The cold has always bothered humanity, and so he has invented ways and devices to keep himself warm in the chilly seasons and frigid places. While fire has always been his best friend in keeping out the harshness, he couldn’t always have one going.
To compensate for this temperature nightmare, humans have developed warming devices such as manual heaters, electricity-powered warmers, gas-operated machines, and even new types of fabrics and chemicals for industrial use. Many of the inventions not only built up civilisation’s power to survive winters but also fed the growing machine of commerce.
Inventors had their way pretty much unhindered, and entrepreneurs marketed winter heating to commercial success. From significant developments such as fire-less home heaters to industrial anti-frost substances and personal clothing technology, inventors have also filed patents for quirky, even hilarious items, that will surely warm up anyone with a hearty laugh too.
Hot things to combat the cold in the outdoor market
Many unregistered products to combat the winter cold must have appeared in the marketplaces of antiquity, but they failed to make it enough to be recognised in history. Some inventions, however, caught the eye of keen observers.
One such invention from yonder days was the Snow Protector, a generic name for a Canadian design in 1939. The device was made of plastic and protected the face in snowstorms. What set it apart from other anti-blizzard masks though, was its somewhat quirky appearance – the plastic shield protruded more than 20 centimetres like a clear spike rather than a protection that people are used to seeing.
More recent inventions look more comfortable on the eye. For instance, there’s the beard beanie, or “The Beardo” by winter fashion apparel maker Beardowear. The company was founded by winter enthusiast and snowboarder Jeff Phillips, who made the prototype out of an old knit scarf. He patented his beard beanie design, and it has now expanded to a complete line with products for kids and accompanying accessories.
While it cannot be argued that the design is aesthetically pleasing for beard lovers and fresh looking for the general public, some question its effectiveness in protecting against harsh winds. Its design banks on the density of the fabric but fails to cover essential areas face like the cheeks, nose, and mouth. Regardless of this caveat though, the product has been selling well in North America.
Campers and outdoor lovers who want a tent on-the-go are in for a treat with the I-gloobox, a portable yet mobile tent by Bulgarian designer Georgi Djongarski. The tent came with an igloo-like appearance and was created for homeless people to find quick respite from bitter cold winds.
The tent itself does not offer much space inside, but its design is sure to keep its temporary inhabitants warm. It’s also cleverly designed to include a mechanism to fold it down into a wheeled trolley for easy transport, making shifting camps easier.
Winter outdoor enthusiasts will also find two options for their sleeping comfort with nifty patented inventions from outdoor gear maker MusucBag. Their product allows users to sleep safe even in cold conditions.
The MusucBag Classic is a sleeping bag system designed by Rodrigo Alonso. It is similar to another design, the SelkBag, but makes the wearer look more like a mascot than being in a sleeping bag.
Although it looks hilarious, the MusucBag Classic offers protection and function beyond the usual for its wearer. One can freely move their arms and legs while inside the sleeping bag, providing perfect mobility while being protected from snow, harsh winds, and frostbite.
The MusucBag ranges in size for people up to two metres in height and its outer layer is made of nylon rip-stop rated at 70D/210T according to international standards. Inside it has a lining with microfiber rated at 50D/290T. It also comes with several inside pockets to carry things around, making it a great cosy option. Wearers are also not burdened as it weighs only 2kg and can provide protection up to extreme temperatures of -13°C.
Travellers also need not worry about casually warming their hands, as famous fire-stoking brand Zippo had patented its fuel-based hand warmer device, the Zippo Hand Warmer Fuel. It utilises a flameless yet fuel-based system allowing it to be used outdoors in cold weather activities.
Zippo created the device with an easy-fill technology and used a specialised fill cup to reduce spills. It is equipped with a burner rated to keep warming the user well for up to 70 uses. The flameless heater is odourless, and the device can fit even in small pockets, making them highly portable for travel. Each application can last up to 12 hours.
Keeping warm in the home with peculiar inventions
Snow build-up is a problem for many countries with snowy winter seasons, particularly in the northern hemisphere. Many homeowners are irritated with cleaning up the pathways, steps, and sidewalks leading to their homes. As a response to this, HeatTrak created an ingenious invention to have a snow-free way to one’s home: heated walkways.
The HeatTrak system is composed of specialised thermoplastic mats that can melt away snow and ice, preventing build-up and providing a warm and non-slippery path towards their homes. A chevron texture pattern also helps provide extra traction for walking safely. It’s the perfect device for those tired of shovelling snow so often.
These mats can melt snow at approximately 5cm per hour, even in heavy snowstorms. There is no risk of the water freezing on the surface to create ice as it evaporates off the mat. It is also easy to install and can be laid out the entire winter season. Its variants can also accommodate servicing for business areas, and even paths for cars in driveways.
Techie millennials who are into the retro appeal can also keep their drinks heated in a rather cool-looking mug by Tech Tools. The stainless steel Heated Smart Travel Mug is a great companion for travel if it can fit one’s bag that is.
The mug can contain up to 12 ounces (.35 litres) of beverages and is fitted with an analogue temperature gauge to indicate heat ranges up to 160°F (very hot) and down to room temperature (up to 85°F). The vintage-looking device is protected with an automatic safety shutoff at 160°F and can provide continuous thermal insulation for hours on end, and is also equipped with a non-skid rubber base and can be plugged into a car cigarette lighter for portable heating.
Remote working professionals can keep working even in chilly conditions with the ValueRays Heated Mouse, an invention of ValueRays. These computer mice are equipped with infrared heating, soothing hands by warming them with a comfortable 37° to 40°C heating range. According to ValueRays, their infrared heating mice also help improve circulation. It’s an excellent device for those who aren’t much into using indoor gloves when using their computers.
On the novel side of things, ToastyMug has brought out a hand-warming mug created by designer Sabrina Fossi. The Hand Warmer mug is a handmade ceramic scalding cup from Florence, Italy. It looks like a standard beverage mug but with the sides fitted with ergonomic wrap-around handles so one could fit and warm their hands while drinking.
The mugs come with uneven uniform glaze finish and so cannot be heated in microwaves or ovens. They are currently available in small and medium sizes.
Another novel item is Smoko’s Toast Hand Warmers. These are fluffy warmers with built-in USB adapters to heat up to comfortable levels in cold weather. These products are designed to look like toasted bread with cartoon emoji-like faces.
The hand warmers have various heat settings for customised heating and can fit most hand sizes with adjustable fabric fastener wrist straps. They’re also crafted to keep you cosy and looking neat with four pretty designs to choose from.
If there are hand warmers, there are also foot warmers. A company called ThermaCELL created the ProFLEX Heavy Duty Heated Shoe Insoles, which keep your feet warm even when wearing shoes or want to prop your feet up and warm them. They are made of polyurethane foam, and its battery is padded with Poron, an antimicrobial and shock-absorbing cushion. It is rechargeable and can provide heating for your feet for up to 8.5 hours per charge.
The ProFLEX system is amazingly techie too: rather than using a manual switch it is operated using ThermaCELL’s proprietary phone app and connects to the insoles through Bluetooth technology.
Inventions provide us with a unique way to enjoy life. Entrepreneurs need to protect their ideas through patents and trade marks, as it also allows the inventors to enjoy the fruits of their labour. The inventions above are clear examples of human creativity and are genuine proof of how imaginative people can be in solving problems.