Arctic Heat Cooling Vest in Florida

Moe received an Arctic Heat Cooling Vest last month to test, and the technical specs, activation and his impressions of the vest can be found by reading his article.

After he got a chance to test this vest, he sent it over to me. You see, I had a theory that in a place with higher relative humidity, the vest would stay cool longer (more moisture equals more cooling). Well, we’ve got humidity in spades here in west-central Florida…today’s reading was 75% humidity coupled with temps in the low 90s. It was a perfect day to try out the vest!

As soon as the vest came in the mail, I activated it by soaking it in water for about an hour. Then, once the fabric was fairly dry to the touch, it went into the freezer…where it remained for the next four days.

Here it is straight out of the freezer — oooh, frosty:

I tried the vest without a shirt underneath at first, but MAN was that cold! A summerweight cycling jersey was the ticket to initial comfort, and the jersey helped to spread any moisture out over my torso.

Sure enough, my humidity theory seemed to pay off — I got about 50 minutes of active cooling from the vest (about 20 minutes more than Moe’s experiences), and the vest could have passively cooled me for another hour or so due to its dampness once the viscous gel had reverted from a hard-frozen to a mushy state. My bike ride was fairly low-intensity and slow-paced, but faster speeds would have only meant more evaporative cooling — it would not have affected the “frozen time” of the internal gel.

I rather liked the vest — on a day like today, the cooling definitely took the edge off the heat, and I was pretty comfortable for most of my recycling ride. The extra weight (almost three pounds) was unnoticed — I was expecting to be aware of a heavy weight surrounding my torso, but that just wasn’t the case. Plus, I got to rock Moe’s “blue Power Ranger” look:

power ranger

I wonder how many freeze/thaw or activate/deactivate cycles this vest will withstand? The reason I ask is that some of the internal channels didn’t feel full of gel, despite a vigorous and lengthy soaking to plump up the dry crystals. In those channels, the fullness tended to congregate over spine and sternum, so that turned out to be the best cooling location anyway…

Anyhow, if you live in a hot, sticky climate, this vest might be just the thing for rides of up to 90 minutes or so. It will definitely keep you cooler!


  1. Dman August 26, 2008 6:06 am 

    I think I’d rather just be hot lol.

  2. Ghost Rider August 26, 2008 6:58 am 

    Where’s your sense of adventure? I mean, the vest is no more garish than so many team jerseys out there (and actually less so, IMO — T-Mobile jerseys, anyone?).

  3. RL August 26, 2008 7:55 am 

    oooh sexy!

  4. 2whls3spds August 26, 2008 9:27 am 

    Interesting…I would have figured with the humidity it would get pretty clammy. We have some “cool” gear that we hand out to the guys when the Heat Index hit over 100, it based on the gel system like the vest. Some of them like it and some don’t.


  5. Dman August 26, 2008 9:34 am 

    That’s true, but I don’t wear team jersey’s either.

  6. Ghost Rider August 26, 2008 9:39 am 

    At speed, any clamminess is offset by evaporative cooling. When I stopped, though, I realized “man, I’m soaking wet!”. While the gel was still semi-frozen, that was OK. When it was totally melted, it was not as pleasant 😉

  7. greendog August 26, 2008 4:05 pm 

    We’ve got it pretty hot here in Florida for a couple more months… I might need a “bodysuit” version. (Think CatWoman)

  8. Seth August 26, 2008 5:58 pm 

    Nice shorts I’m looking for a pair like that for the trails. Where’d you find them?

    I don’t know why but the heat doesn’t bother me anymore. I’m freezing anything below 78. Mind you I lost over 100lbs. Seems pointless to have the vest if you’re an outdoors person and don’t keep your house like an icebox.

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  10. Ken Steinhoff September 28, 2008 5:18 pm 

    I tried something that looked like a long necktie version of this. It contained some granules that were supposed to hold water and keep you cool when they evaporated.

    Good in theory: they DID keep you cooler, but the water evaporated in a short while and made it useless.

    I get better results out of a triangular-shaped bandana that I always carry and it can be used for all sorts of things.

    Wet it and wrap it around your neck and it’s cooling.

    Put it over your head with the triangle to shade your neck.

    Wipe road grime off your glasses or sweat out of your eyes.

    Use as a bandage.

    Tie it over your face when riding through bugs at night (remember to take it off before going into a convenience store or the bank).

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