Fans are great, but when it gets really hot all they do is push warm air around. These seven gadgets aim to cool you down without air conditioning
The British summer is a cruel mistress. It’s either dank, grey and raining, or so hot you practically melt on the way to work. An umbrella takes care of the former, but it’s difficult to stay cool in the heat.
When a fan just doesn’t cut it, or simply isn’t practical, here are some of the best gadgets to keep the sweat at bay during work, rest and play.
Techniche evaporative cooling vests and jackets
Evaporative cooling isn’t limited to a desktop fan, but can also be incredibly effective built into clothing. Using nothing more than the power of water, the Techniche Kewlshirt keeps you cool even in the hottest of days.
It works as you might expect. Soak the vest in water and the special fabric acts like a sponge. The inside of the vest is waterproof to keep you dry, while air passing over the jacket causes the water to slowly evaporate cooling the surface of the jacket and you within it.
It’s really quite effective. But you don’t have to take my word for it – the company supplies cooling vests to some of the top F1 drivers for use in hot climates. It needs some airflow to really work, which means it’s not quite as effective on a stuffy train, but it’s still cooler than not wearing one.
While it’s brilliant for running, there are a few downsides if you were strap one on for your commute. You look a little foolish in what’s essentially a tank top, and the water-filled patches on the outside of the jacket will soak anything that comes into contact with them, which means you can’t wear a bag or touch anything on your chest or back, although it still works fine with a sports jersey over the top of it.
On the hottest commutes, though, I think it’s probably worth wearing to not be a sweaty mess, and there are a variety of different vests and jackets by Techniche using the same system, including ones designed for cycling and general purpose jackets.
Verdict: stay cool under the pressure of exercise, but difficult to pull off for anything else
Techniche evaporative cooling wrist wraps
If you don’t think you could pull off a full evaporative jacket, or it’s simply not practical, the next best thing is a set of cooling wrist wraps.
They look like big sweat bands, but are made of the same material as the evaporative jacket. Soak them in water for two minutes, squeeze out the excess and strap them on. They cool your wrists and therefore the blood pumping through them, creating something akin to an internal cooling system.
With enough airflow they’re downright chilly sitting there on your wrists and are better than nothing, even on a packed London tube train. The brilliant little things were cooling enough to stop me sweating profusely walking home in 30C heat, but they have similar downsides to the jacket: anything that touches them instantly gets wet, but after one trip and a wet trouser leg I soon learned to not soak things.
They’ll last about three hours on the hottest of days between water top-ups, but take forever to fully dry, so you’ll need somewhere to store or hang them up when you get wherever you’re going.
Verdict: gets you through the hottest commutes and handy for runs
Techniche Cool Towel Pro
If you’re looking for something to cool you during a workout or activity, there’s also an evaporative towel, which works slightly differently.
Stiff as cardboard when dry, the towel soaks up water and then displaces it onto your skin as you towel down. That way your skin has a fresh layer of cool water that evaporates and cools you down. It’s not as practical as a vest or wrist bands, but is ideal for cooling off quickly mid-workout.
Verdict: Good for workouts, not much more than that