The folks at Artic Cool contacted me on Twitter and asked if I would be interested in trying some of their gear.
New gear? Of course!
Before the gear arrived, I cruised over to their website to see what they were all about. What exactly is Artic Cool?
It’s simple: Arctic Cool is a revolution in wearable cooling technology. And our flagship line of exceptional Instant Cooling Shirts isn’t just another athletic fad. As soon as you start to sweat, our shirts go to work for you. You can’t help feel the difference every time you wear it. Literally.
Pardon me if I was a bit skeptical. I have owned a lot of gear over my twenty years of running, including probably 40 hats. Many of them have claimed to be “hardly there” or “super fast drying.” Some worked, some didn’t.
But a hat that actually makes you feel cooler? Prove it.
The gear showed up in my mailbox within a few days and I was pleased to see they had sent me the black version of the hat (it also comes in white & gray). I quickly tore open the package and pulled the hat onto my head.
Instant Cooling Soft Panel Hat:
First impressions: very comfortable, incredibly lightweight…ridiculously light in fact. This is a good looking hat. The Velcro adjustment in the back ensures a perfect fit and doesn’t dig in like plastic closures sometimes do.
In the picture, you can see that both the edge of the brim and the logo are gray in color. What you can’t see is that they are made of an extremely reflective material. This would be a great hat for running roads in the dark (along with a headlamp & “tail” lamp of course!).
After wearing the hat around the house for a while, I decided that I would throw it into the deep end and see if it could swim: I would wear it on my 30 mile training run the next day.
The day started cool. I was wearing the hat, but I was focused on navigating the darkness (it was 4:30am), getting warmed up, and mentally preparing for 6 hours of running. I gave little thought to the hat. It was at least an hour into the run before I realized that I hadn’t reached up to adjust the hat, never even gave it a wiggle or a tug.
I didn’t even know it was there.
Perfect! Isn’t this the highest compliment you can give a piece of gear that you’re running in for hours?
Once the sun came up, the day began to warm and it was at this point that the hat really showed its mettle.
I broke out from under a thick canopy of trees and began running on an exposed ridge trail. Sweat was happening, but I wasn’t really feeling hot. The hat seemed to be funneling all the heat off my head and out through the panels while at the same time protecting my head from the direct rays of the sun. (The hat is rated at 50+ UPF)
Three hours in: the Artic Cool hat looks great & feels like wearing nothing at all!
Already this hat was shaping up to be the coolest hat I’ve ever owned. I was impressed, but I really wanted to see what the hat was capable of so I dumped the rest of my water over the hat to test out the “instant cooling” feature.
Simply put, it works.
As I ran, the air passing over the hat really felt like it was cooling my head. There was almost no breeze that day, but I can imagine the cool feeling would only be intensified by a stiff breeze.
Yep. This is the coolest hat I’ve ever owned.
I’ve now run over 60 miles (12 hours) in the hat and I can tell you it really works. It’s still just as comfortable now as it was when I first put it on and, at $19.99, it’s a great deal.
The downside? I now have a closet full of hats I’ll never wear again. If anyone is interested in a dozen slightly to moderately used hats, DM me on Twitter…
Instant Cooling Towels:
I’m going to be perfectly honest here; when I saw they sent me towels I was a little nonplussed.
Instant cooling towels?
I never carry a towel when I run…why would I even want a towel? What would I do with it and why would I want another thing to carry?
Yes, the towels are very light, I wouldn’t even notice the extra weight in my pack. Yes, the idea of wrapping something around my neck, arms, or head that made me feel cooler sounded great in theory, but…
And then I remembered my Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:
A towel…is about the most massively useful thing a [trail runner] can have.
Okay, I’d give the towel a shot.
But I wasn’t quite ready to take it out on a 30 mile run. So it sat on the counter, waiting for me to return from my run.
By the time my run ended, the weather had grown quite warm. I stepped into my house fairly drenched in sweat. And that’s when I saw the towel.
No time like the present!
I peeled off my shirt, soaked the towel in water, and draped it across my back and shoulders.
I’m not embarrassed to admit that I let out a little yelp as the material hit my skin.
It was cold. Really cold.
And it seemed to me that the material almost instantly began pulling the heat away from my skin.
I’m absolutely going to pack one of these in my hydration vest for my next long run. I’m also bringing it along when I run the Rio Del Lago 100 Mile Endurance Run in November. If the temps get hot during the day, this towel could be a lifesaver. At the very least, a race-saver.
It’s even big enough to wrap ice in it and tie it around my neck.
Feels good just thinking about it.
Artic Cool also sells some good looking shirts. I’m thinking about buying both a long sleeve and a short sleeve crew.
And I definitely want one of their double layer headbands.
FYI: If you spend over $59 you get free shipping & a free instant cooling towel. They also offer a 90 day guarantee on all their products.