“Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can't see where it keeps its brain.” Fans of Harry Potter will recognize this line from the second installment in the series, "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," but the wisdom doesn't just apply to possessed books; in today's A.I. age, the statement is more prescient than J.K. Rowling may have ever imagined.
I'm generally not one for self-ascribed labels, but "Luddite" seems to match up pretty well with my prematurely crusty attitude. I eschew so-called "smart" appliances, security systems and even watches in my personal life, although I do still interact with A.I. on a daily basis in regards to search engines, social media algorithms and those weird little quizzes that force me to decipher "how many images contain a bus" so that I can access my email. I daydream about living in an off-grid house in a place where even Google Maps can't find me, but the ones that seem to remain are in the cold, dark edges of the map where few have dared to roam.
My Luddite leanings were recently tested, however, when I was given the opportunity to try out Carhartt's new A.I.-powered heated vest: the Carhartt X-1 Smart Heated Vest. Developed in partnership with clim8, the new workwear piece was created to, in the company's words, "outwork fluctuating body temps and built to personalize heat and comfort both on and off the job."
I may be Luddite-adjacent, but those principles stop in their tracks when faced with the thought of being cold, because you can bet I jumped on the opportunity to try out a vest that could keep me temperate and comfortable even in the chilliest of camping and outdoor explorations.
Why Carhartt's brand-new X-1 Smart Heated Vest caught my attention:
According to Carhartt, its new heated vest was designed to eliminate the pain point of layering clothes while on the job, as well as the problem of overheating in cold-weather gear. Anyone working long hours outside will be familiar with the seemingly endless cycle of adding a layer, then removing a layer — and repeating the process over and over without ever nailing the ideal balance.
Using clim8 technology, Carhartt's newest addition to workwear is designed to fluctuate its heat output based on your body temperature and activity level. Carhartt says there are three heat-mapped zones on vital sections of the torso that the vest's heating technology targets. The vest is softer and more flexible than I had originally anticipated, and unlike some of Carhartt's other, more rugged styles, this workwear-inspired vest is sleek enough to be worn in urban environments, as well as in the great outdoors.
The technology sounds complicated, but the application couldn't be easier: upon receiving the vest, charge the included battery up to its full capacity. (I didn't do this my first time, and the vest died after a few hours, forcing a recharge on a chilly day.) After your battery is ready to roll, plug it into the vest's integrated cord, which sits inside the right-hand pocket. Then, pair the vest with the clim8 app, and start heating yourself up. You can monitor and adjust temperature on the go through the app, or you can let the vest do its own thing.
According to Carhartt and clim8, the vest's A.I. intelligence is designed to monitor your core temperature and the outside environment; it analyzes the wearer’s profile, environment and activity, automatically activates heat when needed, and even has an auto on/off interface that can tell when you've taken the jacket off or put it on and adjust heat accordingly.
How I felt after wearing the X-1 Smart Heated Vest:
I tested a size small in the Carhartt X-1 Smart Heated Vest; I personally find Carhartt's clothing to run big already, and since I normally wear an XS, I was sort of swimming in this vest. I thought this would negatively affect the heating experience — but I found that to be a baseless worry.
After plugging in the battery and syncing the vest up with the app (both of which were disarmingly easy — shouldn't A.I. be more complicated?) the vest started heating up automatically, and within 30 seconds, had reached 113º Fahrenheit. I felt the heat predominantly on my shoulder blades when I wore the vest alone; when I layered a sweater on top, however, the heat that had been lost from my core due to the large fit was trapped, and maximum coziness was achieved.
At full power, the vest lasted a little over three hours before the battery was drained; a complete recharge took about an hour. If you plan on wearing this for long days, you should consider battery life and how you can max out the potential warmth from the vest.
If you've found yourself getting increasingly frustrated by the extra bulk of layering or the annoying process of shedding and adding layers in search of comfort, this vest is right up your alley. At $220, it's definitely an investment — but if you'd rather spend your time working as opposed to adjusting layers, this seems like a worthy investment.
The Carhartt X-1 Smart Heated Vest will be available February 1, 2023.