January 3, 2002
1:02 AM   Subscribe

The North Face's newest jacket is a technical wonder: It heats itself. Although for $499, I would expect a fleece jacket to also climb mountains, shovel snow, and balance my checkbook for me.
posted by mathowie (23 comments total)
Yes, well, I think we all know where this technology belongs.
posted by dong_resin at 2:03 AM on January 3, 2002

Nifty technology, but can it save the manufacturer from a nasty run of luck?
posted by rotifer at 2:11 AM on January 3, 2002

modernized fremen? {sorry bad DUNE joke}

when did it became "cool" to use batteries everywhere? The more gimmicks you have the more time you spend on them then using it.

now where's the battery kit for my undies.
posted by cqny at 2:24 AM on January 3, 2002

i have an electrically-heated jacket liner and gloves. i wear them in cold weather when motorcycling (which is relatively often). i've been hypothermic once and it's not a good thing. there have been plenty of times i've been working outside in cold weather when a jacket like this would have been welcome. it's very cold standing at a surveying theodolite when the temp is 20F and the wind is blowing 20mph and you're waiting for the rodman to get on-point. i know a couple of folks who've been frostbit and now have low cold tolerance that a jacket like this would really help out. this is important technology to those of us who spend a lot of time outdoors in poor conditions. cool link.
posted by ruminator at 3:07 AM on January 3, 2002

Amazing. Amazingly useless.
posted by lostbyanecho at 3:20 AM on January 3, 2002

I can see a few applications, but a useless performance product. Maybe a heated vest? At least give us some ventilation to regulate the temp.
posted by rotifer at 3:31 AM on January 3, 2002

Bad news - You're lost in a snowstorm.

Good news - Your MET5™ Jacket should save your life.

Bad news - You are out of batteries.

*Apologies to the "good news/bad news" genre of books which were always so popular when I was in first grade.
posted by lucien at 3:45 AM on January 3, 2002

dont go out in the cold in the first place
posted by monkeyJuice at 4:27 AM on January 3, 2002

I have always wondered if heating and cooling systems have contributed to our intolerance of any temperature outside our comfort zone.

I know some people who live their entire lives at 21 deg.C. Even in the hottest days of summer, these people jump from their temperature-regulated home, to their car, to their work or to the shopping mall. They find the slightest deviation intolerable.

Is all this "temperature technology" harming our physiology?
posted by quietfish at 4:51 AM on January 3, 2002

Nothing that I haven't seen before
posted by banished at 5:27 AM on January 3, 2002

i know somebody who could have done with one of these. spent new years eve day under his car, *whoops* hyperthermia!
next 10 hours spent in jumpers and fleece and sleeping-bag infront of fire feeling cold.
happy new year!

$499 may sound like alot, but paying for functionality often can be expensive.
posted by asok at 5:58 AM on January 3, 2002

good question about "temperature technology", quietfish.
i can only guess that it may lead to a weak heart, as well as head on the part of the temperature variation avoider.
posted by asok at 6:03 AM on January 3, 2002

Whether or not this product is a good purchase - I bought a North Face Mountain Light jacket in 93. And although it was spendy at the time, I haven't bought a winter coat since. The bonus was when I broke the zipper and called to see if they could fix it - they asked me to send back the coat and they FedEx'ed me a completely new Moutain Light.

Good customer service deserves to be pimped out.
posted by mecawilson at 6:06 AM on January 3, 2002

Over the years I've bought dozens of different pieces of outdoor gear like clothing (mostly gloves and socks), equipment, lights, etc. that use batteries. Of these only three are always in my pack (GPS Receiver, headlamp and short-wave radio). None of which I need to survive (I also carry a compass, candle-lantern and...umm, no suitable sub for the radio but I don't need it). While a battery powered jacket may be a novelty I certainly wouldn't depend on it for my survival. I'd rather put that nearly $500 into a better sleeping bag and tent.

North Face has lost its focus.
posted by m@ at 7:16 AM on January 3, 2002

Great. Now the hypothermia victims on New Hampshire's Mount Washington will be found dead with $500.00 jackets on.
posted by bondcliff at 8:01 AM on January 3, 2002

North Face has lost its focus.

It's not just North Face. Does anybody remember when Lands End used to sell sailing equipment, or when L.L. Bean had honest-to-goodness hunting equipment. There used to be a Eddie Bauer before Polartech and fatwood, but you'd hardly know it now.

The jacket, while useful for folks who have to be out in the wind and cold for hours at a time, is the Hummer of outerwear. The masses will desire it because it is new, shiny, and much more exciting than the tried-and-true parka that they have worn for years.

Great. Now the hypothermia victims on New Hampshire's Mount Washington will be found dead with $500.00 jackets on.

At least the rescuers will be able to find their bodies via GPS. ;-)
posted by Avogadro at 8:20 AM on January 3, 2002

Complete charging takes 2.5 hours. The lithium batteries are designed to power the heat source for 5 continuous hours on the medium setting or 2.5 hours on the high setting.

If they were serious they'd have made it run on portable, easily-replaceable 9V batteries. I can't imagine anything this could be useful for, except MAYBE attending football games.
posted by coelecanth at 8:32 AM on January 3, 2002

If they were serious they'd have made it run on portable, easily-replaceable 9V batteries.

Nobody wants to wear a jacket where the batteries are heavier that the jacket itself. Do you have any idea how many 9V batteries you'd need to achieve 5 hours? You'd look like a Stormtrooper from Star Wars because the best place for all those batteries would probably be your back.
posted by kindall at 9:03 AM on January 3, 2002

In re: the cold tolerance issue:
I used to live in northwestern Connecticut, where summers are 90 deg. F and winters have highs in the upper 20's. I was fine in the winters -- most of the natives played soccer, in shorts, in the snow -- and I sweated, of course, in the summers, but didn't need air conditioning, even with the humidity.

I now live in Oregon, where it's pretty mild. It rarely goes above 85 F in the summer, and it's barely hit the freezing mark here in the middle of the night. On a trip to Arkansas this summer, I found I've totally lost my heat tolerance, and I realized that my parents new neighbor (a new transplant from the midwest) was mowing his lawn in a rugby shirt in 40 F weather yesterday ... while I was bundled up in a scarf and wool pea coat.

Humans do lose or gain heat or cold tolerance depedning on their environment. I don't think that temperature control has anything to do with it except for reducing our need to adapt.
posted by SpecialK at 9:35 AM on January 3, 2002

yeah, i remember when i lived in arizona 60 degrees was cold. now i know better!

i think north face should make thermal underwear.
posted by kliuless at 1:53 PM on January 3, 2002

On his first album, Steve Martin joked about buying a "gasoline-powered turtleneck sweater" with some of his mad money. If he'd just said "battery-powered," he could've been a prophet in addition to a wild and crazy guy.
posted by diddlegnome at 6:15 PM on January 3, 2002

The weight-loss guru Covert Bailey said that we have these brown fat cells in our chest area, which are used to generate heat for the body. He gave as an example that parents often tuck their kids in, then check in on them later only to find the kids have kicked the covers off in their sleep- inconcievable to the mother who thinks it's freezing.

Adults who are sedentary or don't experience cold temperatures apparently lose these fat cells, which not only help keep us warm in chilly temperatures but may also serve as a way to burn off excess fat (hm- temperature controlled environments as yet another component in the chubbifying of America?)
posted by hincandenza at 6:42 PM on January 3, 2002

This is a cool product. Pound for pound the battery weighs less then the food youd need to consume to generate the same heat which means you can travel lighter, further and faster. It only makes logical sense, its worth the money to lighten the load. Hell why would I spend $500 if its going to increase the amount of weight I have to carry.. I'd spend $1000's if it will decrease weight and allow me to travel further.
posted by stbalbach at 12:04 PM on January 5, 2002

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