Versatility in a cooling vest is a big advantage, so when TechNiche International sent ActiveMSers their Hybrid Elite Sport Cooling Vest for testing, the deck appeared to be stacked. The vest, a true hybrid, can be cooled by its low-profile phase change packs, which we found last a solid two and a half hours, or by evaporative cooling through its HyperKewl fabric, which can provide hours of additional relief. When the cooling packs are exhausted, removing them and soaking the vest in water for a couple of minutes activates the HyperKewl, dropping over a pound and a half in the process. In testing, we preferred the phase change over the evaporative cooling, but the flexibility is especially appealing when on the move (imagine quickly charging the vest in a cold mountain stream while hiking).
Unlike most of the vests in this test, loose-fitting clothes can also be worn over this vest when using the cooling packs, the added bulk being not very noticeable. There are small design touches that further impress, like Velcro tabs on the cooling packs to prevent them from sliding down in the vest. But all is not perfect in this department. Sliding said cooling packs into the mesh pockets is trying, as the sharp plastic corners of the packs frequently get caught up. This is somewhat remedied by a small trim of the corners with a pair of scissors. Fit is good but not perfect, as upper body movement feels a bit constricted when the packs are solid, especially when moving the arms inward. These are minor issues, though, compared to the build quality of the test vest, with seams that appear to be splitting as zoom-in photographs show. Is it widespread sloppy construction or did we just get a bad example? (For the record, the vest is made in China, the phase change squares in the United States.) Still, this TechNiche International vest notches above average scores in many categories of our test. Women gave it high marks in chest comfort. Evaporative ratings are in parenthesis.
Cold Sensitivity: 4
Dryness: 5 (1)
Weight: 3lb 15oz (2 lbs 5 oz)
Vintage Wash Crew Under-Vest Tee
Most cooling vest manufacturers recommend a light shirt be worn under the vest to both prevent chaffing and to maintain vest cleanliness. Alas, many T-shirts are made of thick cotton and weigh 6 ounces or more. ActiveMSers has teamed with MStshirts.com to procure the ideal under-vest T-shirt. Weighing 3.7 ounces (fabric weight), this under-vest tee is among the lightest of any shirt available on the market and is perfectly suited to be worn under phase change cooling vests or on its own. Made of 100% ring spun combed breathable cotton, the tee comes in the unisex sizes of XS, S, M, L, XL, 2XL, 3XL,and has a well-loved look thanks to its garment wash treatment. Available in white, black, blue and red. Price: $12.
Members of ActiveMSers can save up to 20% on select cooling vests with reserved coupon codes. To get your discount, join today by signing upfor our newsletter. NOTE: ActiveMSers has negotiated these discounts and has no other affiliation with these companies and receives no compensation or commission of any kind. Vests were donated for testing purposes.