If you are looking forward to Winter but not the cold that accompanies it, Mountain Hardwear has constructed a jacket for you. The Radiance Jacket ($230) is pre-wired for the Ardica Moshi Power System ($145).When fully charged, the battery powered energy pack will keep you warm for a little over eight and a half hours when set on the low setting and three hours when set for high. The heater fits into an internal pocket in the back of the jacket that sits between your scapula with extra heating coils in the front just above the pockets. Simply pressing the black button on the top of the jacket turns on the heater. The contrast between the lightweight jacket and the stiff battery is quite noticeable though. Known for their lightweight yet warm jackets (I ski in an older version of the company's Flip Jacket), the power system makes the jacket heavy.
I sat in my cold house (why houses in Northern California aren't well insulated is beyond me) and cranked the jacket to the high setting and was quite toasty. I was sweating in minutes. I have no doubt it would keep me warm on the slopes or sitting at a snowy football game, I am not sure I want to pay $375 to stay warm. Think of all the hot chocolate you could buy, even overpriced ski lodge cocoa, with that kind of dough.
If you're an electronics junkie, the jacket will charge them. To learn how
The left pocket of the jacket houses a USB cable, they come with a variety of adapters making it useful for charging your iPhone, iPod, camera, or BlackBerry. The Ardica System takes more than a few hours to fully charge, but it can fully charge your phone multiple times once it's charged.
I think the concept of a warming jacket that helps you stay wired (or at least charged) is cool, but I am not completely sold on the technology. While the jacket is cute and streamlined — it would fit well under a shell to keep for added wind and water protection — but if it is so cold that I need a heater to keep me warm riding up a mountain, I might just opt for a lodge day. What about you? What do you think of the Radiance Jacket?