Now that we’re just two short months away from summertime, I suspect people will be looking for ways to stay cool in the hotter months, as they do every year around this time.
Coincidentally, I’ve been exchanging emails recently with someone looking for cooling undershirts & underwear.
Specifically, this person was inquiring on whether or not wicking undershirts would keep someone cooler than non-wicking undershirts, and it led to us discussing all different forms of cooling technologies being used in apparel-related products.
We talked about wicking shirts, ice & coolant-driven clothing, and other cooling technologies such as peltier-based products like Wristify, which is still in development.
Joining the thermoelectric category is newcomer Thin Ice (link) who has designed two peltier-based cooling products.
Allegedly, these products are designed to help you lose weight by tricking your body into thinking it’s cold, thereby triggering a warming process, resulting in burning more calories.
But before we talk about the Thin Ice products, let’s discuss different types of shirts that claim to keep you cool.
If you’re curious what my goto strategy is for staying cool in summertime, while protecting my clothing from sweat – It’s wearing thin, lightweight undershirts.
Wicking Undershirts – Do They Keep You Cool?
In short, wicking (aka fabrics that do not absorb water) undershirts do NOT specifically keep you cool just because they are “wicking”.
But, let’s understand why.
In a typical undershirt situation, you wear an undershirt, then you wear an outer shirt of some form (dress shirt, polo, t-shirt, etc.) on top of the undershirt.
In general, this means that there will be no notable airflow that will reach your undershirt. Airflow is the catalyst that creates the evaporative process, and it’s that evaporation that creates a cooling sensation on your body when you are sweating.
No airflow (or any other catalyst), no cooling. Period.
Now brands and the marketers for those brands will make you believe that there is some magic going on to keep you cool, but the truth is it’s just marketing hype, and nothing more.
Wicking Shirts – Do They Keep You Cool?
In short, wicking SHIRTS can keep you cool. Not because they are “wicking”, but because there is airflow.
The reason they can, is because you are wearing wicking shirts with nothing over them or under them. This creates an environment where the shirt can come in contact with airflow.
Think gym or fitness shirt.
So, as long as you are wearing some form of wicking shirt as your only shirt, AND you are sweating, AND there is some form of airflow hitting your shirt, you are more likely to experience a cooling effect in this situation.
There are some brands designing cooling shirts with various fabric technologies that are intended to intensify the wicking process, and by doing so, the idea is that the cooling sensation will be intensified.
Other Cooling Shirts
As mentioned above, airflow is the catalyst needed for any type of wicking shirt to cool.
But, there are other types of cooling shirts, that use other forms of catalysts.
The most common cooling sources used in technical cooling shirts include ice water, ice packs, or phase change materials that hold cold longer than traditional ice packs.
As you can imagine, while these cooling products will keep the wearer cool, the products are generally more bulky and they require access to water, ice, or a freezer of some sort.
Although you may have never heard of Peltier-based technology, you most certainly interact with devices that use it.
One of the most common uses of peltier technology is in your computer, to keep your micro-processor cool.
If you’d like to learn more about it, check out this Wikipedia article about Thermoelectric Cooling.
Thin Ice Weightloss Vest & Insoles
Now Thin Ice isn’t the first company to create a weightloss vest based on cooling the body.
The Cold Shoulder came first about a year ago, but it was based on using ice packs in a vest.
Instead of ice packs, Thin Ice insoles and vests use peltier-based technology as the cooling catalyst.
They launched an Indiegogo campaign last summer, and raised nearly $600,000 by the campaign’s end in early September.
Thin Ice Indiegogo Video
While I question the effectiveness of using peltier cooling products to loose weight, even though it may work to some extent, I think there is a better chance they will be more effective in helping you feel cool in hotter months.
The other thing I find promising with peltier-based cooling, is that the cooling effect can last longer, and can be more universally re-charged using a charging pad, and will also use kinetic energy (like walking) to help maintain the charge.
The insole’s cooling effects, are planned to last around 4-6 hours on a single charge, and the vest can last around 6-8 hours.
I definitely will be keeping my eye on Thin Ice, and if I get the opportunity to try either the vest or the insoles this summer, I’ll make sure to post an update about it here.