Studies reveal that utilizing cooling towels can considerably increase endurance levels, whether you’re using them to get through a hot summer day or a sweaty workout session. To find out which cooling towels work best, we put five of the highest rated models to the test by using them while exercising at the gym, doing housework on a hot day, and outside in the sun.
The Chill Pal – PVA Cooling Towel, which is very absorbent and kept us cold and comfortable for two hours straight, was the greatest cooling towel. The Alfamo – Cooling Towel, a mesh poly blend towel that felt extremely lightweight and breathable as it cooled us off throughout our gym time, was the other item we selected as the finest cooling towel for sports.
How we selected cooling towels to test
We initially reviewed the top-rated best-sellers on Amazon and looked for user recommendations on Reddit and YouTube before compiling our lineup of test-worthy cooling towels. In order to select and condense the best towel options on our list, we also analyzed customer reviews on Amazon to see which cooling towel characteristics were valued by customers.
We selected towels from those top options that cost less than $30 each and had excellent Amazon reviews. In order to find out which textiles and materials worked best at keeping us cool, we also tested polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), 100% polyester, and blends of polyester and nylon.
Two cooling towel juggernauts made it onto the final filtered list: the ShamWow-like Frogg Toggs – Chilly Pad and two cooling towels by Mission, a company that markets itself as “immediate cooling gear” and has athletes like Serena Williams and Dwayne Wade as brand ambassadors. Alfamo and Chill Pal, the other two brands, were underdogs in contrast, but they garnered excellent reviews on Amazon and on YouTube and Reddit.
Compare the five best cooling towels
|1. Chill Pal – PVA Cooling Towel||$$||PVA||12″ x 32″|
|2. Alfamo – Cooling Towel||$-$$$||45% polyester, 55% polyamide||11″ x 33″, 13″ x 40″, 14″ x 47″, 29″ x 60″|
|3. Frogg Toggs – Chilly Pad||$$||PVA||13″ x 33″|
|4. Mission – Original Cooling Towel||$$||90% polyester, 10% nylon||10″ x 33″|
|5. Mission – Enduracool Techknit Towel||$$$||Polyester||10″ x 33″|
How do cooling towels work?
Evaporative cooling takes place when a moist cooling towel is placed around the neck or on any surface of the skin; the skin’s temperature causes the moisture particles in the towel to heat up and evaporate, further lowering the towel’s temperature. A cooling sensation is as a result felt against the skin.
According to a research in the Journal of Athletic Training, wearing a cooling towel while exercise allowed individuals to perceive their level of thermal strain differently, allowing them to work out longer. In our own research, we discovered that cooling towels appear to be utilized by a variety of people, including festival-goers, gym fanatics, menopausal women experiencing hot flashes, and new mothers.
Cooling towels seem to take the edge off of a number of overheated circumstances and help wearers stay cool over the summer, making them ideal for tourists, golfers, and those who work outside or in continuously hot environments (such as cooks).
Important features to consider
Your choice of cooling towel’s fabric will primarily rely on how you want to use it. Polyvinyl acetate (PVA) towels, like the Chill Pal – PVA Cooling Towel, are excellent if you want to cool off without soaking your clothes because they will hold moisture and keep you cool without ruining your attire. Towels made of mesh or 100% polyester, like the Mission – Enduracool Techknit Cooling Towel, have a wetter feel and are more likely to drip, making them suitable for usage in the gym, during physical exercise, or anywhere else where you don’t mind getting a little wet.
A wide number of sizes are available for cooling towels, with certain brands (like the Alfamo – Cooling Towel) providing a wider selection than others. When working out, a small-to-medium size (about 10-13 inches by 32-40 inches) is ideal to wear around the neck. After sporting events, during heat waves, etc., larger towels (14-30 inches by 41-60 inches) are excellent for keeping the entire body cool. Many cooling towels have UPF protection against the sun, which makes them ideal for covering one’s shoulders while outside in the heat.
Washability and storage
It’s a good idea to get a cooling towel that can be easily thrown into the washing machine because you’ll probably want to wash it frequently.
Fans of PVA should be aware that PVA dries to a hard, cardboard-like texture, so you should wash your towel and fold or roll it while it’s still wet. When your towel is dry, avoid trying to fold or roll it since it can tear. Feel free to spread your towel out flat to dry if you don’t need to fold or roll it for storing.
For convenient carrying while wet or dry, some cooling towels have storage compartments and even hooks to connect to your gym bag or backpack.
How we tested
Our testers wrapped each of our top five picks around their necks and shoulders for two hours straight while they carried out housekeeping and yard work to determine which towel provided the most cooling. We also wore them while working out at the gym to see how effectively they helped us stay cool while we were hot and sweaty. The towels were then evaluated by our testers based on the following factors.
- How long does the cooling towel actually stay chilly after being wetted or activated with room-temperature water?
- Within the first 10 minutes of use, how cool does it feel against the skin (without getting it wet again)? 30 minutes into the process? in the initial hour?
- How comfortable is the fabric of the towel against your skin?
- When used, does it cause the garments to become wet or do they stay dry?
- How effectively do the towel’s size and shape serve the intended purpose?
- Is it washable in a machine?
- What is the ease of storage?
Best overall: Chill Pal
The Chill Pal – PVA Cooling Towel, which remained damp and chilly during our testing periods, didn’t make our clothes wet, and was soft and comfortable to wear, is our choice for the finest cooling towel overall. The Chill Pal, which has one side that is textured and the other that is smooth, is made of soft polyvinyl acetate (PVA) and feels buttery against the skin. Its dimensions of 12 by 32 inches made it simple to drape around our necks or over our shoulders.
The towel immediately felt cool against our neck after soaking it in water and wringing it out as instructed, and it kept feeling cool for the following hour of use. We were amazed by how long the towel stayed moist — much beyond our two-hour straight testing period — and even more impressed that it just minimally moistened our shirt throughout that time. An hour later, the towel did start to warm up a little.
Best Overall: Chill Pal
We were impressed by the Chill Pal – PVA Cooling Towel’s excellent moisture retention, long-lasting cooling capabilities, and comfortable wear.
The Chill Pal dries stiff as a PVA cooling cloth. It should not be dried in the dryer, even if it can be washed cold in the washing machine. We advise folding or rolling the towel while it is still wet and malleable, letting it air dry to avoid mold growth, and then keeping it in its pouch.
The Chill Pal, which costs around $13, includes a storage case and a carabiner so you can attach it to your bag or backpack before and after use. We advise it for people who need to cool off at work, when out and about on a hot day (Disneyland, anyone? ), or while doing yard and housework because it performs a great job cooling the body down without soaking your wardrobe.
- We were impressed by the Chill Pal – PVA Cooling Towel’s long-lasting moisture retention.
- Compared to the other towels in our testing array, the towel stayed cool the longest.
- The Chill Pal is perfect for use at work or in situations where you need to protect your attire because it leaches very little to no water onto clothing.
- You must air dry it and roll it up while it’s still flexible since it dries stiff.
Best cooling towel for sports: Alfamo
The Alfamo – Cooling Towel is our top pick for a cooling towel to use at the gym or while participating in sports because it is lightweight, soft, and breathable. We used water to “activate” (wet) the towel, and it stayed cool next to our skin the entire hour-long workout.
The Alfamo towel, which is made of 45% polyester and 55% polyamide mesh, is less absorbent than the Chill Pal PVA towel. As a result, it doesn’t disperse moisture uniformly throughout the towel for as long, causing it to get a little drippy. Although we were already sweating, we found the towel’s wetter quality to be particularly refreshing while working out and irrelevant for gym attire. Additionally, we appreciate that the Alfamo provides UPF 50 sun protection, which is beneficial for people who exercise outside.
Best for Sports: Alfamo – Cooling Towel
The soft, mesh polyester Alfamo Cooling Towel is breathable, lightweight, and perfect for keeping cool while exercising.
The Alfamo earns bonus points for having a wider range of sizes than the other towels in our portfolio, which only provide one or two: There are four sizes: 11 by 33 inches, 13 by 40 inches, 14 by 47 inches, and 29 by 60 inches; the smallest is priced at approximately $8 and the largest at about $27.
The Alfamo towel has a waterproof storage pocket and a carabiner for simple travel, just like the Chill Pal towel. The towel can be laundered in a machine and dried on a low heat setting. Additionally, Alfamo provides a lifetime guarantee on all towels.
- The Alfamo – Cooling Towel was the ideal weight to wear while working out because it was thin and breathable.
- When wet, the towel’s polyester blend produced a little bit more moisture, which increased cooling power during sweaty workouts.
- Alfamo is available in four sizes that can be worn around the neck, shoulders, torso, or complete body.
- It’s a little bit drippy because it’s not as absorbent as PVA cloths.
The bottom line
We selected our top two selections after trying five highly rated cooling towels indoors, outdoors, and at the gym. The Chill Pal – PVA Cooling Towel, which absorbs moisture for a remarkable period of time without leaking into clothing and keeps us cold for two hours straight while maintaining the appearance of our outfit, is our favorite cooling towel overall. We propose the airy, mesh Alfamo – Cooling Towel for sports and exercise.