8 Best Cooling Towels of 2023, According to Fitness Experts
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These top-rated towels will help keep you cool in the heat.
Whether you’re sweating it out during an intense workout or spending hours outside under the scorching sun, finding a way to keep cool in the heat is essential. That’s where the best cooling towels come to the rescue, offering an easy, convenient way to quickly lower your body temperature and help you beat the heat.
“Cooling towels are designed to provide instant relief from heat,” explains Katie Corio, certified strength and conditioning specialist and owner of Corio Fit. “When you use a cooling towel, it helps absorb sweat and provides a cooling sensation on your skin, which can help you stay comfortable and avoid overheating.” These cooling abilities make them especially important for reducing the risk of heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke, during intense physical activities, says Jim White, R.D.N., A.C.S.M. Ex-P, owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios.
Meet the Experts: Jim White, R.D.N., A.C.S.M. Ex-P, owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios; Patricia Greaves, a NASM-certified personal trainer, corrective exercise specialist, nutrition coach, and the founder of StrongHer Personal Training; and Katie Corio, certified strength and conditioning specialist and owner of Corio Fit.
Among other uses, cooling towels are especially “great for workouts, outdoor activities, and even hot flashes,” says Corio. Made of highly absorbent, high-tech cooling fabrics that are activated with water, they’re actually super easy to use: Just wet the towel with a little water, wring it out, and snap it a few times before applying it to wherever on your body that needs cooling relief (usually around your neck is ideal).
Ahead, we’ve rounded up all the best picks as recommended by fitness experts. Whether you’re out hiking in the summer heat, trying a HIIT workout at the gym, or even gardening out in the sun in your backyard, turn to these top-rated cooling towels to keep you chill for hours.
Ready to beat the heat? Check out our top picks for the best cooling towels below.
Corio recommends the Frogg Toggs Chilly Pad cooling towel. A popular choice that “works really well,” she says, “it’s made from a high-quality material that’s both durable and effective at keeping you cool.” In fact, according to the brand, the material absorbs up to eight times its weight in water, and once wet, it quickly cools up to 30 degrees.
Over 7,000 Amazon reviewers give it a perfect five-star rating, raving that it’s lightweight, highly absorbent, and stays cool for a long time. “Wow, what a life saver these were!” wrote one shopper. “They definitely keep you cooler and are comfortable to wear.”
If you’re looking for a cooling that will keep you chill for a long time, Greaves recommends this pick from Cold Factor. “It keeps chilled for up to 4 hours before it needs to be re-soaked,” says Greaves. “It’s made of PVA [ polyvinyl alcohol] instead of microfiber, allowing it to absorb more water which increases its evaporative effect.” In fact, the brand claims that it stays cool for twice as long as microfiber towels.
Additionally, this towel offers UPF 50 sun protection. “I like using it during my park fitness classes when I’m out in the sun for extended periods of time,” says Greaves. “This towel is perfect for keeping me cool no matter what I am doing outdoors,” wrote an Amazon reviewer. “It keeps me cool for a long time without having to re-hydrate it often like some other cooling towels.”
“I love Sukeen cooling towels. They come in a colorful pack of four, so I can share them with my family (and match with my workout gear!),” says Greaves. “They stay cool for up to three hours and have a carrying case.” Made of a hyper-evaporative, breathable microfiber, these towels promise to stays cool for hours.
Oh, and did we mention it’s a top-rated best-seller on Amazon with over 14,000 five-star ratings? “It’s lightweight, and [the] absorbency is awesome. We were drenched with sweat at Disney and these were a life saver,” said one satisfied reviewer. “And the convenient bag and carabiner is perfect for carrying around!!”
“If you intend to use the cooling towels outside, you should look for ones with UPF protection as it aids in protecting your skin from excessive sun exposure,” says White. He specifically recommends this pick from Ergodyne, which is made of a highly absorbent and lightweight microfiber, and also comes in five different colors. “It has UPF 50 and is made of high-quality microfiber,” White notes. “It’s machine washable and is advertised to offer up to three to four hours of cooling relief!”
“Excellent product. Keeps you fresh without getting wet,” wrote one Amazon customer. “Perfect companion for exercise routines, warm days at the beach, or hikes. It helps to bring your body temperature down when you need it the most.”
A pick recommended by Corio, the Mission cooling towel is made of a soft, durable microfiber, offers UPF 50 sun protection, and comes in fun patterns in addition to solid colors. “It’s easy to use and provides a long-lasting cooling effect,” Corio notes. According to the brand, the towel cools up to 30 degrees below the average body temperature in as little as under a minute, and it stays cool for up to two hours.
Reviewers especially love that it’s “super lightweight” and comfortable to wear. “This towel is so very absorptive! After walking in the summer and being very sweaty, it is great to wipe off and start to cool down. Very lightweight, so carrying it with you while exercising is no problem,” said one Amazon shopper. “This is a remarkable towel that is both thin and light, so it won’t weigh your neck down,” added another.
Want the best bang for your buck? You can’t go wrong with this best-selling, top-rated Amazon pick that comes in a pack of four. “I really like these towels because they’re a great size, multifunctional, and they come with a carrying pouch with a clip attached,” says White. “They are high-quality, well-made microfiber and come in many colors which is fun!”
Plus: Over 7,000 Amazon shoppers give these towels a perfect five-star rating. “I got these for a trip to Florida in June, and they are singlehandedly keeping my family from melting onto the pavement,” raved one reviewer. “I cannot stress enough how much of a lifesaver it’s been having a cooling towel in near 100-degree temps...The fact that these come with little pouches and color coded carabineers is just a bonus.”
This top-rated cooling towel is not only made of a soft, highly absorbent polyamide/polyester blend that keeps you cool for hours, but it also offers UPF 50 for sun protection. Perhaps the best part is that it folds into a super compact size that’s great for travel or when you’re on the go—in fact, it fits into a small carrying pouch that fits in the palm of y0ur hand!
“This towel is a godsend. Not only does it fold down nice and small which is great for travel, but the fact that it can cool me down so quickly was essential in the heatwave that struck last summer,” wrote one Amazon shopper.
Made out of soft, sponge-like PVA material, the Chill Pal cooling towel boasts high absorbency to keep you cool for longer. It also comes with a convenient carrying pouch for easy transport on the go. Reviewers love that it’s super easy to use and keeps cool for hours. “These cooling towels are very absorbent and work great. The size is perfect and they keep a good grip on your shoulders during a workout,” said one Amazon reviewer. “These are a life saver. Keeps me cooler for pickleball, golf, any activity. So easy and convenient,” added another.
✔️ Pick the best material. Generally, most cooling towels are made from synthetic fibers such as microfibers or polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), which offer moisture-wicking and fast-drying properties, says Greaves. “Microfiber is a popular choice because it’s effective at absorbing sweat and water,” notes Corio. However, PVA may provide a longer cooling period, meaning it’ll keep you chill for longer without you having to re-wet it so often. “Towels made from PVA act like a sponge and can hold more water for longer periods of time without feeling heavy or transferring moisture to your clothing,” explains Greaves.
✔️ Look for UPF protection. If you’re planning to be outside in the sun, it’s important to find a cooling towel with UPF protection, as it “aids in protecting your skin from excessive sun exposure,” says White. “Look for a cooling towel with UPF protection of 50+ that will block 98% of the sun’s harmful UV radiations that can cause skin cancer,” advises Greaves.
✔️ Consider the size and portability. Corio recommends choosing a cooling towel that’s the ideal size for you—one that’s easy to fold and carry around. “Consider where you will be using the towel on your body, [and] look for towels that are easy to secure in place,” adds White. And if you’re planning to use the towel while you’re traveling or if you’re frequently on the move, you’ll want to look for one that’s portable, too. “Some towels have compact carrying cases making them easy to pack and travel with,” says Greaves.
✔️ Check the care instructions. Corio recommends checking how easy it is to clean and maintain the cooling towel. “Some are machine washable, while others might require more delicate care,” she notes.
“Cooling towels are used to prevent overheating by cooling your body down quickly to a comfortable level,” explains Greaves. “They are great for providing relief from extended exposure in hot weather or high intensity activity.” By helping to quickly lower your body temperature, using these towels can help reduce the risk of heat-related illness such as heat stroke or heat exhaustion.
Though they can be used anytime, anywhere, cooling towels are especially great for keeping cool during sweaty workouts, outdoor activities in the sun, and even hot flashes, says Corio. Their small size and lightweight design makes them convenient to take with you wherever you go. “[They’re] lightweight and easy to carry on the go. They’re also reusable!” says White.
The cooling properties of a towel all come down to the high-tech fabric. “Cooling towels’ blend of synthetic and natural fibers have a high water absorption rate,” explains White. “When placed in water, the fibers absorb the moisture.”
Once the towel is saturated with water, stretching—or snapping—the towel allows it to activate the cooling properties, says Greaves. Then, it can be placed on your body for a cooling effect. “When the cooling towel is placed on your skin, it draws the heat away from your body,” Greaves explains. “The water in the towel also evaporates as it pulls away the heat, creating a cooling effect similar to when our body sweats.”
“The duration of cooling [for a cooling towel] depends on humidity level, air temperature, and the towel’s material,” says White. “In general they will stay cool for a couple hours until they need to be rewetted.” According to Greaves, a “good quality” towel stays cool for a minimum of three hours. “The longer the towel is able to cool before having to re-saturate it, the better,” she says.
We consulted Jim White, R.D.N., A.C.S.M. Ex-P, owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios; Patricia Greaves, C.P.T., corrective exercise specialist, nutrition coach, and the founder of StrongHer Personal Training; and Katie Corio, certified strength and conditioning specialist and owner of Corio Fit. Additionally, we combed through hundreds of online ratings, reviews, and product specs to find the best cooling towels.
For more than 70 years, Prevention has been a leading provider of trustworthy health information, empowering readers with practical strategies to improve their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Our editors interview medical experts to help guide our health-focused product selections. Prevention also examines hundreds of reviews—and often conducts personal testing done by our staff—to help you make informed decisions.
Hannah Jeon is an Associate Commerce Editor at Prevention, where she covers expert-driven commerce content for all things health, beauty, and wellness. Previously the Editorial Assistant at Good Housekeeping, she earned her bachelor’s degree in creative writing and psychology from Johns Hopkins University. When she’s not on the hunt for all the best products online, you can often find her trying out new food spots in New York City or clicking away behind a camera.
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