As far as I know there are two heated vests on the market at the moment. One comes from Quiksilver and one from Rip Curl. I think the Cypher Quiksilver heated vest was first which is kind of funny because Rip Curls H-Bomb wetsuit was worlds first heated wetsuit. But since it was (is) very pricey I guess it didn’t really take off. On the other hand both heated vests are quite affordable and even more useful then a heated wetsuit. You can put your heated vest under any wetsuit you want. Use it for ice cold waters together with thick wetsuit or in not so cold water to shed a mm of your wetsuit thickness and be more flexible. Recently I’ve been lucky to get my hands on the Rip Curls Heated Vest and use it in a few sessions. This is my first hand review.
Rip Curl Heated Vest
The vest comes on a flat black box. It looks like you just got a piece of some high-tech super secret technology. Inside you will find the vest, a battery, a charger and a set of different power plug adaptors so you can charge your heated vest anywhere in the world. To bad the car charger is missing. The vest itself is made out of very thin elasto neoprene (100% E3 0.3mm neoprene). But since it is hard to put on a neoprene vest even if the neoprene is so thin and flexible there is a side zipper on the vest so you can put it on like a jacket. The second and probably even bigger reason for the zipper is the preservation of the heating panels. You don’t want to put too much stress on them (to avoid harming them). The vest looks like this:
The heating panels are on the back. They cover a much bigger area than those in the Quiksilver heated vest. Both vests cover the kidney area because this is where the blood comes closest to the body surface and by heating this blood you can transfer this heat throughout the body. But in Rip Curl Heated Vest the panels also reach much higher up your back so a substantially bigger part of your back is warmed by the batteries.
Vest has a small side pocket on the back that hold the battery. You can plug/unplug the battery and then remove it from the pocket to wash it and recharge it. The vest well the battery has two power settings. You can put it on Low and on High. On low heating the battery will last about 2 and 1/2 hours and on high setting it will last around 1hr 50mins.
The battery and the charger look like this:
Now these were the technical details but how did the vest actually perform?
Testing The Heated Vest From Rip Curl
I used the vest in a 3:30h long surfing session. Water temperature was 48-50F/9-10C, air temperature was a few degrees higher. Over the vest I was wearing 5/3 Matuse Tumo. It was windy.
Did it work?
Yes! There is a definite difference surfing with and without the vest. I used the low setting after about 20 minutes of surfing and left it turned on till the end of the session. The high setting almost felt to warm and I didn’t want to burn through the battery to quickly. On low it felt like you have pillow pressed to your back the whole time. I couldn’t actually feel the warmth on low (only on high) but my whole back felt kind of comfy. I can also confirm that this effects your whole body. My hands and feet didn’t feel cold. Maybe 30min after the batteries ran out I started to feel the cold creeping into my body. I could have easily still used the low setting if water was a few degrees colder and with high setting you can probably surf some extremely cold water for a while.
The only problem is the operating switch. I’ve read the instructions quickly the day before I used the vest and when I hit the water all I could remember was that the battery vibrates when you change the setting. So for a while I had no idea if the vest is turned on off low or high. So I had to wait to feel it. Otherwise you can press the button through your wetsuit wearing neoprene gloves – no problem.
A few Q&A
Does The Battery Bother You When Surfing?
No. If you think about it you can feel it but you soon forget that it’s there.
If you have any other questions about the Rip Curl Heated Vest – ask!