Thursday, June 5, 2014

Cooling Vest Review

I just returned from the annual conference for the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) that I go to each year for my PhD program. This year it was held in Orlando, FL. Now Ohio this time of year is actually quite nice. I don't know if I blogged about the weather this winter at all, but if I didn't, I should have...it was SO COLD! We had a few days where school was cancelled, not because of too much snow, but because of too much COLD. It got down to -40 with the windchill...definitely too much cold...

Anyway, since we are now in spring, the weather is pretty nice. It's probably going to get hot soon (more on that later) but for now, I'm enjoying the warm temperatures and sunny days. But Florida at the end of May...completely different story...it was in the 90s every day with plenty of humidity. It was a bit of a challenge. Our hotel was about 1/2 mile from the convention center and just under a mile to restaurants and such. That meant a lot of walking in the heat. I enjoyed the walking, but definitely was feeling the effects of the heat during the week. It really made me start to question how I was going to manage this summer...because while Ohio typically doesn't get quite as hot as FL, the building I work in on campus is not going to have air conditioning at all for the entire summer. I'm not sure whose brilliant idea it was to fix the venting system in the SUMMER when we actually need it rather than the winter or even early spring when it's not an issue...

 I was nervous about how I was going to manage just knowing we wouldn't have any air conditioning, but being in FL kinda gave me an idea of what it could be like. I tend to overheat fairly easily and don't always notice until I've already gone too far. Plus, while I try to drink well throughout the year, it's more challenging to stay balanced with hydration in the summer, especially considering I don't ever get thirsty. So all those factors combined=potential for major crash if I wasn't careful.

And now to the review I mention in the title of this post!

One of the benefits of attending the ACSM conference is the exhibit hall where many different vendors have a booth/table set up. A lot of them have lab equipment designed for research and stuff like that, but there's also a lot of cool stuff for athletes and students and professionals in the field. One of the vendors this year was Cryovest. They are a French company and have designed a cooling vest to be worn by athletes before and after competitions or workouts. The purpose is to help reduce the core temperature of the athlete either before exercise to allow for a more intense workout or to help the athlete recover faster by cooling the body more rapidly following the exercise bout. However, another population that the vendor actually mentioned when I was talking with him was in populations of people who have difficulties regulating their body temperature!

When I heard that I was excited to give the vest a try. I had actually looked online for some cooling vests before, thinking that might help in the summer when I like to be outside even though it can be a challenge for me. But the vests tend to be kind of pricey and it was hard to tell how they would fit. It was important that the vest wasn't super bulky because I don't want it to be obvious that I'm wearing something. I'm usually comfortable with the people I work with on a regular basis knowing I have some medical issues, but I have to teach a couple classes this summer and run exercise programs, so I really didn't want it to be super obvious...this vest is great!

It's very adjustable with velcro straps on the sides. There are 8 ice packs that get inserted on the front and back of the vest (4 on each side) and velcro into their specific pockets. It's very low profile and can be worn under or over clothing easily, plus it's machine washable! I like wearing it over a t-shirt and under a long sleeve. (I know that seems weird to wear a long sleeve if I'm worried about overheating, but I actually still tend to feel cold a lot even when it's hot out...yay dysautonomia =P) I've worn it a couple days already and am very happy with it! It's cooled down a bit now, so I won't need it for the next few days, but it's nice knowing I have that option now.

I think the online price is somewhere around $185 not including shipping but not sure exactly because it's a French company. When looking at other vests I've seen, I think the price is comparable, even though I know it's a bit pricey. The big benefit that I see is that because this vest is designed for athletes it's very lightweight and low profile. The last thing runners want is to be burdened by a thick, heavy vest. Once I have put it on, I can go through my day and hardly notice I'm wearing it, plus it's not super obvious to OTHER people that I'm wearing it either. I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a cooling vest to help manage their temperature during the hot months of the year or during exercise!

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