This article was originally posted on MobileRVing.com and was written by Jannie Schaffer.
The World’s First Universal Coat Heater, Made For Those Who Stick Around During The Winter Season.
It’s that time of year again when flocks of RVing snowbirds take full advantage of a home on wheels to migrate towards lower latitudes and warmer climates. For the atypical camper choosing to stick out the frigid winter, whether for their love of winter sports or simply to enjoy a change of season with white snow and brisk winter air, Torch Friction Gear Co. founder Anthony DeVito may have a product to help ease any winter woes.
Motivated by his brother’s mid-December wedding in his home state of Northern Michigan, DeVito found himself in need of a heated coat. Early into his search, sticker shock set in, and DeVito decided he’d settle for a heated insert to put inside his groomsmen jacket. That search soon hit a dead end too, leading DeVito to question if anything currently on the market met his needs.
“That was my ah-ha moment,” recalled DeVito who soon after began engineering Torch Coat Heater, the world’s first universal coat heater.
Torch is essentially a thin nickel chromium metal alloy wire paired with a rechargeable 7.4 volt, 2600mah lithium ion battery and surrounded by a stout, breathable mesh fabric that allows for “uninhibited heat transfer from the heating element to [the] body.”
For the first year and a half DeVito ordered sample heating elements from “anybody and everybody” he could in search the most advanced technology, and he went through at least “a hundred different fabrics trying to find the thinnest, softest, fabric that would transfer heat the easiest.” With materials in hand, DeVito settled in for a long weekend with his mother-in-law manning the sewing machine to make his designs come to fruition. “I [got] all the fabrics lined up, cut out and put into the right place…and [then] I Just stood over her shoulder [and] I was like: Do this. Do that,” laughed DeVito. “That was one of the first revisions that actually came out looking somewhat like the product does now.”
During the research and development process, DeVito says being able to transfer Torch from coat to coat was one of the functionalities he had to have. “We went through different methods to pin it into [a] coat, but after repeatedly transferring and moving it from coat to coat, we found the [Velcro] was the least damaging option.” As a result, Torch comes with three adhesive Velcro installation kits so consumers can universally transfer the coat heater between three separate jackets without the hassle of having to remove the Velcro. Torch is also water-resistant and machine washable, but should not be dried as unwarranted heat could damage the adhesive backing.
Torch also has four different temperature settings ranging from 75 to 135 degrees Fahrenheit to cater to customers body temperature needs. And while potential burns may seem like a necessary concern, DeVito has taken extra precaution adding a safe guard feature to the battery that turns off when heated to excess, and the actual heating element never touches users’ skin. On high, the 8-ounce Torch Coat Heater will last for 2-3 hours and 5 hours on low.
More importantly, explained DeVito, Torch’s string-thin nickel chromium metal alloy wire “heats up very evenly [and] can do that constantly over several repeated heating an cooling cycles, unlike other metals that tend to get brittle and break.” Because of this fluidity, hot spots are virtually eliminated resulting in a consistent temperature delivered throughout the product and the body.
While DeVito and Torch have seen many challenges and successes in the last three years, he’s found nothing more rewarding than being his own boss and having the creative freedom to have an idea and run with it.
“I felt so trapped in my career with such limited creativity,” said DeVito touching on artistic limitations with his previously 10-year career in construction engineering. “So this was like…I could do anything I wanted to. I could go order any part I wanted to…any tool I wanted to…add any functionality I wanted to…the creativity and freedom to do whatever I wanted to was my favorite part about [creating Torch]. It was absolutely liberating.”
Whether using Torch to stay toasty on a motorcycle ride through the PanAmerican Highway from the southern tip of South America to Alaska like Andy Pascoe and friends or to compliment the daunting summit up Mount Everest like Lynette Trott, or to simply add a touch of warmth to your winter jacket, Torch Coat Heater has the potential to defend adventurers against the elements without breaking the bank. “We kind of see ourselves as the stepping-stone between the everyday coat to the heated coat,” wrapped up DeVito touching on future endeavors. “[For us], there’s no reason to not think that essentially every coat could be heated.”