Maiden Voyage: Milwaukee M12 Heated Jacket System

July 14, 2020

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A high-quality jacket that adds BTUs to your bod when you need ’em most: on a roof in Minnesota during winter

During the planning stages on the Building Resilience show, we came up with the bright idea to shoot construction on a jobsite in Minnesota during winter. Because what else was I going to do during the winter, sit in a warm office making animations of sunny days? 

It seemed like an excellent opportunity to test out the heated jacket that I’d seen lighting up the Instagrams.

I decided to write to Milwaukee and tell them that if they’d outfit the cameraman (me) with a heated jacket and gloves, he (I) would write a review of the coat for ProTradeCraft’s readers.

If you want to skip all of the words down below, here’s the bottom line:

Great jacket. Performs as expected. Worth buying. 

Now, the deets.

Jacket sizing

Sizing was about as I expected it to be. My Carhartt jacket is large, so I ordered a large Milwaukee jacket. Milwaukee has a sizing chart to help you double-check, and it turns out the table is accurate.

When the jacket system arrived, I was worried that it was slightly small; when I put on the liner, it felt like I needed a little more room. After zipping the liner into the jacket, though, the fit felt much better.

The gloves are a little too small, but not by much. I take 100% responsibility for this because I did not measure my hands the way the sizing chart instructed me to.

In fact, I did not measure them at all; I was in a hotel room, so I chose “Medium,” based on where I tend to fall when in a crowd of people. Not one of the bigger ones, not one of the smaller ones, one of the medium ones.

It turns out, my wife is delighted that they fit her so much better than they fit me.

milwaukee-heated-jacket-M12-system-back-view_0.jpgFit and finish

It seems like a very well-made jacket. The shell is a thick ripstop polyester that provides wind and water resistance. The seams seem sturdy. The jacket looks great; it is obviously a high-quality jacket. 

It is also stylish in a way that this recovering remodeler finds satisfying. 

Again, the liner zips into the shell seamlessly. There’s a red inner zipper for that. The red strip makes it easy to run the correct zipper, and also looks cool like an understated racing stripe.

Features

There’s a slit in the shell that allows you to weave a cord from the battery pack in the lower back to a pocket in the upper front where you can charge your phone.

At first, I was disappointed that the phone pocket in front was open at the top. It meant that my phone would slip out whenever I bend over to pick up my pencil.

After using the front pocket as intended, however, I noticed that the cord retains the phone. What seemed like a bug was actually a feature.

The interior pocket provides warm phone storage.

Heated jacket performance

milwaukee-heated-jacket-M12-system-heating-zones_0.jpgI was excited to try this jacket visiting the coldest part of Minnesota during the coldest time of the year. We had hoped to visit Marvin’s window factory in Warroad, Minnesota, in February but were unable to coordinate the trip before coronavirus locked everything down.

As it turned out, I had to be satisfied with *almost* the coldest part of Minnesota during the coldest part of the year.

Here’s my experience. There are two heating zones to the jacket (shoulders and torso), and there are three settings for each zone (minimum, medium, and maximum). 

Additionally, you can plug an iPhone into the battery pack, as noted above. On a windy 10-degree January morning, I climbed up on the windy (flat) roof, turned both zones up to the max, and plugged my battery-draining old iPhone into the USB jack. The battery lasted about half the day with both zones on full blast, and my cellphone sucking electrons.

I plugged the barreries in at lunch Tim, set the zones to medium, unplugged the phone, and was warm for the rest of the day.

I also tried out the jacket without batteries, you know, the old fashioned way. Guess what? It’s a warm jacket.

Comfort

It is also a comfortable jacket. With the liner zipped into the shell, it is a well-fitting jacket that doesn’t seem to restrict movement.

The gloves are a lot like the jacket: they totally work as advertised, and they even work well when they’re not plugged in.  

We also found that the insulated gloves can be used to keep cans of foam from freezing on the job, so, yeah—added benefits.

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Shoulda/woulda/coulda

Because no review is complete without a complaint, I kept an open mind to what could be wrong with this jacket.

I wish the zipper opened from the bottom as my Carhartt jacket does. I just find it more comfortable when sitting into a car behind the steering wheel with a heavy jacket on.

That’s pretty much my only complaint.

I felt like perhaps the heat could be retained better if the shell were insulated, but there is exterior insulation in the liner. In fact, my backup plan was to wear my insulated Carhartt jacket OVER the battery-powered liner on the cold days.

That plan proved to be unnecessary.

Conclusion: buy this jacket (if you want to)

Overall, I’d give the insulated jacket/liner combination from Milwaukee an A.

At around two-hundred bucks, it’s a bit more than an insulated Carhartt, but it also gives twice the versatility: you can wear the liner, the jacket, or both. And you can charge your phone with it, too.

It is also better for activities that require very little movement, like shooting video on a job site. 

 

—ProTradeCraft enthusiastically thanks Milwaukee for sending the heated jacket and gloves, and encourages them to become a sponsor of ProTradeCraft because we think they’d be an excellent fit (see what we did there?).

 


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