Recreation  November 1, 2021

Gobi Heat brings heated technology to outdoor wear

FORT COLLINS — Gobi Heat founder Jaye Genung used to avoid outdoor winter activities because she didn’t like being cold — that is, until she designed and manufactured the perfect battery-powered heated jacket. 

Genung’s husband had gifted her with a competitor’s heated jacket, but she figured she could do better.

“Apparently little thought and consideration went into the design and manufacturing of the jacket,” said Genung, CEO of Gobi Heat.

Genung had tired of missing out on family activities because she dreaded being out in winter weather. Her first consideration when receiving an invitation to hike, ski or snowshoe was whether or not she’d be cold. But once she got into the freedom that heated apparel allows her, she found she could say “yes” to more experiences — something she wanted to share with others.

“It was an opportunity to create and enrich people’s lives,” Genung said. “It allows you to be in the moment. It takes away any barriers, worrying about being in the cold.”

Genung turned that opportunity into a business, which she opened in Fort Collins in 2016. She worked with domestic and foreign engineers to identify the best heating technology, while also developing product lines geared to both men and women that include jackets, vests, hoodies, gloves, beanies, base layers and socks. She set her company apart by considering both fashion and technology that allows wearers to work or play outside or be extra warm inside, she said.

“I don’t think a lot of companies think about both,” Genung said.

Genung’s first product was the Sahara heated jacket with versions for men and women that come in a variety of styles, sizes and colors. 

“It’s versatile. It’s the kind of thing a guy wears with jeans and slacks. It pairs well with lots of outfits,” Genung said. “No other jacket has that variety.”

The Sahara generates heat from a battery that plugs into the jacket with three heat settings of low, medium and high of 113, 131 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, allowing the wearer to choose the desired temperature. The heating system is directly sewed into the lining of the jacket, while the battery is placed in an interior pocket. 

“Plug it in, turn it on and the way you go,” Genung said. 

Made of lightweight wind and water-resistant materials, Gobi Heat’s line of jackets have three to five zones of conductive threading heat. The Sahara, for instance, has three zones with two small zones in the chest and a large zone in the back. 

Conductive threading heat needs a conductor to carry current the same way a normal wire can but it’s stitched into the fabric. The conductive thread in the Sahara is zinc alloy coated with PVC to make it more efficient and safe. 

The battery supplies the power to heat the jacket — Genung started with lithium ion batteries but last year launched lithium polymer, which is more flexible in size and shape and in what it can do.

“Our batteries are the smallest form factor for milliamp hours,” Genung said about Gobi Heat’s 65 milliamp batteries. “The trick is to make the battery small enough so that it fits in the jacket and will last a long time. … We want to continue to be the best and continue to innovate a smaller, safer battery.”

The battery life varies depending on the product and number of heat zones. For instance, a three-zone jacket ranges from five to 10 hours of life in the high to the low settings, while a five-zone jacket ranges four to nine hours.

The range fits the name Gobi Heat, which derives from the Gobi Desert straddling Mongolia and China and that has extremes in temperatures of hot and cold.

“It’s a place of incredible beauty, but it also can be extremely harsh,” Genung said. “It’s a metaphor for opportunities and experiences that you’ve got to be ready for everything.”

Genung designs her jackets and other apparel with end users in mind for whatever activity they choose, she said.

“We have something to offer everybody. It’s not to say one jacket is to fit all; we just have a lot of options,” Genung said.

Genung also added a terrain heated camping chair to her product lines this year. Built on a durable steel frame, the chair has three heat settings that range from 113 to 131 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat is delivered to two heat zones in the seat and lower back of the chair, using the same heated thread technology and lithium polymer battery as some of the apparel.

“We’re branching out of apparel into gear with more coming in the next few months,” Genung said. “It’s nice to sit by the fire, having that heated chair on your back and on your butt. It makes camping even more enjoyable.”

Genung wears her apparel to go hiking, snowshoeing and Gobi Heat’s annual summer camping trips that are primarily in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah.

“I live in Colorado and enjoy the outdoors,” Genung said.

FORT COLLINS — Gobi Heat founder Jaye Genung used to avoid outdoor winter activities because she didn’t like being cold — that is, until she designed and manufactured the perfect battery-powered heated jacket. 

Genung’s husband had gifted her with a competitor’s heated jacket, but she figured she could do better.

“Apparently little thought and consideration went into the design and manufacturing of the jacket,” said Genung, CEO of Gobi Heat.

Genung had tired of missing out on family activities because she dreaded being out in winter weather. Her first consideration when receiving an invitation to hike, ski or snowshoe was whether or…

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