I'm mulling over the idea of getting some warmer winter gear good down into the 20's and 30's F (-10C to +5C). Heated gloves and a heated jacket liner are looking interesting, but what do I know? This would be for commuting (30 minutes) or possible touring.
Presently using a mesh jacket with zip in waterproof liner, good to about 50F (10C) by itself, or down to freezing for short commutes with a fleece jacket underneath. My riding pants are superb for cold weather, so no changes needed below the waist.
Am I on the right track?
Is the FirstGear stuff ok? Durable?
How about controllers? Is FirstGear good?
First Gear do not make their heated gear its just re-branded. Not sure who makes it now but Warm and Safe used to make it.
I bought my heated gear several years ago. I purchased both the Gerbings Microwire and Tourmaster jacket liners online to compare. Although they looked similar, the Gerbings had larger and better heating elements in the jacket liner covering more area and they were less bulky. Returned the Tourmaster and kept the Gerbings, which cost more.
The main problem I've had with my heated gear over the years is the connectors. All heated gear brands use the same coaxial connectors. You need to keep these clean and occasionally insert a thin knife blade into the centre pin to split it slightly to improve contact with the outer sleeve. There is a slot in the centre pin to facilitate this and Gerbings warranty coverage is lifetime and excellent. Never have had any issue with the Micro-wire heating elements themselves or the controller, just the connectors.
You will require a two channel heat controller for heated gloves and heated jacket liner. Being able to access the controller while riding is very important. I clip mine to my belt on the left of my jacket.
I would recommend investing in a heated jacket liner with a heated collar over a heated vest. The cost difference is not substantial but the warmth and versatility is. Also you can replace a jacket liner with a heated liner but not a jacket liner with a heated vest. A heated collar will keep your neck and head warm in the coldest weather.
A heated liner needs to fit tight over just a long sleeve T shirt or similar. It needs direct body contact to keep you warm. A loose liner will not work.
I love my heated jacket liner and gloves, but since moving to a different climate and riding environment my riding has changed and I don't use it as much so my be considering selling it. I now ride in a large metro area and don't do much highway riding anymore in the early spring and late fall.
Heat loss is a factor of speed and distance together and insulation alone does not work that well with 60mph of wind chill that creates cold drafts under layers of insulation. If you ride at slower speeds say in a large city, and with frequent stops you will not need heated gear in the coldest weather but for 1/2hr or more on the highway or rural B roads, heated gear will be almost essential much below 50F. It keeps your core warm, which keeps your limbs warmer with warm blood circulating.
Hope this helps. PM me if you are interested in a size Medium Gerbings microwire liner and size Large Gerbings T5 heated gloves plus a two channel Gerbings heat controller with optional belt clip, all with light use. I can send pictures. Gerbings size charts are online as are reviews of these products.