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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:
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!

Artic Heat Cooling Vest First Impression


Front of the Vest

I’ve ridden with this vest twice from work to my house. My commutes were 13.9 miles with some rolling hills with temperatures on the low 90’s. First, let me begin by describing the ‘activation’ of the vest: First, I soaked the vest in room temperature water for 10-15 minutes to ‘activate’ the crystals that form some sort of gel, you can see the gel pouches in this picture:


Gel pouches activated

Once the cells are activated, I removed the excess water and I hanged the vest to dry up. I didn’t use the vest on my morning commute to work, temperatures are not really high in the morning.


Back of the vest

The first day that I used the vest, I placed it inside the freezer for about 1 1/2 hours, I noticed that the gel pouches were not fully frozen but the vest was cool to the touch. On my way back home, I used the vest in top of my regular cycling jersey, the vest felt really cool but it was not freezing. The first four miles were a joy to ride, I wasn’t sweaty and I didn’t feel like I was burning when I stop at a red light. After the four miles, I started to feel that the cooling effect of the vest was wearing off, the gel pouches were no longer cool and I began to sweat. By the 10th mile, the vest felt uncomfortable but I finished the ride without taking it off. So far, I was not really impressed by the vest’s performance.


Vest weighs 2lbs fully activated

On my second ride, I placed the vest for 4 hours in the freezer, this time the gel pouches were fully frozen. I also rode with the vest inside my jersey, the vest felt really cool but it was not uncomfortable. Unfortunately, the result was almost the same, the vest lost its coolness by the 7th mile, leaving me uncomfortable on the last 5 miles of the ride.

Temperatures in L.A. are in the mid 80’s but they are projected to rise by the end of this week. This time, I will freeze the vest for a longer period of time and I will ride with just the vest on. Stay tuned for an update.