We recently tested a Venustas Heated Vest, which has become a Fall staple. In the Maine mornings and evenings beginning in September, there is a chill in the air (even in my house!). Because I tend to be a cold person, any extra heat I can get, I will take it. The Venustas Heated Vest has six heating elements to generate warmth in the left & right shoulders, mid-back, left & right pockets, and collar. There are three settings indicated by an illuminated LED around a button on the chest– high (red), white (medium) and blue (low). Generally, when I go for heat, I go all-in, which means I usually have it on the hottest setting. The battery lasts about three hours in this mode. I can turn it down to medium or low if I am wearing it to rake leaves or hike or do something which gets my body heat up. Venustas advertises five to six hours of use on medium level, eight to ten hours on low setting. If I’m just going for my slow morning walk, I keep it at high.
My favorite part about this vest is the heat on my neck – it reminds me of when I get a shirt out of the dryer and put it on – so cozy. I think as the winter sets in here in Maine, I will be pairing this with a parka on top of it because I will need extra warmth in my arms. However, for September, October and November I will be wearing this with a long-sleeve shirt and maybe a thin fleece. You will never get the sense that this vest will burn you. Even at the highest setting, it is not too hot. It is very easy to use – push the button for three seconds, it turns on. Push it again, it turns the temperature down. Push and hold for three seconds and it will turn off. When the light goes off on your vest, the battery will need to be recharged, which takes 6-7 hours.
I’m happy with the Venustas vest and my only critique besides the long recharge time is that I don’t care for the company name written on it so prominently (because I don’t like writing on clothes). Overall, though, I’m loving this heat!! The 100% nylon vest water and wind-resistant exterior is machine-washable (minus the battery, obviously), and comes with a one-year warranty on the battery and two years on the heating elements.
We recently tested three pairs of KÜHL hiking shorts, two women’s and one men’s, at a trail by the Presumpscot River in Portland, Maine. KÜHL prides itself on “top-notch outdoor clothing for rugged and relentless adventurers, travelers, and outdoor enthusiasts,” and as we fit in at least one or two of those categories and probably aspire to some others, we tried them out. These shorts are a tad more expensive than some less durable brands, but a single pair will last you as long as 2-3 pairs of the lesser kind.
Women’s Hiking Shorts – KÜHL Cabo and Kontour
Mom’s review: The Kuhl Cabo short is versatile, durable and breathable. Post hike, just swap out hiking boots for a pair of sandals and change your sweaty t-shirt for a dry tank top and you can easily feel comfortable in a nice après hike lunch at a local cafe. This is my second pair of the Cabo and they wash so well, you can barely tell I have worn my first pair for years. They run bigger than the Kontour shorts and are substantially longer. They have a drawstring at the waist that you will need if ͑you are on the leaner side. Remarkably comfortable, cool and fast drying.
Daughter’s review: The Kontour short has a lean fit and is comfortable and minimalist. This short is fashionable, cool in warm weather, and comfortable. The stretch makes it easy to move and walk.
Dad’s review: According to KÜHL, their exclusive REFLEX™ fabric provides durability and stretch to the Silencr Cargo shorts, along with water resistance and maximum sun protection (UPF 50+). These were clearly positive attributes of these shorts, which were strongly constructed. The downside for me was that they are clearly designed for someone with a slimmer build, and at about 5’10” and 200 lbs, they were a bit more clingy than I prefer. That’s obviously a referendum on my own life choices, but I would likely pick a more relaxed fit for hiking. The tight fit made the cargo pockets less useful for me, as things like a phone or keys pulled on the fabric.