The Polar Products Fashion Vest for men and women is a conundrum. It cools far too well in some areas (requiring those sensitive to cold to remove it) and not at all in others (there is zero cooling on the upper chest). It touts fashion in its name (always a risk), but it is decidedly plain despite its pockets. It boasts discretion, but cannot overcome the mere fact that wearing a vest in the summertime is not terribly discreet. The men’s version features eight cooling packs while the women’s version features five, and unfortunately one of the cold packs randomly sprung a leak, reminiscent of our 2011 testing. Curiously, the insulated lining surrounding the cool packs on this vest is different than the one found on the Kool Max standard vest, perhaps contributing to its lower cold sensitivity score.
In terms of fit, the arm holes seem cut wrong, being a touch too tight along the front of the arms, pinching the upper arm (see side photos). Sizing of the vest is quite large, so it draped the torso rather than hugging it, diminishing cooling efficiency. And surprisingly therein lies this vest’s most attractive attribute. We tested the Kool Max Fashion on various body types, and comfort for those plus sized was praised over other, snugger-fitting vests (which probably wouldn’t get worn for that very reason). The vest also can be left unzipped for maximum comfort. The loose fit helped prevent overcooling in testing--indeed for that reason we preferred the power of the ice packs, which we would tend to avoid with snug-fitting vests. Still too cold? Toss it on the back of a chair for 15 minutes and then toss it back on (with no awkward Velcro straps to get in the way). This makes it easy to wear in a workplace environment. And while it is not concealable in the traditional sense, it doesn’t appear to the layperson to be a cooling vest, either, although the ice packs along the spine in the back (seated this was not terribly comfortable) give the secret away.
Cold Sensitivity: 1
Weight: 4 lbs 5 oz (8 packs), 3 lbs (5 packs)
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