Gear Watch: Quiksilver Ps + Cypher Heat Vest

The Quiksilver Ps + Cypher Heat Vest has the potential to extend winter surf sessions—and other cold-water activities—by providing battery-powered heat to the torso and core area.

As a dedicated New England surfer, I chase waves through the entire surf season (roughly August - April)—including the depths of winter. Some high-quality waves usually arrive during the chilliest months when the water is cold (upper 30s to low 40s during January and February) and the air can be even colder. So I'm intrigued by the Quiksilver vest (introduced Fall 2009), which is designed to be worn underneath a wetsuit for extra warmth.

Properly suited in head-to-toe thick winter neoprene, I typically remain warm for 1-2 hours in the water, depending on conditions and exertion level. But eventually I'll start to cool down, which I suspect is mostly due to the food/energy tank running low (you burn a lot of calories surfing in the cold!). This gadget has the potential to extend my session.

The vest is essentially a thin, form-fitting polypropylene top that features two heat pads around the lower back and kidney area. These are powered by a flat, cell-phone sized lithium battery that can be recharged from a wall outlet or car cigarette lighter. The battery nests in an integrated pocket on the lower right torso below the rib cage, out of the way of your paddling arms.

It features two settings: low (113 degrees) and high (129 degrees), and can be switched between the two (or turned on and off) by pushing a button on the battery pack through your wetsuit. A full charge will run it on high for about two hours.

Reviews have been mostly positive—Surfline has one of the most comprehensive reviews—though several testers have questioned its long-term durability. Time (and cold) will tell whether I fork over the $200 for this vest.

Equipped” is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Matt Heid.

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