You already know the drill; as the temperatures get higher, riding your motorcycle tends to get more and more unpleasant. And this is exactly when most riders will look for ways to remove heat from their body. One such way is by using a motorcycle cooling vest.
But one question remains.
Do motorcycle cooling vests work? Motorcycle cooling vests provide a cooling effect that can last several hours and help lower or maintain the motorcyclist’s core body temperature. It is important to remember that motorcycle cooling vests work better in arid climates, and their cooling effect will be limited in areas with high humidity.
If you ride in hot weather, you should definitely consider wearing a cooling vest. However, it is recommended to understand how these vests really work in order to get the most out of them. And this is exactly what we will cover in this article.
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How do motorcycle cooling vests work?
Before we continue, let me clear one thing. Motorcycle cooling vests do not replace your standard motorcycle jacket. Motorcycle cooling vests do not offer any meaningful protection to your body in an accident. They are worn underneath your gear.
Generally, there are several different types of cooling vests. There are evaporative cooling vests, ice-chilled cooling vests, PCM cooling vests, cool flow cooling vests, and thermoelectric cooling vests.
Motorcycle cooling vests are usually evaporative cooling vests.
Motorcycle cooling vests work by the principle of evaporative cooling. Hot temperatures will cause water to turn into vapor and evaporate, which draws heat away from the vest, resulting in a lower temperature and cooling the body.
They contain water-absorbing material (usually specially treated cooling crystals or other cooling agents). This material soaks up water and holds it while slowly releasing it while dehydrating out, which reduces the body temperature of the rider.
All you have to do is soak the cooling vest in water for 3 to 15 minutes, wring it out well, and put it underneath your riding gear.
The inside of cooling vests is usually made from a water-resistant material that will keep water away from your body. However, wringing it out is highly recommended as otherwise water will leak out and make you wet. You put the cooling vest over your shirt and the riding jacket on top of the cooling vest.
The cooling vest will then provide a cooling effect over a period of time. Eventually, the cooling vest will stop working, at which point you need to resoak it again in order to get it to work again.
How long do motorcycle cooling vests work?
A cooling vest can stay good for years as long as you take good care of it. That being said, some cooling vests may have certain wet/dry cycles going past which their absorbency and cooling effect may start to diminish.
When it comes to how long a cooling vest will provide a cooling effect for, that depends.
It depends on the outside temperatures and humidity and how you ride your motorcycle, but most motorcycle cooling vests will provide a cooling effect for anywhere between 1 to 4 hours before you’ll need to resoak them in order to get them to work again.
When is the best time to use a motorcycle cooling vest?
Usually, most of the riders find 90°F to be where they will start feeling discomfort while riding their motorcycles. And many riders will simply avoid riding at temperatures higher than 100°F or 110°F.
See article: How warm should it be to ride a motorcycle?
Because of that, motorcyclists will avoid red lights and stopping in direct sunlight; however, the impact of their gear should also be considered.
Wearing the right motorcycle gear is very important during the warmer months of the year as it can make a ride a lot more comfortable.
When the temperatures go higher than 80°F, a cooling vest will definitely help in keeping your cool.
Overall, motorcycle cooling vests work best at temperatures between 80°F and 120°F. However, some motorcycle cooling vests are less effective in humid climates. The higher humidity slows down water evaporation, which is exactly how motorcycle cooling vests work. So the higher the humidity in your area, the less effective your cooling vest will be.
How to wear a cooling vest
Wearing a motorcycle cooling vest is very easy; here’s how to do it properly.
- Soak the motorcycle cooling vest in cold water for 3 to 15 minutes.
- Shake out the motorcycle cooling vest well or leave it hanging for a few minutes to remove the extra water.
- Put on a regular t-shirt.
- Put on the motorcycle cooling vest, and
- Put on your motorcycle jacket on top while keeping the vents open.
After use and before storing it, ensure the cooling vest is completely dry because if there is still water trapped in it, it can get moldy.
As you can see, wearing a motorcycle cooling vest is very easy to do, and all you need is access to some water. However, there are a few extra tips I’d like to share with you.
How to make your cooling vest work better and last longer
However, the type of your motorcycle jacket has a big impact on how effective your cooling vest can be.
Here’s the thing.
Usually, in warm weather, riders prefer to wear mesh jackets simply because a mesh jacket will keep you cool and, in combination with cooling vests, can make for a powerful combo that will keep you cool even in hot climates. The problem is that mesh creates a higher airflow around your body, which causes the cooling vest to dry out faster, especially at the front.
This is why wearing your cooling vest with a non-mesh motorcycle jacket is usually better as long as it has zipper vents. Keeping the vents open is mandatory as it will let in more air.
In a way, you will still get a lot of air circulation around your body that will provide a cooling effect in combination with the cooler vest. But since this is not a mesh jacket, less air will move around your cooling vest and thus will prevent it from drying out as quickly as it normally would if you wore a mesh jacket.
With a non-mesh jacket, you will be able to ride for longer before needing to resoak your cooling vest.
The next pro tip is to get a fairly big zip bag—about 1 gallon or so zip bag. The neat thing about motorcycle cooling vests is that they do not take a lot of space. So you can carry your cooling vest in a zip bag presoaked so you can put it on whenever you needed.
Pros and cons of motorcycle cooling vests
They will keep you cool
Undeniably, and the sole reason why we used them is that they will keep us cool while the temperatures outside are high.
Motorcycle cooling vests are easily one of the easiest and most affordable ways to stay cool when the temperatures outside are high.
The difference in the rider’s body temperature can sometimes be between 10°F to 35°F lower when wearing a cooling vest than not wearing one.
You will be less fatigued and more alert
The good thing about cooling vests that many people may overlook is that because the vest will keep you cool, this also reduces your overall fatigue while riding your motorcycle. The warmer it is, the faster you will tire out and the higher the likelihood of making a mistake is. Just a few degrees can often make a big difference. And a simple piece of gear like a cooling vest can help you stay less tired and more alert while riding, which is a key aspect when it comes to motorcycle safety.
They can leave damp spots
And it is true that you will feel some dampness and moisture, and after wearing your cooling vest, you may have some damp spots on the clothing you are wearing underneath.
As you are soaking the cooling vest, in other words, fully submerging it underwater, this means that there will be some water left on the inside of the cooling vest, which can drip off the bottom.
To keep the odds of the cooling vest leaving moisture on your pants or shirt to a minimum, make sure that you shake the cooling vest out well before putting it back on or at least leaving it for a few minutes to hang so that the water can drip down.
They can be heavy
Cooling vests will soak up some water that they will then use to provide a cooling effect. The amount of water cooling vests will soak up will vary from vest to vest, but generally, it can be between 2 to 8 pounds. This means that you will inevitably feel the extra water weight of the cooling vest on your back. Although the weight is not that much, it may feel uncomfortable to some people. That being said, as the water in the cooling vest slowly evaporates, this extra weight will also slowly reduce.
They are not effective all the time
Motorcycle cooling vests are excellent when riding in hot weather. However, their advantage is felt when you are moving and capable of forcing some air through the jacket and around the cooling vest. At sop lights, when there is a lack of any winds or breeze, you will not feel any noticeable cooling effect.
On top of that, you should also keep in mind that you may need to resoak your cooling vest multiple times on longer rides. And in addition to that, they will not be as effective in humid climates.
Are motorcycle cooling vests worth it?
Especially after taking into consideration that motorcycle cooling vests are easy to obtain, maintain, and fairly cheap, this makes them definitely a good choice for many riders that have to go out in the heat of the day.
This will allow you to reduce fatigue and not need to stop for a break as often.
Even though cooling vests come with some downsides like the tendency to get you wet, and you will definitely feel the extra weight from the water, they are super easy to use and, most importantly, reuse, and if you have to ride in hot temperatures between 90°F to 115°F, they are an investment worth doing.
In any case, being slightly wet is better than soaking in sweat in my book.