I purchased a heated jacket liner
from Gerbing's a short while ago, and have been anxiously awaiting the exit of warm weather here in Chicagoland. Perverse, I know, but a guy's gotta check out his gear. Right? (Photos are from the Gerbing's website.)
Anyway, my prayers were answered yesterday when I awoke to morning temperatures in the upper forties and a spouse who was otherwise occupied for the entire day. I tossed on my trusty Aerostich Darien outfit (with the Gerbing's jacket liner underneath, of course), and hit the road, headed for Southwest Wisconsin. It really was a great day for a ride--clear skies, cool temps, and nice scenery. Mostly, I was heading up to spend a little time with my wife's family, who were getting together at "the farm" to watch a little football.
Now, in theory you could buy a Gerbing's liner and use an on/off switch ($14.95), but the liner puts out so much heat that you'd soon end up a pile of ashes.
Instead, I got the portable temp controller
, a $69.95 add-on to the $199.95 jacket liner:
As I motored through the hills of southwest Wisconsin and Northwest Illinois, I couldn't help but harken back to ride in similar weather over thirty years ago. I was taking my new RD400 from upstate New York to visit my wife in Boston, where she had preceded me by a few months in a move. I took off in jeans, a lightly insulated nylon jacket, and wearing no gloves. Thank God a farmer riding the Lake Champlain ferry took mercy on me and pulled a pair of old farm gloves out of his truck to give to me before we got to the new Hampshire side. It was a miserable ride, but I made it . . . though I was frozen through by the end.
My ride yesterday was sublime . . . I was soooo comfy, despite the cool temperatures.
I've had a handful of heated garments over the years, and none has functioned as well as the Gerbing's liner. It seems to be well constructed, cuts a pretty slim profile and fit easily under my Darien. It cranks out a lot of heat, and the controller makes it possible to instantly dial up as much (or as little) heat as you'd like.
If anything surprised me, it was how much heat the liner produces and how quickly it responded to adjustments of the controller. I have no doubts that the liner would function well at sub-freezing temperatures. Again, this was just my first ride with the liner (around 430 miles), but I was really impressed.
The tall collar is fully heated and, at least yesterday, did an admirable job of keeping my neck warm. I usually wear an Aerostich fleece triangle around my neck in cold weather, but this was nicer. Also, the liner has quality elastic cuffs, which seal your arms from drafts running up your sleeves. These things seem simple, but add up to a very effective design.
A little more about the product:
-First, the fit. I normally wear an XL-Long in jackets. The Large-Long from Gerbing's fits me perfectly. Their representative told me that the jacket liners run a little big, so I followed that advice. Ask, and don't make any assumptions, about sizing.
-The liner is $199.95, but you'll want a controller. I opted for the less expensive single controller, but if you're going to add other Gerbing's heated garments (they make heated pants liners, gloves, insoles, etc.), you might want to consider a dual controller, which allows you two set up two control circuits. You can swaddle yourself in electrically-heated luxury from neck to toe, if you're so inclined. I'm thinking I'm going to get some of their gloves next.
The liner comes with the wiring needed to hook it up directly to your battery, but I prefer to have the option of using one of my auxiliary outlets. On ZFE/CAN-BUS-equipped BMWs, you need to be aware of the amperage rating of your auxiliary outlet. The jacket liner draws 6.4 amps, and some of the mid-2000s BMWs limited the amperage at the auxiliary outlet to 5 amps. You can bypass the ZFE controller with a direct-wire kit, like those from Powerlet, or you could direct wire it yourself. I understand that some later models permit a draw up to 10 amps, so you could use the liner and heated gloves (2.2 amps), for example.
Bottom line? I've always known Gerbing's as the gold standard among heated gear, but had never taken the plunge. If yesterday's ride was any indication, I'll spend many a cozy day in my comfy, toasty Gerbing's liner. It's a quality piece of gear.