Cold weather photography can be a tricky situation because you often have to hike quite a bit to get to your shooting location and then you sit or stand around for a long time waiting for the right light or making different compositions. I have always hated this process because I have to pack lots of layers and navigate changing or I get hot and sweaty while I hike and then wet and cold when I stop. I finally solved the problem this year by adding the Venustas Heated Vest to my pack.
I have been using this vest a lot this fall as the weather has gotten colder and it is extremely nice. For hiking, I like to wear a thin long sleeve shirt with the vest and pack a jacket in my bag. I hike with the vest turned off, but it still keep my core warm enough while I am hiking without getting too hot. Once I arrive at my shooting location, I add the jacket over the vest and turn on the heater. It warms up quickly and does a great job of keeping me warm while I shoot.
I have put the vest through a number of tests. With a full charge, I always get about 3 hours of heat at the highest setting. The vest does have three different heat settings, but I only use the top setting because I just turn it off if I don’t want that much heat. The charge time has varied a bit for me, potentially depending on where I am charging the vest as I have done it at home and various hotels, but it usually takes between 3-5 hours to fully charge.
I have found that wearing a jacket over the vest greatly assists in getting it warmer. A tighter jacket works better as it pushes the vest into your body and creates more heat. It also heats a lot more if you are leaning against something like the back of a chair as it pushes the heat into your body.
Other than just using the vest for photography outings, I have found myself using it more than I ever thought I would. It is great for any activity outside in the cold, especially when you are not moving a lot and generating body heat. I used it at a very cold football game and I was by far the most comfortable in my group of 13 people attending the game! It is also great to have for my wife or daughters that need something to throw over their legs as the heat is much nicer than a blanket. The longer that I have the vest, the more uses I keep finding. Some other uses have been trick-or-treating, riding ATVs, going to the park, camping, etc.
I love that the vest is machine washable (just don’t forget to remove the battery pack!) and is very easy to use. I struggled a little bit my first time using it until I found the power button on the chest of the vest and I was only trying to use the power button on the battery pack. Once I found that button, it was very simple and easy to work.
I can confidently recommend the Venustas Heated Vest for any outdoor photographer that shoots in the cold weather. I would recommend it for many more beyond the photographer though. If you are traveling in cold weather, this can keep you warm while saving you a lot of packing space. To see more details about the vest and the current price, check out the Venustas website.