Thursday, July 26, 2018


… product test at 100-plus degrees

I was advised by a friend that, before our August trip to Hells Canyon in Eastern Oregon, I should get a cooling vest.  Because I always take this guy’s advice, yesterday, I purchased one to wear under my riding jacket. Today, with temperatures predicted to top out around 105, I figured I try the thing out.

Here’s the lowdown:

Step one is all about soaking the garment.  Initially, I placed it under the kitchen faucet.  After a few seconds of watching the water roll away, my wife suggested, “How about submersing it in the sink?”  Bingo.

Dry, the vest weighs about 14 ounces.  Soaked, it’s like carrying around a bucket of water.

Step two involves wringing it out.  It takes some pretty hefty twisting.  As I squeezed and twisted, I found myself momentarily thinking of Romeo, our house cat who, again, this morning awoke me at 5:00 AM wanting to go outside.  The thought disappeared; replaced with: Had I wrung this out in the shower rather than the kitchen, there’d be no extra time spent mopping up floors and counters.

Step three finds the vest draped over my shoulders, zipped closed and waiting for my Dianese mesh jacket to cover it.  The initial feel is that of extreme perspiration: wet, clammy, and odd.  But anticipation of riding in 100-plus-degree air prompted me to think this clamminess is going to be a good thing.

And it was.  North on US 101 at speed, I was immediately impressed with the temperature differences between my cooling-vest-laden upper body and my exposed-to-the-furnace-blast arms. It was almost too cool.  Almost.

Twenty-five minutes up the road, it was easy to forget about the ambient temperature.  I felt more as if I was riding on a spring day.

I stopped in Ukiah at Mendocino Book Company to look for a copy of George Orwell’s 1984 which I was going to ship to President Trump as a gift, but they were sold out. Sitting in 103-degree (according to the time and temperature sign at the Mendocino Savings Bank on State Street) downtown traffic, I felt my mind stewing about the stop and go and my body stewing because my personal space was so humid.  Perhaps this bit of technology has a drawback or two.

I headed to the east side of the Russian River Valley finding Mendocino County’s River Road for a relaxed fifty-five-mile-per-hour cruise around lazy curves, through oak studded foothills and past picturesque vineyards toward Hopland.  Were it not for the heat, this was a Chamber of Commerce stretch of roadway.  But, delightfully, the cooling properties of the vest had returned.  I could really enjoy this ride this day.

In an effort to gather some data, I stopped at a wide spot to snap a photo of the air temperature as measured by Enrico, the Yamaha’s, computer system.  The bottom number in the photo tells me it’s 104.

My little test loop measured about 70 miles and, with stops, took about two hours. Taking the cooling vest off to hang in the laundry room, I figured it now weighed about as much as a half a bucket of water.

I thought for a moment of the up-coming trip to north eastern Oregon and surmised that this item may well take a little bit of the hell out of Hells Canyon.

At a cost of about fifty bucks, I’m thinking it will be fifty bucks well spent.


Waterproof Cooling Vest marketed as Bilt (Cycle Gear) and – I think – Hyperkewl (Revzilla).  Constructed in China, they look exactly the same except for their branding labels.

© 2018
Church of the Open Road Press

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