You don't have to be an Olympic athlete to benefit from a cooling neck wrap.

By Maggie O'Neill
June 19, 2020
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When you think of a cooling neck wrap, you might automatically picture an athlete drenched in sweat with a terry cloth towel draped around his or her shoulders. But the truth is, you can benefit from using a cooling towel, even if you're not a total gym rat.

A cooling neck wrap can help anyone who plans on breaking a sweat, whether you're exercising, camping, cycling, lounging on the beach, or attending an outdoor sports game or concert. For most of these types of towels, in order to activate the cooling technology you must soak them in water, wring out the excess, and then either snap them a few times or twirl them overhead. The wrap absorbs the water and expands as it fills up, and then cools you down through the process of evaporation—the same way your body would when you sweat.

Many are designed to stay cold for a few hours, and once your towel looses its cool ~literally~, just wet it again and give it a snap. The great thing about cooling neck wraps is that they're reusable (yay for sustainability!) and extremely durable (read: you can wash them over and over again without worrying about them becoming defective).

But why are they *so* great for workouts, in particular? “When we overheat, it limits our endurance so much,” says Chelsey Wilkens, personal trainer at SoHo Strength Lab in New York City. Here's why: Heat exhaustion caused by exercise can cause debilitating symptoms such as weakness and dizziness. This is where a cooling neck wrap comes into play. It helps your body keep from overheating, meaning it can potentially help you keep up a high-intensity workout if you, for example, wear one while you're taking a break.

Additionally, cooling neck wraps can be helpful to those who have conditions that make them prone to overheating. For example, menopausal women and people with multiple sclerosis (MS) can benefit from a cooling neck wrap since it can help bring down their body temperature when it starts to get uncomfortably high.

Ahead, a guide to the best cooling neck wraps if you have a medical condition that makes you heat intolerant, as well as options that can aid in recovery from an intense workout, keep you cool on summer days, and even help to relieve fevers, hot flashes, headaches, and more.

Best for Workouts: Mission Enduracool Techknit Cooling Towel

Amazon

Serena Williams has been spotted with this versatile towel around her neck, and for good reason: When dry, it can be used to absorb the sweat on your neck, and when wet, it can cool to 30 degrees below average body temperature and stays cool for hours. To experience the cooling sensation, toss the towel in water, wring it out, and snap it three times. (Sounds like a magic trick, right?) What's also nice is that it's machine-washable, and the technology in the fabric won't break down no matter how many laundry days it sees.

One reviewer wrote: "Love this cooling towel - Bought 2 and went back to get a 3rd since I use it daily at the gym. Even after a year + of using this product - washing it, it still works awesome. I put cold water on, ring out and bring it the treadmill or elliptical with me, and when I start getting hot, I put it around my neck or use it by placing it on and around my face and it cools me down. I get so hot working out that this has been a life changer for me. I've been able to workout longer (indoor) by having this available so that I don't overheat!"

Best for Hot Days: Chill Pal Mesh Cooling Towel

Amazon

Beat the heat with this breathable, mesh cooling neck wrap. The towel has built-in evaporative technology to keep it cool for hours and the construction is thicker than other options on the market (which means more cooling power). Despite it being thicker, the airy mesh design won't feel overpowering or heavy on your neck or shoulders on sweltering hot days. Tons of reviewers put it to the test in extreme temperatures, and it effectively cooled them down.

"My mother and I both purchased one of these Chill-Pals for a mission trip the Haiti. Where I was working we had a heat index of 100-115 degrees a day, for eight days. Since I've previously had a heat stroke, this was a necessity. The towel kept me cool regardless of the temperature of the water I used on it. Most days it fit comfortably around my neck, or sometimes as a headband. After eight days of constant sweat, the towel only had a slight odor to it when I returned home. A quick wash and it's like new," shared a customer.

Best for Headaches: Ergodyne Chill Its 6700CT Cooling Bandana

Amazon

This cute, outdoorsy bandana is lined with absorbent and evaporative material that holds more water and creates a cooling effect that lasts up to four hours on a single soak. Just run it under water for a minute, swirl it in the air, and tie it around your neck or head to feel instantly cooled down. While it certainly can function as a lifestyle accessory, it also helps to bring down fevers, keeps night sweats at bay, and reduces the effect of heat exhaustion. Amazon customers commented on how well this bandana works for outdoor activities like hiking, and how it relieves headache and helps with mild nausea.

"This little bandana is awesome for fevers, neck aches, headaches and migraines! I haven't tested it outside, but I totally love it for a bad headache day," said a shopper.

Best for Hot Flashes: Hot Headz Cool Downz Cooling Bandana and Neck Wrap

Amazon

These 100 percent cotton bandana-style cooling wraps help bring down a fever and alleviate hot flashes. How? Just soak them in water for 10 to 15 minutes, and once the cooling gel is activated, they'll provide cool relief for up to four hours via evaporation. They’re also great for times when you know you’ll be in the sun constantly (think: beach days and camping trips), and reviewers love that they’re safe to use on pets and children, too.

"Helps with hot flashes and hot days!" raved a buyer. "I received this a while ago and recently I had to go back on steroids, because of [an] autoimmune disease. One side effect is constantly feeling hot, my skin feels like it's burning, even without a fever. I also get very uncomfortable if it gets much above 70 [degrees]. This is easy to use and comfortable enough, and helps to make me feel cooler."

Best Everyday Option: KoolGator Cooling Neck Wrap

Amazon

No refrigeration or freezing is required for this soft, breathable cooling towel, which snaps around your neck and lasts through the day. All you have to do to prepare it is soak the neck wrap in water for 20 minutes before you put it on in the morning. The non-toxic, absorbent crystal polymers, which are sewn into the middle chamber, are able to absorb hundreds of times their weight in water, and then this water evaporates during the day to keep you cool. Many shoppers noted the wrap was perfect for working outdoors, and one medical professional even relies on it while working in a hot facility during the COVID-19 pandemic.

One reviewer wrote: "I'm working in a covid unit. We have very little air conditioning and paper PPE + on. SO HOT! This really did help me tolerate the heat. I froze it. I need to get 3 more and keep them in a cooler in my car and swap them out about every 2 hours. If I have time to go get them. Just wetting them did help a little though."

Best for Menopause: Alfamo Cooling Towel

Amazon

This cooling neck wrap can hold its chill for three hours, bring your body temperature down by up to 30 degrees, and the fabric has built-in UPF 50 to protect you from the sun while wearing it outdoors. You can use it as a head covering or drape it around your neck to combat incessant hot flashes that won’t let up, or other conditions that cause your body to experience intense heat. Not only is this a great pick for those going through menopause and getting hot flashes, but one reviewer with a skin condition also commented on how it's helpful in keeping her skin at a cool temperature.

"Also, I am going through menopause and every night I am overheated, so I am looking forward to using this towel around my neck to help keep me cool. I used it last night already after just receiving it yesterday and it really helped. Looking forward to sleeping better with this little miracle towel," shared a customer.

To buy: Alfamo Cooling Towel (from $8; amazon.com)

Best for Multiple Sclerosis: Polar Products Neck & Upper Spine Wrap with Kool Packs

Polar Products

Multiple sclerosis symptoms can worsen when your temperature rises, making body temperature regulation crucial to people who live with the condition. This cooling wrap helps to cool the major arteries of the neck and upper spine, but it works slightly differently than others. Instead of soaking the towel in water, the water-based cooling packs must be frozen to get results. Once frozen, they stay chilled for up to two hours, and work in any climate (yes, even the humid ones). Several reviewers with MS noted just how amazing this towel is for making them more comfortable.

"I recently got diagnosed with MS and I am a very active person who lives in a very warm tropical environment. I love to cycle but the MS was making hard, until I got this wrap. It does an amazing at cooling me down and the symptoms that I experienced went down by half. Combined with riding early morning, I don't feel anything and I ride about 30 miles. I'm so happy with the product," said a shopper.

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