Cooling Vests: Air Conditioning on Your Motorcycle?

Apr 16, 2014 View Comments by

Cooling Vests: Air Conditioning on Your Motorcycle?It’s mid July and you’re on tour. If you happen to be riding anywhere south of the Canadian border, you’re likely to get rather hot, especially in the south and west. We’ve all been there. The sun beats down, your eyes squint, and beads of sweat roll down your face. Your clothes are drenched and every stop sign or light is torture. This oppressive heat would send normal folks scurrying indoors where the A/C is cold and refreshing beverages reside in the fridge. But not you; you’re a motorcyclist. So what can you do for just a little relief? Well if you’ve got some water to spare, these cooling vests can help immensely.

All three work by the principle of evaporative cooling, which is also how your body regulates its temperature by sweating. The hot air causes the water stored in the vests to evaporate, thereby drawing heat away from the body. For these personal coolers to work with maximum effectiveness, you need lots of airflow through your outer layer, so a mesh jacket or good venting is a must. What you wear underneath the vest is also important. Synthetic base layers will enhance the cooling effect while a normal cotton T-shirt will hinder it. Also, the more humidity there is in the air, the less effective these products will be.

ProductgroepREV’IT! Challenger 
Cooling Vest Insert
Of the three solutions here, the Challenger is the most affordable, however it’s also designed specifically for REV’IT! jackets. To harness the Challenger’s cooling abilities, simply soak the vest in water for a few minutes, wring it out so that it’s not dripping, and zip it into your jacket. In ideal conditions, the Challenger can cool you down for up to six hours. It has a waterproof membrane on the back, which is designed to keep you from getting wet. The fill-up-and-go function of the Kula and Macna designs does a better job of keeping you dry, but the soaking feature of the Challenger is quicker and easier.

REV’IT! Challenger 
Cooling Vest Insert
Price: $89.99
Sizes: S-XL
Colors: Black

Cooling Vests: Air Conditioning on Your Motorcycle?Kula XD Vest from 
Silver Eagle Outfitters
Unlike the Challenger, the Kula has a fill cap on the back that allows you to fill the vest with 14 to 16 ounces of water. This location may prove uncomfortable depending on the jacket you wear over it. After filling, you have to work the water around to spread it through the whole garment, a ritual that takes just a bit more time than a simple dunking. Once inside, the water can only get out by evaporation. Depending on conditions, the Kula can keep working for up to eight hours. It is also antimicrobial and machine washable, which are very important for an item designed to be both hot and wet.

Kula XD Vest from Silver Eagle Outfitters
Price: $119
Sizes: XS-2XL
Colors: Black, Silver, Tan, Royal Blue, Hi-Viz Yellow

Cooling Vests: Air Conditioning on Your Motorcycle?Macna Dry Cooling Vest
Like the Kula, the Macna vest works by filling it with water and working the water throughout the vest. We find that having the fill cap on the front is a more comfortable arrangement. The Macna holds just a tiny bit more water than the Kula, but any difference in cooling time is negligible. The dry cooling vest does have a pattern of holes across the front and back that aid airflow through the vest and enhance the evaporative effect. Like the Kula, the Macna also fights microbes and can be thrown in a washing machine. Though it is the priciest of the three, the Macna Dry Cooling Vest also has the edge, albeit slight, over the Kula in overall design and function.

Macna Dry Cooling Vest
Price: $166.99
Sizes: XS-M, L-XL, XXL-3XL, 4XL-5XL, and 6XL-7XL
Colors: White



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About the author

There’s something relentlessly romantic about riding a motorcycle. I’m blessed to know that feeling. With a background in photography and a love for motorcycles, I’m interested in the beauty and honesty of the open road. You’ll find me riding Carolina’s roads on my Suzuki SV650.