Note: this article covers cooling vests for drive-thru and industrial workers. If you are a Critical Care Provider (Nurse, Doctor, PA, etc.), Military, Law Enforcement or Fire/EMS wearing PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), click here for our HAZMAT/CBRNE cooling solutions or here for a review of PPE Cooling Solutions for Medical Workers.
Most outdoor jobs can't be put on hold when the weather turns hot - from outdoor drive-thru employees to airline ramp workers, battling the summer elements is embedded in the job description. Employers have to get creative, finding innovative methods to keep employees cool in the intense heat and summer sun.
The implications for safety and health are too severe and costly otherwise - heat stroke, fatigue, and dehydration are serious concerns that limit your manpower and in extreme cases, land people in the hospital!
Interestingly enough, Phase Change Material (PCM) Cooling Vests offer an interesting solution. Let's brush up on some simple science before comparing the features of PCM Vests on the market.
Phase What? Temperature Who?
A phase change is when a material changes its state; for example, when water goes from being a gas (the water vapor that comes off a boiling pot) to a liquid or when liquid water freezes into a solid (turning water into ice). What's truly fascinating about all changes of state is that the temperature of the substance remains constant until the entire substance changes state. For example - you have a solid chunk of ice in a bucket and allow it to melt in the summer sun. The temperature of the water and the ice will remain at 32 degrees F (0 degrees C) until all of the ice melts. Only then will the temperature of the now water start to heat up! No matter how hot it is outside, this will always be the case (although the hotter it is, the faster the melting process will occur).
Important note: even though the temperature of the water/ice mixture isn't changing, the ice is absorbing a lot of heat from the environment to break the water's molecular bonds and change it's phase from a solid to a liquid. Do you see where I am going with this? A PCM like water can be used to absorb heat, while maintaining a constant temperature. Pretty cool, huh?
Water isn't the only PCM of course, but it's one of the most ideal - powerful enough to offer dramatic cooling, without falling into a dangerously low or dangerously hot temperature ranges.
Top 6 PCM Cooling Vests
|6 Best PCM Cooling Vests|
|Company||Qore Performance||EZ CoolDown||TECHKEWL||Glacier Tek||Texas Cool Vest||Arctic Heat|
|Product||IceVest HiVis (Drinkable)||Complete Industrial Vest||Phase Change Cooling Vest||The Original Cool Vest||Standard Cool Vest||Dexter Phase Cooling PCM Cooling Vest|
|Cooling Duration||2-6 hours||2 hours||2-3 hours||2-2.5 hours||2.5 hours||1.5 hours|
|Cost per Cooling Hour Capacity||$44||$114||$46||$76||$76||$150|
|Contents||Water||Vegetable Origin||Carbon Based Liquid||Bio Based Products||Undisclosed||Bio Based Products|
|Retains Heat Post-Melting||❌||✔️||✔️||✔️||✔️||✔️|
|Add'l Water Costs?||❌||✔️||✔️||✔️||✔️||✔️|
|Works in Cold Weather?||✔️||❌||❌||❌||❌||✔️|
The IceVest HiVis is an innovative piece of PPE that harnesses water's phenomenal heat absorbing capabilities - keeping hard working people cool and safe. What separates IceVest HiVis from other PCM Cooling Vests, though, is that the user can drink the water as it melts - cooling the body from the outside, while hydrating from the inside (and saving on the costs of bottled water). Properly applied, heat stroke and dehydration become a thing of the past.