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What questions should I ask before buying a cooling vest?

By Jessica Barrett | Last updated: March 20, 2019
Presented by Radians

For workers in hot environments, keeping cool is about more than just comfort – it’s about and protecting their health and well-being. And while PPE is an essential part of the job, it can also increase perspiration and overall body temperature, which can lead to heat stress (learn about 6 Serious Consequences of Heat Stress).

Combining PPE with a cooling vest can be a great way to keep workers safe without overheating them. But before buying one, ask these three questions to make sure you’re choosing the best vest for the job.


1. How Much Cooling Is Required (and for How Long)?

Workers who require cooling for short periods at a time will likely require a different type of vest than workers who must remain cool for an entire 8- or 10-hour workday.

Similarly, workers who only need minimal cooling don't have to be equipped with heavy cold pack vests that provide maximum cooling for the wearer.

Making an informed buying decision means understanding your workers' cooling needs, instead of simply choosing the product that offers the highest level of cooling.

2. How Much Weight Can Your Workers Comfortably Carry?

Some cooling vests – cold pack vests and phase-change cooling systems in particular – are quite heavy. Consider how much weight your workers can reasonably carry over the course of a shift while doing the work required of them.

3. Is an Active or Passive Cooling Test the Best Choice?

The answer to this will depend on where workers will be and what tasks they'll be doing.

Active cooling vests require some form of power to operate, like electricity or batteries. They continually provide maximum cooling and help lower the body’s core temperature. They are, however, more expensive and somewhat less portable.

Passive cooling vests have no working components, meaning they are easily portable. The downside, of course, is that their cooling power only lasts for a short period – usually between 30 minutes and 4 hours. Passive systems are also ineffective at cooling the body’s core temperature.


No matter whether you opt for evaporative cooling vests, phase change cooling systems, cold packing cooling vests, or a hybrid option, it’s essential to assess and understand your workers’ needs (for more advice, see 7 Things to Know About Choosing the Right PPE for the Job).

By asking these questions before buying vests for your workers, you can make sure you’re getting them the most appropriate option for their situation.

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Written by Jessica Barrett

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Jessica is a freelance writer and editor from Toronto, Canada. She specializes in creating content for nonprofits and has written for organizations working in human rights, conservation, education, and health care. She loves traveling and food, speaks Spanish, and has two dogs, one of whom she rescued while living in Mexico.

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