Best Cooling Vests Reviewed & Rated for Quality
Cooling vests are items that really, anyone can use and gain a benefit. Outdoor sportsmen, athletes, gardeners, medical needs such as MS, construction or electricians, emergency personnel all will find value in them. If you are often active in hot and humid conditions for work or for play, you know how hard it is to be as effective as you’d like when you are melting from the heat. The stress caused by heat can slow your reaction time, make you feel lethargic, reduce your coordination and attention, it can cause discomfort in your muscles and be a huge detriment to your body and production. When your body is better regulated in temperature, you will perform at a high level and feel much better overall. Your risk of heat stroke or dehydration also decreases. The risks and safety concerns that result from extended periods in hot conditions are real. Finding a way to keep your body’s temperature balanced goes a long way.
- TechNiche International
- Evaporative cooling system
- TechKewl 6626
- Thermally lined comfort
- Ergodyne Chill-Its 6215
- Flame resistant design
Overcooling your body has been researched by the US Military. Applying ice directly to a hot body will excessively cool it, causing the skin to close off its capillaries which stops the body’s instinctive ability to rid itself of heat. This is where these devices come in and why they are so useful. They can progressively bring down your body’s temperature and keep it stable over long periods of time. When we evaluated the products on our list, we looked at the what they were designed to do, fit, length of time they are activated, ease of use.
10 Best Cooling Vests
1. TechNiche International
You really can’t get any more efficient or simple in use than this product. You can take it anywhere and use it anywhere. If you are out in blistering hot weather and as the day goes on, if this one starts to lose its strength, all you need is a bathroom, a water fountain, any water source really. You could be on a hike and use a stream if you wanted, it is going to work. Dip it, wring it out, wear it, repeat. Done. Who can complain about that?
Wide range of body sizes
There are different sizes that you can utilize to find the right one for your body. The great thing is if you choose too small, don’t worry, the flexible and stretchy sides give you some room for error. Maybe it fits you well but your partner needs it in a pinch; there is a good chance that the flexibility offered through this product will allow them to use it too.
Cost and Value
There is nothing not to like about this product. It lasts for hours, is easily recharged and has a flexible fit. The price range is fair, it won’t break the bank. This one will make all the difference for anyone who either lives in extremely hot environments or is going on a hot adventure and wants to be extra sure that they pack smartly. Give this one a try, it's got the stuff to keep you replenished.
Light and easily portable
Comfortable quilted nylon outer
Can’t use in high humidity
Does not work well if used underneath clothing
2. TechKewl 6626
There are 4 phase change inserts that you can use all at once or just a couple at a time to achieve the amount of coldness you desire. These allow you the ability to comfortably engage in the hottest of temperatures, and when your ice packs melt all you have to do is refreeze them and reinsert for continued use. You could easily use some of the packs while the others stay frozen, then rotate the packs for no stoppage of use. You could look forward to segments of 2-4 hours of comfort in the heat.
The inserts are easy to freeze and a simple wipe keeps them clean which is not bad at all. The outer layer is machine washable. So you got yourself a quick fix for freshness and cleanliness which makes it super practical. The adjustability allows for a wide range of body sizes that can benefit from the instant cooling effect.
Cost and Value
This product not only works when it is first used but can offer long-lasting comfort in the heat. The inserts are easy to rotate so that you can have no gap in your cold coverage. Included is a cooler bag which is very nice for reactivation. You will be able to enjoy long hours of comfort when you are in excessively warm environments.
Comes with a protective cooler bag
Multiple sizes with adjustable features allow for a wide range of body types to use
When all inserts are used solidly it can be heavy and bulky
thermally aren’t flexible until they begin to melt
3. Glacier Tek Sports
Designed with tons of flexibility with dual side elastic straps as well as over-the-shoulder construction to allow for a fit that is secure and pliable. The durable front zipper allows for a solid enclosure. It can keep you at a temperature of 59 degrees for up to 2.5 hours while you exercise or work out in heat up to 100 degrees. In as little as 20 minutes in ice water or 1 hour to be fully frozen in the freezer, you can recharge the ice packs with ease.
The cold comes for PureTemp which is a biobased phase change material. This technology is USDA Certified BioPreferred label, which means that it is derived from plants and alternate renewable agricultural, marine and forestry sources. It allows for materials that are sustainable substitutes from traditional products that have a petroleum origin. In repeated research and testing results have shown the effectiveness of this material and this cooling system. It will allow you to enjoy consistent performance through thousands of melting and refreezing cycles.
Cost and Value
The company is a trusted provider of temperature regulation products since 1997. They proudly manufacture in the USA. They aim to design their lines with high quality, sustainable materials that are better for our environment and healthier for the population. This is an excellent choice for anyone who enjoys sports and activities outside and wants to engage in activity even when the heat is oppressive. The packs are scientifically proven to work over and over again, so this gear will have a long lifespan.
Perfect for athletes and those who perform physical activities outside in the heat
Weighs less than 5 pounds
Adult sizing for chest 29 inches to 52 inches
Children sized (30 to 90 pounds) weighs less than 3 pounds
USDA BioPerferred materials
Adjustable design will help with a more custom fit
Comes in red, blue or green
Comes with 4 packs, extras need to be purchased separately
4. Ergodyne Chill-Its 6215
The fabric meets ASTM F1506 requirements. It has an ATPV rating of 7.1 cal/cm2 and is classified CAT1. The design characteristics needed for these specifications are in line with the basic protection level for electrical workers as well as anyone who would be exposed to electric arc and other similar thermal hazards. Anyone operating in environments that have open flames and radiant heat needs the right protective gear to be safe. This product is exactly what you’d want if you need to keep your temperature down for comfort and you work in a hazardous environment that has potential for fire.
You can enjoy up to hours of refrigeration with this product. It will maintain a consistent 64F/18C with the 2 ice packs that are included. You can rotate the packs so that you don’t have a gap in coverage or you can use them at the same time. They are easily reactivated in a cooler, freezer or refrigerator. They can even be soaked in ice water for a quick revitalization.
Cost and Value
This is a multi-functional option that is extremely durable. It has to be to tolerate extreme and hazardous environments. It will keep the heat at bay on hot days while you are working and keep you safe from flames and electric arcs.
Machine washable, easy maintenance
Can work up to 4 hours
Non-toxic and non-carcinogenic PCM
Can be a bit heavy
Not many style options
5. Gear Pro-Tec Z-Cool
A 3-D airflow design allows for extra breathability under all those protective layers. The evaporative foam helps to keep your temperature moderated while also helping keep you dry. This is a real plus because not only does it help your comfort but it decreases the ability for bacteria to build up in your uniform.
From decreasing bacteria accumulation and thus improving the health of your gear and you, this option provides more than one function. It keeps the air flowing through which is essential on those hot days, practicing in the sun and exerting extra physicality. The foam padding not only keeps you more dry, but it also adds an extra layer of protection from impact. This piece of gear will help keep you comfortable, healthy and better resist injury.
Cost and Value
This is a very affordable piece of equipment. It is the same type of professional grade equipment that college and professional football players use. It is a perfect partner for light contact practice or even game walkthrough.
Made for football players
Offers additional protection from impact
Excellent construction uses padding that evaporates water
Only comes in one color
Nice fit, but adds bulk
6. COMPCOOLER Backpack
This is made to wear under your clothing. So you can wear it first under your clothes or uniform and then connect it with the bladder. The cool feeling on the skin is a delight. Mesh fabric provide a soft, stretchy element that conforms nicely to the body’s contours. There’s micro tubing within the liner so your skin won’t be irritated and scratched. Adjustable sides and air permeability makes the construction very wearable.
Allows for easy movement
If you work outside in a construction type environment and need to wear a tool pouch you can do so without any problems. The battery pack is rechargeable and you can easily get about 7 hours out of it. It won’t limit your movement at all. You can easily climb, walk long distances, bend and kneel, and not have any issues.
Cost and Value
Refreezable bladders allow you to swap in and out for continued use with ease. The battery will last you all day, so you don’t have to worry about it dropping you in the middle of a workday. They are rechargeable too, so you can refresh them at the end of your day and prep them for the next. You can wear this vest and barely sweat while you engage in outdoor activity in hot conditions. It is an awesome and durable device that also has a soft, flexible feel for a comfortable and secure fit on your skin and is easily concealed under your clothing.
3L freezable quick release bladder
4 zones liquid cooling channel for even cooling
Soft on skin, no irritation or scratching
Not as comfortable to lean against if sitting, holding pack on your lap is a much better option
Instructions could be made clearer
Weighing in at under 2lbs., it is easy to see why this versatile option is comfortable and useable for the widest variety of people. Worn under your clothing, you can enjoy the benefits of the cold unseen to the public. The lightweight along with the flexible spandex in the material, make it a most comfortable option.
The materials that are used are 88% Nylon with 12% Spandex. This makeup is a perfect combination for strength and flexibility allowing you to have maximum movement and range of motion while wearing. The cooling packs are designed so that they are also pliable which help in better movement when in use.
Cost and Value
Almost anyone can use this model and enjoy it. It is so light and flexible, you will almost forget you have it on. Your movement won’t be limited while wearing it which is very nice for active people who need some refreshing throughout their day or during hot activities. It is machine washable so maintenance is a breeze.
Maintains temperature for up to 1.5 hours
Easy to store in the freezer
Has a great fit under clothing and feel on your skin
Perfect for medical, athletic or occupational needs
Fits well for many body sizes and shapes
Adjustable and can be tightened if needed
Sizing runs large, order a size down from your normal shirt size
Does not have the overall long cooling effect of larger models
8. New Home Innovations
This model can reduce your skin temperature up to 30F. It has 8 packs that double the length of performance time. This model provides a lot of extra gel packs so you can keep it fully loaded and have backups for refreshing.
Great for travel
This is a super compact model that also comes with an insulated carrier bag. The great thing about that is the extra packs can stay fresh in the bag so you can swap packs in and out for longer output. Even with all the packs in use, it is less than 800 grams. Motorcyclists will really enjoy this model because it fits comfortably under your gear.
Cost and Value
The price is spot on. There are a ton of extras included, such as the multitude of packs and the insulated carrying bag. The lifetime guarantee will keep you feeling good about this product because the customer service and support you will get should you need it is extremely convenient.
Adjustable to fit small and large individuals
Easily worn under riding gear
Compact design easy to travel with
Many ice packs included
Gel packs instead of ice
Ice packs could be made more durable
Doesn’t last over 2 hours
9. Polar Products
You can wear this one over or under your clothing, it is up to your preference. They use all cotton fabric which is very protective for your skin. You can adjust it to your body type with hook and loop closures that are located at convenient points of chest, waist, and shoulder.
Choose your weight
You can choose which pack size you want which will dictate the weight of this vest. The packs are non-toxic and non-flammable. They can recharge easily in the fridge, freezer or you can throw them in a bucket of ice water and in no time take them out to use again.
Cost and Value
This will help you keep your temperature regulated when you are in hot and humid conditions. You can adjust the fit to be more custom to your body and you can also choose the size of the packs that you get to regulate the amount of weight you are wearing. Purchase a couple extra packs so that you can have some ready and on hand at all times.
Freezes at 58F or below
3 choices of pack size and weight
Packs fit into insulated pockets
Adjustable hook and loop closures
Can be worn under or over clothing
Construction durability could be improved
10. Alpinestars MX
The system this model uses a polymer embedded fabric that will absorb water. It then slowly releases water within the multi-layered fabric so that your body’s cooling capability is automatically enhanced.
You literally just take the whole thing and submerge it in cool water. Ring it out after to rid the excess water and put it on. It will stay hydrated for a decent amount of time and when it is time to rehydrate, just throw it in the water again. In about 5-10 minutes you got it working well for you.
Cost and Value
The pricing is attractive and this model is very lightweight, easily foldable so it is perfect for travel or packed away in a gym bag. It allows for ease of motion, so it is a terrific piece of gear for sports. It takes no time at all to rehydrate and use anytime you are enjoying activities outside in the warmth.
Rehydrates quickly, about 5-10 minutes
Perfect for sports or use in desert conditions
Flexible materials, fit snugly to skin
Multi-layer fabric slow releases water
Does not keep cool temperatures for very long periods of time
Cooling products were originally created for labor type workers who are in extreme environments for long periods of time every day. This obviously makes sense. Construction workers, miners, factory workers really need cooling support to be able to perform these tough and physically demanding jobs. These types of jobs require people to operate in conditions that have excessive heat. As discussed earlier, when a person gets overheated, not only are there serious health concerns that can arise, but other symptoms can arise. Irritability, frustration, impatience, lack of focus, excessive thirst, and foggy thinking all arise. When you are able to combat excessive heat so that your body can be in balance and be comfortable you will be thinking clearer and you will be performing better. Your endurance also increases and your risk of injury from such temperature stress decreases.
In recent times, cooling products have expanded widely to support a multitude of activities and people. Gardeners, athletes, campers, outdoors enthusiasts, or people with medical needs are all examples of specialty areas where people can find benefit in using the appropriate gear. It is highly likely that you will engage in activities that will be much more comfortable and pleasing if you have gear that keeps your body temperature regulated and balanced. The products above have varying price ranges, performance ranges and they all are well constructed and built well for the purposes they serve.
Criteria Used In Choosing the Best Cooling Vests
There is one thing that these products are designed to do and that keeps your body’s temperature comfortable in hot, humid environments. Outside of this main purpose, there are some special features that make some options better for specific activities over others. Lightweight design with flexibility and ability to be stored easily are design features for products that are better for gardeners. Flame resistance would be a great feature for electricians. Flexibility and ease of motion are great for athletes. Gear Pro-Tek Z-Cool uses extra padding, breathable materials and quick drying abilities that are perfect for football players. Extra durable materials and stitching is a necessity for heavy construction.
A lot of products will be one-size-fits-all. For these, it is important to have adjustable features or stretchability in the materials so that more body types can fit into them well. For those products that are meant to be worn underneath clothing, soft materials and won’t irritate your skin is very important. Great drying abilities are also important for products that are worn on the skin because you want to make sure that they will have properties that will cut down on bacterial growth for better health. Many still, will have varying sizes along with adjustable features so that you can get a more custom fit. Last, most are made for adults, but Glacier Tek Sports makes sizes for adults and children.
Length of time activated
If you are looking for a durable vest to wear outside for a long workday you are going to want one that will have a long-lasting performance with minimal downtime. Many of the products listed above have options to have back up bladders or packs so that you can just switch out old packs with newer ones so there are no gaps in wearing the support gear. Most of these can have their packs or bladders easily reactivated with the freezer, refrigerator, even cold water in minimal time. Alpinestars MX is a model that you literally just throw the whole thing into cold water for 5-10 minutes and then squeeze out the water and itself -regulates and slowly releases the coolness onto your skin over time. For most people, 1-2 hours at a time with backup if longer is needed will work fine. For hardcore users, professional athletes, campers, working outdoors for long days, 4-7 hours with backup support is best.
Ease of use
You want to be able to have easy wearability. Adjusting your product to fit you properly is another thing that should be easy to understand and do. Reactivating or re-hydrating your packs should be able to be done with little time and have the ability to last the length of time you need. Products worn on the skin and under the clothing should have a pleasant feel and a good amount of give, or flexibility in their materials. Some of the most pleasing options are designed using flexible inserts. There is nothing better than being able to just throw your product itself or the inserts into cold water to rejuvenate its performance especially when you are in environments that aren’t possible to have electricity for freezers and fridges.
Other Important Factors to Consider
Some models are made to wear over the clothing and others are made that can be worn directly on the skin underneath the clothing. There are a couple models out there that can do both. The point is, it is important to know which product you are buying. If a model is made to be worn over clothing or another type of barrier, do not try to wear it directly on your skin. You don’t want to risk frostbite or soft tissue damage.
The materials that the packs are made out of matter as well. You don’t want to have anything that can be carcinogenic or toxic. Glacier Tek Sports uses materials that are more sustainable and come from alternative sources that don’t originate from petroleum. They are USDA Certified BioPreferred label. For those of you interested in purchasing products that are eco-conscious, this would be a great brand to look into. Another point to look into is when you are traveling in your vest or additional packs it is a good idea to bring a cooler. Some products come with insulated carrying bags to help keep your accessories cool for swapping in and out as needed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What type of cooler should you use in very hot, dry conditions?
A: There are a couple options out there that you can look into. There are coolers made from metal, plastic, styrofoam, nylon and hard plastic. For day trips, it is generally fine to go with nylon or styrofoam and these options tend to be less expensive. For overnight trips and extended periods of time, it is best to go for the plastic coolers which are very popular choices for campers and hikers. Metal coolers hold heat for the longest amount of time, especially when in direct sunlight so they aren’t the best choices for long durations of time.
Q: What types of foods are considered cooling foods?
A: Some foods can actually keep you cool. Salads, fresh raw foods, veggies, and fruit are all cool foods. Foods that are comprised mostly of water will offer additional hydration which will keep your body temperature balanced. Protein-heavy foods will increase your metabolic heat and when that happens water loss goes along with it. Eat small meals to keep your core temperature low, big meals make your body work hard to break all that food down.
Q: What is the importance of hydration?
A: Staying hydrated is immensely important to keeping your body temperature moderated especially in hot weather where you may be sweating and losing essential liquids. Even if you don’t feel the thirst sensation you should be drinking. Thirst is telling you that you are dehydrated which means you are late in getting yourself the liquids your body needs. You may have heard it before, but it is true, your urination color is an indicator of your hydration. If it is very dark you are dehydrated and need fluids. Do your best to avoid sugary drinks which lessen your body’s ability to take in water. Alcohol, coffee, and caffeine are natural diuretics.
Q: How to protect yourself from the sun?
A: If you can avoid it, stay out of the sun when it is at its hottest. The hours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. are the most intense during the summer months. Try, if you can, to do your activities earlier or later than these hours. Keep shade around, and if there isn’t natural shade bring umbrellas or tents to activities. Remember to always wear a solid SPF. Adults can do well with 30+ strength, while kids should have at least 50+ strength.
- Fact Sheet: Overview of USDA’s BioPerferred Program, US Government, ,
- Standard Performance Specification for Flame Resistant and Electric Arc Rated Protective Clothing Worn by Workers Exposed to Flames and Electric Arcs, International Safety Certifying Body, ,
- How to Stay Cool in Warm Weather, Instructional Resource, ,