Review: Made of slightly different material to the mesh-like fabric of the towels above, this cooling towel is made of thicker shammy material which doesn’t require snapping but does need to be re-wetted.
Extra thick PVA fabric holds plenty of water for long-lasting evaporative cooling.
You can cut the towel into smaller sizes to customize your style and get two towels for the price of one.
Very soft, smooth material when wet.
Stiffens as it dries in direct sunlight which makes it difficult to pack unless flat.
Needs to be dried thoroughly between uses to prevent mold.
Not suitable for freezing.
Provided you’re careful to wash frequently and dry between uses, this is a top performing cooling towel that definitely keeps you cool.
Review: If you’re not a fan of PVA, this is Chill Pal’s microfiber version of their cooling towel. It is one of the top rated cooling towels on the market, popular among users for its reliable quality.
12” x 40” size is ideal for wrapping and tying around your body.
Comes with a waterproof pouch and carabiner.
Dries soft unlike PVA which dries stiff.
Doesn’t deteriorate after multiple uses and machine washes.
Less effective in really humid weather.
This is the best cooling towel for running, it is reliable, easy to use, comfortable and durable so will put up with tonnes of use.
Review: This is essentially a cooling towel that has been sewn into a tube shape for easy wearing around your head and face while exercising.
But, the tube shape doesn’t stop you from using it like a regular towel while you’re in the gym if you want that option.
Can be worn in 10 different ways.
Easier to wear than a towel while exercising.
Lightweight, silky material.
The product comes with plenty of information for use and care.
Sizing is on the small size so likely won’t be comfortable for larger people.
Probably won’t stay as cool for as long as the thicker cooling towels.
This is definitely the best cooling towel for sports such as a running, hiking and tennis if you’re looking for something that will stay in place.
What is a Cooling Towel?
Cooling towels are towels that have been designed to be extra absorbent and so hold a lot of water, and yet have a large surface area in order to increase the rate of evaporation.
As evaporation creates a cooling sensation, the process of the water evaporating from your towel is what makes it feel cool.
Stretching, shaking or snapping your towel effectively forces more air past it and through it, speeding the rate of evaporation and making the towel feel cooler.
It’s true, you could just wet a regular bath towel or hang a t-shirt around your neck, but the different material will hold less water and allow for a slower rate of evaporation so won’t necessarily feel as cool.
Also, cooling towels are designed to not feel excessively wet to the touch the way a regular towel would.
The one downside is that as they depend on the process of evaporation, they won’t be as effective in humid environments (no matter what the manufacturers claim).
Evaporation just doesn’t happen as quickly in humid climates so the towels won’t create as much of a cooling sensation. They’ll still be a little cool, but definitely not as effective as in a dry climate.
Different Types of Cooling Towels
There are two main types of cooling towels, the difference being the material they’re made out of.
They both work exactly the same way, using evaporation, but the different materials have slightly different properties.
Can hold a lot of water and so stay cool for a long time.
Can be cut into different shapes and sizes and won’t fray.
Thicker, heavier and a more bulky, slightly spongy texture.
Dries stiff and in whatever shape you leave it.
Can have problems with mold unless you’re careful to let it dry completely between uses.
Usually can’t hold quite as much water as PVA so stays cool for slightly less time.
Can’t be cut into smaller pieces as it will likely fray.
Much thinner lightweight and silkier in texture.
Dries soft and is easy to fold away when not in use.
How Do We Choose the Best Cooling Towel?
The best cooling towels for gym workouts are towels that are absorbent enough to use as a regular towel and soak up your sweat at the same time as keeping you cool and refreshed.
The best cooling towels for running are those that are thin enough and the right dimensions to easily tie around your head or neck so that they stay in place and are comfortable on the go.
So, it comes down to what you want to use it for, and whether you want the long lasting coolness of PVA the convenience of lightweight, soft drying microfiber.
Do They Work or Is it Just a Fad?
It depends on your expectations. If you’re expecting magic, you’ll be disappointed.
Cooling towels use basic physics to create a cool sensation, but they’re not magic.
It’s impossible for a towel to be wet and yet still feel completely dry (regardless of what manufacturers claim). All cooling towels will feel a little damp and clammy against your skin.
Then again, if you’re really hot, you’re not going to be against a little dampness if it’s helping to keep you cool.
Cooling towels have the potential to be really, really useful in hot, dry environments where you would otherwise be pouring your drinking water over your head to stay cool.
They hold on to their moisture for longer and generally will be cooler to touch than regular wet material, making them a convenient way to stay more comfortable (and safe) in hot weather.
The SFP protection that they come with also makes them particularly well suited to sports like running, hiking and tennis where you’re outside and exposed to the sun.
Wearing a cooling towel on your head to protect your ears and neck while keeping you cool is surely a no-brainer.
If you’re interested some more direct body contact, check out our article on the best cooling vests.
Cooling towels are among the more recent products to hit the shelves and have us wondering what the big deal is.
But, these things actually do work, and as well as helping you to feel a whole lot more comfortable, can actually be a safety thing too.
The best cooling towels will help to keep you from overheating and allow you to get the most out of your workout regardless of the temperature.
Please comment below if you’ve used a cooling towel and thought it was awesome, or not!
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Michael is a fitness expert and professional home/garage gym builder. His tutorials, guides, and reviews are backed up by his own experience and will definitely help you achieve your goals. He also loves putting mayo AND ketchup on the pizza for some reason!