability to adjust and monitor the temperature from the app and really simplifies the process. If you don’t have a phone or tablet handy though you can operate the jacket using the buttons on the side which serve the same purpose. the buttons change colour depending on what setting you are on so it’s still possible to use without the app, just not as much fun.
Comfort wise the jacket has a nice soft lining and shell similar to most down style jackets, it’s not overly heavy or bulky. I would say in general it’s quite a slim fit. I’m generally a medium in most tops and jackets and the Flexwarm® jacket fit me in the length and around my waist with room for a t-shirt and possibly a thin fleece but anything heavier underneath and it would have been a bit snug for my liking. The arms are a good length and have a nice ribbing on the wrists so seal off and help keep the heat in. The zip up the middle is a double zip as well meaning you can unzip the bottom if you need to vent it or access a pocket underneath it and still leave the chest done up keeping you nice and warm.
The only complaint which I had regarding fit was the arms seemed to cut in quite tight under my armpits. That’s certainly not a fault with the jacket and more related to my shape and the slim sizing in general. My advice would be if you aren’t super slim or have big arms or chest, consider the next size up from your normal jacket size. I don’t have a large size jacket to confirm but I think that would most likely solve the tightness under the armpits and being a slim fitting jacket I still think a large would fit me ok with room for a slightly thicker jumper underneath if needed.
Overall the materials and build quality of the jacket are really good, no issues at all on my jacket with nice stitching and nothing of note that I could find. Other than the usual care around sharp objects and fires when out camping I would expect the jacket to hold up well with normal use
Functionality & Ease of Use (Rating: 100%)
The 8K Flexwarm® jacket is really easy to use and when you think about it, a heated jacket is a really good idea especially if you struggle to warm up in the cold.
Once you’re done unwrapping the jacket and battery, the recommendation is to charge the battery for six hours initially. The battery is charged using any USB outlet so a laptop, PC or phone charger will do and the battery comes with its own charge cable for charging purposes. The instructions state for ongoing use its best to not leave the battery on after its fully charged which would be a lot quicker than the initial six hours.
Once charged and the battery is plugged into the jacket you can download the free app ‘powered by Flexwarm®’ from the app store. You then hold down the power button on the jacket until the button starts flashing. Once flashing you can open the app and push the ‘tap to pair’ icon and Walla, within 10 – 15 seconds the app will pair with the jacket. Once paired you can select the front or back heat zones and set the temperature to your liking. It’s really that simple.
Once zone and temperature are set you will slowly start to feel the jacket warm up and if you continue to monitor the app you can see the temperature that the jackets sitting at. Knowing the temperature that suits you means it’s easy to set next time you put the jacket on and fire up the heating.
From my use, the app is the easiest way to control and monitor the heating as it’s easy to see what’s going on and takes the guesswork out of it. The connection between the jacket and app worked quickly and flawlessly every time meaning it’s a very user-friendly experience.
Overall the Flexwarm® is easy to use and feels really nice once it’s warmed up to temperature. The heating zones on the front cover the base of the jacket to just under your chest area and the rear covers the base of the jacket to just under the shoulder blade area.
Ongoing care is simple as the jacket is hand washable at low temperatures below 30 degrees Celsius so no fancy washing is required and the material is fast drying so it can be hung out and dry quickly in time for the next outing into the cold.
What I Like
- Nice, stylish looking jacket.
- Heating function and control is great.
- Syncing with the app is quick and it’s really easy to use and monitor once synced up.
- Ability to charge a device while on the move is a handy feature.
- Battery bank used can be recharged from any USB device and can be replaced with a larger battery if required.
What I Don’t Like
- Jacket is a reasonably slim fit and is quite tight under the armpits – most likely due to my body shape but if you’re slightly bigger in the chest or arms it’s possibly worth sizing up to a larger size if in doubt.
The 8K Flexwarm Heated Jacket is available online via the Flexwarm website. They offer free worldwide shipping.
Have you tried the 8K Flexwarm Heated Jacket? Got any questions or comments? Let us know by commenting below.