The Milwaukee Toughshell is the second heated jacket from the brand’s collection that we had the opportunity to test for our recent Heated Jacket Shootout. Ultimately, it placed just behind their other entry, the Axis jacket, to take second place in the competition. What does that mean? Obviously, it points to Milwaukee having a pretty good handle on how to design a heated jacket. But it also means that this Toughshell model has a lot going for it that’s worth checking out.
- Accurate fit according to the size chart
- 5 heating zones, including left/right front pocket
- Highest value rating
- Excellent heating times
- No battery adapter clip
The Milwaukee Toughshell Heated Jacket is an excellent choice for guys who are going to wear their heated jacket to actually work in. It has a tough exterior to put up with both the elements and the job site.
Heat Zones and Controls
One of the interesting things about the Milwaukee Toughshell jacket revolves around heat coverage. It isn’t that some of the other jackets don’t have comparable heat coverage, but the Toughshell jacket has heated pockets with separate controls for them. This not only allows you to keep your hands warm, but it allows for better control when you want to conserve your battery.
The Milwaukee Toughshell heated jacket also has heating coverage in the left and right chest areas, as well as the back.
The controls for all the heating zones are easy to see and press on the left chest. You can select between low, medium, and high heat settings with multiple clicks of either button.
While running on a brand’s 12V platform has its detriments compared to an 18V platform, the 12V side of things has its benefits. Like power tools, the main benefit of 12V comes down to the battery’s size and weight.
This becomes particularly helpful with battery storage. All of the jackets that rely on an 18V battery to run into a common problem – the battery feels bulky, affecting the jacket’s overall comfort. There’s no great place to keep it stored on the jacket without putting an unnatural amount of weight somewhere.
It’s different for the Milwaukee jackets (and the Bosch, for that matter). The battery tucks away comfortably in a pocket on the back of the jacket, and because of its smaller profile, it doesn’t look or feel like you’re growing a tumor on your kidney.
Material and Design
The Milwaukee Toughshell uses a stretchy polyester for the outer shell and a brushed tricot polyester inner lining. The result is a pretty comfortable, weather-resistant, heat-retaining jacket.
Milwaukee claims that this Toughshell material delivers 5 times better durability and weather resistance. We didn’t run any stress tests in the shootout, so it’s tough to attest to the veracity of that claim. However, the outer shell definitely has a tough feel to it that’s likely to hold up better on the job site than something thinner like the Axis has.
The Milwaukee Toughshell also opts for hook and loop cuffs. These are less comfortable than storm cuffs, but the upside is that the material won’t stretch and wear out like a storm cuff inevitably will.
Milwaukee Toughshell Heated Jacket Additional Features
- Quick-heat function reaches selected temperature 3X faster
- (3) outer zip pockets, (1) inner zip pocket, (1) low-profile battery pocket
- Up to (8) hours of run-time with M12 RedLithium 2.0 compact battery pack
- Washer and dryer safe
- FreeFlex Mobility gussets provide enhanced mobility
- High loft insulation to trap heat
- Adjustable waist with drop tail extended back
Heated jackets are a little bit of a different animal than your standard jacket. Ideally, you want as close contact as you can get between the heating elements and your body. This means that to get the most out of the jacket’s primary function, you need a tighter fit.
Personally, I could do without my outerwear all hugged up on my natural curves, but there’s a tradeoff you’ll need to consider. If you’d prefer a looser fit, and decide to move a size up, know that the heating elements won’t be quite as toasty.
That said, how accurate is the fit according to Milwaukee’s sizing chart?
Pretty much spot-on, as it turns out. The chest and shoulder areas fit just right. The midsection is a bit tighter than I like but expected that, and maybe these pictures will remind me to skip a meal once in a while.
The real rub with this jacket – and to be fair, every other jacket we tested – is that it could’ve used a bit more length. I’ve got a pretty average build, and if I reached up, the jacket climbs up enough that the cold breeze can tickle my soft underbelly.
Milwaukee Bringing The New Hotness
When considering a jacket’s heating proficiency, we like to consider a few things: temperature, insulation, and battery efficiency. On high, the Milwaukee Toughshell has a sort of “priming” feature, whereby the jacket jumps up to 100° within 15 seconds, and then 132° within 84 seconds. Then it mellows out a bit and sits at its “cruising” temperature at 121°.
We also like a jacket that can retain heat. All of the jackets we tested fell into a pretty small range, between allowing 71% and 79% of the jacket’s internal temperature to reach the exterior of the outer shell. Although the swings here seem pretty negligible, it might be worth noting that this is one area where maybe the Milwaukee Toughshell didn’t perform as well as most of the others. Its exterior reaches 76% of its internal temp.
We also like to see how efficient a jacket’s battery actually is. After all, you can get M12 batteries all the way up to 6.0 Ah. We looked at how many minutes of runtime each jacket gets per watt-hour of battery output. The Milwaukee Toughshell finishes in the middle at 7.4 minutes but has a pretty big gap to Bosch’s 12-minute mark.
If straight-up runtime is what you’re looking for, the Toughshell gives you roughly 2 hours, 45 minutes with all zones on high or 4 hours with just the chest and back zones on.
The Milwaukee ToughShell Heated Jacket comes as a bare jacket or kitted together with an M12 battery and compact charger. When purchasing just the jacket, you can expect to pay around $149. With the battery and charger, the kit will run about $199. It comes with a 1-year warranty.
That’s just about right with most kits starting around $200 and running up to $230 or so.
The Bottom Line
The Milwaukee Toughshell Heated Jacket pulls away from the competition with 5 heat zones, quick heating times, and a tough outer shell. You get a lot of bang for your buck with an impressive set of features and a price that’s on the lower end for this class.
Milwaukee Toughshell Heated Jacket Specs
- Model Number: 202R21
- Battery System: M12
- Outer Shell: ToughShell Stretch Polyester
- Inner Material: Brushed Tricot
- Heat Elements: Chest, Back, Pockets
- Heat Settings: Low, Medium, High
- Weather Resistant: Wind/Water Resistant
- Insulated: Yes
- Washing: Washer and Dryer Safe
- Heated Gear Warranty: 1 Year
- MSRP: $239.45 (Kit), $149 (Jacket Only)