The 10 Best Cooling Towels
We spent 44 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Serious athletes, gym rats, sun lovers, and anyone who regularly works outdoors in summer need something a little more from their towels. That's why we found these cooling neck wraps and cloths that will suck the sweat off your body and replace it with refreshingly cold water. No beach bag or hiking backpack should be without one. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best cooling towel on Amazon.
Cooling Down With A Little Science
Now, take that same science and apply it to a cooling towel.
If you’re unfamiliar with the science of evaporation, it would be easy for you to assume that cooling towels and other cooling tools that employ moisture and evaporation work by simply putting you in contact with water that’s cold. In the case of cooling towels, this can be initially true, as cold water on the towel can give you a sense of cooling before that water begins its evaporation process. But if that was all there was to it, then a cooling towel would cease to be effective the moment the water it held onto warmed up even in the slightest. It’s this misconception that leads some people to assume that these tools aren’t worth using. But with a deeper understanding of what’s going on, you’ll see just how useful and effective a good cooling towel can be.
To make this easier to understand, let’s talk about sweat. When your body gets hot, it sweats, or at least it should. There are some poor unfortunate souls whose sweat glands underperform, and they are in a very precarious situation. That’s because the sweat on your skin exists to evaporate. When it does so, it ferries away a bit of heat along with it in the form of water vapor. That’s why a humid environment is so much less comfortable than an arid climate, as humid air isn’t able to receive as many new water molecules, causing less of your sweat to evaporate and making you feel hotter.
Now, take that same science and apply it to a cooling towel. As the water in the towel evaporates, its temperature drops, as the evaporated water takes some of your body heat with it. What’s more, the moisture that it transfers to your skin will also evaporate, causing your body temperature to regulate downward even further. It’s like a second skin full of overactive sweat glands that don’t make you stink and don’t dehydrate you as they work. And using one can also help you prevent dehydration, as your body will feel the cooler temperatures provided by the towel and sweat a little less on its own.
Of course, you might well be wondering at this point why you can't just get any old towel wet and let it do the same job. Well, if you did that, you might find yourself weighed down by a towel that’s absorbed too much water, and that isn’t breathable enough to evaporate properly. A cooling towel is designed to hold an ideal amount of water so that it doesn’t drip all over the place, and it’s somewhat more porous than a traditional bath towel, allowing more air to flow through it more easily. More air flow makes for more effective evaporation, and a better cooling experience.
Choosing A Cooling Towel
When you look at the variety of cooling towels on the market, you might get a little anxious about choosing the right one, especially with so many different sizes and wild claims from manufacturers about temperature control. The reality is that the majority of the best towels out there will perform to roughly the same standards, so you can make your choice based on your intended use for the towel.
Athletes may require a different sort of cooling towel, especially those who may spend a lot of time on the bench.
For example, if you just want something light that you can place on the back of your neck and that will provide you with a little bit of cooling on a warm summer’s stroll, you can opt for one of the smaller models out there. These are especially useful when traveling, as well, so if you make the mistake of visiting a hot climate in the summer, you can still fulfil your tourist’s itinerary without being too uncomfortable.
Athletes may require a different sort of cooling towel, especially those who may spend a lot of time on the bench. Football players (both American and international), as well as outdoor basketball or tennis players can get a lot of use out of a large cooling towel. This is especially true when you aren’t seeing a lot of action, as the motion of your body through the air isn’t available to help you increase the rate of sweat evaporation. Be careful when using these larger models when you’re already very sweaty, however, as you don’t want to inhibit the natural evaporation of your sweat across too much of your body.
If you’re concerned about sun exposure, not only is a large model a good idea, but some options out there also boast SPF protection, even though the technical specification for clothing-based sun shielding is UPF. It’s also a good idea to take into account the average drying time for a given cooling towel, as well as any specification for its maintenance, as some towels will lose a bit of their natural abilities from running in the dryer or being washed in the wrong temperature water.
Other Great Ways To Conjure Up Some Cool
If you’re committed to staying as cool as possible, you’re going to want more than just an arsenal of cooling towels to get you there. Fortunately, we humans have been engineering ways to keep the heat off our backs for as long as we’ve been around.
Evaporative cooling doesn’t stop at the towels you’ve got your eye on. Electrical evaporative cooling fans are one of the most economical and efficient ways to cool down a space without having to resort to the use of an air conditioner. They’re also much easier on the environment, as they draw a lot less electricity.
As we mentioned above, it’s also important to stay hydrated. Not only will this help you produce enough sweat to keep your body temperature in check, it will also help keep you from succumbing to heat stroke on the hottest of days.
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