The Best Heated Vests of 2022

Say goodbye to bulky, restrictive layers of clothing and slip on a heated vest to keep you warm during outdoor winter tasks. Find out which of today’s most popular heated vests made the cut in my hands-on testing.

By Glenda Taylor | Updated Dec 3, 2021 1:03 PM

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The Best Heated Vests Options

Photo: Glenda Taylor

When temperatures drop, working outdoors can become downright uncomfortable if you don’t have a way to stay warm. You need to move freely in some outdoor occupations, including construction, surveying, and landscaping, so piling on constricting clothing layers isn’t an option. That’s where heated vests come in. These typically lightweight garments, which fit easily over a shirt or under a jacket, feature battery-heated panels that help keep your core warm so you can continue to work.

I’d heard a lot about heated vests in the past few years, but I wanted to know if they lived up to the hype. Are they cumbersome? Do they really keep your core warm enough to stave off a bitter chill? Will they survive snow, rain, or sleet? These and other questions were on my mind as I tested several of the top sellers available today. I put these vests through their paces, tested all of their functions, and noted how long they stayed warm on a single battery charge.

The best heated vest for you depends on the outdoor temperature and how much additional heat you need to stay warm and comfortable. Ahead, learn what to look for in a heated vest, and find out how the following models fared in my extensive testing.

  1. BEST OVERALL: ORORO Men’s Lightweight Heated Vest with Battery Pack
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: PKSTONE Heated Vest for Men & Women
  3. BEST FOR WOMEN: Venture Heat Women’s Heated Vest with Battery Pack
  4. BEST V-NECK VEST: VALLEYWIND Lightweight Heated Vest
  5. BEST BREATHABLE: ORORO Men’s Fleece Heated Vest
  6. BEST HOODED VEST: AKASO Women’s Nomad Battery Heated Vest
  7. BEST FOR MOTORCYCLING: Milwaukee Men’s AXIS Black Heated Quilted Vest
  8. ALSO CONSIDER: Milwaukee Women’s AXIS Black Heated Quilted Vest
The Best Heated Vests Options

Photo: Glenda Taylor

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Heated Vest

Heated vests will help raise your body temperature when it’s chilly outdoors, but because they don’t have sleeves, they’re not a substitute for a full coat if the temperatures are bitterly cold. You can wear a heated vest over a flannel shirt or sweater when you need just a bit of warmth or under a heavier coat to provide a temperature boost. When the vests started arriving, I noticed that virtually all of them were either black or dark gray. Fashion is not at the top of the list when it comes to heated vests; function takes precedence.

Material

The outer shell of a heated vest can be made of several materials, including fleece or a moisture-resistant polyester blend, and is often combined with a fleece lining for softness and comfort. Some heated vests feature an outer shell that is moisture resistant but not completely waterproof, which then traps sweat against the body and leaves you feeling clammy. The most comfortable heated vests are made with fabric that breathes and wicks sweat away from your body.

A good number of the heated vests I tested featured an outer nylon shell, which is a good option for moisture resistance when wearing the vest as an outer layer. Others were thinner and less water resistant but designed to be paired with an overcoat if needed to keep from getting wet.

Heating Elements

The heating elements in a heated vest include a series of panels with wires that warm different sections of the body. These strategic panels are most commonly placed along the upper back and the chest area of the vest. Some heated vests offer even more panels, often located in the lower front, lower back, and sometimes along the back of the neck if the vest has a high collar. Depending on the outdoor temperature and the degree of added warmth you need, you may be happy with just a few panels or want as many as possible.

Temperature Settings

Some heated vests provide only one temperature setting, but many feature two or three settings to allow you to select just the right temperature for your environment. The temperature selection button is often located on the vest’s front, either above a chest pocket or on a lower front pocket for convenience.

Some temperature control buttons feature different-colored lights that make it easy to identify which heating mode is currently in use, such as a red light for the highest temperature, a yellow light for a medium temperature, and a green light for the lowest temperature. By simply pushing the temperature button, you can change the warmth level to the setting most comfortable for you.

Voltage, Battery Life, and Runtime

The low-voltage, lithium-ion batteries (5-volt and 7.4-volt) used in heated vests will hold a charge for 4 to 10 hours, depending on the heat level. The battery will drain more quickly at a higher temperature than it will at a medium or low setting. Most rechargeable batteries have a similar charging life, but typically after 3 to 5 years, a lithium-ion battery loses some of its strength and won’t hold a charge as long as it once did. If you notice the vest doesn’t stay warm as long as it did when you first bought it, replacing the battery might be all you need to get it back into top working order.

Safety

Although heated vests run on electricity, the voltage is so low that you are not at risk of being electrocuted. Many heated vests are even safe in the washing machine—once the battery has been removed, of course. The rechargeable lithium-ion battery contains ingredients, however, that can irritate skin, eyes, and mucus membranes, causing itching, burning, and redness. If a lithium-ion battery becomes damaged and its contents leak, discard the battery and replace it with a new one.

Moisture Resistance

Many of the vests I tested were advertised as being “moisture resistant” or “water resistant,” but the owner’s manual that comes with each vest warns the user not to wear the vest if the interior lining is wet, due to a risk of shock. Any water-resistant properties relate solely to the outer shell of the vests, which is usually made from nylon to block both wind and light rain or snow. The vests are typically washable on the delicate cycle (with the batteries removed) and then hung up to dry.

Additional Features

Many heated vests feature two front pockets at the waist that can come in handy if you need to store items like a wallet or keys. Some vests offer additional chest pockets and provide a special zippered pocket to keep your cell phone safe. While most vests have a zipper front, several button-front models are available, as well as hooded models to keep your head warm and dry in cold or inclement weather. Some heated vests feature a built-in timer that will automatically turn off the heat after a few hours; if you need more heat, just turn the vest back on.

Our Top Picks

When I tested the following heated vests, the outdoor temperature was around 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and dipped to near freezing overnight. With the addition of high winds, the wind chill was in the lower 30s during the day, so I had plenty of opportunities to enjoy the warmth generated by the vests.

The following heated vests feature varying levels of heat distribution, ease of use, functionality, and comfort. The best heated vest for you will depend on how low the temperatures dip in your region, how long you’ll be out in the cold, and how much supplemental heat you need to feel comfortable. Battery runtime was tested at the highest temperature—users can reasonably expect two to three times longer heating on lower settings.

Best Overall

The Best Heated Vest Option: ORORO Men’s Lightweight Heated Vest
Photo: Amazon.com

The ORORO Men’s Lightweight Heated Vest aims to keep you warm in all the right places, thanks to three carbon fiber heating zones located along the back of the collar, in the mid-back, and on the lower front of the vest. This vest features three temperature settings, so you can choose which one best suits your warmth needs and outdoor environment. Its heating zones are powered by a rechargeable 7.4-volt battery (included) that generates heat for up to 6 hours at the highest temperature on a single charge.

When I tried on the ORORO vest, the first thing that struck me was how supple and comfortable it was. I’d expected it to be slightly stiff or scratchy—with unbending internal wires—but that wasn’t the case at all. While the manufacturer claims the vest is “water resistant,” the operating guide that comes with the vest warns against wearing it in wet conditions when the vest is heating.

This vest contains quality materials and is well made—no snags, the seams are well sewn, and the material seems very durable. My favorite feature was the heating panel in the back of the collar. I wrapped a long winter scarf around my neck, and I stayed toasty warm. The vest generated heat for just over 6 hours on high, and the soft nylon outer shell blocked most of the cutting wind. All in all, this is a high-quality heated vest that should last for years.

Product Specs

  • Number of heating panels: 4, one on each lower front side, one mid-back, one in the collar
  • Battery included? Yes
  • Runtime on high: 6 hours

Pros

  • High-quality nylon shell
  • Soft inner lining
  • Neck heat panel
  • Heat panels in the lower front keep both body and hands warm

Cons

  • Battery pocket location makes the battery slightly uncomfortable against the hip

Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Heated Vest Option: PKSTONE Heated
Photo: amazon.com

This reasonably priced heated vest from PKSTONE provides ample warmth along the vest’s upper back, lower back, and lower front. It features three adjustable temperature settings to customize your comfort level and operates via a USB power bank (not included).

I borrowed a power bank from one of the other heated vests I tested, and the vest generated heat for 5 hours on high, but different batteries will offer different results. The PKSTONE Heated Vest is made from lightweight polyester, cotton, and Lycra, and it’s thin enough to wear under a jacket or over a warm sweater or shirt.

I wore it under a denim jacket, but after about 30 minutes, I had to remove the jacket because I got a little too toasty. The V-neck makes it possible to wear this heated vest under various outerwear options or on top of a flannel shirt or sweater. The downside for me was that the battery compartment was inside the left pocket, so I had to curl my hand around the battery if I wanted to put my hands in the pockets.

Product Specs

  • Number of heating panels: 4, one each side lower front, one mid-back, one upper back
  • Battery included? No
  • Runtime on high: Will depend on battery chosen

Pros

  • Lightweight and thin
  • Comfortable fabric and well made
  • Nice, even heat distribution
  • Unisex fit

Cons

  • No battery included
  • Battery connection located inside the pocket

Best for Women

The Best Heated Vest Option: Venture Heat Women’s Heated Vest with Battery Pack
Photo: amazon.com

The tapered waist and wind-cutting high neck of the Venture Heat Women’s Heated Vest give it a stylish look while retaining warmth. It features three large heating zones: one on each side in the chest area and another from shoulder to shoulder along the upper-mid-back region. I found myself liking the front heating elements being in the chest area instead of in the lower pocket area as is typical with many heated vests. The downside to this configuration is that the pockets aren’t heated, but I felt warmer overall.

I was able to choose from three different temperature settings, and I appreciated a separate compartment, accessible from inside the vest, for the battery. This versatile vest can be worn under a roomy jacket for maximum warmth or over a heavy shirt or sweater. The 7.4-volt rechargeable battery is included, and after a full initial charge, it kept the vest warm for just under 5 hours on the highest setting. Best of all—from my perspective—is the heating panel in the collar that makes the vest feel so cozy and warm.

Product Specs

  • Number of heating panels: 4, right chest, left chest, mid-back, collar
  • Battery included? Yes
  • Runtime on high: 5 hours

Pros

  • Very soft comfortable fabric inside and out
  • Separate pocket for battery
  • Heated collar
  • Roomy front pockets for keys, etc.

Cons

  • Pockets not heated

Best V-Neck Vest

The Best Heated Vest Option: VALLEYWIND Lightweight Heated Vest
Photo: amazon.com

This lightweight heated vest from Valleywind features five heating zones: two on the front at waist level, two on the lower back, and one along the upper back. The extra heating panels on the back were so nice because they heated my entire back rather than a single section. The fabric, which is a combination of Lycra, polyester, and cotton, lies smooth and flat. I started by wearing it under a heavy coat, but that quickly became too warm, and I ditched the coat.

The V-neck front makes the vest ideal for wearing over a high-neck shirt, such as a turtleneck or under a jacket. I was able to choose from three different temperature settings, and even on the lowest setting, the vest kept me comfortably warm. The heating zones operate via a USB-port power bank, which is not included, so I used a battery bank from one of the other vests. Unfortunately, the battery connection is inside the left pocket, which means my hand had to share the pocket with the battery, and that was a little cramped.

Product Specs

  • Number of heating panels: 4, one each side lower front, one mid-back, one upper back
  • Battery included? No
  • Runtime on high: Will depend on battery chosen

Pros

  • Supple fabric—lies flat
  • Both mid-back and upper-back heat panels
  • Lies flat—can be worn under a suit jacket or dress coat

Cons

  • Battery not included
  • Battery connection in pocket

Best Breathable

The Best Heated Vest Option: ORORO Men’s Fleece Heated Vest
Photo: Amazon.com

When the ORORO heated vest arrived, I expected the fleece to be similar to a fluffy bathrobe. That’s not the case at all. The fleece part is on the inside of the vest—the lining—but the outer shell is made from a cotton/polyester blend that’s thicker and more durable than fleece. This vest is designed for comfort—it’s soft and supple, and the inside of the pockets has the same fleece lining. Like a couple of other vests, the battery compartment is located inside the vest, and it’s positioned a bit to the side, which made the battery bump against my side.

The significant upside to the ORORO fleece vest is how well it breathes—no problem with sweat building up. The wind did blow through the fabric a bit—more than it did with the vests that come with nylon shells, but not enough to send me back indoors. The vest is also designed with a high zip-up neck to help keep cold air out.

The vest features three heating zones, including two on the chest and one along the upper back. It allows the wearer to choose from three adjustable temperature settings to cater to individual comfort and the outdoor environment. After fully charging the battery overnight, the vest generated heat for almost 5½ hours on high. I would wear this vest on moderately cool days, but I’d hesitate to wear it—without an overcoat—on truly frigid days.

Product Specs

  • Number of heating panels: 3, two either side mid-chest, one mid-back
  • Battery included? Yes
  • Runtime on high: 5½ hours

Pros

  • Ultrasoft fleece lining
  • Fleece-lined pockets
  • High-zip neck

Cons

  • Only three heating panels
  • Not windproof
  • Battery rubs on side

Best Hooded Vest

The Best Heated Vest Option: AKASO Women’s Nomad Battery Heated Vest
Photo: amazon.com

Style meets warmth! While most heated vests are a little on the plain side, the AKASO women’s heated vest is nicely styled with a tapered waist, attractive gray quilting on the front and back, and black side panels for a slimming effect. With its ample padding, I was able to wear this vest over a long-sleeve sweater, but it is also slim enough to slip under a roomy jacket.

The AKASO Heated Vest comes with a detachable hood that’s an excellent addition most vests don’t include. With a heating panel in the collar, the ability to slip the hood up really locked in the warmth around my head. The vest is equipped with four heated zones: two on the lower chest, one along the upper back, and the one in the collar. These heating zones are powered by a rechargeable 5-volt power bank (included) that produced warmth for 4½ hours on high.

The battery connects in a separate pocket behind the left pocket, leaving the main pocket free for my hands. I barely noticed the battery on the front left—it’s in a comfortable spot—and both pockets zip closed with invisible zippers that also add to the vest’s slimming appeal. This vest is just as suitable for wearing out shopping as it is for doing outdoor chores.

Product Specs

  • Number of heating panels: 4, one each side lower front, one mid-back, one in back collar.
  • Battery included? Yes
  • Runtime on high: 4½ hours

Pros

  • Stylish and warm
  • Detachable hood
  • Comfortable battery configuration
  • Heat panel in the collar

Cons

  • No apparent cons

Best for Motorcycling

The Best Heated Vest Option: Milwaukee Men’s AXIS Black Heated Quilted Vest
Photo: homedepot.com

Get your motor running—or get ready to enjoy any outdoor activity and stay warm while doing it. This Milwaukee men’s heated vest arrived in the same recognizable red and white packaging as other tools and products made by this nationwide manufacturer.

The vest heats both the chest and the mid-upper back, and it comes with a high-zip collar for blocking drafts. The battery storage compartment is located on the left side, at the small of the back. This turned out to be a handy configuration because the battery didn’t get in the way if I bent over or put my hands in my pockets.

The most significant difference is the battery itself. At 12 volts, it’s more powerful than the other batteries, but it’s also a cylindrical shape rather than a flat rectangular shape, so when I sat and leaned back on a chair, I could feel the battery pressing into the left side of my back. This might become annoying for someone who needs to lean back frequently, such as a heavy equipment operator. The battery, however, kept the vest warm on high for 6 hours.

Product Specs

  • Number of heating panels: 3: one each side of chest, one on mid-back
  • Battery included? Yes
  • Runtime on high: 6 hours

Pros

  • Well made—nylon shell blocks wind
  • Powerful 12-volt battery
  • Battery can be used in other Milwaukee 12-volt power tools

Cons

  • Cylindrical battery presses into back when sitting and leaning back

Also Consider

The Best Heated Vest Option: Milwaukee Women’s AXIS Black Heated Quilted Vest
Photo: homedepot.com

Like the men’s Milwaukee heated vest, the women’s version comes in a bright red and white box with the Milwaukee lightning logo prominently displayed. Rather than a USB-type battery bank, it also comes with a standard Milwaukee battery-charging base, and the 12-volt battery (included) can be swapped out with other brand-specific 12-volt tools.

The women’s version has a nicely tapered waistline and comes with a separate battery compartment that’s located on the back left side. The compartment is higher than it is on competing vests, so the battery sits just slightly behind and below the left armpit. The battery itself is cylindrical, so it’s a little bulky, but it kept the vest toasty warm on high for more than 6½ hours.

The vest also comes with a high collar that zips up to block drafts. I wore the vest over two layered long-sleeve shirts, and it kept me comfortable as I did outdoor chores. It would also work under a roomy coat, but I’d hesitate to wear a snug coat due to the size and proximity of the battery. It blocked the strong wind and was quite comfortable otherwise.

Product Specs

  • Number of heating panels: 3: one each side of chest, one on mid-back
  • Battery included? Yes
  • Runtime on high: 6½ hours

Pros

  • Nice styling with tapered waist
  • Powerful battery for long runtime
  • Nylon shell blocks wind
  • High-zip collar

Cons

  • Battery large and kind of bulky

Our Verdict

Battery-operated, heated vests are still the new kids on the block, but they can make a big difference between being unbearably cold and staying warm while performing outdoor tasks in cold weather. All the vests that earned a spot in our lineup are decent picks. Still, the ORORO Men’s Lightweight Heated Vest ticks all the boxes for comfort, quality materials and construction, and optimal heating panel placement. Those looking for an affordable heated vest that can be worn under another jacket won’t be disappointed by the PKSTONE Heated Vest that’s thin but provides ample heat—just keep in mind that it doesn’t come with a battery bank.

How We Tested the Best Heated Vests

The two most essential factors in a heated vest are how well it fits and how well it keeps the user warm. The first step in the testing process was to fully charge the batteries (of those that came with batteries), so I charged each one overnight to ensure it had a full charge.

I connected the batteries (be aware that some battery connections take a while to find) and cycled the vests through their heat levels. I then turned the vests to high and noted how long the battery produced heat. I wore each vest outdoors and made a note of how comfortable it was when reaching, bending, and twisting, and I also observed how well it blocked the cold wind.

After wearing each vest outdoors for about an hour, I removed it but left the heat turned to high. I then checked every 30 minutes to see if the vest was still producing heat and made a note of the time when it stopped heating.

I also examined the quality of materials the vests were made from and how well the seams were sewn. I scored each vest using a rubric and then tallied up the final scores to choose the best ones for this lineup.

FAQs 

Wearing a heated vest during outdoor activities can make the difference between feeling cold and miserable or being warm and comfortable. If this is your first time shopping for a heated vest, you likely have some questions.

Q. Are heated vests safe?

Yes, the lithium-ion batteries used to generate heat are low-voltage and will not result in an electrical shock. But while the outer nylon shell may be water resistant, the inner lining is not, so don’t wear a heated vest if the inside is wet. If moisture gets into the battery connections, it increases the risk of shock.

Q. How do you use a heated vest?

You can wear a heated vest under a larger coat for the most heat benefit or over a thick shirt or sweater for just a bit of added warmth.

Q. In what temperature ranges can a heated vest be used?

At any temperature that you start to feel chilly, a heated vest can add some welcome warmth. For many individuals, that’s around 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. They’re also suitable for pairing with a warm overcoat if you need to stay warm and toasty in even colder temperatures.

Q. How long do you charge a heated vest?

Plan to charge the lithium-ion battery at least 3 hours before wearing your heated vest to reach full capacity. Or better yet, overnight, if possible.

Q. Can you machine wash a heated vest?

Most heated vests are machine washable, but be sure to remove the battery first. Check the apparel’s label for additional instructions about suitable water temperature and whether you can place the vest in the dryer or should hang to dry.