Best Cooling Towels For Exercising Compared & Reviewed

Last Updated: February 20, 2021

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I love the outdoors. I love the feeling of the sun on my skin as I train for my next race.

It does, however, get too hot, especially when you’re pushing yourself for some amount of time. I constantly tend to get these headaches when the sun is scorching.

Even if you don’t stay in the direct heat of the sun, gyms might not provide the right amount of ventilation.

Having cooling towels can definitely help you to keep cool! You want to get rid of some of the excessive amounts of body heat. Even athletes use that!

What’s the right kind of cooling towel, though? Can you use your normal bath towel instead? Is there anything really that special about it? Anyway, let’s get into it and we’ll cover that more towards the buyers guide down the bottom.

Best Cooling Towels For Exercising Compared and Reviewed

#1 - Mission Original Cooling Towel

Mission has always made products that even professional athletes can rely on. Their original cooling towel is especially great for both the fitness enthusiast and the professional.

Cooling towels are simple, but the technology behind them is quite amazing. Mission says that all you have to do is wet the towel with water, wait 30 seconds, and find that it will cool to 30 degrees below average body temperature.

The towel itself is made of brushed microfiber for extra comfort. Particularly, it’s made of 90 percent polyester and 10 percent nylon.

Polyester has always been known to wick away moisture, which is great for when you have to wring it out to activate the towel’s cooling properties. Nylon is also known to have very durable fibers, which prevent wear and tear.

This particular cooling towel also provides UPF 50 protection. UPF, or Ultraviolet Protection Factor, shows you how much UV radiation reaches your skin. UPF 50 means that only 2 percent of UV rays penetrate the fabric to your skin.

Although Mission claims that their cooling towels last for 2 hours, some users don’t agree. They do work, but maybe only for 10 to 20 minutes, then the cooling sensation doesn’t last for too long.

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CONS

#2 - Your Choice Cooling Towel

Another choice, or should I say Your Choice, for a great cooling towel, this one is made of polyester and has patterns of mesh.

Polyester is known to be a durable material, great at wicking moisture. This will help at keeping your towel dry instead of dripping too much. This is especially important after soaking your towel in cool water, wringing the towel out, and snapping it.

The patterns of mesh are there to make the towel more absorbent. It makes it seem more lightweight, too, with its high-density cooling properties.

Mesh makes this towel more breathable, too. You don’t really want a super heavy towel weighing down on the back of your neck. With these small little holes, air can flow freely onto your skin.

Its material is also chemical-free, so its cooling technology is all physical. It also provides UPF 50 of protection from the sun’s rays.

UPF, or Ultraviolet Protection Factor, is the number of rays that reach the surface of your skin. UPF 50 means 2 percent (or 1/50th) of rays are able to penetrate the fabric and onto your skin.

Users don’t think the cooling effect lasts as long as other products do, so you’ll have to reactivate quite a lot.

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#3 - Tough Outdoors Cooling Towel

Here’s another compact cooling towel that you can fit into the palm of your hand. It has a small bag to fit in so you can bring it anywhere with you!

This cooling towel is especially great since it’s made of a mix of polyamide and polyester blend. This material makes it durable and moisture-wicking, which is great because it makes the towel light and dry. You don’t want a dripping wet towel on the nape of your neck!

It is also made of mesh, so it is more breathable and absorbent than most towels. It also provides UPF 50 protection from the sun’s rays. Ultraviolet Protection Factor is the percentage of rays that penetrate the fabric and reach the surface of your skin. A UPF number means a lower percentage reaches your skin.

All you have to do is soak this towel, wring it to remove excess moisture, and place it around your neck. Users do complain that the cooling effect does not last very long.

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CONS

#4 - FROGG TOGGS Chilly Pad Cooling Towel

Frogg Toggs created a cooling towel made of a synthetic material that is simple but effective. This really is a no-fuss product that simply works.

This material is great at evaporating water but retaining the proper amount of water to keep your towel cool. After soaking in water and wringing out, which is what you usually do to activate your towel, your towel can cool up to 30 degrees.

It can also absorb a lot of water, but once it dries, it tends to get a bit stiff. Users also comment that the dye of their towels tends to leak out, which is something you might want to be careful about (especially for your gym clothes).

You’ll also find that this towel is a bit more rubbery, so don’t expect a super smooth and comfortable towel. It does the job, though, but for the price I would try another towel.

Weirdly, some users have also found some mold growing. Try not to leave this damp and warm into your gym bag. Hang it up to dry.

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CONS

#5 - Chill Pal PVA Cooling Towel

The Chill Pal is another variation of a cooling towel that is made of another material, namely PVA. PVA, or polyvinyl acetate, has been used a lot in cooling products. It’s very absorbent, which is great for cooling towels since we want to keep them cool for as long as they can.

It is also dry to the touch, something that cooling towels tend to fail at. Imagine running or going hard at the gym and feeling the mix of water and sweat dripping down your back! Eek! You can prevent that with this super absorbent towel.

All you have to do is soak this cooling towel in water, preferably cold, wring it out and swing it onto the back of your neck. Chill Pal also claims that their PVA towels are thicker than most. This also comes with a plastic carry pouch for easy storage.

Some horror stories have come up from some users though. For example, users have been experiencing rashes and chemical burns from this towel, which might be a manufacturing error, but is still very troubling. Try to do a patch test first on your skin before use.

Users also think that the material is similar to those towels that are quite stiff when dry. Overall, though, users love how this cooling towel works very well.

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My Number One Pick

 

What To Consider When Buying Cooling Towels

Although cooling towels seem like a relatively cheap and easy purchase, their prices can get higher and higher for seemingly little reason. It’s important to realize what’s behind the price, and why some cooling towels are more expensive than others.

The right cooling towel can make the difference between an exhilarating run, hike, or gym session, and a sweaty one. It’s simple to use and is usually compact, a great companion to your fitness journey.

Of course, at the end of the day, it’s a towel around the nape of your neck. Is there a difference between materials? Would one be more cooling than the other? Let’s find out.

What is a cooling towel?

A cooling towel is, as the name suggests, a towel that is designed to stay cool for long periods of time. It’s usually made of microfiber fabric that is meant to trap a good amount of water without being dripping wet.

It is also meant to be washable, breathable, and lightweight. You’ll see professional athletes, particularly tennis players, with these towels hanging around their necks.

How do cooling towels work?

You might be wondering how it all works! I wondered about this too, and a little research told me that cooling towels take advantage of a process known as evaporative cooling.

Imagine the layer of water on your towel exposed to the air. The water will want to evaporate and to do that, it has to get heat somehow.

Unless you have a literal stove near your cooling towel, the only way that water can evaporate is by getting the heat from the air and using that to turn from liquid to vapor. The air around your cooling towel gets cooler, and therefore is able to keep your body cool.

Don’t quite get it? Don’t worry; all you need to know is that cooling towels work by activating it with water.

Most cooling towels will require you to soak your cooling towel, usually in cool water. After soaking, you’ll have to wring it out to get out the excess moisture and leave behind just the right amount of water absorbed into your towel.

Some towels will even require you to snap it (similar to the game we used to play as kids) to loosen up the fibers of the fabric and activate the evaporation process.

Not all cooling towels are made equally; some get cooler than others. Good cooling towels will cool down to up to 30 degrees below your body temperature.

Although some manufacturers believe that their products last for up to 2 hours, you might want to check the reviews. Users will talk about their experience in the review section, and some might disagree with what the manufacturer advertises.

Who are cooling towels for?

As said earlier, you’ll see cooling towels around the necks of professional athletes. You don’t have to be a professional athlete to want to stay cool, though.

Sometimes, exercising or staying in the sun for too long can make your body create excess amounts of body heat. Aside from how uncomfortable this feeling is, it can be very dangerous healthwise!

Heatstroke is a real condition, and it can occur when your body temperature goes above 104 degrees Fahrenheit or 40 degrees Celsius. These can cause headaches and complications with your kidneys and heart.

So whether you’re simply strolling around the block or you’re going all out with your marathon training, cooling towels can be beneficial for you.

Types of Cooling Towels

Again, the type of cooling towel you buy will affect how effective it is. It can affect how long your towel stays cool and how cooling it can be. In particular, the material that the towel is made of will most likely affect these aspects!

PVA Cooling Towel

PVA, or polyvinyl acetate, is used by cooling products for its absorbent properties. It can keep water trapped in its fibers for a duration of time, just enough so it can keep you cool but not enough to let it drip down your back.

In fact, it’s quite dry to touch even as it keeps that cooling effect. It does, however, tend to be a bit stiff when it gets fully dry. Some would even say it’s quite rubbery. It’s easy to reactivate, though.

PVA Cooling Towel

Microfiber is another absorbent fabric that can give you a cooling effect. The best thing about microfiber is that it feels smooth and comfortable on the skin, unlike others that might get a bit stiff after drying.

Although microfiber towels are absorbent, they don’t stay cool for as long as other types of materials. You can easily reactivate it anyway.

Other Things To Consider

Again, the type of cooling towel you buy will affect how effective it is. It can affect how long your towel stays cool and how cooling it can be. In particular, the material that the towel is made of will most likely affect these aspects!

Portability

An important part of buying your towel is considering how portable and compact it is. Some products include a small bag for storing these towels. You definitely don’t want a bulky and heavy towel.

Durability

Some materials are more durable than others. Polyester and nylon, for example, have very durable fibers.

Size

Depending on where you want to place your cooling towel, size is something you might want to consider. Some users don’t want towels to be too big, while others like the cooling around your shoulders.

UV Protection

You want your towel to give you some UPF protection. Ultraviolet Protection Factor indicates how much of the sun’s rays penetrate the fabric and reach your skin.

Most fabrics will say UPF 50, which means 1/50th (or 2 percent) of the sun’s UV rays will reach your skin.

Some Questions You Might Ask About Cooling Towels

Q: How can I wear my cooling towel?

A: Although cooling towels tend to go around an athlete’s neck, others like to put them around the shoulders. You can also wear them as a mask by tying your cooling towel around your face.

Q: What are the benefits of getting a cooling towel?

A: The cooling effect is really important if you plan to go all out on your workout routines, or if you just really want to prevent a heat stroke. You also don’t want to get those heat headaches. Aside from providing a cooling effect, towels can double as your super absorbent towel for your sweat.

Q: How do you activate your cooling towel?

A: All you have to do with your cooling towel is soak it in some cool water, wring out the excess moisture, and wrap it around the back of your neck. Cooling towels only work with moisture, so you can even just use your drinking water.

Conclusion

Cooling towels are a relatively easy buy! I would say they are as important to bring on your workout routines as normal towels, especially if you have to go outside and stay in the sun for quite some time.

Remember to always check the reviews before buying any fitness gear. You don’t want to end up stuck with rashes like some users experience with some cooling towels! Eek!

Do your own research, and think about your own preferences as you browse through different cooling towels. I hope I helped you make the right choice. Stay cool!

Sources:
https://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-prevention/sun-protection/sun-protective-clothing/
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heat-stroke/symptoms-causes/syc-20353581

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