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Bytesize Blog: Review of Blazewear heated gloves

Alex Masters

glove 2 300x225 Bytesize Blog: Review of Blazewear heated glovesIf you’re anything like me and suffer with poor circulation in your hands, then winter can be a miserable time of year. No matter how many pairs of gloves you wear, your hands just remain cold and painful, past the point of feeling numb.

The problem is, when there is no heat in your hands in the first place, then there is no heat for insulated gloves to retain. This makes finding good gloves very difficult, so when I came across a company called Blazewear, a heated clothing company based here in the UK, I reached out to them to see if I could test out their heated glove technology.

Blazewear provided me with two different gloves from their range, one pair of heated inner gloves, and another pair of their premium ‘Powermax’ sports gloves, ideal for skiing and cycling. Both pairs were fitted with rechargeable Lithium Polymer batteries.

With my heated gloves in tow, I travelled to Brussels for a few days during Christmas, visiting ice sculptures in huge refrigerated rooms and sightseeing in the cold streets of Bruges. This week I also had the opportunity to test the gloves out whilst cycling in the snow and rain. The things I do for you guys!

Built quality
The Powermax sports gloves come complete with removable fabric linings, which can be washed and reused. There is a small waterproof zip at the base of the each glove that provides access to a battery pocket, located on the back of the wrist. A clear plastic window lets you view the battery power indicators and on/off buttons. Pressing and holding the button powers on the glove, the same button can then be used to toggle between two heat settings indicated by yellow and red LEDs.

The red heat setting provides the maximum amount of heat. The Yellow mode provides less heat, but increases the running time by about an hour. In less extreme weather the yellow setting is enough to keep the chill off. But at temperatures slightly above and below zero, I found myself sticking to the red mode almost permanently, in order to maintain a sufficient level of warmth.
The second pair of gloves, designed to be used exclusively as inner gloves, are made from a comfortable, lightweight and flexible fabric that stretches to provide a nice snug fit around the fingers. The sleeves are long, ensuring heat is contained within the gloves, rather than escaping from the openings around your wrists.

There is a large illuminated power button on the inside of the wrist, which provides three heating levels, indicated by white, blue and red LEDs respectively. The large button makes it easy to change the power setting when wearing cumbersome outer gloves, which is very useful. The gloves use a special Lithium Polymer battery pack, which is stored in a zipped pocket on the back of the wrist, similar to the Powermax gloves, only without weatherproofing or a plastic viewing window.

glove main 300x225 Bytesize Blog: Review of Blazewear heated glovesBoth sets of gloves are made with high quality materials and are very comfortable to wear. The inner gloves are especially comfortable. You don’t even notice the heating elements within the fabric.

Heating Elements
Each set of gloves uses a different technique to deliver heat to the fingers. The inner gloves use a special composite nickel/chromium synthetic fibre that runs around the sides and tip of each finger, whereas the Powermax sports gloves use flat and flexible heating strips that run along the back of the hand and fingers, right down to the tips.

I found that the inner gloves would also heat the insides of my wrists quite considerably, which made them very warm and cosy. Although if given the choice I’d rather have this extra heat in the fingers, where it’s needed the most.

In order to get the best performance out of the inner gloves, a high quality outer glove is essential. The more insulation and windproofing the better. Poor quality outer gloves still work but I found them far less effective at retaining the heat produced by the inner gloves.

Design
The Powermax gloves are black with a thin reflective strip across the back of the hand and fingers. They have fleece goggle wipes on the back of each thumb. These did tend to bobble after a day or two, but that’s expected with this type of material. It’s not ideal but I personally wouldn’t change the material used as it’s very soft on the face!

The Powermax gloves feature velcro straps for tightening the gloves around the wrist, and self-retaining pull cords at the base of each glove, that really help to prevent heat loss from the wrist openings.

The inner gloves are very plain in comparison. The only cosmetic features are the Blazewear logos printed on the back of each hand. There are no fastening straps because the flexible material hugs your entire hand.

Performance
The Powermax gloves, with their heating elements running across the top of the hand and fingers, provide good heat transfer and are especially effective when cycling. The gloves are weather-proof, but heat is still forced further into the glove by the wind whilst riding. This actually improves the effectiveness of the gloves. Heat that would normally radiate from the surface is instead directed back towards the fingers. The tips of the fingers do not benefit from this effect, and while still warm enough to prevent numbness, I found the very tips of my fingers remained colder than the rest of my hands.

When not riding or skiing, this heat retention is not quite as effective. When I placed the Powermax glove against my face I could really feel the heat radiating from the surface, which would suggest that an additional layer of insulation on the back of the glove could be beneficial in future models.

This is where the heated inner gloves really excel. The fibre heating elements run around the sides of your fingers, rather over the top. This helps to heat the entire hand instead of the heat being localised on the top of the hand and fingers. This really helps to retain heat within the hands and gloves when doing less intense activities, such as walking, sightseeing and maintaining heat in more stationary environments.

As expected, the inner gloves are not very effective when cycling, due to a lack of localised heat on top of the hands and fingers. Even when combined with high quality weather-proof outer gloves, heat is drawn away from the fingers due to the force of the wind. It’s not ideal but that’s exactly why the Powermax gloves exist. Blazewear’s different gloves suit different circumstances.
As I said before, high quality weather-proof gloves with good insulation are essential to get the best out of the heated inner gloves. I’d even suggest combining them with mittens to keep as much heat around the fingers as possible.

It’s clear that both gloves serve entirely different purposes but serve them very well. The Powermax gloves are best suited for windy environments and conditions that attack the back of the hand and fingers. The inner gloves are more suited to general, everyday use, when combined with quality outer gloves.

blazewear glove batteries 300x97 Bytesize Blog: Review of Blazewear heated glovesBattery Life
I was impressed with the battery life for both sets of gloves at their highest heat settings. Whilst out and about sightseeing in Brussels, both pairs lasted around four and a half hours with fully charged Lithium batteries. I’d say you get an extra 60 minutes of use with the lower heat settings, but in the weather I experienced only the highest settings were suitable.

Please note that the Powermax gloves do not ship with Lithium Polymer batteries as standard. Blazewear instead provide AA battery casings that require three AA batteries for each glove. Realistically, you’ll get around three and a half to four hours of use out of a brand new set of high quality AA batteries in the Powermax gloves.

For AA battery use to be effective and affordable you’ll need the most powerful rechargeable AA batteries you can find combined with a decent high speed battery charger. But even then you’re not going to get the same longevity from AA batteries as you will from Blazewear’s Lithium Polymer packs.

If longevity is your main requirement then I suggest using the rechargeable Lithium battery packs over AA batteries. The Lithium batteries and charger are sold separately but in my opinion they are an essential purchase if you’re thinking of investing in the Blazewear Powermax gloves.

To be clear the heated inner gloves come with Lithium Polymer batteries and charging adapter as standard. They do not support AA batteries. Replacement and additional battery packs are available online.

Price
At roughly £90 for either set of gloves with Lithium batteries, these are an affordable solution to the painful and frustrating side effects of poor circulation in the hands. This might sound like a lot of money for a set of gloves but when you suffer with Raynaud’s phenomenon and other less severe circulation issues, it’s a small price to pay to relieve the pain caused by numb hands and fingers.

There are cheaper alternatives on the market, but I am yet to find any products that provide the same build quality and results (the most important factor) as the Blazewear products I have tested. On the flipside, there are more expensive alternatives too which provide similar results. As a mid-range, battery-powered option, the Blazewear products are in my opinion good value for money.

Powermax Gloves: £52.95
Lithium Polymer Batteries and Charger Upgrade Pack: £37.95

Inner Gloves: £89.95
(Includes Lithium Polymer batteries and Charger)
Blazewear also sell entry-level and mid-level insulated gloves at slightly cheaper prices, but I would still recommend the Powermax gloves over these due to their higher quality materials and build quality.

Observations

When wearing both the inner and Powermax gloves at the same time (excessive, I know), the results were amazing. My hands were literally radiating heat. However, this would be impractical for everyday use due to fact that there would be two sets of batteries on each wrist. Maybe there is a way to combine the two.

I would love to see Blazewear offer some form of premium glove that combined both heating elements into a single product. Complete with a more powerful battery pack that could be placed inside the user’s pocket. Durable cables could then be fed to the wrists of each glove.

Conclusion
Overall, I was very impressed Blazewear’s products. Both sets lasted a whole day’s sightseeing on a single charge. I had my reservations about the battery packs before trying them but I barely ever noticed them.

At times you forget you’re wearing heated gloves which makes you wonder if they are really making a difference. A few seconds without the gloves on and you soon realise how much they are helping. I’m usually clenching my hands in pain in the bitter cold but with Blazewear’s heated gloves on the cold becomes an afterthought.

I wouldn’t really change anything about either pair of gloves although I do think Blazewear should provide Lithium Polymer batteries as standard across their entire range, whilst also including the AA battery cases in with the pack.

In freezing cold conditions these gloves do an excellent job of holding back the pain caused by poor circulation. You won’t be strolling about with hot hands unless you already have excellent circulation, so don’t expect those kinds of results. But if that were the case, you wouldn’t really need heated gloves in the first place.

If your hands cause you pain in the cold weather then I would recommend giving the heated inner gloves a try. If you cycle a lot then I would recommend the Powermax gloves instead. They really did excel in windy cycling conditions.

For more information about Blazewear’s heated glove range, visit: www.blazewear.com


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