Workwear Reviews & Safety Equipment

Heated Jackets

Pro Rating
Final Thoughts

The Axis heated jacket is excellent on its own and the Milwaukee Axis heated jacket layering system makes it even better. I really like the way the HydroBreak rain shell works with the Axis rather than feeling like an afterthought. It would have been easy to just make a raincoat, but Milwaukee makes it feel like an intentionally designed part of a system. 

Overall Score 4.6 Pro Review

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Milwaukee Axis Heated Jacket Layering System


Milwaukee Axis Heated Jacket Layering System Adds Extra Insulation or Rain and Snow Protection

We’re already big fans of Milwaukee’s Axis Heated Jacket, so I jumped at the chance to take a closer look at the layering systems now available. Living in Central Florida and spending most of my time in the Southeast, I didn’t really need the extra insulation from the Gridiron kit. So I went with the Milwaukee Axis heated jacket layering system that includes the HydroBreak outer shell.

Pros

  • HydroBreak outer shell slides easily over the Axis jacket
  • Hood provides enough room for a hard hat
  • Sized perfectly to layer over the Axis jacket
  • Extra length keeps your waistline covered
  • HydroBreak shell is available on its own if you already have an Axis jacket

Cons

  • There’s a little movement restriction when you’re reaching high overhead

Recommendation

The Axis heated jacket is excellent on its own and the Milwaukee Axis heated jacket layering system makes it even better. I really like the way the HydroBreak rain shell works with the Axis rather than feeling like an afterthought. It would have been easy to just make a raincoat, but Milwaukee makes it feel like an intentionally designed part of a system.

Buy it with the HydroShell package when moisture protection is your highest priority. Go with the Gridiron package if you need additional insulation on top of active heating to push through the worst Jack Frost has to throw at you. 

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Building on a Solid Foundation

We already reviewed the Axis heated jacket following our heated jacket shootout and I won’t rehash the whole thing here. However, here’s a brief summary:

“From an objective standpoint, the Milwaukee Axis Heated Jacket performed consistently well, though it never ran away with the show. From a more subjective place, this jacket seems like the biggest crowd-pleaser for our team. It can function as a middle or outer layer, it’s comfortable as all get out, the battery isn’t terribly obtrusive, it gets warm fast and stays there. All things considered, it’s easy to recommend the Milwaukee Axis to anyone looking to stay warm on the job site.”

– Chris Boll, PTR Editor

Layer Up!

The Milwaukee Axis Heated Jacket Layering System consists of the heated jacket and one of two outer shells. The Gridiron shell offers a polyester ripstop outer with 60G body insulation and 40G sleeve insulation.

I opted for the HydroBreak kit since I’m much more likely to be in rainy conditions than –60º arctic blasts like some of you dealt with last year.

Sizing

I’m in between sizes for heated jackets. As a slimmer/average build, my chest size matches up with a medium but my arms and height fit much better in a large. So I ordered a large and it’s the right call.

The Axis jacket fits pretty much like a standard jacket does. From an unheated comfort standpoint, it’s perfect. Once I turn on the heat, the elements aren’t right up against me, so I don’t get as efficient heating as folks that fill out the jacket better. That’s really a comment about heated jackets in general and isn’t unique to Milwaukee at all.

You can wear the HydroBreak rain shell (or the Gridiron for that matter) over the Axis or on its own. You’ll notice that the sizing is based on the idea that it’s an outer layer for a jacket, so it’s pretty roomy on its own.

Since the HydroBreak shell is a raincoat, the extra coverage doesn’t really hurt anything if you wear it solo.

HydroBreak Shell

Construction

This outer layer is made of a RipStop polyester with a polyurethane laminate, giving you a jacket with a 10k mm waterproofing rating.

Looking over the way it’s all put together, it’s similar in construction to other rain gear I rely on from Grundens or Carhartt. It’s primarily double-stitched with single stitching in some of the lower wear areas like the hood connection and zipper flap. I’d always love to have double-stitching all the way around, but I don’t see anything that causes me concern with this build.

On the inside of the jacket, there is additional waterproofing covering every single one of the seams, ensuring no water creeps in through the threads.

Pockets

The Milwaukee HydroBreak rain shell combines some useful functionality to go along with its rain protection. There are 3 pockets for storage. Two lower front pockets have storm flaps and Velcro closures to keep the rain out when your hands aren’t in them.

The upper left chest has a zippered side entry pocket and conceals a pass-through hole to access the temperature controls on the Axis jacket.

 

Wearing the Milwaukee Axis Heated Jacket Layering System

The Axis has a ripstop polyester outer with a softer quilted pattern than most heated jackets. That makes it perfect for layering over since the additional layer slides easily over the sleeves and slips down around it well.

As a layered system, the Axis with HydroBreak is very comfortable to wear and highly moveable. Neither jacket bunches up as I move through my full range of motion.

The only issue I came across is that when I reach overhead, the sleeves expose several inches of my wrists. The choice comes down to that or having the jacket raise up when I have the Velcro the cuffs tighter. While that’s not uncommon with jackets in general, I seem to expose more wrist than my other jackets.

One of the things I really like about the rain shell is that it has an extended tail. It comes down 8″ below the top of my belt. Even when I reach overhead, it keeps my waistline covered.

Considering this is a jacket for the jobsite, it’s important that you can wear a hard hat under the hood without any issues. Milwaukee does a great job here, covering your hard hat and still leaving enough frontal exposure that you don’t cover up your headlamp. The only potential downside is that the front Velcro closure rides up too close to my chin to close when I’m wearing a hard hat.

I’m pleased with how bulky this system isn’t. With both jackets on, it’s still less bulky than my go-to winter jacket and pretty similar to what I wear when temps are in the 40’s. When there’s no threat of rain, there’s even less bulk and more than enough heat from the Axis on its own.

Price

If you already have the Axis heated jacket, you can grab the HydroBreak shell for $99. Just be sure to order the same size for the correct fit. As a combo kit, you’re looking at $269.

If you’re thinking the Gridiron combo is more your style, it’s $299. There’s no option for just the Gridiron outer shell that I’ve seen.

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The Bottom Line

The Axis heated jacket is excellent on its own and the Milwaukee Axis heated jacket layering system makes it even better. I really like the way the HydroBreak rain shell works with the Axis rather than feeling like an afterthought. It would have been easy to just make a raincoat, but Milwaukee makes it feel like an intentionally designed part of a system.

Buy it with the HydroShell package when moisture protection is your highest priority. Go with the Gridiron package if you need additional insulation on top of active heating to push through the worst Jack Frost has to throw at you.

Milwaukee Axis Heated Jacket Specifications

  • Model Number: Milwaukee 203-21
  • Power Source: Milwaukee M12 battery
  • Heat Settings: High, Medium, and Low
  • Washing: Washer and Dryer Safe
  • Weather Resistant: Wind/Water-Resistant
  • Heat Elements: Chest, Back, Shoulders
  • Inner Material: Brushed Tricot
  • Outer Material: Ripstop polyester
  • Heated Gear Warranty: 1-Year
  • Price: $179 bare, $219 kit

Milwaukee Axis Heated Jacket HydroBreak Layer Specifications

  • Model: Milwaukee 203RN-21
  • Available Sizes: S – 3XL
  • Rain Protection: 10k mm waterproofing
  • Outer: Ripstop polyester
  • Inner: Polyurethane laminate
  • Pockets: 3
  • Price: $99 outer layer, $269 heated jacket kit

Milwaukee Axis Heated Jacket Gridiron Specifications

  • Model: Milwaukee 255B-21
  • Available Sizes: S – 3XL
  • Outer Protection: 60G body, 40G sleeve insulation with Gridiron ripstop polyester outer
  • Pockets: 4
  • Price: $299
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JWM

I’m fully invested in the M18 line, no M12 tools. Are there any adapters, etc., which would allow powering the jackets with an M18 battery?