If you've been on Facebook lately, you may have noticed a lot of promotional ads for Arctic Cool. They sell cooling shirts, hats, and other accessories that are supposed to cool down the more you sweat. Since I am looking into starting a hiking/backpacking/trail running store in Wampum, PA; and because my son wilts in the heat, I thought this would be a great product to test and possibly add as an inventory item to the store.
I bought him the shirt (on sale, of course!), and we tested it first on a bike ride. We rode the Allegheny River Trail from Emlenton to Kennerdell and back. The weather was sunny and hot - in the high 80's, low 90's, so we figured it would be a good starting point to test the shirt.
We made it through both tunnels (by the second one, we realized that, although we didn't bring flashlights, our cell phones have flashlights...), and turned around just after the asphalt trail turns into a gravel road. This was a key test for the shirt, since both of our bikes are road bikes and not really made for the gravel surface, so the extra effort took its toll. At the halfway point, he wasn't experiencing any amazing cooling, but at least he wasn't dying from the heat. So - the shirt passed the first test: would it keep him from wilting? Yes, it did.
We turned around and headed back to Emlenton and the car. As the day wore on, it got brighter, sunnier, warmer and more humid. The shirt held up, continuing to keep him from feeling the full effects of the weather, but still not any cooler to the touch. By the time we reached the car, we felt that the shirt was at least passable, although it didn't really perform according to the company's claims. We wrote part of that off to the constant wind created as part of cycling, and he did admit that the shirt breathed very well, so he didn't really sweat much on the ride. Second test: sweaty? Not really, but passable for breathability.
Next step - the REAL test - would be hiking. We chose the HOTTEST, MOST HUMID day of the year for this test.
Saturday, July 20. 90 degrees Fahrenheit, 85% humidity. Bright sunshine. Yes, we were on a fairly covered trail - Alpha Pass in McConnell's Mill State Park has tons of tree cover - but the sun does come down through the canopy and the humidity around the Slippery Rock Creek can be quite high. We made sure to measure progress all along the route, which included us doing trail maintenance (I'm a trail adopter with the North Country Trail Association - Wampum Chapter, and this is my section to help maintain), stopping to take pictures (we were also testing out my new Canon EOS Rebel T6), and just doing some generally moderate hiking. My son once again commented on the breathability of the shirt, noting its similarity to the orange shirt he typically wears when we hike. It wasn't until we were over halfway through our hike, however, that the shirt actually started to get cooler! He first noticed it after we crossed Eckert Bridge and started hiking back on the other (easier) side of the creek. Since we weren't stopping as much, and were putting continuous effort into our hike, he noticed that the shirt underneath his pack wasn't sweatsoaked. He also commented that the shirt actually felt cooler against his skin. We stopped, and when I touched the shirt, I confirmed that not only didn't it feel wet, but it definitely felt cooler than a few moments before when we had done the same test. We did not bring a thermometer with us (boy, that forehead scan thermometer would have been a great tool to bring with us that day!), but unscientifically and anecdotally, the shirt worked.
We also noticed that he needed far less hydration than we expected on this hike, especially considering the heat and humidity of the day. Bonus!
Overall, we would absolutely recommend the Arctic Cool shirt for its light weight, breathability, and cooling effectiveness. It was worth the sales price, and likely work slightly more - but I don't pay full price unless absolutely necessary! Now, if only they had some women's clearance shirts in MY size in a color other than black...
Stay safe on the trails!