Updated on December 1, 2020 by Lyric Fergusson
A good cooling towel can be truly life-changing. Not only do they keep you cool while exercising, but they’re also great for gardening, days outdoors, wandering theme parks, and avoiding heat flashes. I love being outdoors and hiking with my family, but I definitely don’t love being drenched in sweat. That’s why I’ve invested in these seven cooling towels.
If you’re like me and you spend a lot of your time outdoors, consider trying a cooling towel yourself. They help you stay refreshed and keep your body temperature down when you need it most. And, unfortunately, your regular kitchen towel just won’t cut it.
The Best Cooling Towels
Why it’s great: While I try not to be biased, the Chill Pal PVA is by far one of my favorite cooling towels that I have ever used. Soak it in cold water, wring it out, and wrap it around your neck for instant heat relief. Or simply wipe away sweat with it as you go. There’s nothing better than a refreshing towel around the neck after an intense game or strenuous hike.
It’s thicker than other cooling towels on the market, which helps the cooling sensation last longer. This means you won’t have to worry about resoaking it every 20 minutes or so. I’ve gone up to an hour with mine, and it has still maintained some of its moisture. It also doesn’t soak your clothes, so you don’t have to worry about a drenched t-shirt while you’re playing a game.
Keep in mind: Once dry, this towel does harden, which can be slightly uncomfortable to the touch. However, all you need to do is wet the towel again, and it’ll be good as new. When you’re done using it, wet it–to hold its shape–and put it back in its carrying pouch.
Good for: All outdoor activities
Why it’s great: The Your Choice neck cooling towel can be used for everything–from running, cycling, golf, yoga, the gym, etc. It also doubles as a cold compress for fevers or hot flashes. Made of high-density cooling mesh fiber, the towels are super absorbent, breathable, and hyper-evaporative. This means the cooling sensation can stay for hours at a time (as long as it’s wet enough). One of the best features is that they are chemical-free. You can use them on children and babies and still get the UPF 50+ protection without the harmful chemicals.
To use the cold snap towel, rinse it with clean water, wring until done dripping, and snap or swing the towel 3-5 times in the air. You will then be met with icy cold relief!
Keep in mind: If you are in weather above 85 degrees or so, you may need to dampen the towel more often.
Good for: Sports games and/or the gym
Why it’s great: Frogg Toggs markets themselves as “designed for you, created for the outdoors.” They believe that everyone should have access to premium materials for an affordable price. I think they hit the nail on the head with that one. This towel is a close tie with the Chill Pal towel, in my opinion.
Made from a unique hyper-evaporative material that retains water while staying dry to the touch, this towel is unlike any other on the market. It remains much cooler than the traditional microfiber towel while maintaining its moisture in even the hottest temperatures. And although I have yet to try it myself, I’ve heard that if you wet it and set it in front of the AC, it becomes cold as ice.
Keep in mind: The color may bleed when first washed, so it’s best to wash it in similar colors or a load by itself. You may also find that the cooling sensation is stronger if you wet it down every couple of hours rather than letting it dry out.
Good for: Summer days at the amusement park
Why it’s great: The U-Pick towels are another great, clean (aka chemical-free) option for the entire family. Depending on conditions, the towel can stay wet for up to three hours due to its super absorbent fiber weave technology–which regulates the water inside and ensures water retention.
The multi-purpose towel is so comfortable that it can be used for athletes, sports fans, and workout fanatics alike. It’s super soft, pliable, easily foldable, and allows you to achieve UPF 50 SPF. Like the Your Choice towel, all you have to do is wet it, wing it, and snap it.
Keep in mind: The packaging the towels come in is plastic, which can get a bit smelly if you place a wet towel in it. To avoid the odor, let the towel try entirely before packaging it back up.
Good for: Outdoor concerts and hot flashes
Why it’s great: The Alfamo towel is unique because it is 20% longer and wider than most towels on the market, which means it is ideal to use as a scarf or head wrap. Unlike other towels made of PVA (polyvinyl alcohol), it does not stiffen when dry. It’s pliable, silky soft, and easily foldable when done being used.
It also provides UPF 50 protection, comes in a carrying pouch, and has a carabiner clip for easy access. Bring it with you on rock climbing trips, bike rides, hikes, and more–without worrying about having to lug it around.
Keep in mind: The plastic bag that it comes in has a strong plastic odor at first. To avoid getting heavy whiffs of this while using it, it’s best to throw it in the wash before first use.
Good for: Gardening and long bike rides
Why it’s great: Woven with 100% soft bamboo fiber, the BOGI cooling towel is by far one of the softest on this list. It features a mesh structure which evaporates quicker. While this may sound like a negative, when the water evaporates, the towel cools. It stays chilled for hours at a time and ensures that your body temperature stays cool. It comes in a plastic bottle with a clip, making it easily accessible.
Keep in mind: It may take a few times of snapping to cool. Be patient and give it a couple of tries before giving up.
Good for: Working outdoors
Why it’s great: YQXCC ice towels are designed to be lightweight and compact, so they won’t take up much space in your gym bag. But don’t let that fool you. Although they may seem small, they pack a punch. Activate the cooling by merely wetting the towel and give it a quick wring to start the evaporation.
Out of all of the towels on this list, these are the best bang for your buck. They’re not only extremely affordable, but it also comes in a pack of three. So you’ll never be stuck without a cooling towel when you need it most.
Keep in mind: The instructions do say to wash in a solo load with warm water to prevent color bleed.
Good for: Hot summer afternoons
FAQs about cooling towels
1. Why are cooling towels essential?
While cooling towels are not technically essential, they are instrumental in keeping your body temperature down when you are playing sports or in extreme heat. They can prevent dehydration, help prevent hot flashes or heat stroke, and lower your body temperature up to 30 degrees.
2. What are cooling towels made of?
Typically cooling towels are made of two different types of synthetic materials. The first is PVA, aka polyvinyl alcohol, which is spongy and malleable when wet yet stiff and cardboard-like when dry. The second is microfiber mesh, which is light, soft, and fabric-like.
3. What are the qualities of a good cooling towel?
This may sound like a silly question, but if you are going to be spending the money on a cooling towel, the thing you want to focus on most is how long the towel will stay cool. The more moisture it can hold, the more time you will feel the cooling relief.
4. What’s the best way to take care of your cooling towel?
Much like other gym towels, there are typically care instructions provided for individual towels. I highly recommend washing your towel in a separate load before using it, regardless of the directions. This will help prevent color bleeding. Other than that, you will want to check what they recommend in terms of water temperature, detergent, etc.
5. Can a hand towel double as a cooling towel?
The short answer is no. While hand towels will keep you cool temporarily, they warm up quickly because they are made of cotton. This means the relief you will get will be very brief.
Cooling towels truly are a gamechanger for staying cool, calm, and collected when in the heat. They can prevent you from getting dehydrated, passing out, and having heat flashes.
Getting a cooling towel that is right for you truly depends on what you’re looking for. While all towels will keep you feeling refreshed, each towel is not created equally. Think about what’s most important to you–size, how long you’ll need it to stay cold, how easy it is to travel with, etc., and decide from there. Use one of these seven towels, and I promise you’ll be feeling cool, calm, and collected!