Are Heated Jackets Safe? 4 Risks Of Heated Clothing

Last Updated on 26/12/2022

Are Heated Jackets Safe

In this guide, we answer the question, are heated jackets safe? You will learn the risks of wearing a heated jacket or heated vest and what the worst-case scenario is. Can a heated jacket set on fire, and what happens if they get wet? Find out below.

Disclaimer: We don’t know the first thing about electrics. We aren’t doctors. This article is based on our opinions only.

Heated jackets are amazing in cold weather. I look forward to putting mine on when the air is so cold outside your breath turns into a million tiny icicles. If you work outdoors or live somewhere where the temperatures drop well below freezing, then a heating jacket can be a real lifesaver.

The only problem I have with heated jackets is that the batteries are still quite bulky, and they don’t last all day on full power. Thankfully these problems are improving every year, and heated jackets will soon be a common thing in winter. But how safe are heated jackets?

Are Heated Jackets Safe?

You may be wondering, are heated jackets safe? The short answer is yes. They are very safe for the wearer.

Heated jackets are completely safe to wear for a couple of reasons. The first is that the batteries used in heated clothing are not powerful enough to electrocute you. Secondly, the most reputable heated clothing is completely waterproof and is designed to be worn in the rain. So what is the worst that could happen? Here are some of the common concerns people have.

So why are people so skeptical about the safety of heated jackets and vests? I think it might come from a misunderstanding of electricity and the early horror stories of electric blankets got for catching fire and burning down your house. This can happen with any electrical appliance, but it is a rare occurrence in today’s home.

What Are the Risks of Heated Jackets?

For most people, heated jackets are very safe and don’t pose any real threats other than maybe dropping the battery pack on your toe. The true risks of heated clothing are for people who have pre-existing health conditions, which a heated jacket may cause complications with. If you have a serious health condition, then check with your doctor.

With risks being very minimal if you are in good health, what are people worried about? After speaking to a group of outdoor enthusiasts, I found that most of the younger generation were not worried at all about the safety of a heated jacket. Whereas the few concerns came from one or two people over the age of 40.

Here are some of the main concerns or perceived risks of heated jackets:

  • Overheat and catch fire
  • Get wet and electrically shock you
  • Battery malfunction
  • Run out of battery and get cold 

We break down these myths further down the page.

Are Heated Jackets Safe

How Do Heated Jackets Work?

Heated jackets work a little bit like electric blankets. Wires are laid out in grids which are then sewn into panels which are then distributed around the jacket. When the wires are connected to a power source like a lithium battery or power bank, the wires heat up and make the jacket toastie warm inside.

The wires are completely waterproof and double protected by a waterproof membrane so that you can wear the clothing in the rain. The batteries normally sit in an internal pocket, but some jackets have them in one of your handwarmer pockets for easy control. Many jackets work differently from the next, but most operate via a button n the chest, which turns the heat off and on as well as controls any heat settings.

The batteries are rechargeable and need to be quite large, which has plenty of room for improvement. The power also doesn’t last that long when you have it on full power, so you may need multiple spares to last all day.

What Happens if Heated Jackets Get Wet?

The elements of a heated jacket are all individually protected to be waterproof and withstand heavy rain. All the wires, heating panels, connections, and batteries have double or triple layers of waterproofing. Although, if you were to go for a swim with a heated jacket on, don’t be surprised if it stops working. They are designed for rain and getting wet but not being submerged.

Most heated jackets are also outdoor jackets designed for use in all weather. This means a waterproof outer shell and hood to keep you dry. The insulation is always synthetic, which holds up in wet weather very well and will continue to keep you warm even if the heated elements stop working and the jacket gets wet.

In heavy rain, your jacket will be fine, but you would be better off covering your heated jacket with a waterproof hardshell jacket to keep you dry and comfortable inside. A good rule of thumb is to keep your insulating clothing layers dry as much as possible so they can retain as much warmth as possible.

Can Heated Jackets Electrocute You?

I personally spent over an hour looking through endless search results and newspaper websites looking for any evidence of someone being shocked or electrocuted by heating clothing. I couldn’t find a single case where a heated jacket or vest had caused somebody an injury through electric shock. That doesn’t mean it can’t happen or it hasn’t happened, it just means there is no evidence.

Even if you did get an electric shock from your heated jacket, would it hurt? The battery voltage of heated jackets is typically 12 volts or less. Compare that with a basic electric chicken wire fence with an output of around 5,000 volts. If you have ever touched an electric fence, then you will know it’s not that bad. Again, I don’t know anything about electricity safety.

Risks of Heated Jackets safety label

Do Heated Jackets Set on Fire?

While it is incredibly rare for any electrical device to set on fire, there have been at least 2 recorded instances of people’s jackets malfunctioning and causing the plastic to melt. Here is one thread from a guy who has visible red marks from wearing a heated vest that could have potentially caught fire if left unattended.

This may have happened for any number of reasons, but it just goes to show that the danger is there. Many more people report their jackets are too hot for them, but this could be down to personal taste or anything.

Do Heated Jackets Emit EMF?

Because heated clothing uses small batteries with less than 13 volts of power that have a frequency of 0 Hz, they do not emit any kind of harmful EMF. All electrical appliances emit a small amount of EMF but the main concern with heated clothing s that you are wearing it right on your body. Much like with electric blankets, this low amount of EMF doesn’t help someone suffering from breast cancer.

After reading this guide, would you be able to explain how are heated jackets safe? Let us know in the comments below.

Gear Assistant
Gear Assistant

This article has been written and/or edited by Andrew N. 20+ years of hiking, mountaineering, and camping experience, with access to all the latest outdoor gear.

Gear Assistant