I think I've found it. The Kool Max® Fashion Vest by Polar Products uses frozen inserts to cool you during hot days. The vest offers five pockets where you can use the inserts, three of which are located on your spine to provide maximum cooling.
I know, I know - how often do we, as equestrians, have access to a freezer? What if I told you that Polar Products also makes special ice packs called Cool58™ Packs that can freeze at a temperature of 58 degrees? That's right, they can freeze in your fridge. But do they work?
The answer, in short: YES. Incredibly well, actually. I popped these packs into my fridge and within about an hour, they were frozen solid. Here's a tip: Make sure that you lay the packs out flat; when I say they freeze solid, I mean SOLID, so you might have an awkward half-bent pack sticking into your back if you don't think ahead.
The vest features five pouches for the inserts - three on the spine, and one on each side of the front. The pouches are each individually insulated to help make the cooling effect last longer, and a bit of Velcro at the top makes inserting and removing the packs easy.
I wore this vest both while riding and doing barn chores, and simply loved it. I chose super-hot, super-humid days to put this vest to the test, and it passed with flying colors. Each time I wore the vest outside its cooling properties lasted for between three and four hours. I wore it over a light T-shirt and could feel the cooling well. I was much more comfortable, and was a happier person as a result.
When my apartment's air-conditioning cut out, this vest went to work. I wore it as I was sitting on the couch and cleaning the apartment, and found it to be wonderfully soothing. It's fairly lightweight - just a few pounds with all of the packs inserted - and I found that I could comfortably sit and lie on the couch with it on (without the ice packs digging into my back).
I found the Kool Max Fashion Vest to be well made and of a great quality. Its seams and stitching are all straight and tight, and it's held up incredibly well to the wear that I've put on it. The vest itself is lightweight and quite breathable, made of cotton and spandex, and it can be machine washed, which is an advantage it has over many other cooling products. It's also highly effective even in muggy climates, since it doesn't use evaporation technology.
This vest is great for riding and barn chores, and I also think it would be excellent for long show days when you're standing around waiting. I have it in black, so it's discreet, and it doesn't look bulky when you're wearing it. It can't quite fit under my hunt coat, but it's perfect for schooling, lessons, or downtime on show days.
The one drawback to this vest (and to the Cool58™ Packs) is price. It is pricey (the vest is listed at $129.95 and the Cool58™ Packs are listed at $57.50 for a set), but then again, for the comfort it offers, I say it's totally worth it, especially if you're outside in the heat for long hours, or if you're heat-sensitive. This vest is a quality product that seriously works. Now that I have this vest, I don't know how I could live without it.
Want to learn more? Check out all of the cooling products offered by Polar Products on their website, or on their Facebook page. (And let them know that The Equine Insider sent you!) We'll have reviews of two more cooling products from Polar Products coming up shortly - in the meantime, check out our review of Polar's Cool Comfort Crown Cooler.