My first job out of high school was as a trainee carpenter with a framing crew in Buffalo, NY. I started in the summer, and really loved working outdoors. However, summer in Buffalo is closely followed by winter in Buffalo. Winter seems to last a whole lot longer, and it’s not nearly as enjoyable to work outdoors in. I don’t regularly work outdoors anymore, but to exist in the frigid Northeast, I still have to deal with the snow and cold. That made me very interested in doing a hands-in evaluation of the new Milwaukee Heated Gloves.
Originally, our intrepid leader Marc was slated to review the Milwaukee heated gloves. But he lives in San Diego, where the only way you can get frostbite is to leave your hand in the cooler too long while grabbing a fresh brew. So he “palmed” them off to me to try out in our little slice of frosty heaven in the Persistent Snowband just south of Lake Erie. Get a steaming mug of hot cocoa, and read on!
A Hands-On Look At Milwaukee Heated Gloves
The Milwaukee heated gloves are actually a nice-looking pair of gloves. So much so that you may find yourself reluctant to put them to work on a jobsite where you know they’ll get dirty, scuffed, and possibly ripped. As you’d expect for a glove designed for the job site, though, the Milwaukee heated gloves look and feel very robustly made. The quality of all the stitching is excellent.
There’s a band of elastic around the wrist area to help keep the wintry nastiness on the outside. The cuff area extends well up the arm (total length of the XL gloves is about 14”), and there’s a hook-and-loop closure to snug it up.
If you’re a tech addict, you’ll be happy to know Milwaukee gave you the finger. Two fingers, actually. Milwaukee heated gloves have built in SMARTSWIPE index fingers, that let you use touch screen devices like smartphones and tablets, without having to tug off the gloves. I tried it out on my iPhone, and it worked pretty well, although trying to text with it produced messages that were somewhat less than coherent. Pretty much like ALL my texts, come to think of it…
The palm and gripping area of the fingers is 100% leather, and the rest of the outer shell is a tough Gridiron ripstop nylon that Milwaukee says is three times more durable and 25% lighter than 12 oz. cotton duck.
There’s a soft terry sweat wipe on the back of both thumbs. I got a bit of a kick out of that; I’m not sure how much of a workout a sweat wipe will get when it’s so cold you need heated gloves. I guess when you’re used to designing work gloves it gets to be a standard feature. And it would save dragging out the handkerchief when those winter sniffles strike!
Here’s the full feature list, followed by a hand-warming video from Milwaukee:
• GRIDIRON ripstop polyester is 3X more durable and 25% lighter than 12 oz. cotton duck to survive the jobsite without the bulk of traditional work wear
• Leather palms and fingers provide durability and dexterity
• SMARTSWIPE index fingers permit the use of touch screen devices without removing gloves
• Built-in terry cloth sweat wipe
• Extended cuff protects from the elements
• Includes -(1) REDLITHIUM USB gloves (pair), (2) REDLITHIUM USB battery controller/charger, (2) REDLITHIUM USB batteries (48-11-2130), (1) split USB charging cable and wall plug
• Quick-heat function reaches selected temperature 3X FASTER
• One-touch LED controller with (3) heat settings
• Up to (6) hours of run-time with REDLITHIUM™ USB Battery Pack
• Heating Zones: Back of Hands and Fingers
‘Tis The Season – Getting A Grip On The Milwaukee Heated Gloves
When my little package of Milwaukee heated gloves arrived, it was mid-summer. Putting on a pair of heated gloves when it was 85 degrees wasn’t very appealing, and didn’t seem like it would be any more useful than sending them to San Diego. Although I guess it WOULD have been a good opportunity to try out the sweat wipe…Anyhow, I tucked them away, and dragged them back out around the end of October, when the temps were in the 20s and 30s. A pair of heated gloves suddenly seemed to have much more appeal.
Each glove uses a 4-volt Redlithium rechargeable USB battery. The batteries are about 3” long, and fit into a protective case, with ports for recharging and connecting to the heating elements in the gloves. To get those batteries charged up, the gloves come with a split USB charging cable, so both batteries can be charged simultaneously. Once they’re totally drained, it takes about two hours to get them fully re-juiced.
When it’s time to get to work, the batteries tuck into a zippered compartment on each glove. A cable in each compartment has a small plug, which connects the batteries to the heating coils. Everything fits together very well, and when the batteries are installed they’re barely noticeable.
The Milwaukee heated gloves have three levels of heat. Firing ‘em up and changing the heat levels is accomplished through a logo button on the gloves, exactly like the one on their heated sweatshirts and heated jackets. Hold the button in for about two seconds, and it glows – you guessed it – Red. Another quick press turns the button white, and the heat to medium. Pressing again gets you an icy blue glow, and low heat. Press and hold again for about two seconds to call off the heat.
The Milwaukee Heated Gloves Go Out To Play
I used the Milwaukee heated gloves for about a week and a half, doing various chores around our farm. Outdoor temps were in the 20s and 30s. Yep, summer is over…
Although I got the largest size available, the XL Milwaukee heated gloves were pretty snug on me (more on that shortly). A sturdy loop on the wrist of each glove made it a LOT easier to tug them on, especially getting them up and over my jacket sleeves. Snugness aside, the inside of the gloves felt very comfortable.
I fired up both gloves, leaving them on High to get started. The Milwaukee heated gloves got warm very quickly; I could feel the warmth in less than a minute. I got to work, relocating some lumber from our garage to the shop, raking leaves, moving some greenhouse materials around, etc. After about 20 minutes, my hands were too warm, and I dialed the gloves back to Medium. A few minutes later, I bumped them down to Low, and left them there.
The Milwaukee heated gloves worked very well for most tasks. I was able to pick up dimensional lumber, push a wheelbarrow, pick up sheets of metal siding, operate tractor controls, get some cleanup done in my frigid unheated shop, and so forth. I also had no trouble using a hammer and a circular saw. Due to the thickness of the gloves, it was tough or impossible to pick up very small items like nails and screws, as it would be with pretty much any heavy winter gloves.
Here’s the summation of my wisdom after using the Milwaukee heated gloves several times: Start out on High, and soon after they can be dialed down to Low. As long as I kept busy, my hands stayed nice and toasty. During times of less strenuous activity, like when I was taking a walk and wasn’t clenching and unclenching my hands or using them to lift or move things, they were usually okay on Low. Periodically, though, they needed a quick jolt of Medium or High to get the chill off.
I’m guessing that during times of total inactivity, like when standing around waiting for the Oakland Raiders to score, a higher setting might be needed. But having sat through many a frigid, windy afternoon in the Buffalo Bills’ Rich Stadium, I’m guessing a pair of Milwaukee heated gloves would be a welcome addition to game-day gear for anyone in the Northeast…
So how long will the Milwaukee heated gloves keep those hands from freezing up? Milwaukee claims up to six hours of run time on a charge. Naturally, actual run time will vary based on how high you’ve cranked the heat; six hours would be for the Low setting, and I actually clocked them at just over 6 hours and 20 minutes.
For those cold-blooded individuals in the crowd, or when you’re working in the most bitter cold, you’ll probably keep it in Cheech & Chong mode – steady High. This cuts your run time down considerably; using the Milwaukee heated gloves on High in sub-30 degree temps killed the batteries in just under two hours. If you plan to go full bore all the time, and your workload will keep you in the cold longer than that, you may want to invest in an extra set of batteries.
Treat Your Frostbitten Follicles To A Milwaukee Cuffed Beanie, Baby
Now that you’ve got your frosty finger problem well in hand, let’s take a quick side trip to one of your body’s biggest sources of heat loss – your noggin. Along with the Milwaukee heated gloves, we received a Milwaukee cuffed beanie to try out. Available in Ninja Black, Hi-vis Yellow, and (naturally) Milwaukee Red, the hats are made of extra-heavy yarn to block wind and provide more insulation for your dome.
Here’s the spec and feature list from Milwaukee:
• Blocks wind and provides extra warmth on and off the jobsite
• 1-size fits all
• Polyester material wicks sweat
• Abrasion and snag resistant
• 98% polyester, 2% spandex
• Width 9.05″
• Length 11″
• Weight 0.4 lb.
• Washer and Dryer Safe
• Weather Resistant, Wind/Water Resistant
• Warranty 1 Year
I’ve been wearing this hat for the past couple of weeks (as you may have noticed in the above pictures), and I like it. A LOT. The Milwaukee cuffed beanie is not a loose-knit, lightweight hat. It’s thick and heavy, and you can feel the quality as soon as you pick it up. The hat is made from a durable 98% polyester / 2% spandex mix that resists snagging, and manages moisture to help prevent sweating and overheating. And oh yeah – it’s warm.
The Milwaukee cuffed beanie is “One size fits all.” I have a large, but not huge, head, probably about a 7-3/4 hat size. The beanie fits me very nicely, and feels like it could stretch to accommodate someone with a much larger brain with no trouble. The spandex should also allow someone with a smaller skull to be comfy. It covers my entire head, and the cuffed area pulls down completely over my ears.
Along with getting our fair share of frozen precipitation, we also have a fairly constant breeze here. And by breeze I mean steady winds of 10-15 mph, with gusts high enough to trash an above-ground pool. Ask me how I know. After experiencing the wind-blocking capability of the Milwaukee cuffed beanie for the past couple of weeks, it quickly became my official favorite winter hat.
Give Milwaukee Heated Gloves A Big Hand – But Not TOO Big A Hand
Getting back to the gloves, those of you with overly large or small hands, listen up. For the rollout, Milwaukee heated gloves are available in Medium, Large and Extra-large. Since I have jumbo mitts, I got the size XL to check out. Although I can get them on, they’re pretty snug; my fingers are too long to go totally into the glove’s fingers, and it’s hard to make a fist to gesture at my coworkers. I reached out to our contact at Milwaukee to see if a version in size XXL was in the works, and got this response:
“Great question. As a person who suffers with the absence of a size “S” heated glove, this topic is near and dear to my heart. M, L, and XL represent close to 90% of the total glove market volume. Because this was our first heated ‘accessory’ and first departure from M12, we had to place our bets wisely. With proven success, I’m sure we will look at expanding the offering.” Those of us with oversized – and dainty – hands will be waiting with bated breath – and frostbitten fingers!
Meanwhile, the gloves did loosen up somewhat after using them for several days. The fingers still weren’t deep enough, and the gloves were still snug, but I could make a fairly tight fist. On really cold days, I’ll use them, but I’ll be dreaming all the while of a size XXL…
Who Needs Milwaukee Heated Gloves, Anyway?
The folks in Red designed Milwaukee heated gloves for heavy-duty jobsite use. They’re well designed and ruggedly built, and should hold up well given moderate abuse. I’m guessing the gloves will appeal to pretty much anyone who deals with cold winter weather, though; everyone who has seen mine wants them.
I know one place these Milwaukee heated gloves will be getting put to use: During our driveway and sidewalk snow removal. Being located in the snow belt south of Lake Erie, we get our fair share of the white stuff. I have plenty of cold-weather gear, but it’s always been tough to keep my fingers from freezing up during snow-relocation sessions. Cranking the gloves up to High for the duration, with my red beanie over my ears, should make snow removal almost tolerable.
Other contenders? Football and outdoor hockey fans, skiers, snowshoe trekkers, snowmobilers, winter hikers and bikers…pretty much anyone who ventures outdoors from October through March. Having toasty digits is a beautiful thing.
Having said that, comfort comes at a price. The Milwaukee heated gloves come in a kit with two batteries, the Redlithium controllers they fit into, and the split USB charging cables and wall plug. Street price is currently around $179, and the gloves are backed by a one-year warranty. The gloves are also returnable for 90 days, to give you a risk-free opportunity to see what it’s like to NOT have frostbitten fingers.
Buy Milwaukee Heated Gloves from Ohio Power Tool:
Buy an extra USB battery and charger from Ohio Power Tool:
Buy the Milwaukee Beanie from the home Depot: