BY MARK KEAST

It’s minus 26 with the wind chill factor, the TTC is slow and packed, and you are late for work. You have to walk, at least a few blocks. The ewool Pro heated vest, for men and women, is the answer to combat all that.

My wife was wearing one this past weekend, a great mid-layer under a winter coat, on that cold Saturday morning before the snow came in, wind blustering. She reported back that the vest heated her entire core walking the mile or so to get beyond the slow streetcar and road construction headaches eastward along King St. W.

The small power pack that rests in a pouch on the back of the vest, resting against her back, felt a little odd at first, but that had to do in part with the fact she was wearing a backpack. She adjusted fast to that. She went with the XS size, and that’s what you want – it needs to fit against your body, form-fitting, not too tight, but comfortable. The operation of the heating system is push button, really simple (three levels of heat, at the push of a button). Plug in the vest at night to re-charge it. Built to last, machine washable, Canadian-made. The vest delivers eight hours of battery power – four hours per 12V lithium battery.

She soon became oblivious to how cold it was outside, except for the bundled, shivering people who walked past her on the street. The vest even heats up around the neck area – no need for a scarf. My wife had her hair tucked in to her outer jacket, under the vest, and said when she got to work, her hair was warm to the touch, like she had just blow dried it. A nice bonus – if you are a real walker, like she is, the ewool vest even helped more with her posture – it made her stand up straighter.

Overall, the vest delivers constant warmth, no burning sensation at all. This week is going to warm up a little in these parts, but the longer range forecast for the later this week, into the weekend, calls for another deep dive into frigidity, so she has the ewool vest powered up and ready to go.

The ewool Pro heated vest sells for $499.

We spoke with ewool president Alain Desmeules:

RL: Tell us a little about the history of the company. How many years have you been in existence, how many employees, where are you based?

AD: We started in 2013. We are about 15 employees. Our main office is in Montreal. We also have an office in Denmark to cover the European market, particularly Scandinavia.
RL: Why did you create the vest?
AD: There was no heated wearable technology available on the worldwide market that was providing  powerful heat and convenient to use. I invested my personal fortune and five years of hard work in designing, testing and finally making the perfect and most powerful heated mid-layer.

RL: Were you responding to a specific need in your life, and the idea for the business came out of that? Tell us some more about the genesis of ewool?

AD: I had just sold my construction business and was looking to work on a project that would keep me passionate and with good potential to improve the technology. Being an experienced entrepreneur, my love for winter activities and my background with some arctic expeditions was the base for developing the best heated wearable. A premium product made for professionals enabling them to thrive even in extreme cold temperature.

RL: Where do you see the growth areas for your business? Just Canada, or beyond? Other products, new technologies?

AD: We want to be the leader in heated wearables worldwide, particularly in heated liners such as heated socks, heated gloves, heated mid-layers, heated pants. We target professionals, achievers and everyone looking to purchase  premium products. We also want to supply our heated liners technologies to winter jacket makers, such as Canada Goose and  North Face. We want ewool to be a reliable and recognized brand such as Goretex, Thinsulate, Vibram, when it comes to heated liners. We believe there is no comfort comparable with heated wearable in cold conditions. Sooner or later, heated wearables will be part of our winter wardrobe.