10 Best Cooling Towels to Keep You Cool on Sweaty Days

Beat the heat with the Mission Max Plus Cooling Towel

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Whether you’re hanging at the beach, working hard in the backyard, or pushing through an outdoor workout, a cooling towel offers a quick way to lower your body temperature and beat the heat. Cooling towels are made of high-tech fabrics that are activated with water. Just wet your towel, wring it out, and snap it a few times before applying it for cooling relief.

Reviewed & Approved

Our best overall selection is the Mission Max Plus Original Cooling Towel because it's chemical-free and antimicrobial and provides UPF 50 protection. Another good choice is the Chill Pal 12-in-1 Neck Gaiter, which can be worn in many different styles and stays put as you run.

While cooling towels don't provide hydration or full-body sun protection—two other hot-weather essentials—they can be a helpful tool to have on hand when you are spending time outdoors in hot and humid weather (especially if you are also elevating your body temperature with exercise). We selected cooling towels for our list based on the material, care instructions, size, and affordability.

Based on our research, here are the best cooling towels on the market.

Best Overall: Mission Max Plus Original Cooling Towel

4.7
Mission Max Plus Original Cooling Towel

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Stays cool for up to 2 hours

  • Antimicrobial

  • UPF 50 protection

Cons
  • Dries quickly

Who else recommends it? Bustle also picked the Mission Max Plus Original Cooling Towel.

What do buyers say? 85% of 300+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.

This highly effective towel from Mission is our top pick because it starts to cool within 30 seconds of touching cold water. You simply soak it in cold water, wring it out, and it’s ready to drape around your neck. It stays cool for two hours, but once it starts to get warm, simply rinse and repeat. The soft and durable antimicrobial towel is chemical free, machine washable, and even provides UPF 50 protection from the sun.

The Max Plus towel is long, so it will stay in place when you put it around your neck, and it comes in four color options.

Size: 36 x 9.5 inches | Care: Machine Wash | Fabric: 61% Polyester, 30% Nylon, 9% Spandex

Best for Running: Chill Pal 12-in-1 Multi-Style Cooling Neck Gaiter

4.8
Chill Pal 12-in-1 Multi-Style Cooling Neck Gaiter

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • 12 ways to wear

  • Budget-friendly

  • 4 color options

Cons
  • Doesn't stay cool for long

  • Tight fit

For running in hot weather, what could be more convenient than having a cooling towel that stays put on your neck? This Chill Pal Cooling Band can be worn as a neck gaiter, balaclava, headband, bandana, face cover, hair cover, and more.

You simply soak it in cold water, wring it out, and it’s ready to wear. If it starts to get warmer, repeat the steps, and stay cool while working up a sweat during your run.

Size: 6 x 4 inches | Care: Machine Wash | Fabric: Not listed

Best for Hiking: Ergodyne Chill-Its Cooling Towel

Ergodyne Chill-Its Cooling Towel
Pros
  • Fun colors

  • Stays cool for up to 4 hours

  • Drip-free

Cons
  • Rubbery feel

  • Heavier than most towels

This cooling towel can easily be draped around your neck during a hot weather hike for fast, cooling relief. The activated advanced PVA material retains water while remaining dry to the touch, so it keeps you cool without the added bulk.

The 29- by 13-inch towel is thicker than most other cooling towels, so it absorbs more water and stays cool for longer, but it may also be heavier than other cooling towels listed.

Size: 13 x 29.5 inches | Care: Machine Wash | Fabric: PVA

Best Hoodie: Mission Cooling Hoodie Towel

Mission Cooling Hoodie Towel

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Contours to fit your head

  • Cools in 30 seconds

  • UPF 50 protection

Cons
  • May need to be worn under hat or band to stay in place

Sometimes draping a cooling towel around your neck just isn’t sufficient to combat the intense summer heat. With this hoodie towel covering your head, you’ll get even more of a cooling effect when you’re working in the garden or hanging at the beach.

It stays cool for up to two hours when activated with water and also has UPF 50 protection.

Size: One Size Fits Most | Care: Machine Wash | Fabric: 100% Polyester

Best With UV Protection: Alfamo Cooling Towel

Alfamo Cooling Towel

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Microfiber

  • Lightweight

  • UPF 50 sun protection

Cons
  • Prone to dripping

Beat the heat and get some sun protection with this lightweight and silky-soft cooling towel. It has UPF 50+ sun protection and a superb cooling effect that lasts for three hours without reactivation.

Whether you use it as a cooling blanket at the beach or a headcover during a round of golf, it’s available in four different sizes, so you can choose the one that best suits your needs.

Size: (Three options) 11 x 33 inches, 13 x 40 inches , 14 x 47 inches, or 29 x 60 inches | Care: Machine Wash | Fabric: 45% Polyester, 55% Polyamide

Best for Tennis: Frogg Toggs Chilly Pad Cooling Towel

4.8
Frogg Toggs Chilly Pad Cooling Towel
Pros
  • 10 color options

  • Absorbs 8x its weight in water

  • Hyper-evaporative material 

Cons
  • Color can bleed

  • May mildew quickly

When you’re scoring aces on a blistering hot tennis court, a few gulps of water aren’t enough to cool you down. For cold relief, try wrapping this Frogg Toggs Chilly Pad cooling towel around your neck in between sets.

Made from a hyper-evaporative material that retains water while remaining dry to the touch, it stays cool for up to four hours.

Size: 13 x 33 inches | Care: Machine Wash | Fabric: PVA

Best for Golf: Callaway Cooling Towel

Callaway Cooling Towel

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Includes reusable airtight container

  • Durable

  • Cools instantly

Cons
  • Only one color option

Stay cool when you’re hitting the golf course with this convenient and dependable cooling towel from Callaway. Measuring 24 x 17 inches, it’s the perfect size to stash in your golf bag (or gym bag) for cooling relief out on the course.

Simply soak the towel in cold water and place it on your head or neck. When you’re not using it, you can keep it in the included sealable container for repeated use throughout your game.

Size: 24 x 17 inches | Care: Machine Wash | Fabric: ‎100% Polyester

Best for Travel: Tough Outfitters Cooling Towel

Tough Outfitters Cooling Towel
Pros
  • Lightweight

  • Easy to clean

  • Many color options

Cons
  • Doesn't stay cool for long

This towel's cooling properties can be activated in seconds by soaking it in water and wringing it out. Made of a polyamide and polyester blend, the breathable fabric is soft, lightweight, absorbent, and has UPF 50+ sun protection.

The towel is available in nine colors and even comes with a small mesh pouch for convenient storage, so it’s easy to take on the road.

Size: 38 x 12 inches | Care: Machine Wash | Fabric: ‎100% Polyester

Best Lightweight: Mission Lite-Knit Cooling Towel

Mission Lite-Knit Cooling Towel

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Proprietary cooling technology

  • Soft and comfortable

  • Cools in 30 seconds

Cons
  • Dries quickly

If you want a cooling towel that won’t feel heavy around your neck or when you’re carrying it during a run or hike, this ultra-lightweight one from Mission is an excellent pick.

Whether it’s wet or dry, the fine-knit texture is very breathable and feels smooth, comfortable, and soft against your skin.

Size: 33 x 10 inches | Care: Machine Wash | Fabric: ‎Knit Fabric

Best for Yoga: Chill Pal PVA Cooling Towel

Chill Pal PVA Cooling Towel

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Extra thick fabric 

  • Evaporative technology

Cons
  • Dries stiff

For a cooling towel that stays cold for your entire hot yoga class, you can’t beat this thick one from Chill Pal. Just wet it before class, wring it out, and put it around your neck for cooling relief.

It even comes with a convenient pouch that can be attached to your gym bag using the included carabiner clip.

Size: 32 x 12 inches | Care: Machine Wash | Fabric: ‎PVA

Final Verdict

For a highly effective, dependable, and versatile cooling towel, we recommend the Mission Max Plus Original Cooling Towel as an excellent choice for cooling relief. Made of soft and soothing material, it starts cooling instantly and can last for up to two hours. It’s also extremely affordable and works for a wide range of activities and needs.

How We Selected the Best Cooling Towels

To find the best cooling towels, we spoke to an avid runner and researched the most popular and well-reviewed products on the market. We also looked at user reviews to determine what cooling towel features were most important for users.

Based on this research, we determined that cooling efficiency (how long towels stay cool), average cooling time, ease of use, and material were the most important factors when considering a cooling towel.

We favored options that were durable but lightweight, made with polyvinyl acetate (PVA) material, and machine washable. Because some towels have different price points, we then weighed the cost against the strengths of the towels to determine which options offered the best value at different price points.

What to Look for in a Cooling Towel

Materials

Towels made of PVA (polyvinyl acetate) are extremely absorbent and remain cool for several hours. The advanced fabric won't soak your clothing or weigh you down because it feels dry to the touch even when it’s wet.

Microfiber towels provide reliable cooling, and they feel soft and comfortable against your skin. However, they won't stay cool for as long as a PVA towel, and they're not dry to the touch when wet. 

Size

Extra small and small towels are usually up to 35 inches in length and are ideal to use around your neck or head. Towels around 40 inches in length can be hung around your neck or tied around your waist. Extra-large towels are 50 inches or longer and big enough for full-body use.

Care

Most cooling towels are machine washable, but be sure to double-check the care instructions before buying. You definitely don’t want to hand-wash your towel after each sweaty use.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do cooling towels work?

    Cooling towels are a quick way to cool yourself down during or after a workout. They are made with high-tech fabrics that, when activated with water, draw sweat and moisture away from the body via evaporation. This creates a noticeable cooling effect on the skin.

    Simply get your towel wet, wring it out, and apply it to your neck, head, back, or waist. You may have to snap or swing the towel after wringing it out to circulate air through it. For best results, allow your cooling towel to soak in clean water for several minutes before using.

  • What are the best ways to use a cooling towel?

    Unlike a towel you use to wipe away sweat during or after a workout, a cooling towel is designed to reduce your temperature. It can also absorb sweat in the process. Using a cooling towel is simple, though the instructions may vary depending on the brand or manufacturer. 

    The process usually involves getting the towel wet, wringing out the excess moisture, and swinging or snapping the towel for air circulation. Once the cooling towel is activated, you can apply the towel directly onto the skin wherever you need cooling.

    The most popular use for cooling towels is to bring down your temperature from an intense workout. But these nifty towels aren’t just for exercise. You can use a cooling towel any time you feel overheated, such as if you have a fever, during a hike, or anytime you're out in the hot sun.

  • How long do cooling towels last?

    The effects of cooling towels can last for several hours. Though you soak them in water for several minutes before using them, they can feel dry to the touch. This means they don’t get your clothes or skin wet.

    If you take proper care of your cooling towel, it can last for several years. The lifetime of a cooling towel also depends on the quality of the materials. Usually, you can expect your cooling towel to last for up to five years.

  • Can you machine-wash cooling towels?

    The washing instructions of a cooling towel vary by brand and manufacturer. Some cooling towels are machine washable while some are hand-wash only. For best results, follow the instructions on the care label. 

    Using a gentle detergent and hand washing, or machine washing on the gentle cycle, may help extend the longevity of your cooling towel. Cooling towels should not be put in the dryer. Instead, allow to air dry.

  • What are the best ways to keep cooling towels cool?

    Cooling towels maintain their effects for about two hours after activation. Since their cooling effects are partly due to evaporation, swinging the towel around can reduce the temperature further. If the towel is still moist, you can reactivate the cooling effects by circulating air through it.

    To keep your cooling towel cool, give it a couple more snaps. The combination of moisture and air will keep temperatures low.

Why Trust Verywell Fit

An avid runner and marathon running coach, Christine Luff, ACE-CPT, runs and coaches outdoors through the hot and sticky summer months, so she has researched, tested, and recommended lots of hot weather running gear, like cooling towels.

1 Source
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. The 5 Best Cooling Towels. Bustle. https://www.bustle.com/life/the-best-cooling-towels-9311762

By Christine Luff, ACE-CPT
Christine Many Luff is a personal trainer, fitness nutrition specialist, and Road Runners Club of America Certified Coach.