Monday, August 17, 2009

Product Review - Cool Off Bandana

HEAT! It's the four-letter word that brings fear to many runners. It saps our strength and will to push ourselves ever faster and farther. I'm one of those runners. If I was Superman, heat would be my kryptonite. Here are some things you can do to get you through the dog days of summer.
  • Run in the early morning. If you need to do a longer run and don’t have enough time, do part of your run in the morning and finish it up in the early evening when it’s cooler again. Not ideal, but better than just a short run or no run at all. I like to start my long runs by 8AM in the summer months.
  • Find a route that provides more shade or hit the trails which usually provide more protection from the sun. Running on a shaded trail can feel up to 10 degrees cooler than running in direct sun.
  • In addition to hydrating well before your run, make sure you carry water or sports drink with you on the run by either wearing a hydration belt with one or more bottles, a hydration pack, or carry a handheld bottle. I use any one of these depending on the distance of my run.
  • Splash it on! Fill one of the bottles on your hydration belt with water. Not to drink, but to pour on your head during your run. Regularly pouring a little water on your head/body during your run can help to increase the evaporation-cooling effect. I find pouring cold water on the back of my neck helps to cool me down. Unfortunately, the cooling effect is temporary.
  • Wear a visor or a hat with a bill. This will provide shade for your eyes/face as well as help to keep the sweat rolling off your head from getting in your eyes. Make sure to use a hat appropriate for the heat that’s made of lightweight technical fabric that will promote evaporation.

OK, all of that is well and good but I discovered something that works better than anything I have tried in the past. It's called the Cool Off Bandana. The Cool Off Bandana is not your basic cotton bandana. It's a double layer bandana with a piece of chamois sewn inside. There is a large opening on each side to load ice into the pocket of the bandana. Fill it with ice, roll it up like a cigar, tie it around your neck and you're good to go. As the ice melts, the cold water is absorbed by the chamois keeping you cool and dry, no dripping water down your back.

I did a 2:40 long run in 88 degrees and felt very comfortable the entire time. Although the ice melted rather quickly, the chamois held the cold water in the bandana so the cooling effect was felt long after the ice had melted. By rotating the bandana every 20 minutes it remained cool for about 1.5 hours. Keeping the carotid arteries and the major vascular network at the back of the neck cool during the run helped to keep my core body temperate from rising as much as it would have without the ice wrap.

The Cool Off Bandana is well made with quality material and strong, tight stitching and should last a good long time. It's available at Zombie Runner for the ridiculously high price of $18. I was fortunate to get mine for $13 but I still feel the profit margin on this item is out of sight. If you have any talent with a needle and thread (Trail Pixie) I'm sure you could make one yourself for less than $3 dollars. Since I have none, I got out the plastic and ordered mine online. Another alternative is to use a regular bandana filled with ice cubes. It wont work as well but it's better than nothing. After seeing (and feeling) how the Cool Off Bandana performed in the heat, it's worth every penny to me!

Superman out....


  1. Thanks, Dan. I will def try the bandana. I need all the help I can get. With my schedule, I often do speed work and tempo runs at noon (lunch break); for the long runs, I end up running 2 hours in the heat, even if I start by 8, which I always try. Since I am stubborn and have no common sense (he he) I just push through and feel just miserable for 1/2 of these runs. I am really looking forward to Fall/Winter running. In the meantime, I'll give the bandana a try. Thanks! Ana

  2. Thanks, great idea to fill a water bottle with just water to dump on your head! I'm going to check out the bandana too.

  3. Ana and Meg, give the ice bandana a try. I'm sure you'll find it helps.

  4. Hi Dan, One thing I've been trying is filling a regular bandana with ice cubes and rolling it up then tying it around my nect. If you wear a cap with a top (which I think you do) you can also stick some cubes under there and let them melt down, which could inter fer with vision through your galsses...? I will use the ice cube bandada technique if it gets unbearable at GLER. HOT HOT HOT

  5. Pixie, I used to put ice cubes in my cap before I worn glasses. It works well too. I think it's going to be cooler for GLER, fingers crossed.

  6. Do you run with a dog? Do you think I could jimmy something around his collar like this bandana?

    1. Joyce, I'm sure this on a regular bandana would work.

  7. In my case i use the Ergodyne Chill-Its 6700CT cooling bandana. Help's very well for me in the hot weather. After few weeks maybe i take the cooling vest as well.


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