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The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975
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October 2022    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 48, No. 10   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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A Heated Vest, an Essential Cold Water Item

from the October, 2022 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Six years ago, I bought my first heated vest, a wearable, battery-powered Thermalution vest worn under one's wetsuit. It's kept me warm on many dives where the water temps were cold (wimp that I am, that's under 80°F). When planning my Galapagos trip, I wanted a newer heated vest, but Thermalution vests were no longer available. A little internet research brought me to Venture Heat (which I later learned had recently taken over the Thermalution brand after its owner died).

I ordered my Venture Heat Pro-V1 vest from Ocean Quest Dive Centre in British Columbia, where owner Greg McCracken took excellent care of me. And it was in Canadian dollars, so it was cheaper in $US!

Underwater heated vests are worn under one's wetsuit or hooded vest and use infrared heating panels on one's back (and in the case of Venture Heat, on one's chest as well). They are powered by rechargeable lithium batteries that fit in pockets on the side of the vest and are coupled to the heating elements with a neat male-to-female dock.

How helpful are heated vests? In water above 68°F, they answer well for me. As long as I'm wearing a neoprene hood, I'm plenty warm, especially if I dial up the heat. By keeping my core warm, the heat seems to extend to the rest of my body.

Below 68°F, it gets dicey. While diving in 61°F water in Galapagos, my limbs were cold no matter how high the heat on my core. Everyone has a different internal thermostat, so you might do better.

Downsides: the battery packs left and right take some getting used to. Thermalution's were smaller than Venture Heat's, and were a little easier to wear (but lasted less long). The Pro V-1 batteries are chunky and leave bruises on the top of my hip bones (yes, I am female) but are powerful and even on the highest setting, easily last for two dives. I've not had trouble with the controllers, but it stands to reason that the Bluetooth wrist control will fail at some point. The cost is a downside - about $850 for a Venture Heat Pro V1 - but amortize that over the cost of a few dive trips, and it's reasonable.

- A.E.L.

PS: The Venture Heat Pro V-2 with smaller batteries is expected later this year.

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