Summer is waning, and soon colder temperatures will be affecting all areas of the United States. As outdoor welders know, temperatures can drop rapidly, especially in the northern states, which is why Milwaukee Tool has released its new line of heated outerwear to keep welders warm in the fast approaching fall and winter months.
You might know Milwaukee Tool for its production of power tools, hand tools, instruments and accessories going back to 1924. However, since 2010, the company has offered a heated gear clothing line that has attracted an audience that goes beyond the expected construction industry; motorcyclists who are loyal to two wheels even in cold temperatures have taken notice of the heated gear. The welding community, too, is taking notice.
Interest is being piqued particularly because the heated gear is so unlike the outerwear that outdoor welders have worn in the past. Instead of simply protecting welders from the cold temps, the gear itself produces heat. This reduces the need for bulky clothing that gets in the way.
The M12 heated jackets and hoodies have durable carbon fiber heating elements woven between the exterior material and the thermal insulating liners. Powered by M12 RedLithium batteries in 12- or 18-V configurations, the heating elements create, distribute and trap heat around the core of the body, allowing welders to perform their tasks in any weather – and stay warm doing it. Users can choose between high, medium and low heat settings by pushing an inconspicuous button on the front of the jacket.
The 2016 heated gear line, which was recently announced by the company, is being touted as Milwaukee Tool’s most significant redesign of the heated gear to date. Patrick Lueck, product manager, says the biggest changes include the use of new polyester materials in the jackets, mobility enhancement, reinforced pockets, and an improved fit and cut across all products.
Lueck says the company focus has always been on designing and developing work gear that provides the best balance of performance, durability and comfort for better jobsite productivity.
“This year we re-engineered the line using custom developed materials and construction methods,” Lueck says, “paired with advanced heating technology. Every product in the line delivers drastically improved levels of performance, durability and utility.”
Lueck continues to say that Milwaukee gets feedback about the needs of welders and caters to those needs.
“We log hundreds of hours on the jobsite,” he explains. “We interact with users on a daily basis to learn about their frustrations and ideas. This not only inspires real innovation, but drives us to develop solutions professionals truly want and need to perform their job productively.”
Upgraded jackets and hoodies
Heavy-duty M12 heated jackets have been rebooted to increase durability and versatility on the jobsite. Notably, the company is now using a material called ToughShell stretch polyester in the jackets, which is supposed to last five times longer than “other soft shell jackets.” The material also provides wind and water resistance and is abrasion resistant.
Milwaukee is also using FreeFlex Mobility Gussets for improved mobility and offers improved cut and fit with adjustable cuffs and waist and a drop tail extended back. The jackets are available in black, gray and red with gray side panels.
The integrated battery pocket is now accessible from the outside of the jacket. For a welder with an eight-hour workday, the jacket is ideal as the batteries are built to last up to eight hours per charge, distributing heat across the back, chest and in the pockets.
Not all welders need the level of support offered by Milwaukee’s jackets. Many gravitate to the M12 heated hoodies to find the durability their job calls for. And those familiar with the Milwaukee’s heated gear will discover that the hoodies feature an all-new cut.
The front pocket edges have been reinforced to protect from fraying and tearing. The waffle-weave thermal liner and battery-powered heating elements keep the torso and head warm for up to six hours. Furthermore, the hoodies have a fitted hood design for wear under a hardhat. Colors include red, black and gray.
Three for one
For a solution that combines the hoodie and jacket, the welding community can look into Milwaukee’s three-in-one system that pairs the hoodie with a tough outer shell made from a wind- and water-resistant material called GridIron 900 Ripstop Polyester.
The new material is built to come out unscathed even after being subjected to harsh conditions as it is abrasion and tear resistant. Yet the material is also less rigid than many other wind- and water-resistant materials, allowing for better mobility. The system also features FreeFlex Mobility Gussets for improved mobility and an improved cut and fit.
The black M12 three-in-one system includes the outer shell, the inner layer, which includes the heating elements, a thermal fleece liner, and the hoodie. The hoodie has the classic hoodie design with a durable but lightweight mid-layer, heating elements and a waffle weave thermal liner.
Most men’s jackets and hoodies come in sizes small through 3XL. Women’s come in sizes small through 2XL.
While welding is increasingly transitioning to an automated process, there will always be a need for a skilled laborer to handle a variety welding jobs, many of which are outdoors where the welder is exposed to the elements. A comfortable welder is a more efficient welder, which is why heated gear that can stand up to harsh environments has a place in this industry.