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Thermacell Interview: How to Stay in the Woods Longer [PICS]

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All images via Thermacell

Though we often associate the Thermacell brand with insect repellent, they’ve found other ways to keep us comfortable in the outdoors.

What are two things that keep hunters, campers, hikers, etc. out of the woods? Bugs and cold hands or feet. That’s why Thermacell tackled the problem head on. They want to help us all enjoy what we do in the outdoors for as long as possible.

We had the opportunity recently to chat with Josh Silvia, marketing manager for ThermaCELL’s heated insoles and heat packs. Check out what he had to say about the various products.

What prompted Thermacell, a leading insect repellent company, to produce heated insoles and heat packs?

First off, the Thermacell brand actually has two separate companies for the insect repellent products and heated insoles and heat packs. They have different offices, staff, and operate separately. That might come as a surprise to many people.

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The company that produces the heated insoles and heat packs (i.e., ThermaCELL vs. Thermacell for these purposes) exists to help outdoorsmen and women stay outdoors longer in frigid conditions.

That includes during hunting seasons, skiing, ice fishing, winter camping, or even mountaineering. But it certainly can be used for outdoor work, snow blowing, snowmobiling, snow shoeing, and just about anything that involves snow and cold weather!

What is the difference between the Heated Insole and ProFLEX? Who are the ideal customers for each product?

The heated insoles have an internal battery and need to be recharged by plugging the insole into an outlet or car charger. They will last over 2,500 hours, or four winters of heavy use. They are controlled by a remote with settings for No Heat, Medium (100 degrees Fahrenheit), and High (111 degrees Fahrenheit).

Even at the High setting, your feet won’t get so hot that they sweat. That would be a problem. They are more geared towards typical hunters, who would hunt for a couple hours and head back indoors.

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The ProFLEX has a removable lithium-ion polymer battery, so it can be replaced in the field for extended warmth. They have similar remotes and settings as the base model above. These are probably better suited for a more extreme person on longer outings, such as on mountaineering expeditions, workers out in the cold all fall, or hunters sitting from dawn to dusk. Customers can carry additional batteries to replace them for warmth throughout their trip without having to recharge their insoles.

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How long do the battery charges last on each product?

The batteries last about five hours per charge, with constant use on the Medium setting.

What are the primary benefits of these products compared to disposable or chemical heat packs?

ThermaCELL heat packs provide regulated and constant warmth instead of brief stints of very hot temperatures. You don’t have to take it out of your pocket to expose it to oxygen or shake it to provide heat. Simply turn it on when and only when you need it. When you’re done, you can turn it off to use it again later.

That’s not an option with disposables. They provide up to six hours of constant use, and have three temperature settings reaching up to 116 degrees Fahrenheit. They come in both larger pocket warmer and smaller hand warmer sizes.

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I feel that ThermaCELL heated insoles are better than using disposables for boots for the same reason. Disposables often get too hot and cause your feet to sweat. But when they stop working, the sweat on your feet and socks can then freeze, which could lead to a to nasty case of frostbite.

Josh actually experienced an unfortunate situation like this. Using a disposable warmer in his boot during -20 degree weather, his feet began to sweat, his socks froze, and his toes were frostbitten.

They also fit a lot better, so if you have to go trailing a deer, you don’t end up with awkward lumps in your boot that cause blisters.

What kind of testing was done on these products?

The best example is Mike Marolt, an extreme skier and producer of the documentary ‘Skiing Everest.’ Marolt has tested the products on some of the highest mountain peaks in the world. On an expedition to Mustagh Atta (elevation of 24,000 feet), he used both the base and ProFLEX models of insole, and had the following to say:

On this trip, I put my boots on, hit high for 10 minutes, and my feet were NEVER cold after that. NEVER!! We had -20 and -30 temps with 50 to 100 mph wind which netted a near -100 wind chill and my feet were never even moderately cold.

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Let’s recap a little. Wind chills of one hundred below zero, and actual temperatures of up to thirty below. If you’re routinely facing those conditions as an average hunter or ice angler, you’re probably not sitting motionless for very long. But if you were, your feet would be toasty warm, with Mike as your proof.

Are there any memorable customer reactions to these products?

They’ve been tested by NAVY Seal elite teams, game wardens, state troopers, etc. with glowing reviews. Obviously Mike Marolt is an extremely memorable testimony. However, Gordy Krahn, editor of Deer & Deer Hunting Magazine also tested them in a traditional hunting scenario. He had the following review:

I knew there was a very real possibility we would be sitting in stands or, as it turned out, on exposed hillsides for extended periods of time in frigid, windy conditions, and I hate cold feet. So…I brought…ThermaCELL’s ProFLEX Heated Insoles. These wireless battery-operated foot warmers are the perfect solution for cold feet. They slip easily into your boots and the remote control allows you to choose the appropriate heat setting…Stay warm during your next cold-weather whitetail hunt.

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Any other products you’d like to mention or promote?

We’re constantly innovating and looking for more personal warming products. But at this point, there’s nothing to publically announce. More details to come. We love a good cliffhanger!

Thanks Josh for taking time to clear up some confusion and help us see how effective the ThermaCELL products truly are.

Check out ThermaCELL on their website, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

All images via Thermacell

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Thermacell Interview: How to Stay in the Woods Longer [PICS]