A cooling towel is the easiest way to keep you from heating up too fast when you’re working out, whether it’s at the gym or training outside. Made with special hyper-evaporative materials, they’re the best way to keep you cool when you’re running that marathon or in the middle of a competition. These special towels may be just what you need to upgrade your workouts to the next level, regardless of how hot it may be outside.
- How to Choose the Right Cooling Towel
- Top 10 Best Cooling Towels 2021
- 1. Best Overall Pick: Chill Pal PVA Cooling Towel
- 2. Best Premium Pick: Mission Original Cooling Towel
- 3. Best Budget Pick: Your Choice Cooling Towel
- 4. Best PVA Cooling Towel: Ergodyne Chill-Its 6602 Evaporative Towel
- 5. Most Absorbent: Frogg Toggs Chilly Pad Cooling Towel
- 6. Best Large Cooling Towel: Alfamo Cooling Towel
- 7. Best Eco-Friendly Cooling Towel: BOGI Bamboo Fiber Cooling Towel
- 8. Best Bulk Cooling Towels: Biange Cooling Towel
- 9. Most Versatile: SYOURSELF Cooling Towel
- 10. Best Color Choices: Way 2 Cool Microfiber Cooling Towel
- Guide to Picking the Perfect Cooling Towel
- Final Thoughts
How to Choose the Right Cooling Towel
When you’re out exercising on a hot day, the right cooling towel could make or break your workout. Cooling towels come in an assortment of shapes, sizes, and designs, which makes picking out the perfect one a little more challenging.
Below, we get into some of the fine details to help you figure out the best sort of cooling towel for you. You can also read a more in-depth guide for choosing cooling towels at the bottom of this article.
Types of Cooling Towels
We can broadly classify the type of cooling towel through the material that’s used in making it. Each has its benefits and drawbacks, though some are better than others. You can read more specifics about the materials within the types of cooling towels in the materials section of our buyer’s guide.
PVA (Polyvinyl Acetate)
This is a towel made from nontraditional materials. PVA is often used is many cooling products and when it touches water, its quick evaporative effect creates the sensation of cooling. To keep this sort of towel cool, all you’ll need to do is dampen it again.
Microfiber towels are different from traditional cotton towels, with thin fibers that are a fraction of the diameter of traditional fibers. They can be as small as 0.33 microns, and the thin fibers can absorb water molecules and help them evaporate quickly to create the same cooling effect.
Hybrid towels might have a mix of PVA, microfiber, or other synthetic fabrics to create their own way to cool you down. Depending on the blend of ingredients and design of the fabric, some end up working better than others. When you have a hybrid cooling towel, look for ones with a mesh design that helps increase breathability.
Features to Consider When Buying Cooling Towels
Besides the materials and types, there’s a whole slew of differences between the towels. We’ll outline some of the biggest factors that distinguish the top competitors from each other so that you can see which towel is ideal for the situation you have in mind.
The size of a towel can impact its portability, since towels that are too large may be difficult to pack up. However, you don’t want a towel that’s too small either, since they won’t be able to retain its temperature as long. In addition, you want to make sure that your cooling towel is large enough for you!
The weight of a cooling towel can also impact portability since you’ll need to carry around the towel to the gym or your workout location. Heavier towels – while they are made of stronger materials – may be more difficult to carry with you on your next gym visit. However, towels that are too light may not be made with high-quality materials.
Since you’ll be using your cooling towel often, you want to make sure that it’s durable enough to last. Some materials may last longer than others, and some towels may have special care instructions that you have to pay attention to. You want a material that won’t tear or fray easily after extended periods of use.
This will be the towel that you’ll be relying on during your workouts, championships, and any other activity. Pick a towel with patterns and colors that you enjoy – or at the very least, won’t be embarrassed by. Many towels come in solid colors, but some are more decorative as well.
With every towel, there’s an assortment of factors that you’ll need to consider and balance out to make the right choice. Now that we’ve looked at the main ideas to keep in mind when buying towels, let’s get into our top choices.
Top 10 Best Cooling Towels 2021
- Type: PVA
- Size: 12 inches x 32 inches
- Style: 5 solid colors
The Chill Pal is an extra thick PVA towel that can hold water for hours so that it helps you stay cool. This thick material is also durable, and it can be washed out by hand or by washing machine. In addition, it can be stored in the packaging that it arrives in, with a small clip on the side to attach to bags and backpacks.
The towel can be a little shorter than some of the other options, though it’s still able to quickly cool you down even with a smaller size. Unfortunately, when it’s dry, it gets stiff and ends up looking more like cardboard, which can be unappealing to the eye. It also only has five color options to pick from, though the color for this towel won’t leak out over time.
The extra-thick PVA material doesn’t impact its breathability, and you’ll still be able to wear it when you’re working out or hiking outdoors. In addition, the lack of chemicals and other cooling agents in this towel means that it won’t irritate your skin, even if you’re using it for hours on end. The coolness also lasts for multiple hours after the initial activation.
- Type: Microfiber
- Size: 10 inches x 33 inches
- Style: 4 solid colors, 1 American flag design
The Mission Original cooling towel comes with everything that cooling towels should have, from UPF protection to its durability. The microfiber in the towel is able to absorb enough water and sweat to keep you cool, while some of the added in nylon and polyester makes it stretchy and flexible so that it remains comfortable. It stays softer than most other cooling towels, even after being washed.
The towel may have a slight scent if you don’t wash it carefully, so you’ll definitely want to make sure you clean it right after using it. Sometimes, just washing it by hand isn’t enough to get the smell out, so it’s a good thing the towel is machine washable. In addition, it is a little denser than some of the other options, which can also make it heavier.
The cooling for this towel can last several hours, so you’ll be good after you soak and snap it three times. It can also cool people for up to 30 degrees and is chemical-free. Unlike other towels, the colors won’t leak out when it’s being washed, keeping this towel a nice, vibrant shade for as long as you use it. It’s suitable for outdoor explorations, gym workouts, and even vacations!
- Type: Polyester cooling fabric (hybrid)
- Size: 12 inches x 40 inches
- Style: 8 solid colors
Your Choice’s cooling towel is a reliable and durable option at a low price. In addition, your purchase includes a cloth or PVC carrying bag and carabiner clip so that you can easily take it with you to the gym or outdoors. It also provides UPF 50 protection and can provide cooling of up to 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
You may need to snap the towel multiple times to get it to activate. You should also make sure to wring out the towel well so it doesn’t drip. In addition, it does give off a sight petroleum smell when you first buy it, so you might have to wash the scent off.
It also dries faster than some of the other towels, which is why you may need to reactivate it more often. If you don’t want to worry about reactivation every hour or so, you should consider the Frogg Toggs Chilly Pad Cooling Towel, which can last 4 hours after being soaked once.
The material is eco-friendly and safe for sensitive skin, so anyone should be able to use this without worrying about allergies. In addition, it’s chemical-free and safe for children to use as well. The hyper-evaporative material aids in cooling and keeps it breathable when you use it. Like other towels, you simply need to soak it, wring it, and then snap it.
- Type: PVA
- Size: 13 inches x 29.5 inches
- Style: 5 solid colors
This is one multi-purpose PVA towel that focuses on cooling, with a single activation keeping it cold for up to 4 hours. It’s durable and reusable and can be thrown into the washing machine without worrying about the setting. In addition, it’s also treated with antimicrobial agents to keep it sanitary and clean for future use. However, keep in mind that this towel does not come with UPF protection.
Unfortunately, this towel is also smaller than many of the other options and may be too small for your liking. It also only comes in five different colors, so you won’t have many style choices when you’re purchasing it. It can also be a little harder to activate, and you may find yourself having to snap the towel multiple times to get it to work.
This towel is also on the thinner side, so if you want a thicker PVA towel you should consider the Chill Pal PVA Towel.
For this towel, you’ll want to place it under running water for about a minute before you try to activate it. The PVA is able to quickly absorb the water and give your skin a cooling sensation when it does evaporate, perfect for workouts, hot flashes, or even fevers. The towel will dry stiffly, but it grows soft each time you wet it. It can also be stored in the original container that it comes in and is easy to fold up.
- Type: Hybrid (Patented Frogg Toggs material)
- Size: 33 inches x 13 inches
- Style: 9 solid colors, 1 American flag color
The Frogg Toggs cooling towel is made with their patented material that can absorb up to 8 times its weight in sweat and water. This makes it ideal for soaking up any sweat during your workouts without getting too bogged down. In addition, the material is also lightweight and breathable, designed to be used and carried when you’re moving around and being active. It also comes equipped with UPF 50 sun protection.
However, while it does come with a storage tube, the tube itself is clear with the logo plastered over it. In addition, it doesn’t have a clip or carabiner, so you will have to manually hold it or place it within a bag when you’re moving around with it. The towel also doesn’t feel like traditional towels with a lack of cloth, polyester, or normal fibers. A softer towel would be the Your Choice Cooling Towel.
While it does absorb enough cold water to keep you cool, the material itself is hyper-evaporative and remains dry to the touch, so it won’t end up getting your clothes damp. You also only need to wet the towel and wring it out to activate it, without needing to snap. It does take a few minutes to activate, but it can remain cool for up to 4 hours afterward.
- Type: Softcool extreme material (hybrid)
- Size: 47 inches x 14 inches, 60 inches x 29 inches
- Style: 10 solid colors
The Alfamo cooling towel comes in 4 sizes, with the largest one being 60 inches by 29 inches, significantly larger than many other towels. It’s perfect to use if you have hot flashes since it can cover most of a person as a mini cooling blanket in extreme cases. In addition, the cooling effect lasts up to 3 hours without you needing to reactivate it again, even at this larger size.
However, due to the high absorbency of the towel and the large size, it can be more troublesome to soak the entire towel and wring it out for activation. You’ll also need a large amount of water to fully soak the towel when you’re first activating it.
In addition, the color can leak out sometimes when you’re washing it in a washing machine if the setting is too rough. If you don’t want to worry about color leaking out, check out the Mission Original Cooling Towel.
On the bright side, this towel does come with an antibacterial carrying pouch, to make transporting it easier even at its large size. It also has UPF 50 protection, and the Softcool extreme material is very cooling. It’s a breathable towel that’s easy to fold, easy to store, and easy to use. You just have to soak it, wring it out, and then snap it to activate.
- Type: Bamboo fiber, polyester (hybrid)
- Size: 40 inches x 12 inches, 47 inches x 14 inches
- Style: 6 solid colors, 2 checkerboard styles
The BOGI cooling towel is made with bamboo fiber, an eco-friendly choice that also has special cooling properties. It arrives with a recyclable bottle and clip so that you can carry it around without getting it dirty, or even run marathons with it without having to hold it. In addition, it has UPF 50 sunscreen, making this a good choice if you plan on going outdoors with it. It comes in both a medium and a large size.
However, you will need to make sure that you wash this towel before you use it the first time, or it will begin to give off an odd smell. The colors also grow duller and make leak out over extended periods of use and it won’t be as vibrant as when you first bought it. This store also doesn’t have an explicit return and refund policy for all towels unlike the Way 2 Cool towel’s 90-day return policy.
The bamboo fiber is softer than many other materials and is also gentle on the skin when used. The odd smells also disappear after being washed and won’t linger on the surface of the towels for too long. It can also function well in areas of higher humidity, and stay soft after air drying, unlike PVA towels. It’s also made of a thin, but absorbent material, that’s easy to carry around to your next vacation or trip. Like other cooling towels, you’ll need to soak it and wring it out to activate it.
- Type: Polyester Mesh
- Size: 40 inches x 12 inches
- Style: 6 solid colors with small black dots
The Biange cooling towels come in a set of ten at an affordable price so that you’ll be able to get your whole team or workout buddies towels as well. If you plan on having different towels for different exercises or workout plans, this is also the set to buy. Each towel is made out of polyester mesh, which helps people cool off quickly with its quick evaporative technology.
Unfortunately, these towels are only offered in solid colors, and the set of 10 doesn’t give you the option to customize the designs. A cooling towel with more designs to pick from would be the Way 2 Cool Towel. In addition, the mesh can feel a little rough on sensitive skin when compared to traditional microfiber towels. It’s also made from a thinner material than some of the other towels, and as a result, they’re not as soft.
The absorbent fiber weave that makes up this towel retains water without having it drip, and the material itself is less scratchy and uncomfortable when compared to PVA. In addition, it’s able to quickly absorb sweat from your skin to keep you from getting too hot. To activate it, you’ll need to shake it after soaking it in water and wringing it out. It’s also chemical-free and reusable after being washed by the washing machine.
- Type: Softcool extreme material (Hybrid)
- Size: 40 inches x 12 inches
- Style: 8 solid colors and 2 patterned styles
The SYOURSELF cooling towels can be used as more than just a towel, with 10 different ways for you to wear it. The designs are classic and fashionable, and you’ll even be able to wear it as a scarf, headband, or bandana when you want to. In addition, it comes with a small portable waterproof pouch and a carabiner so that you can take it on trips easily. It also provides UV protection with a UPF 50 label.
Unfortunately, while the cooling towel does retain its coldness for a long time, some of the moisture may end up transferring from the towel itself and can end up dampening your shirt. The temperatures for this towel also aren’t as low as towels made from traditional cooling materials.
Sadly, it doesn’t function as well in humid environments and is more suited for arid environments. If you do want a towel that also functions well in humid weather and seasons, you should consider the BOGI Bamboo Fiber Cooling Towel.
This cooling towel also dries without hardening, and the polyester cooling fabric keeps it from dripping water. It’s also made with reinforced stitching so that it stays durable. The towels themselves aren’t treated with any chemicals and it’s an eco-friendly choice as well. To activate it, you’ll need to soak and wring the water out of the towel first, before snapping it. Each time you need to reactivate, simply repeat the steps.
- Type: Microfiber
- Size: 12 inches x 33 inches
- Style: Dozens of solid colors, polka dots, and rainbow colors
The Way 2 Cool towels provide more color options than other choices on the list so that you can have towels that match your outfit. These styles even include one rainbow-colored towel and a polka-dotted towel. They’re made with microfiber and designed to stay soft, even after being put in the washing machine. In addition, it contains UPF 50 sunscreen in the towel that can block up to 98% of UV radiation.
However, the style doesn’t always translate into usability, as some of the colors may grow duller over extended use and fade with time. In addition, the towel doesn’t stay cold for as long as some of the other towels, so you may need to occasionally rewet it to activate the cooling technology once more. The logo for the company is also prominent in the design of the towel and easily visible.
The activation for this towel is simple and doesn’t require you to snap it. You soak it in water and wring it out to keep it from dripping. It’s ready for use, and to reactivate the cooling technology, you can just rewet it as necessary. The microfiber design is meant to hold water in the towel for longer to continue the cooling effect. In addition, it comes with a 90-day return policy if you don’t end up liking it.
Guide to Picking the Perfect Cooling Towel
When it comes to choosing a cooling towel, you have no shortage of options. You’ll need to account for the material, size, overall look, and portability if you want to find the best one for your workouts. We’ll look at some ways for you to narrow down your choice, and ways to take care of your towel after you make the purchase.
Introduction to Cooling Towels
Cooling towels are like a softer cold compression and work to cool you down instead of warming you up. They’re the towels that professional athletes often have around their neck, and the chilliness offers fast relief (especially on hot summer days!). While normal towels are used to wipe away the sweat, cooling towels are used while damp to bring down your body temperature.
Most are reusable and good for the environment, while the best cooling towels will be able to last you years. They’re better at retaining cool temperatures from the water as well, and you can even run with it around your neck to help combat some of the scorching heat. It’ll remain damp from cold water for hours after you prepare it.
They work through a high absorption rate and fast evaporation rate so that they can get rid of your sweat quickly. This way, your skin constantly feels the effect of the cold water stored in the towel as well as the lack of sweat, which also helps with cooling. However, the specifics may change depending on the materials that it’s made of.
Cooling Towel Materials
Materials are the most important distinguishing factor between towels, so we have you covered! Here are the main materials that your cooling towel might be made of, and the benefits and drawbacks of each.
PVA, or polyvinyl acetate, is often used in cooling items. It is able to store more water than normal fabric to keep the temperature cool, all while absorbing sweat that it comes in contact with. Thanks to its fast evaporating properties, a towel made from PVA always feels dry, even after it has been soaked in water. Our favorite PVA cooling towel is the Chill Pal PVA Towel.
However, this sort of towel isn’t as soft as traditional towels made of various fibers. In addition, they dry into a stiff, almost cardboard-like material that isn’t visually appealing to look at. This also means that you won’t be able to easily fold it or change its shape when it’s dry, and you may have to rewet to properly put it up.
Microfiber towels are made with a blend of polyester and nylon, but their fibers are – you guessed it – much smaller. The diameter of microfiber threads is designed to be finer than silk, which lets them retain higher amounts of water with the same amount of surface area. They also give off a soft feeling when used. They’re also extremely breathable, more so than traditional materials. Our favorite microfiber cooling towel is the Mission Original Cooling Towel.
Unfortunately, the cost of microfibers can be more expensive due to the increased number of threads. In addition, they also result in denser towels when compared to polyester, which can (but not always) lead to increased weight. For cooling towels, their fast-absorbing properties are what give them a boost in keeping you from heating up too quickly. You can read more about microfiber here.
Polyester mesh is one of the most breathable materials out there, helped by the small holes in the fabric. It’s lightweight but durable, and it can hold up in washing machine cycles as well. They’re the best choice for athletic towels that you may want to run or move around with since they won’t hold you back.
However, all of the holes can end up making the material a little scratchier and uncomfortable against the skin for an extended period of time. In addition, they might not absorb as much water as traditional towels, so you may have to rewet them from time to time since they’ll dry out quicker as well. Our favorite polyester mesh cooling towel is the Biange Cooling Towel.
A polyester blend is typically used for towels that are flexible and durable. While they’re not as breathable as polyester mesh, they can retain more water and stay cooler for longer. They’re also a little softer, and unlike PVA, they won’t dry into a stiff shape. However, they’re not as soft as microfiber towels.
With polyester, you’ll want to make sure that you wash it often to avoid any odd odors from the material. Softcool extreme materials are usually a polyester blend as well. With that being said, our favorite overall polyester blend towel would be the BOGI Bamboo Fiber Cooling Towel, which combines polyester’s high-absorbing qualities with bamboo fiber.
Extra Factors to Consider in Cooling Towels
If you want a towel with all of the perks, you’ll want to consider some extra features as well. Size, weight, and overall portability are important, but here are some finer details that you won’t want to overlook.
Most cooling towels can be machine washed but aren’t meant for the dryer. Make sure you understand the care instructions for your towel, or it may not last for long! Some may even need to be hand washed. Either way, make sure you know how to take care of the towel before purchasing so you know you have time to take care of it.
Some cooling towels come with materials that help defend against the sun’s rays, which can be harmful to your skin when overexposed. If you plan on using this towel outside, you might want to look for ones with UPF protection just for that extra boost.
UPF is the measurement of how well fabrics protect from harmful UV rays, similar to SPF in sunscreen. Of course, you’ll still want to apply sunscreen as the towel won’t be able to hide all of your skin from the sun. You can read more about what UPF is here.
Some cooling towels come with all the benefits, but they have a hefty price that comes with it. Others are meant for lighter usage but are much more affordable. While most towels will range from $5 to $20, you will want to keep the price in mind, especially if you plan on purchasing multiple to test them out for yourself.
This also comes down to the materials and chemical treatment that your towels while they’re being made. They’re going to be used when you’re sweating and moving around, making them a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Getting towels that have antibacterial properties will make them more sanitary – though you should be washing your towel after each use regardless. Our favorite cooling towel with these properties would be the Ergodyne Towel.
If the towel can’t hold a cooler temperature for at least a few hours, then it’s probably not a towel that you want. Aim for choices that give you at least three hours of cooling so that you’ll still have a bit of time left after your extended workout to cool down. Frogg Toggs Chilly Pad Cooling Towel is particularly good at staying cold for a long time.
Some towels are more portable than others. Outside of size and weight, consider how you plan on taking the towel from place to place, whether it’s shoving it in your bag or getting a pouch for it. Occasionally, cooling towels may also come with a container and a clip so that you can easily hook it onto your gym bag when needed. Chill Pal PVA Towels, for example, are able to be stored in the container that they arrive in.
Activating Cooling Towels
Most cooling towels are activated in 3 steps. First, you’ll want to soak it in water to get it wet. Occasionally, a towel may need to be held under running water instead of being soaked. Afterward, you’ll need to wring it out. This way, water won’t end up dripping onto you and your clothes. Finally, you’ll need to “snap” the towel in some way.
To snap it, you can either stretch it taut quickly or swing it in the air. Either way, it should be a sharp motion that stretches the fabric to some degree to activate the cooling towel. Some towels may also need to be snapped multiple times before activating, so read the instructions for the individual towels carefully.
Activities That Benefit From Cooling Towels
Have a new towel, but you’re not sure when to use it? We’ve prepared a list of basic activities when a cooling towel definitely comes in handy.
- Gym workouts
- Outdoor explorations
- Beach vacations
Cooling towels can come in handy anytime that you’ll be under the hot sun. You don’t need to play sports like tennis to get the full benefit of cooling towels. Whenever you have the chance to heat up too much, these towels are the perfect way to bring your body temperature back down.
Getting a cooling towel can be an easy way to make your workouts and competitions much easier on your body. They’re simple to activate, and the best ones last for hours. Hot summer days would no longer deter you and your workout plan once you get a cooling towel. Just make sure you know the materials it’s made of, and you’ll be sure to find a towel that upgrades your workout routine to the next level.