Product Review: Exotogg Thermal Layer

So Exotogg is a new product coming out this year and they sent me a prototype to check out.  The Exotogg Thermal Layer is in the final stages of R&D and essentially they were looking for some constructive feedback.  I want to thank them for sending me a sample to look at.

An upfront disclaimer for my readers and for Exotogg – I did not receive any sort of payment for this review.  In addition, I will always be honest with both my readers and anyone who asks me for an opinion on a product – I believe our word is our value, especially on a site like HappyWrench.

That said, here goes.

Product Review – Exotogg Thermal Layer:

The Exotogg is an interesting product.  It is a new spin on an old problem.  The “problem” being how to stay warm in a situation that can sometimes get very cold.  People forget sometimes the similarities between ski gear and motorcycle gear – at least in terms of desired properties.  The subtle difference though between ski gear and motorcycle gear is that you can get away with a little more “bulkiness” in the winter sports arena.  Size is paramount in the motorcycle gear area.

Overall, I agree with the commentary on Exotogg’s website.  The product is lightweight, somewhat breathable, and does a decent job of using warm air to assist with insulation.  The last point is a scientific principle that has been around for decades (think double paned windows).  That said, there are a few things confusing about the product.  First, heated vests are amazing and everywhere – installation of these electric products are easy and they are incredibly comfortable under a leather jacket.  Exotogg isn’t terrible uncomfortable, but still can’t compare to cloth-based vest products.  I guess I would like to hear from the folks at Exotogg on a few issues. I actually send over my questions to Exotogg and received the following responses to include.

1. Why they think their product is better than an electric vest powered off the battery?  I can think of a couple reasons, but maybe they have more.  First, it doesn’t require any wiring or installation (although as previously mentioned this isn’t really a big deal).  Second, there is no concern with water mixing with electricity (although also I don’t think this is a sane concern).  Finally, if your bike breaks down, I guess you still have the Exotogg Thermal Layer to keep you warm if you are in a remote area until someone picks you up.  I feel like I am grasping a little, but that is all I can think of.

RESPONSE FROM EXOTOGG: First off, thanks so much for taking a look at this Exotogg prototype. You have correctly highlighted a few of the advantages in point #1 above. It’s important to note that we wouldn’t claim to be better than electric heated gear; in extreme cold conditions, you will be warmer with active heating over even the most efficient insulation. However, the ease of use, controllable insulation levels, and packable size might be reasons to include one under your seat/in a top box for those occasions when, for whatever reason, you find yourself under-dressed for the conditions. It works well as quasi-emergency kit, but also, as it takes up no room under a jacket, I’m using it as part of my daily riding kit; then I can choose to inflate it or not, depending on conditions (when uninflated it just provides a layer of wind protection). An additional side benefit is it’s really comfortable to lie on as an air mattress when fully inflated and laid flat!

2. What is the price point?  I now live in balmy Florida, so last time I bought a heated vest was about 5 years ago.  At that time, it cost about $100.  Will the Exotogg be significantly less?  I always recommend being smart with your money (i.e. buy value not necessarily the cheapest item), but maybe this is an advantage the Exotogg folks have up their sleeve.

RESPONSE FROM EXOTOGG: We have tried quite hard to create a high-quality, dependable product that is less expensive than electric gear, though perhaps UK heated gear is more expensive than in the US! To keep the price point affordable, we tried to match a nice thick sweater in terms of cost, and current thinking is £79, which equates to $110. We could have gone cheaper by moving production to the Far East, but I do like the quality control of my friendly lifejacket manufacturer, and the fact that it’s ‘Made in the UK’.

Another advantage I can think of is again related to avoiding the installation of wiring.  I am a vintage bike guy as you all well know by now.  I would never install a heated vest on a vintage ride.  That said, I generally don’t take my garage trophies out for a ride when it is that cold.  They get babied for preservation reasons.

The final advantage I can think of (which came out in some back-and-forth emails with Exotogg) is environmental friendliness. The product is made of TPU which is an infinitely recyclable plastic. Overall, it is kinder to the planet than most products. Additionally, there are animal welfare issues when it comes to down products.

I hope the folks at Exotogg don’t mind the honest feedback on the Exotogg Thermal Layer.  There are definitely a couple decent reasons for using their product, but I think they also need to emphasize the advantages of their product over products that play in the same area (heated vests, thermal liners, etc.)

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