There was a thread on Ultimate Dressage about the vests. Some of us had BAD experiences with CoolMedics vests, others love them. Mine is a very expensive, homely, too short, useless vest. I got no help from the company. Others posted with similar stories. Having said that, I know of two people who love theirs.
Apparently humidity also makes a difference, they dont' work as well in a humid climate. I'm in the very dry Central Valley of CA, so that didn't explain my vests failure.
From my professional experience these vests are more trouble than they are worth. Not only do you have to fool with the things but they are a positive detriment when they refuse to cool any more, and actually heat your body up. You would be much better served acclimatizing your body to warm conditions and keeping yourself fitter to tolerate those conditions. But it is wonderful that they are SO darling - you can sparkle as you faint dead away!
My 9 year old son loves his. It is a Coolmedics. He uses during lessons and also wore it at the last show under his coat. It was 90+ degrees and they did not waive coats, but he was happy and cool with his vest!
Of course when I bought him one I did not buy myself one so I can only go by what he thinks of it!
The company has been very easy to work with. We ordered his while at Rolex. It took forever to get it and they sent the wrong one. They sent a prepaid package to ship it back to them so they could send the correct one, but it took them 2 weeks. By that time the temps here were hitting 90 degrees and e wanted to use his vest so I let him. I emailed the company and they very sorry for the delay and went ahead and sent the vest he had ordered and let us keep the mistake vest they had sent.
I am planning on ordering the head cooler that goes in the helmet for him. I will order one for me also
I bought one, as I am always hot unless it is 50degrees. In our humid, hot summers it only made me hotter, clammy, sticky. It warmed up so fast on my body then sat there and did not evaporate. It is gathering cobwebs in a corner.
.....keeping yourself fitter to tolerate those conditions.
I am having such a hard time dealing with the heat this summer. I am in a more humid climate so maybe it's the humdity more so than the heat but could you share how you've made yourself fitter to tolerate the heat?
I have one and wear it on hot days and it does cool me off. The vest is quite cool when I am finished riding. I just soak before getting one, put on the vest and ride. When I am done I hang it up and it is ready to go for the next ride. I am in Northern California so the humidity is not that much of a problem. I do notice the difference as stay much cooler with it on and the heat has always been a problem for me.
So they work purely by evaporative cooling, and are only as cool as the water used to soak them?
Yes, just like a wet t-shirt or wet towel on a fan.
I have 2 vests and about a dozen neck coolers. They definitely work. They cool me down about 10 degrees. BUT, you have to really soak them for several hours to let the gel inside the vest absorb as much water as they can. Slightly rinse them right before you get in the saddle - so they will not drip. But do not rinse them "damp dry" - you want to leave some water in your vest. In a hot weather, let's say 90+F, if you are riding under the sun, it takes about 30-60 minutes for the vest to stop working. By that time it's mostly dry and it can make you even hotter. You can "hug" yourself and if your vest doesn't feel cold, take it off, it's too dry and useless already. So I have 2 vests that I switch. I keep one in the bucket of cold water all the time, ready to go.
Most common mistakes with cooling vests are: not soaking them long enough, or rinse them too much, too dry, or wear them for too long.
I have two kinds...one evaporative (CoolMedics) and another that has frozen gel packs inserted into pockets. I wouldn't show in either, but would wear them for warmup and then shed before going in the arena for a test.
For me the CoolMedic works well in all but the most humid weather. The other vest is bulky and awkward, but really works the best of the two as far as cooling.
I live in southern California and I'm really happy with my Coolmedics vest. I'm an eventer and wear it under my vest for XC and it really saves me on those hot days. I'd say it takes about an hour to dry. As someone said earlier, it's vital to get it really wet and let it soak before wearing it. Just spraying it off with a hose isn't enough. I tend to put it in a bucket that's about 1/4 full of water and let it sit there while I drive to my lesson.
Also, during the summer for lessons I tend to wear it with just a sports bra underneath. I'm about a size 8 and I got the child's large, which fits great. The adult sizes were too long for my petite frame.