It's that time of year where I want something, anything warm to sit in as soon as I leave the house. I thought it was high time to figure out if those heat and massage cushions I periodically see advertised are any good - especially against a straight heating cushion. Here are the results.
Heatech Heating Cushion
Compared with the massage cushions, I found this one the best source of heat. But if it's soreness that you're concerned about, this cushion is not for you. It's not as form-fitted and there are no vibrations to soothe sore muscles.
Still, the seat is a comfortable ride and straps easily into a standard-sized car (I was using a Toyota Camry for my tests).
I noticed a big difference in warmth only two to three minutes after I plugged this seat into the 12V outlet inside the car. My thighs and lower back were cozy - the rest of my torso, not so much.
It doesn't reach very high, so make sure you keep your coat close to the back of your neck. You're not going to get very warm up there.
The seat also doesn't switch off automatically when you rise, so make sure to unplug it as soon as you leave the car, just in case.
Available from: Canadian Tire
Obusforme Heat and Massage Seat Cushion
The motors inside this cushion deliver quite the punch. I found it almost painful to sit there at the highest "wave" or "pulse" intensities - plus, the car shook enough for the passengers to notice when we were in park with the motor off. Ramping down to a lower setting solved the problem, though.
A key selling feature of this unit is heat and comfort, though. The form-fitted cushion reaches high up to your neck, making it easier to sit back as you drive. I was also nice and warm as I sat in the seat.
The cushion comes with a wireless remote and no options for changing intensities on the unit. In my mind, that's a bit of a weakness if the remote gets lost or out of batteries - or if an unruly child snatches it from you.
Available from: Canadian Tire, Sears, SitInComfort.com
AutoTrends Heat and Massage Seat Cushion
The remote for this cushion is hardwired into the fabric, which I liked because it's harder to lose. You can stow it beside the seat, and the thick cord it's attached to makes it easy to pull up beside you when you want to adjust the heat or vibrations.
Unlike the Obusforme, this seat doesn't go quite as high up your back and there is also no auto off when you get up - meaning it's not quite as comfortable or convenient.
But for what it's worth, I found the options on the AutoTrends to make the most sense. A series of switches clearly tells you whether you want a pulse or massage in three areas: upper back, lower back and thighs.
If you want a pulse motion in one spot and a massage in another - or even to ramp up the intensity just on your lower back and not anywhere else - you have the ability to pick and choose.
Heating was a little weak and only hit the lower back.
Available from: 12VAutotech.com, Canadian Tire