Dan Nielsen: Do Michiganders dream of electric pants?

Dan Nielsen

Just when I thought I was fully equipped to comfortably survive winter's chill, I received an email that proved me wrong.

Now I desperately need a pair of electric pants.

Technically, the email called the product "USB heated thermal pants," and they were on sale last week for $79.99, normally $122.99. The image looked like a pair of skin-tight black leggings.

The email's featured user review hooked me: "The pants shipped to my house fast and the heated zones stay really toasty. Couldn't be happier."

I clicked through to the website. A prominent logo claimed the company is "USA owned and operated."

But the pants are listed in mens sizes L to 5XL, with waist measurements ranging from 24.76 to 30.65, lengths from 38.12 to 40.09, and "foot and mouth" from 9.59 to 12.73. I don't think those numbers are American inches. Whatever measurement scale they represent, I admire their extreme precision. But I have no idea why pants are described with a "foot and mouth" measurement.

I suspect the company may not actually be based in the USA.

The website also includes an illustration that shows the "heated zones" referred to in the user review are the kneecaps and a kneecap-sized oval immediately below the belt buckle. A handy USB charging plug extends from a pocket, allowing a small battery to be recharged from any computer.

Imagine someone wearing these enhanced trousers eating ice cream at a holiday party and suffering a sudden chill: "Uh, I'm getting cold. Is there a computer around here where I can plug in my pants?"

The ad copy goes on to say the britches have three temperature settings, the highest 45 degrees Celsius. That translates to 113 degrees Fahrenheit. That should make for some mighty hot kneecaps.

Pants were just one product being touted by email last week. I also received a message about a heated vest that can be recharged via USB, and a separate email hawking electrically heated gloves.

But the plug-in heated bargains didn't stop at apparel.

Another email showed up in my inbox offering an amazing electric heater you plug into a wall outlet. It looked not much larger than a deck of playing cards. The advertisement claimed the device can heat up to 250 square feet for just pennies a day. Perhaps the amazing unit someday will make central heating a laughable historical footnote.

Back at the website with the plug-in pants, I browsed through other offerings: cat toys, avocado cutters, walkie talkie wristwatches, full-size metal Wolverine (just like the X-Men's Logan) claws for $29.95 a pair, and a chew toy for dogs that makes your pet look like it has a giant plastic human grin.

I still have nightmares about that last item.

The website also offered a bit of mystery. Shoppers can sign up for the company's "Secret Discounts Club" for $4.95 a month. Offered right next to it on the site was the "Discounts Secret Club" (note the tricky name switcheroo) for $6.95, and next to that was the "Discounts Secret Club (Sale Price)" for $4.95.

Five bucks a month isn't terribly expensive — but I wasn't tempted to buy either of these completely unknown products that would ding my credit card each and every month for a year. Maybe I'd think about it if I was guaranteed the monthly mystery product would be something to keep me warm through the northern Michigan winter. But five bucks a month probably won't deliver an $80 article of electric clothing every 30 days.

I guess I'll stick to my usual winter attire composed of several layers of insulation. That usually keeps me toasty enough, from kneecaps to elbows, to survive the trudge from parking lot to office and from garage to house.

My house is well insulated and heated, so once I'm inside sitting next to my wife, life is pretty cozy. And the newspaper office has a solid heating system, so things are pretty comfy there, too. I don't believe I need to invest in a tiny electric heater.

But I am feeling a bit chilly at the moment — so please excuse me while I plug in my pants.

Contact Business Editor Dan Nielsen at 231-933-1467 or dnielsen@record-eagle.com.

Business Editor