Never shall I ride cold again! In a recent article, I reviewed a set of Oxford premium heated grips. Since then, they’ve done a stellar job of preventing my phalanges from freezing. But as anyone living in a cold climate will tell you – the key to really beating the cold is keeping your core warm. With this in mind, I began searching for heated gear that would keep more than just my fingers comfortable.
There are of course a plethora of heated products on the market aimed specifically at motorcyclists. I’ve even tested some of these in the past. What I really wanted though was a solution that didn’t involve me being connected to the bike via wires and was something I could wear both on and off the bike. My search led me to the website of the USA based Ororo Heated Apparel.
Ororo (pronounced Oh ROAR oh) specialise in apparel designed to “challenge the climate”. Since 2015 they’ve been producing heated outerwear that will keep you warm in even the coldest of climates. They achieve this by integrating heating elements into the liners of their apparel which are powered by lithium-ion battery packs.
Being the safety-conscious motorcyclist that I am, I always wear a protective riding jacket. This meant I needed something that could be worn as an underlayer. From their current range, I deemed the Ororo Heated Fleece Vest and Ororo Heated Fleece Hoodie to best suit my needs.
First impressions of my new heated riding gear
When the Ororo heated fleece vest and hoodie arrived they came packed in their own individual travel bags. With each garment, you also receive a battery pack, a charger with an international plug adapter (the default plug is US compatible) and a user manual.
Both the vest and the hoodie are very well made. They feature sturdy colour matched plastic YKK zippers, dual-layer shells and handy hanging loops on the collar. On the inside of each garment is a zippered pocket for storing the battery and a connection cable for plugging it all in. Based on the size guide on the Ororo website I ordered the heated vest in large and the hoodie in a medium. Both fit me well although I could have probably gone the medium in the vest too.
The Ororo Heated Fleece Vest is all black outside and in. Branding is limited to embroidered Ororo lettering on the left side of the chest. Above it is a button that masquerades as an Ororo emblem. The hoodie also bears the same embroidered text and button/logo. You’ll also find a logo embroidered onto the hood itself. One feature I’m particularly fond of with the hood is its 3-panel construction. Rather than the gnome-like pointy hood you get with most hoodies, this one is more square and it hugs the shape of your head very well.
The heating elements within the vest and hoodie are strategically located on either side of the chest and along the centre of the back. From the outside, you can feel a collection of wires where the heating panels are located. However the only time you’ll notice them against your torso is when they heat up.
As for the fleece lining – of the 2 garments the hoodie is fleecier. Both the liner and the inside of the sleeves are very soft and warm. This doesn’t mean the vest isn’t comfortable too, it’s just not quite as warm on its own as the hoodie. Of course, the lack of sleeves contributes to this greatly.
How Ororo Heated Apparel works
In order to switch the garments heating function on you first connect the included 5200 mAh, 7.4V lithium-ion battery pack. To do this you open the internal zippered pocket and connect the battery via the cable stashed inside. The battery can then be zipped into the pocket positioning it on the lower left side of your stomach. Once this is done the heating function is ready to use.
Operating the different heating functions is all done via the button located on the chest. To begin the warm-up cycle you press and hold it for 3 seconds. The button has a soft silicone surface that is easy to locate in gloves and it makes a tactile click when pressed. Once activated the button slowly pulses red while the garment heats up to the desired temperature. Impressively the warmth from the heating elements can be felt within a few seconds of activation.
Ororo Heated Apparel offers 3 levels of heating. When in the highest setting the button steadily glows red and Ororo states that a fully charged battery should provide 3 hours of heating. In the medium setting, it glows white and the battery lasts for 6 hours. The low setting is indicated by a blue glow and you can expect 10 hours of warmth.
When the time comes to wash your Ororo Heated Gear it can simply be thrown in the wash like a regular jumper. You will of course have to remember to first remove the battery, but everything else is designed to be 100% machine washable.
Riding and living in heated apparel
For the sake of getting them out of the way let’s first look at what I didn’t love about this gear (note I didn’t say hate).
While the backlit button is a great way of letting you know it’s on, you look like an extra in the next Bladerunner film. So if you’re wearing the hoodie around town be prepared to get some curious looks. Especially at night. The button also happens to be very bright which has its pros and its cons.
I also found the weight of the battery to be a bit unusual at first. Because it’s quite heavy it pulls down on the left side of the garment making it feel a tad lopsided. After a while, you get used to it though.
As for the positives, I’m a huge fan of this heated gear. I think the best thing about the fleece hoodie is that it’s so comfortable and warm that I wear it regularly without the battery attached.
The fleece of these garments is thick and soft. So when you cover it with a motorcycle jacket you’ve already created a nicely insulated layer. This has pretty much meant that I haven’t used the highest setting while I’m on my bike for any longer than a few minutes. It simply gets too hot. As a reference, I’ve been testing the gear in temperatures ranging from 10°C (50°F) to 20°C (68°F).
The longest ride I’ve done with the vest turned on was a trip from Geraldton to Dardanup in Western Australia. It was a 585km journey that took around 8 hours to complete with lunch and fuel stops. I left the vest on the entire time on its lowest setting. To my surprise, I made it home without running out of battery juice.
I’ve also been using the hoodie on its own on a worksite and get, on average, 3 mornings worth of warmth on the highest setting. An added benefit of the powerful battery is that it doubles as a booster pack. Mine will fully charge my iPhone using only 1/4 of the batteries power.
Overall I’m very impressed by Ororo’s Heated Apparel. The freedom from wires makes it very appealing to me as a rider and its ease of function while wearing gloves is a huge bonus. It’s also great to have an item of gear that isn’t just limited to use on the bike.
If the idea of arriving at your destination half-frozen doesn’t appeal to you – heated gear like this is definitely worth the investment.