Milwaukee has come out with a new USB-rechargeable Workskin heated base layer. Would you wear this?
Milwaukee’s M12 heated gear – jackets, hoodies, gloves – have become quite popular.
Speaking from personal experience with review samples, Milwaukee heated workwear is very well-made, very comfortable, and very durable. And, unlike some other brands that copied their lead, Milwaukee has continued to develop updates and expansions to the product line over time.
But a USB-rechargeable heated base layer shirt? That seems like it could work, but I’m wondering who might be interested in it.
To start, here’s what Milwaukee Tool says about the new heated shirt:
Built to be worn alone or easily layered underneath common jobsite apparel.
That makes sense, and is how other brands’ base layers can usually be worn.
The new base layer combines the comfort of workwear with Milwaukee’s industry-leading heated gear technology to provide users with an all-in-one heated solution.
All-in-one? Under what conditions?
The base layer features carbon fiber heating elements for even distribution in the chest and upper back panels.
It also features a one-touch LED controller with two heat settings. Milwaukee also says that a quick-heat feature can bring up the heat 3X faster.
The shirt is made from double-lined polyester in the body, and the arms are fleece-lined with raglan sleeves and seamless shoulders.
It’s intended as a midweight base layer that also offers improved range of motion and comfort.
The shirt is powered by a RedLithium USB Li-ion battery. It comes kitted with (2) 3.0Ah batteries, a charger and control adapter, and a wall charger.
Runtime is up to (3) hours with a 3.0Ah battery.
The shirt is washer and dryer safe.
Price: $149 for the kit
Sizes: S, M, L, XL, 2XL, 3XL
Buy Now via Tool Nut
Buy Now via Home Depot
You know, it’s making more sense to me.
If I’m walking or working outside in winter, bulk doesn’t matter very much. Getting in and out of a car or truck, or moving around indoors, that’s when less is more.
This shirt gives you added heat without the bulk of a jacket, and I think the bigger appeal might be its ability to be worn under your choice of outer layer.
What if you want a hood? Don’t want a hood? Rain or snow-resistant shell?
Up to 3 hours of runtime on a single battery doesn’t seem like a lot, but it seems like enough for what the heated Workskin might be worn for. If you need longer runtime, upgrade to a heated jacket or vest instead.
I’m wondering if or where pros might wear this, but I also don’t think that Milwaukee would have launched it if there wasn’t a market. Remember, they’ve been developing heated and unheated workwear for quite some time now, conducting a ton of field research in the process.
A heated base layer shirt seems surprising, but at the same time it can work. This isn’t an “I’d never wear that” type of product.
I remember wearing one of the earlier Milwaukee heated jackets for 2 or more seasons, often without a battery. I’d add an M12 battery for outdoors work sessions, or put on a different jacket during heavier snowfall.
But then I started wearing a lighter jacket, as I found it to be easier to wear wherever I was taking my then-infant kids in and out of the car, and the tendency took hold. That lightweight jacket preference has persisted. I still wear Milwaukee jackets when extra warmth and durability are needed, but choose other solutions for daily wear now, when lightweight comfort and greater convenience is more important.
The new heated Workskin makes sense to me, although I’m not certain what types of pros might go for it.
I know that some people will immediately form a “that’s useless” opinion. Personally, my first thought was “well, that’s unconventional.” I still think it’s unconventional, but it could work.
Would I have green-lit the development and launch of a product like this? This is the type of question I ask when I have wishy-washy feelings about new tools. Yep.
If a Milwaukee Product Manager is reading this, *thumbs up.* It’s a risk, but seems to be a solid addition to Milwaukee’s heated gear lineup, and it might be just the thing some users have been waiting for. Also, I’m sorry for calling it a “shirt,” rather than typing out Workskin heated midweight base layer a couple of times. But, it’s a shirt. One-piece clothing worn over the torso and arms for warmth and designed to be worn by itself or under additional layers? It’s a heated shirt.
Oh, and Milwaukee Product Manager and all involved – thank you for continuing to be fairly discrete about product logos.
I hate heated wear they never got right, I have a pair of heated gloves the gloves themselves are super warm, I’ve never needed to use the battery with them, and I’ve been out in the freezing cold for 8 hours
I have a Milwaukee hoodie and dewalt work jacket. I like the hoodie because it’s a bit more snug so I can actually feel the heat. With that said this shirt would be great if you get a snug fit. The only concern is the battery, I know they are smaller and lighter then the 12V batteries but how annoying would the battery be?
Interesting. Right away I figured it was an option to let you choose whatever jacket you want to wear while still having heat. Makes sense to me!
I could see wearing this around the farm in the winter where I’m normally using some Carhartt bibs and lined jacket – toss this on underneath for quick heat for stationary jobs (like driving a tractor).
It would also be nice for someone who has to alternate between inside and outside for short periods – or if you’re wearing outer clothing that gets dirty (like coveralls) and you wouldn’t want to wash your heated gear that often.
Surprised it took this long.
For years I’ve worn either my heated dewalt vest or undersized hoodie. Working outdoors in the winter, I always go in layers. I wear a base layer, then a little sleeve T, then a T, then my heated item (sized a tad small so it fits under other layers and is close to my core) either vest or hoodie. On top of that are whatever layers of flannels or big comfy hoodies or thick winter coat or whatever else. I can shed layers through the day but still have the heated layer close to my skin. Usually by mid-morning I’m working and warm enough to not really need the heat anyway.
Everybody I know complains that their $200 poofy heated parka never feels very warm. That’s because the stupid thing is insulated away from your skin by all that stuffing and all your layers. Put the heat UNDER your layers, and it makes all the difference in the world.
this. Even though this will be lower voltage and probably have less powerful heating elements than their other stuff the tight fit and insulation worn over it will make it more effective. It can be lighter and less bulky but also better because they actually thought through how it will work.
I wish the heat zone extended further down on the rear. I have a Bosch heated jacket (which I quite like overall) that also has heat only on the upper half. It’s nice, but I think I would enjoy some lower-back heat.
I’ve been saying the same for years. Whoever puts a heating zone right on the lower back will become the king of the heated work wear. A few times, after 12+ hour days, I’ve dropped my jacket down around my waist and put the upper back panel between myself and the truck seat, but it’s not terribly comfortable.
The pockets and hood would be nice as well. I know a lot of heat would escape but I hate beanies and there are a lot of times where the gloves have to come off for extended periods. I know they have a hand warmer but that’s just another battery you have to worry about.
A previous iteration of the M12 jacket had the hand warmer, it was ok, but turning it off and on constantly to conserve battery life was a hassle, and you’d end up with a hot gut before you got cold all over.
Finally why pay a stupid amount for honestly crap jackets and hoodies a nice heated moisture wicking shirt is awesome I can wear just the shirt or whatever layers I want over it depending on the weather and job.
I usually wait until the spring to buy my gear, I got a dewalt jacket for under $80 and it works great just as a jacket. It didn’t come with a battery but I have a ton of dewalt and Milwaukee batteries with the adaptors so It wasn’t a big deal.
Kent E Hanson
Ive used several generations of the Milwaukee heated and have found that the closer the heated layer is in your layering the better it works. I had a first gen jacket that I would always wear a hoodie underneath and it was just ok. But when the heater goodies came out then the heat was much better because it was closer, so this just seems like the closest layer would provide the best heat and give you the most options for what to layer on top. Currently I have a new heated hoodie and a heated axis jacket, if I need a big parka then the hoodie would go underneath
I would have liked to have seen lower back heat in the gear; it’s super helpful when you’re already sore and the pain meds don’t quite get it done because you can’t take enough to be sober for power tools or machinery. Plus, it helps when you get the inevitable draft up your back when crouched over something.
Also- great note about discreet brand logos. Billboard style logos and obnoxious color schemes have turned me away from products. I would love for those black packouts to make it to the USA, but I’ll stick with my Ridgid boxes.
Agreed and honestly nice heat in the kidney area really warms you up fast I love that on a heated car seat.
I saw this and actually had a great use outside of construction that has me seriously looking at it – as a football referee! We can wear undershirts and layer and then foul-weather ref shirts, but sometimes we can’t do jackets or anything on top of that. Some folks wind up with a coldgear undershirt, a mid layer, then the foul weather shirt. Gloves can’t be bulky so I can’t do the USB heated gloves unfortunately, and even the axis vest was a bit bulky under the ref shirt, but this might actually be perfect for having something a little warmer/heated without having to over-layer under the ref shirt. Can run it on high until halftime and then change batteries if needed even.
I got the milwaukee email this morning and was like “why haven’t I seen this before?” did they just sneak it out between announcements for some reason?
I have M12 vest, Dewalt heated hoody, dewalt heated jacket with upper arm heat zones. I really like the vest for the same reason that this shirt makes sense: I wear it all day and only use the heat when I’m outside. I layer it under a really serious coat when I need to, or over a flannel. Or over a flannel and under a coat. I like layers.
The m12 vest is by far the best heated gear that I’ve tried. Milwaukee gets the heat distribution right, where the dewalt heated hoody is hardly noticeable. I think that their discussion about “carbon fiber” that just sounds like buzzwords has something to do with spreading the heat out and making the same element more effective.
I have some of the redlithiumusb stuff so I’ll probably end up with one of these. The heat being closer to the body with more layers on top of it probably means that they can use smaller heat elements and get more perceived heat, so this should actually work pretty well.
Stuart, can you look into what the connection type is? does the little battery case charge my phone, or could I use a different battery with a standard adapter like I can with the m12 heated?
+1 on the connector type. Assuming this uses a standard barrel-type connector I imagine I could use my Bosch 12v batteries and power source and just buy the shirt? That would be sweet.
It was announced in September, and I forgot about it until I saw the same newsletter as you. =P
The website says it comes with the charger/power supply (48-59-2012), but I would have anticipated it would come with the same charger and power supply as the heated gloves.
Home Depot’s product listing says it comes with a charger/controller, 50-59-2005, which would have a small barrel jack in place of a USB connection.
User manual says…
50-59-2005 and shows a barrel jack connection for the power cable, and Micro USB for charging.
Are they planning on making it in High Vis? Not sure why it would only be in black seems not so smart to me
Possibly? Usually black comes first, and they’ll revise and expand based on demand or projections.
I tried the jacket, it did not work for me. I think you need to be a little in the big side because you will need a tight fit to feel the heat. I think I’m just too skinny.
haha nice humble brag!
I got my first one as a gift, so between the time I told them the size and when I recieved it I lost 15 lbs and then I was disapointed with it. Then I got fat again, so everything is great!
On the Milwaukee site, there are 2 batteries. this makes them changeable for longer use. You can also get more batteries, and it should be the same battery as is in the new flashlights and other gear.
I picked up the base layer a few weeks ago. Haven’t used it yet.
But I did just open it, and the charger included is like the new power source for USB batteries size wise, but has a 4v barrel plug at the end (and no USB out). So while it is listed as a -21 kit, it is really -22, as only 1 battery can be used at a time.
also if you look at the box, the “Red Lithium USB3.0” really grabbed my attention, and at the same time made me question why I need high-speed data transfer in my heated base layer?
It’s a USB 3ah battery, not to be confused with the USB 3 data standard.
I agree with the “heat closer to your core is best” and the “less is more” comments above. I grew up in the Midwest but moved SoCal a number of years ago. Brought all my bulky outerwear with me, but I rarely use it. The first couple hours on a job site in winter months can be chilly in unconditioned spaces, but if I know it’s going to warm up later, the heavier jacket gets left in the car because I don’t want to lug it around for the rest of the day. Lightweight heat under a hoodie that I can turn off when I no longer need it might not be a critical need, but it sure would feel good.
I commute on a motorcycle, and flag traffic. Haven’t found a battery that will run my heated gear from riding, on the job site for very long. This shirt might help on our cold mornings.
if it uses the 12v barrel connector you could grab the m18 adapter and then run as big a battery as you can lug around!
The battery is only 4v. It is a 4v barrel connector
He seemed to be referencing existing heated gear that he uses while motorcycling. The standard for motorcycle gear is 12v, the same barrel connector as is on most heated gear sold with tool maker branding. That’s why DeWalt, Milwaukee, Bosch, Ridgid, Makita all use the same connector on heated jackets. So most heated jackets can be powered by the power plug on the motorcycle or car if you have the adapter, and cycle jackets can be powered by power tool batteries.
Work shirt heated? Probably not…. But i can’t stress how much i like my milwaukee jacket. For the Price I would probably pay for it again even without the heating feature i like it that much.
SO Jackets and hoodies I sort of understand – not washed often. I don’t need one where I live but I think about it occasionally.
Long sleeve shirt – I’d want to wash that often. SO I wonder just how well it would stand up to that and if it can be washed at all. Otherwise for my climate it’s an interesting idea since I would get up to say 3O F in the morning so gee it would be nice and by afternoon it might be 55 F and wouldn’t need the heater.
But I doubt I’d buy one.
Koko The Talking Ape
I can see a need for this. As others say, the closer the heating element to you, the better it works. I’d wonder about durability though. A coat has more structure that can protect heating elements. I’d also be curious if the thing was comfortable to wear.
But I have to say, I don’t really have trouble keeping my core warm, even in 10 degree Colorado winters. I have the gear, and if it isn’t enough, I can just add more.
The problem I have is keeping my hands warm. Mittens work well, but some jobs require you to wear gloves, and even heavy gloves won’t do it for me. I’m curious about Mikwaukee’s heated gloves, though it appears the heating elements are on the back of the hand. I wish they circled the fingers where there is the least mass, the least blood circulation and the least insulation in gloves. I’ve had to stop work to warm up my fingers, because I was afraid I’d get frostbite. And these gloves aren’t cheap.
I tried the gloves was super not impressed and returned them.
I study thermal comfort (physics and physiology) and I agree that closer to the skin is better from a physics standpoint: just like in a building, you can achieve the same heat balance with less heat energy if you can put more insulation outside your heat source. Might allow lower temperatures/longer battery times. I am slightly surprised about the placement from a physiological standpoint: there is decades of research about where heat is most effective for thermal regulation/comfort based on the density of thermal sensing nerve endings and the proximity of blood vessels to the surface. To over simplify, in cold conditions you want your hands, head, feet, back of neck, and kidneys warm. Although the core is essential to keep warm, the surface of the chest and back have relatively few nerves and relatively little surface blood flow. I would be interested to compare the effectiveness of a “core” placement of heating elements on the lower back and sides to warm the blood as it circulates through the kidneys (quite near the surface). That said, shoulders do matter working outdoors, because the weight of clothing (not to mention vests, straps etc.) tend to compress insulation there, and any precipitation falls there first. I am curious if Milwaukee tests these with thermal manikins and a controlled environmental chamber, the way that the Military and manufacturers of expedition gear do.
the good upper back warming gear there is almost a sensation of having the sun on your back like working outside in the sun. I wonder if there is a psychological trigger there, rather than physiological. Really though I think they put the heating elements where they have big areas that don’t need to flex much. I bet the cost per square inch for them to manufacture the upper back heating element is way lower than to make something that would feel okay flexing against higher movement areas. The upper back/shoulders also seem like the easiest place to get decent contact on a mediocre fit. Since this stuff needs good fit to work right, but is sold packaged like tools I think a lot of failures happen just because people buy the wrong size. Again chest/back should be easiest to get good fit. I don’t know anything, I’m jujst musing.
Thank you for these great insights!
Could the heating element placement be a matter of flexibility or durability? Maybe the chest and upper back areas also allow for greater heating element density and thus heating efficiency.
I have a Milwaukee heated jacket, it’s alright but nothing special… Got base layers, I’ll stick with my Under Armour
Nope. Not as a half heated t-shirt.
I ‘d probably buy a thin armless vest, with heated panels high & low, and 8 hr battery life. Let me wear my own t-shirt and whatever over the vest.
This is perfect. As a professional welder i wear a long sleeve flame retardant cotton button up provided by my employer, with a cotton undershirt. Anything worn over the top is lost to spatter, the main reason i dont purchase the other heated milwauke workwear.
Makes a lot more sense than the jackets. Think about heat tracing…the amount of heat it puts out is pathetic but once you insulate the whole pipe, it works great. I always laugh at the kids that get the giant puffalump down filled jackets and then complain they’re cold when I’m wearing an undershirt, long sleeve shirt, hoodie, and a lighter jacket and thinking about removing my jacket because I’m too hot.
Three hours does seem pretty limited though. This week my whole job is “supervising” and “inspecting”…standing around while other guys actually work. It’s a power plant job and all politics but it pays the same as turning wrenches. Good thing it’s not cold yet otherwise I’d be thankful for a shirt like that if it lasts 8 hours.
Like many other commenters, I agree that the closer the heat is to the skin the better. In my experience the heated jackets just don’t work. To work the heat has to be close to the skin and you don’t want a form fitting work jacket, it restricts your movement too much, especially with the stiff jackets.
I’ve had better experience with the hoodies. I’ll wear a T-shirt or even better a Milwaukee base layer shirt underneath, which puts the heating elements much closer to the skin. The medium which was slightly undersized for me, works fine, but my wife’s small works really well, I can really feel the heat, although it is a little restrictive and I don’t wear it because I don’t want to stretch it out.
I can see how heat right at the t-shirt layer would be even better. As for washing, I’ve washed the hoodies every week in the winter and they have been fine. What destroyed them for me is grinding and welding with the hoodie on, so not having the heated wear be on the outside is a big plus.
Looks like it would give me heartburn
I like heated gear. Wear my DeWalt vest alot. Allows me to ditch the bulk of a heavier jacket. Wash it when the outside gets dirty. Maybe once a month? Try to not wear it when I know I will be getting filthy.
Hygiene dictates we wash undergarments after each use. Most of the DeWalt and Milwaukee heated gear I have seen was able to be washed and dryed in the washing machine/dryer. Don’t think ANY heated gear will stand up to daily washing (in the case of the t-shirt). And honestly if it can’t be washed in the machine I think most guys will pass on it. Or break it in the washing machine. Lol
I can see why they use the red lithium as it’s lighter but it seems a limited battery system. If they use the normal barrel connector anyone could buy the bare tool/shirt and use their own battery platform with a 12v connection. Also I wish the battery interface would clip to your belt like makita and not ride in a dedicated pocket. The pocket always seems to be in the wrong spot.
Not sure I would want to have to go through the hassel of making sure my undershirt was washed and dryed every day as well. I guess you could buy multiples but they are pricey. Or wear an undershirt under this shirt. But that defeats the purpose.
I think I will pass on this one.
A heated jacket is more than enough! At some point it just becomes an inconvenience, carrying all these batteries around… I can also bet that the heating element makes the shirt less comfortable. What’s next? Heated socks or a handkerchief maybe? Heated onezies, heated diapers?.. Seriously.
Putting a heating element in jackets and gloves were all good ideas, same goes for footwear and gloves, all found use and appreciation. Heated goodies were less of a good idea but still, used and loved by some… And it’s not the heating that makes it bad but rather the bulge of the battery. In order to have heated undergarments one must design a flat batter with a high power dencity. The current lineup will never be able to be anything but a gimmick!