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6 Best Cooling Towels For Hot Workouts, Per Experts And Reviews

Nov 17, 2023

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You'll never work out without it again.

I say the more the merrier when it comes to workout accessories. Whether it’s new sneakers, hats, or water bottles, proper workout gear is key for making training fun, more comfortable, and performing your best. And, there’s a new must-have accessory on the block: cooling towels.

Any towel can get wet for a refreshing cool down, but a cooling towel is a unique product designed with high-tech evaporative fabric, says Alyssa Lombardi, CPT, a certified personal trainer, running coach, and exercise physiologist. “The difference is in the fabric, generally a synthetic microfiber material that is designed to keep cool," she says.

Craving a refreshing chill RN? Take a sneak peek at the top cooling towels:

Meet the experts: Alyssa Lombardi, CPT, is a certified personal trainer, running coach, and exercise physiologist. Dylan Balicki, CPT, is a NASM-certified personal trainer and Orangetheory regional fitness coach based in New York City.

While regular towels can be very heavy when wet and dry quickly, a cooling towel is meant to stay light and moist for an extended period of time, says Lombardi. It may seem magical, but the towel is also usually dry to the touch while holding in the moisture to stay chill, she adds. This is because the material prevents the water inside the fabric from evaporating and/or drying up. All you have to do is soak the towel in water, wring it out, snap a few times, and ta-da!

So, whether you’re running, hiking, biking, or just super-hot in bed, a cooling towel is a perfect and convenient way to cool off and dry off at the same time, says Lombardi.

Cooling towels are typically made from synthetic microfibers that are designed to hold cool moisture for long periods of time, says Dylan Balicki, CPT., an Orangetheory regional fitness coach. Here's how it works: Most towels are activated with water and set off an evaporative cooling process, he explains. The water is dispersed evenly across the towel and as the moisture evaporates, it creates a chilling effect. “The temperature of the cooling towel drops, and so does your body temp,” adds Balicki.

Most quality towels are made from polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) or microfiber, says Balicki. Both materials are lightweight and effective, but PVA can hold up to 12 times its weight in water. It’s typically more absorbent and stays cool for hours. Microfiber towels feel soft against the skin, but the chilling effect is not always dry to the touch. And while some towels have built-in cooling gels or alcohol-based fabrics, towels made from PVA may be best for the cooling and water wicking technology, research shows.

What's more, many cooling towels have built-in UPF 50, which is great for outdoor workouts and activities. Whether you're traveling or working out in the heat, see below for the best cooling towels on Amazon, all of which are trainer-recommended and loved by happy reviewers.

If you’re looking for the ultimate cooldown, Lombardi recommends the Frogg Toggs cooling towel. The machine washable towel provides up to four hours of cool relief and the hyper-evaporative material retains water while remaining dry to the touch. It’s also perfect for any activity since the towel can cool up to 30 degrees and provides UPF 50 sun protection.

Rave review: “This product is great for keeping cool in hot weather! It's amazing how easy they are to throw in the cooler and use over and over!”—Amazon

Blistering temperatures have nothing on you with the Sukeen cooling towels, says Balicki. The breathable mesh is designed to draw sweat away from your skin while staying cool for up to three hours. Plus, the chemical-free towel comes with a carrying pouch and carabiner clip so it’s perfect for on-the-go travel or attaching to your gym bag.

Rave review: “These were wonderful when we were at Disney. Really helped keep us cooler in all the Florida heat.”—Amazon

Whether you’re on a long hike, running a marathon, or in the hot yoga studio, the Mission microfiber cooling towel is one of Lombardi’s go-to’s. The soft, durable microfiber is designed for optimal comfort and the instant cooling technology stays cold for up to two hours. It also provides UPF 50 sun protection for even the hottest of days.

Rave review: “I'm so glad I had this towel during the last leg of my Ragnar run! It definitely kept me cool in the 105 heat index for a seven-mile run!”—Amazon

“Chill Pal is well known and arguably the best PVA towel there is,” says Balicki. The extra thick PVA takes longer to evaporate which means it stays cooler for longer. Plus, the towel is machine washable and can be cut to your preferred size. And for fashion purposes, the carrying pouch is extra cute for clipping on your gym back or yoga mat.

Rave review: “I love it. I live in Florida and after a workout or when I sweat, I throw this around my neck or on my head and it’s an instant cool down.”—Amazon

YQXCC is one of the biggest cooling towels on the market and comes with a nice carrying case, says Balicki. The material is an optimal combination of soft and durable. On top of that, the microfiber mesh is chemical free and gentle on skin. The cooling effect also lasts for several hours and is easily reactivated by a quick dip in water.

Rave review: “Not gonna lie, these puppies work. I planned a trip to Disney in the middle of the spring, with a hot day and barely any winds, I pulled these out and soaked them with room temp water. They turned ice cold like a cold-water bottle touching your skin.”—Amazon

When you need a refreshing chill on a hot day, this compact towel has got you covered. The fabric is breathable, soft, lightweight, and extra absorbent to lock in the water. It also comes with a small mesh pouch which is perfect for travel and/or running.

Rave review: “Took these to a music festival in the summer heat. Worked perfectly and was also helpful with preventing sunburn on my neck.”—Amazon

For the past four weeks, the Women’s Health team consulted two certified personal trainers, and then evaluated thousands of customer reviews and ratings to narrow down the best 6 items for a wide range of needs and preferences based on trainer recommendations and online customer reviews. We also consider key features like material, wicking technology, and sun protection.

Andi Breitowich is a Chicago-based writer and graduate student at Northwestern Medill. She’s a mass consumer of social media and cares about women’s rights, holistic wellness, and non-stigmatizing reproductive care. As a former collegiate pole vaulter, she has a love for all things fitness and is currently obsessed with Peloton Tread workouts and hot yoga.

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Meet the experts:Rave review: Rave review: Rave review: Rave review: Rave review: Rave review: Enhance performance. Reduce sun exposure. Maximize comfort.