Review: ThermaCELL heated insoles
Published on November 20, 2015 in News & Updates, Snowmobile Product Review
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Jim Tucker’s review of ThermaCELL heated insoles.

What’s black and gray and warm all over? Why it’s ThermaCELL heated insoles, course! That’s boot warmers to you and me. There’s an old adage that says if you’re not warm then you won’t enjoy snowmobiling. Back in the day, a leather suit and Sorel footwear were considered the best you could buy. I couldn’t afford the leather suit but did own the venerable Sorels for many years. I used them so long the rubber chain tread wore completely off the sole making them as slick as Teflon! My suit on the other hand was made of nylon, of course there was no Gore-Tex or wind blocking fabric available back then, so most times it felt like the wind went right through me!

Even with some of the best footwear available my feet still got cold, which prompted the test of ThermaCELL heated insoles.

In the old days I remember my father having a pair of snowmobile boots and always putting plastic baggies over his socks to prevent the moisture of his feet getting absorbed into the felt liners and making him cold. The things we had to do to make our “best-in-class” equipment work back then.

ThermaCELL-ProFLEX-heated-insoles

Usually I’m the resident Popsicle, so it’s no surprise I’m on the seemingly never-ending quest for the warmest boots available. I’ve tried several brands over the years, each of which I thought was the bomb for its time, and have recently settled on a pair from Cabelas. So far they’ve been tested at 17 below zero and passed with flying colors.

But there is a catch. After being outside for many hours in the wind and cold, one begins to succumb to something called exposure. This condition occurs when our metabolism slows down because of extended time outdoors, hydration level, low caloric input, overall fitness, fatigue and clothing choice. As an avid winter camper one of the first things I was taught is how to stay warm under cold endurance conditions. Applying this to snowmobiling says that your feet, hands and head are most vulnerable to rapidly draining heat from your body, so taking clothing precautions just might make the difference between a good ride and a miserable Iditarod!

Over the years people have tried all manner of devices to mitigate cold hands and feet. From electric hand warmers to hand warmers made from cayenne pepper. They all work to some degree but we have yet to reach the Holy Grail of warmth. What if you could buy a battery operated device that is rechargeable and ready to go at a moment’s notice? Enter the new kid on the block, ThermaCELL boot warmer by a local company based in Massachusetts. They just might have the answer we’ve been seeking.

ThermaCELL ProFLEX heated insoles

I reached out to owner Jerry Schawbel, president of Schawbel Corporation, makers of ThermaCELL heated insoles for a pair to test out. He graciously agreed and shortly thereafter a package arrived on my doorstep with enclosed foot heaters. In the box was their ProFLEX heated insoles with remote control. These are the insoles in which the built-in battery is removable.

ThermaCELL-heated-insoles

Unboxing them, I immediately noticed the quality of the ThermaCELL insoles, the carry bag, batteries, charger assembly and remote control. I finished reading the instructions as the batteries charged, taking in the key features. The little battery pack installs right into a cavity of the insole itself. A full charge can last about five hours on the medium heat setting, which is set via the remote control. There is a dotted line on the insoles that can be trimmed to fit your particular size of boot.

After a full, four-hour charge, I trimmed and fitted the insoles to my hunting-style insulated boots and slipped them on for a day of outdoor work. The temperature was about 15 degrees with a slight wind, good test conditions for boots that have far less insulation than snowmobile boots. At the end of the day my feet began to get cold from the dreaded exposure condition described above. I used the remote control and flipped the ProFLEX insoles on high, and a short time later a warming sensation came over my feet. Ahh. The manual states the insoles deliver 111 degrees Fahrenheit on high and 100 degrees on medium. I put the heaters on high, as I wanted to get warm quick. So much for patience.

ThermaCELL states that the insoles do not make your feet feel hot, as that would make them sweat and thus get cold. Just a gentle warming sensation, around normal body temperature, envelops your feet. It has a very welcome feeling, I assure you. The hours piled on and I was far more willing, and able, to continue work as cold feet were one less thing to worry about. I found the ProFLEX insoles lasted about five hours on high, an hour longer than the claimed four hours. Bonus! Once inside for the day, I left the insoles in the boots and just removed the batteries for a recharge.

In subsequent cold-to-very cold days I tried them again and again, and they simply perform the same every time. As far as comfort goes, I hardly noticed the insoles, as they are not too thick, something I was concerned with initially. I’d suggest the company consider installing a heat reflective Mylar shield on the bottom of the insole. That way all the heat produced will be directed up into the foot and not down into the sole of the boot.

I haven’t installed them in my snowmobile boots as of this writing but intend to do so and will report back soon enough. I suspect they will do even better, as the insulation is far thicker than in my hunting boots.

ThermaCELL-heated-insoles-thermostat

The ThermaCELL heated insoles get high marks for quality of design, accurate instructions, functionality and warmth. They can be used anywhere, so long as you can charge them at the end of the day, and I will surely take them on my first saddlebag tour.

These heated insoles may also be helpful for those with Raynaud’s disease, diabetics and anyone in general that has trouble keeping their feet toasty.

In the end, they get a four and a half out of five carbide rating for the reasons stated above, in addition to the mental factor of knowing that you have an ace in your boot and not your sleeve!


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