Are you one of those runners who loves running in the heat?
No? Didn’t think so. Most runners hate it. Plus, it’s exhausting!
Regardless of your feelings about the heat, the fact is that it doesn’t just slow you down – it can be dangerous.
An easy way to keep yourself cooler on the road or trail is to use one of the best cooling vests for runners.
They (obviously) help you from overheating. Or at least can slow down how quickly you get and feel hot.
Our first choice is the TechNiche Evaporative Cooling Ultra Sort Vest. It features a quilted outer shell with HyperKewl cooling fabric inside, and also has strategically-placed mesh under the arms to enhance cooling.
Check out the rest of the list to find a suitable vest to keep you cool and safe from the heat!
Top 3 Best and Favorites
TechNiche Evaporative Cooling Ultra Sport Vest
Glacier Tek: The Original Cool Vest
Techkewl Elite Hybrid Sport Phase Change Cooling Vest
Best Overall Evaporative Vest
1. TechNiche Evaporative Cooling Ultra Sport Vest
This spacey-looking vest is our first choice if you’re looking for a vest that will cool you off as you run without weighing you down.
The tech behind the significant cooling effect is an unusual evaporative material named HyperKewl. A polymer fiber core, nestled in a quilted outer layer and water-repellent inner layer, absorbs and holds water.
When you run, airflow through the breathable fabric causes the water to evaporate. This basically does the job of sweating, without you getting wet or even damp in the process!
To get the core layer full of water, you’ll need to soak the vest in water for 2 minutes before you head off on your run. Squeeze the excess water out (don’t twist the fabric!), put it on, and off you go.
It’s very easy to get on and off in a pull-on style. There are mesh panels underneath each arm, on the shoulders, and on the abdomen to facilitate better airflow. The more air flowing through, the cooler you’ll be!
The vest gets a big thumbs-up for its long-lasting effect. You can get 5 to 10 hours out of one good soaking, depending on the weather you’re running in. That means it’s great for runners of all types, whether you’re simply taking a daily run around the block or preparing for an ultramarathon!
Just be aware that according to the manufacturer, the vest lasts for around 100 uses. If you’re using it daily during hot weather, it may last around 2 years before needing to be replaced.
- HyperKewl cooling fabric inner
- 10 to 12°F drop in temperature
- Cooling lasts for up to 10 hours
- Mesh ventilation
- May not be as effective in very humid areas
- Only certified to last for around 100 uses
Top Ice Pack Vest
2. Glacier Tek: The Original Cool Vest
If you feel that evaporation tech wouldn’t be quite enough for you, an ice pack vest may be the next best option.
This heavy-duty vest is one-size-fits-most. The vest can fit runners with chest sizes from 29 inches up to 52 inches. Those who need more space can purchase extender strap sets.
With 8 ice packs included, the full system weighs less than 5 pounds. Even so, this may be too heavy for some runners – 5 pounds can make a big difference if you’re trying to improve your speed!
For those who don’t mind running with a weighted vest (which can actually help build muscle), this vest fits tightly thanks to a front zipper, side straps to tighten as you wish, and shoulders that can be adjusted.
You’ll get 8 ice packs with your purchase (4 large, 4 small), which are horizontal in shape. This helps them wrap around your body, creating as little discomfort as possible.
One of the things we like about this system is that it’s pretty customizable. If you need maximum cooling for a summer’s day run, pack all 8 ice packs into the vest. For light cooling (in a business meeting, long drive, or other situations), you can use just a few.
When your vest needs a cleaning, simply put it in the washing machine (without the packs, obviously!).
Ice packs can work wonders for recovery, too, so wear this when you get home if your upper body needs some muscle relief, or just to bring your core temperature down more quickly.
- Includes 8 cooling packs
- Adjustable side and shoulder straps
- Cools for up to 2.5 hours in 100°F heat
- Horizontal cells for increased body conformity
- May be too heavy for some runners to wear comfortably
Best Hybrid Vest
3. Techkewl Elite Hybrid Sport Phase Change Cooling Vest
A hybrid vest brings you the best of two cooling technologies, so there’s virtually no chance of this not working for you!
HyperKewl and TechKewl technologies work together to keep you comfortable on your run. Basically, it’s a combination of evaporative tech and Phase Change Material technology (essentially, ice pack-type cooling).
HyperKewl is what our top product uses to keep you cool. Soak the fabric in water for a couple of minutes before your run, then squeeze out the excess. Airflow will activate the cooling effect, which offers 5 to 10 hours on its own.
On top of that, you have TechKewl, which uses CoolPax PCM cooling packs. Freeze the pack, stick it into the front of the vest using the Velcro strips, and you’ll have an extra cooling factor that lasts 2 to 3 hours.
- HyperKewl fabric inner
- Combines HyperKewl and TechKewl technology
- CoolPax PCM inserts
- Available from XS to 3XL
- Some may find it cumbersome with the pack inside the vest
Top Value Ice Pack Vest
4. FlexiFreeze Ice Vest
If you get excited over “best value” products, this one should get you going! Weighing in at around 4 pounds when fully loaded with ice packs, it shouldn’t weigh you down too much. But it will do a good job of keeping you cool.
It’s made from Ripstop fabric, which is both comfortable and durable while still being lightweight. The neoprene ice packs are refreezable for as many uses as you need. They feature eyebrow-raising 96 ice cubes to keep you cool!
You won’t find it uncomfortable carrying this ice with you. They use FlexiFreeze ice, which is designed to not be bulky. It moves with you, avoiding any restrictions to your range of motion.
Another comfort factor is the full adjustability of this vest. Shoulder straps are adjustable using Velcro, and the waist uses a bungee cord-type tightening and loosening mechanism. Using these, you can adjust the fit between XS and 6XL, so it fits most people.
Once the ice packs are removed, you can throw this vest into the washing machine between runs.
- Refreezable ice sheets
- Adjustable from XS to 6XL
- Ripstop fabric for durability
- Allows for a full range of motion
- Some runners may find it too heavy to be comfortable to run in
Best For Cooling Lower Core
5. ThermApparel Undercool Cooling Vest
This lightweight vest is designed to be worn underneath an outer layer, and it’s super light and thin for extra comfort.
Many other vests are designed to be worn on top of your shirt. This one, however, is made to sit directly against your skin, which enhances the cooling effect quite a bit.
Cooling packs are the key in this vest too. They use phase change material that’s engineered to freeze at 32°F. They’re specially designed for use against the skin, and shouldn’t cause any discomfort or ice burns, which normal ice packs may.
You can freeze them in ice water, the freezer, or even the refrigerator – anything below 32°F. They’ll take a little longer in the refrigerator, but it will do the job.
Depending on the weather, your body temperature, and your activity level, the packs will last an hour or two. This is noticeably less than others, but it will be perfect if you prefer shorter runs.
The moisture-wicking material uses mesh panels to maximize airflow. The abdominal panel can be tightened or loosened using the Velcro strap, but the shoulders are free and clear, optimizing coolness even before you add the ice packs.
- Can be worn under clothing
- Weighs less than 2 pounds
- Mesh panels for airflow
- Can freeze packs in freezer or refrigerator
- Only lasts an hour or two, significantly less than others
Most Stylish Cooling Vest
6. Nike Precool Vest
If Nike is your brand, then you’re in luck! They win the top spot for the most stylish cooling vest. There’s nothing fancy about their vest, but it does look good, and you’ll feel good in it.
It’s made from stretchy, tight-fitting material. It’s meant to be figure-hugging, so you can get the full benefit of the ice packs inside it. For some, this skin-tight fit may be uncomfortable, but you won’t get benefit from it if it’s loose – you’ll only have ice packs flopping around.
It features polyester side panels that offer a generous amount of space under the arms, to allow for better airflow for extra cooling.
Remove and refill the 4 ice packs when you need to. You can run with all 4 if you’re out in the summer heat, or just 2 if you’re taking a slow jog or a walk.
In typical Nike style, the vest is minimalistic but eye-catching, with the iconic Swoosh on the front chest.
- Includes 4 ice packs
- Polyester side panels
- Refillable ice packs
- Tight, stretchy material
- Runs small
Best For Hiking
7. Compcooler Ice Cooling System
If you’re going to be out in the mountains, traversing rough terrain, for hours on end, you may need something more than just a regular cooling vest.
This unique water cooling system could be what hikers are missing. The vest looks like military gear, sleek and professional.
It’s a bit more of a comprehensive system than the others on this list. When you buy, you’ll get the vest, a 3-liter water bladder, a small water pump, and a rechargeable battery complete with a charger.
Freeze the bladder, fill it with water, and slip it into the back pocket of the vest. The water pump circulates ice cold water from the bladder through the cooling channel (located in the mesh lining), so you’re kept cool continuously.
The vest keeps the water temperature down to about 46℉, so whatever weather you’re hiking in, it should be quite helpful.
- Detachable 3-liter bladder
- Built-in ice water circulating system
- Cooling channel embedded on mesh liner
- Adjustable Velcro straps
- Bladder can burst if overfilled when freezing
Considering buying one of the best cooling vests for running? Here’s some info you may need to know before you choose the right one for you.
What are Cooling Vests?
As their name suggests, cooling vests are pieces of apparel, worn on the upper body, that cool you down.
Their functions include keeping you cool in the heat, maintaining your core temperature, preventing electrolyte loss and dehydration through excessive sweating, and even accelerating recovery using cold therapy.
What Kinds of Cooling Vests Are There?
There are three different types of cooling vests, each with a different mechanism of cooling.
Vests that use ice packs are the most common. As you may imagine, these use a variety of ice packs placed around the vest in strategic points to cool you down.
Another popular type is the evaporative vest. These are becoming more common, and they work by retaining water and allowing it to evaporate as you run, mimicking sweating.
Battery-powered vests are less common. They’re the most pricey but can typically provide cooling for a longer period of time than the other two.
How Do You Wear a Cooling Vest?
You can wear your cooling vest either under or over your regular running shirt. It depends on your preference, although some vests can be somewhat bulky and may be uncomfortable under a shirt.
You’ll get the best cooling benefit if you wear it under your shirt, though. The cool from the ice packs or evaporation will be directly against your skin. Most cooling packs melt at room temperature and refreeze a little under that, so your skin will be quite safe.
Who Invented Cooling Vests?
Cooling vests are a fairly new invention, being less than a decade old. They were released in 2013, by a Dutch innovator named Langedijk.
He’d been working on finding a way to help cool down people who spent long periods of time in costume. He began placing cooling packs in specific places, like the small of the back and on the chest, where they worked with the contours of the wearer’s body.
Along the way, others became interested in his ideas. He and a partner company created a chemical blend to fill their cooling packs with, that’s more effective than regular ice.