There's no doubt saunas are great. According to history and thanks to the Finns, we've been doing this for over 10 thousand years. There's just something about heat that soothes the bones and psychologically eases the mind.

Know what's better than a sauna? Applied heat. (Ha, bet you thought I was gonna say a sauna from home. I'll get to that). When the heat is not just in the air—we get enough of that here in eternal summer city—but in direct contact with whatever ailing body part needs it.

This is not just an old person thing, though sauna's marketing could afford to do better. Apart from natural pain relief, heat therapy encourages cardio-like effects, a metabolism boost, and even anti-aging. I recall using salonpas (another one that could do with a better rep) patches for muscle relief as a teen due to high intensity training and injuries.

That's kinda what the HeatPod Sauna Blanket 2 reminded me of. A warm embrace, enveloping the entire body. It's convenient enough that a spa experience can now be brought into your home, but setting up is quite nearly plug and play.


What we liked

You unroll the double-side zippered bad boy, scooch in and turn on the magic. It's really commendable how quickly the Blanket can get to the temperature set. The second generation being an enhanced version of the previous year's, it currently achieves a maximum temperature that's higher than major competitors at 85°C.

Another meaningful improvement (don't you just love a company that takes feedback seriously) is on the user experience. Not only are controls simpler and sleeker, preferred settings can be saved on a "remember last mode", since we are such creatures of comfort. Precise adjustments can be made easily, but swiftly too, with long presses to bump every 5°C in either direction.

One huge benefit is its design. The quality of its construct looks and feels premium, and more crucially, is easy to clean. The evenly-distributed zero-EMF carbon fiber infrared heating coils are wrapped in SGS-certified vegan leather, which is a breeze to wipe down.

The accompanying pillow and footrest are equally sweat-proof, but honestly, the most useful accessory would be the towel insert. The breathable 100% waffled cotton is custom to the parameters of the HeatPod, like an inner glove that feels more comfortable on the skin.

Essentially, it's a heated sleeping bag. Inside its roomy 180x190cm, you are practically expected to fall asleep. More so after sitting in a cold office the entire day, which is why the end of session alerts are great to safely take that snooze. Plus, given how it folds up nicely in a carrier, you can literally bring this hot nap with you anywhere. Heck, bring it to said cold office.


What could be better

The zip runs along three sides—top, right, and bottom; which allows it even more varied possibilities. A heated mat should you want to splay out completely, or share the space atop the bed as a heated mattress.

Still, it would be great if it could extend halfway down the left too, just so the arms have the option to stick out naturally rather than overhead. Especially when the port is wired to the bottom left (something I keep forgetting is on the underside as well when flinging the HeatPod open).

Apart from that personal preference, it is tough to find fault with the device. The portability and privacy is truly something you can't get from conventional saunas. Now if only our climate could be perpetually much colder, this would be perfect to enjoy regularly.

The HeatPod Sauna Blanket 2 retails from SGD799.

While your body, according to John Mayer, is like a wonderland, it is also a machine. And a machine of muscle, blood and skin requires the occasional tune-up. For example, it is advisable to rest after a strenuous physical activity. After a strenuous workout, microscopic tears will appear in your muscle tissues. Only rest allows the fibroblast cells to repair these tears, leading to stronger muscles.

And then there are the injuries that come with the exercise. Maybe you pulled a muscle or there’s stiffness in the joints. Sometimes you have to deal with the injuries that come with exercise. Well, different hurt requires specific cures, right? But Hydragun (the sports health brand that made... well, the Hydragun) created the Thermosleeve with different recovery modalities. You have a cold pack, a heat pack and a compression sleeve—or, as my mother would whole-heartedly favour as, a “three-for-one deal”.

Inflamed joints and muscle pain? Chuck the Thermosleeve in your freezer for an hour or two; the chill from the Thermosleeve retards blood flow to reduce swelling and inflammation, and reduces pain by slowing pain signals to the brain. Muscle stiffness or tightness? A quick 50 seconds of Thermosleeve in the microwave oven should do the trick; just wear it on your elbows, wrists, knees, calves and thighs.

Put the Thermosleeve over the affected area or wear it like a sleeve and the relief should set in in no time. I rolled my ankle around the time I wrote this and the cold was a balm. The swelling subsided and I was able to regain full use of my ankle in no time. After sneezing, a sharp pain shot out in my lower back (it was a really hard sneeze, mmmkay?). Only a warm Thermosleeve helped with the soothing (although for my sleeve, the heat tended to dissipate quite quickly).

The Thermosleeve compression sleeve retails for SGD69.

This was originally printed in the 2022 March issue of Esquire Singapore.