When we first tested the cooling vests from First Line Technology, they basically knocked it out of the park, which surprised the heck out of us. They all feature PhaseCore cooling panels that activate at 82.4°F (28°C) and have a reported ultimate cooling effect of 72°F, so their vests are never really cold cold. Just cool. But they work, as we discovered in test after test of their Standard Vest. Instead of rehashing our findings, read our review here. For 2016, the manufacturer, after getting feedback from MSers, developed their XPC Cooling Vest. This vest also impresses, improving in a number of areas, but it’s not a home run for every potential user. Explanations are in order.
The XPC cools the same as the Standard, but the fit is quite different—a blessing for some, a negative for others. The front-zip format of the XPC works best with larger bodies and is not appropriate for tiny folks. The vest actually can be adjusted into four sizes with its innovative removable side panels called extenders that zip quickly into place. Use no extenders for medium, one small extender for large, one large extender for extra large, and both the small and large extender for double XL. At the smallest size, the vest fits my petit wife only okay (she is 5’8” and skinny) and it’s not quite as form-fitting as the poncho type, dinging slightly its ranking for fit, concealbility, and sports. For larger users, though, the extra room is a boon, and the zip-up V-neck works for a variety of chest and bust sizes (33 to 50 inches), a common issue with cooling vests.
The mesh vest features a few other nice touches that might go unnoticed. The cooling packs are zippered in instead of being tucked in, making them easier to remove in order to recharge them. The neckline is designed fairly openly, so the slim-profile vest will remain generally well hidden beneath clothes and will not peek out around the collar. And there are 21 cooling packs compared to 16 on the Standard, providing more cooling power. The extra cooling, however, does add length (hurting potential concealability a touch) and weight, adding an extra pound, a drawback. Overall the XPC impresses for larger body types, but this reviewer prefers the Standard, either Basic or Mesh, for its snugger fit.
Cold Sensitivity: 5
Weight: 4 lbs 11 oz
Vintage Wash Crew Under-Vest Tee
Most cooling vest manufacturers recommend a light shirt be worn under the vest to both prevent chaffing and to maintain vest cleanliness. Alas, many T-shirts are made of thick cotton and weigh 6 ounces or more. ActiveMSers has teamed with MStshirts.com to procure the ideal under-vest T-shirt. Weighing 3.7 ounces (fabric weight), this under-vest tee is among the lightest of any shirt available on the market and is perfectly suited to be worn under phase change cooling vests or on its own. Made of 100% ring spun combed breathable cotton, the tee comes in the unisex sizes of XS, S, M, L, XL, 2XL, 3XL,and has a well-loved look thanks to its garment wash treatment. Available in white, black, blue and red. Price: $12.
Members of ActiveMSers can save up to 20% on select cooling vests with reserved coupon codes. To get your discount, join today by signing upfor our newsletter. NOTE: ActiveMSers has negotiated these discounts and has no other affiliation with these companies and receives no compensation or commission of any kind. Vests were donated for testing purposes.