On my longer runs, I have learned to depend on a few lightweight essentials. Comfort from head-to-toe is critical, and when comfort meets safety, it’s especially nice. Heat- related illness is always in the back of my mind when I set out for a run. I’ve seen first-hand what heat stress can do to a person and it’s not fun. Fortunately there is gear available to help combat this dangerous condition.
The Science of Sweat
As your core temperature increases through exercise, your body tries to maintain temperature by transferring heat through sweating and thermoregulation (blood flow to the skin). Heat stress happens when our bodies don’t transfer enough heat to keep us cool.
So, here’s how sweat works. When we get hot, we sweat; it evaporates and we cool off. When evaporation is compromised, our body’s temperature rises, causing heat- related illness.
Enter Ergodyne, and their Chill-Its Cooling Bandana. The bandana is designed to use the principle of evaporative cooling. Runners tie it on their head or around their neck. I prefer wearing it loosely around my neck because it feels much less restrictive and keeps me just as cool.
Sizing and Comfort
It’s a one-size-fits-all bandana. When I wear it on my head, there is just enough material left at the back to make a knot. But on my neck there’s plenty of material to work with. I was surprised to discover how lightweight it is, even when saturated with water. The 80/20 Cotton/Acrylic blend felt comfortable against my skin, even the bumpy section containing the cooling media. The first time it was activated in cold water, there was an annoying slippery feel left on my fingers, but after a couple more dunks it was no longer slippery.
Is it Cool?
I follow the package instructions and submerge the bandana in cold water for 10 minutes. I wear it from the beginning of my run and it stays cool for the distance. Even when I’m running for an hour or longer, it keeps me cool. Anecdotally, it appears that the bandana’s efficiency may be related to the length of time it is dipped in cool water.
Care and Handling
Well, it’s not machine washable. A hand-wash with mild detergent is required, as is air-drying. After my run, I just run it under the sink, ring it out and hang it up to dry.
The bandana is available in 11 different patterns direct from Ergodyne. Limited style selections can be found online at Amazon.com, Hantover.com, Shopdirectbrands.com, Toughweld.com and ranges in price from $2- $3.50 each.
So there you have it. It works for me. For just a few bucks, you can protect yourself from heat-related illness.
Editors Note: photo, courtesy Ergodyne