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Cooling product recommendations?

As I have gotten older, and also acclimated to the temperatures at the Oregon coast, I find I really can't take heat anymore. I can walk all around a city and up the hills and stairs in reasonable temperatures, but when it gets up to 75-80 F and above I can barely move. I'm looking for a cooling vest? hat? something else? that works well for traveling and will enable me to keep my body temperature down on hot sightseeing days. I have tried a neck cooler, one of those that you activate in water, and concluded that just wearing a bandana that could be re-wetted might work just as well for me. Moreover, if one is traveling from place to place and the temperature is variable such that it's not needed for a few days, it takes a long time to dry out and sits damp-smelling in the ziploc bag in the suitcase. Other options utilize ice packs, which means one needs access to a freezer. That might be possible in some hotels, but perhaps not all? Does anyone have any recommendations? I do try to travel in spring or fall, but sometimes what one wants to experience (e.g., certain festivals) only happens in summer, or a travel companion is only free then.

Posted by
3283 posts

Try to plan your big meal during the hottest part of the day. Try to always get an early start. Watch for attractions that have night tours. As far as products, I'll be watching to see what people recommend. A few small ideas would be to bring washcloths on a trip, they are small. When you do have a fridge, get wet and then put in the freezer to cool off back in your hotel. How about a little spray bottle to mist your face a bit and then fan?

Posted by
3356 posts

On our hottest days in Europe I feel so much more comfortable if I only wear cotton, not travel fabrics, polyester, etc. And, I find wearing a dress to be much cooler on my legs than capris. Heavy jewelry or anything tight around my neck makes me feel hot; I just pack a lightweight necklace or tie a very lightweight scarf in the pretty braid design that lays low on my neck. For me, hats make me feel hotter.

I’ll be following your post to see what others suggest, too!

Posted by
3356 posts

Michele, I understand your temperature sensitivity since you live at the coast. I grew up in Iowa. My husband and I lived in Oregon for 10 years and now Washington for 30. When I travel back to Iowa in Summer (hot & humid) or Winter (wind chill that goes right through any coat!), I’m amazed how acclimated I’ve become to the Pacific NW! : )

Posted by
612 posts

I will be interested in what other posters say about cooling vests, etc. as I have never tried one. I appreciate the misery in traveling in hot climates (and I like heat). To help me stay cool, I make sure that I wear cotton clothing which is more breathable and a hat to shield me from the sun. I try to arrange indoor activities in the hottest part of the day.

Posted by
65 posts

Air conditioning. We just got back from New Orleans and it was hot! Lightweight, loose clothing helps - I am usually in long pants and long sleeves because of skin cancer history . Synthetic wicking fabrics work best. Cotton gets soggy and stays soggy. Don't forget a lightweight, broad brimmed hat. I like those by a company called Sunday Afternoons. You will still be hot. Frequent stops in stores and restaurants that are air conditioned, and cold drinks were necessities. From now on, I hope to plan any trips to warm climates only in the winter. Good luck.

Posted by
2687 posts

Little makes a huge difference, but some things make it a little more bearable.
A fan. There is a reason Southern women fan themselves in church.
Considers umbrella as a parasol(blocks the sun).
Loose natural fibres....cotton, linen, rayon. Again, loose and covered reduces sun exposure which adds heat.
Though, I will say, I hate athleisure style but some technical fabric works better than I expected.
Keep hydrated and electrolytes/ salts balanced. I tend to feel better with something like Nuun or Mio Sport added to my water after a few hours out.
Oh, and consuming gelato 😉

Posted by
10241 posts

Minimize hot temperatures by traveling in the spring or fall.

Posted by
9 posts

You may want to try peppermint oil. You can pick it up at a store like Whole Foods and put it into a rollerball. Swipe it on your wrists and neck and it will cool you off. You can also use it on our temples, but keep it away from your eyes as it will burn it if gets in your eyes. I have used this during Chicago summers and during yoga heated to 85 degrees.

Posted by
5288 posts

I like to carry a hand fan. Long (midi to ankle-length) skirts allow for air flow. Always a hat, usually wide-brimmed. Lots of water and rest stops in the shade. And a neck cooler, rehydrated when possible.

Posted by
13930 posts

I'm like you Michele, except I live in Tel Aviv! I only go to air-conditioned places during our inordinately long summers.

I like the neck coolers when humidity is low. They are a pain because they take a days to dry. Don't keep it in a plastic bag. As long as it's not soaking wet, it won't hurt anything to be packed with other fabrics.

I found on my most recent trip that straw hats are good, they allow air to circulate while protecting from the sun - if there's a breeze. Cross the street to walk in the shade. Cold water on wrists helps - also on your head, if your hairdo won't be ruined.

I collect a couple 1/2 liter water bottles early in my trip. Most hotels have freezers and will keep water bottles (not completely full, of course) overnight. Then I have icy cold water for most of the day. If a hotel serves breakfast, they have a freezer.

Skirts are cooler than slacks. Loose clothing that covers more of you is cooler than skimpy tops that expose your skin to the sun. I only buy cotton. I recently bought 2 Italian-made blouses (in France! and the prettiest clothes I saw for sale in Portugal were also from Italy). They are cotton, but very thin and light, wrinkle resistant.

Lastly, choose destinations that aren't so hot. Ireland, Scotland, Scandinavia, mountains, and city stays where you'll be in air-conditioned venues most of the time.

Posted by
57 posts

Columbia has clothing labeled "Zero" or "Omni Freeze" with special cooling technology built into the fabric. Other than that, I would advise traveling in cooler seasons, although you mention it's sometimes not possible.

Posted by
119 posts

I appreciate all the suggestions here. I'm going to try out a few things at home this summer (whenever we actually get a hot day on the coast LOL) and will post the results. The first is a Mission brand neck cooler/headband that promises the "micro-grooved fiber," when wetted and snapped, will cool up to 2 hours. We will see. Yes, I try to travel in cooler seasons, wear loose natural clothing, take advantage of air conditioning, etc. But sometimes one finds oneself in an unexpected heat wave, or wanting to catch a particular event that only happens in summer, or having to travel in summer or miss the trip opportunity altogether because of a companion's schedule. And then there are those RS tour walking tours of a city--I seem to remember the Paris walks on the Paris and Heart of France tour (in September) being pretty hot.

Posted by
1057 posts

I carry a tiny spray bottle of water to spritz myself with when I'm out and about.
I've had strangers ask for a spritz for themselves when they see me doing it!

Posted by
1038 posts

I like hats but they need to have some sort of ventilation to let hot air out.

Do a little reading on tips to ward off menopausal hot flashes , one that works for me in the office but might not work "in the field" is to remove yr shoes.
One more random thought that might also be hard to utilize in Europe
.. in high school I wore this awful hot mascot costume for basketball games. Putting an ice cube in my cleavage saved me many a time

Posted by
1424 posts

I recently bought a small misting fan at a dollar store. The mist is controlled by squeezing a little pump on the side. The fan is battery operated. It fits in the palm of my hand.

I've seen bigger ones - still portable - on Amazon, Walmart, Target... search for portable misting fan.

Posted by
5817 posts

A refillable spray bottle can do wonders. The water dowant need to be particularly chilled to cool you down.
Last year when it was really hot in London I resorted to wearing a well wrung out wet t shirt to help me sleep. It really worked.

Posted by
291 posts

I'm not sure how effective it might be for normal everyday activities, but I use UnderArmour Heat Gear when I go on hikes in the summer and such. They present their HeatGear (name is a bit confusing - the HeatGear is designed to be worn in heat, so you can stay cool; their ColdGear stuff is designed to be worn when it's cold out, to keep you warm) as being designed to pull heat off your body, draw off sweat, and dry out quickly on its own. My personal experience is I've found it to be very effective. When out hiking in warm weather, I'll have the UnderArmour shirt on underneath my tshirt (the UnderArmour stuff is very tight fitting and a spandex-like material) and do genuinely feel it's keeping me cooler. They also have other lines of clothing that are not as tight-fitting under different trademarked names.

Ultimately, I can't speak to how well they might work under normal conditions, though - most are designed (or at least billed as being designed) to be worn during workouts, exercise, heavy exertion. But they may have lines that are more designed for casual every day use.

I even know many mascots use it - I was the college mascot for a semester, and all that running and jumping and dancing around in a giant, heavy, fuzzy suit was exhausting! Overheating was a real risk. Nowadays, though, many mascots wear UnderArmour HeatGear and many will even use cooling vests (the only problem with those is they can be a pain to lug around, and you need a means to re-cool them so either a fridge or tank of cold water. Further, they can get gross and dirty very easily). I wish I had these options 20 years ago, though!

Posted by
2687 posts

I love to pack prints, because if I resort to dampening them down or wearing a wet bandana that wets the clothes, the print hides the damp areas. Do test at home first, however. Sometimes a water application to wet the hair or dampen clothing will do the trick.

Posted by
119 posts

Reporting back with limited data. It just doesn't get hot enough often enough here to do proper tests! I tried the Mission brand neck cooler/headband featuring the "micro-grooved fiber" that supposedly when wetted and snapped will cool up to 2 hours. It does indeed stay wet longer than ordinary fabric, but I found that for me having it close around my neck negated the positive effect and it was a struggle to get on and off. Also, after researching evaporative cooling products further, I learned that they work best when it is not humid and/or when a person is very active (workouts, motorcycle riding...), which is somewhat limiting. So far the ideas that have worked the best for me are frozen water bottles, and an inexpensive little pump spray bottle of water. The one I bought (from the travel size section in the local pharmacy) has a little lock you can enable so it can be carried in your bag without leaking. I also have ordered a combination fan/water bottle that fits in the palm of your hand, and have high hopes for that because it should create the "wind" for evaporation. But the rains have come early to coastal Oregon, so it will be a while before I can test anything more out.

Posted by
3283 posts

Michele, I wondered how the wet scarf around the neck would feel. I have noticed that on hot days when I choose to let my hair dry naturally than having a hot hair dryer blasting on my head, that the wet hair actually makes me feel hotter as opposed to cooler. I do have a lot of hair (bit longer than shoulder length and thick) I think maybe it happens more when humidity is also an issue, but I'm not sure.

Posted by
628 posts

I like to bring quart-size Ziploc bags when we travel and when we stop for lunch, I’ll ask the server if they have extra ice to place in the bag. I’ll then put the ice bag on the back of my neck to help me cool off faster.

Midway through the day when we stop for lunch, I also like to freshen up in the bathroom. I’ll bring a travel-size deodorant and fill a 1-ounce plastic container with powder. I also wear panty liners and change them mid-day. If I know it’s going to be super hot and humid, I’ll even bring a change of underwear and socks. It really helps make the hot and humid afternoon a bit easier to bear when you start fresh again mid day 😀

Also, if my hair is at a long length, I make sure it’s in a hair clip to keep it off my neck (or pony tail). I can’t stand hair on the back of my neck when it’s super hot out. It’s not my best look - but I like comfort over fashion when I’m out of my climate comfort zone.

Posted by
555 posts

Normally, we only travel to Italy in the winter or very early spring, but twice now we've had to be there in September (2017 and this year) and both times were WAY too hot for me. I swore several times during this recent trip never again!

Two things I do that haven't been mentioned. I take along a small, folding, battery-operated fan with a battery that recharges by USB cord. On Amazon, it's called Mini Handheld Fan, VersionTECH. It was especially great the three times on this last trip that I had to sit in an un-air-conditioned airplane before it took off.

The other thing I do that won't work for everybody but it really helps me is that I carry a small washcloth in a ziploc bag with some soapless cleanser like Cetaphil (or a pack of face wipes or Dove cleansing wipes) and I wash my face a lot during the day. Just wiping off sweat with a handkerchief doesn't make me feel much better, but having a clean face does. I'm still hot, but I feel less grumpy about it.