The 5 Best Cooling Towels

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Whether you're spending hours snaking through lines at Disney, or out for a grueling run on a summer day, a cooling towel can make the experience of being outside in the hot sun way less miserable. Cheap, convenient, and portable, the best cooling towels stay chilled for at least two hours with the help of just water. They’re made with materials like microfiber and bamboo, and some are long enough to cover your body for even more hot-weather comfort.

First, know that most cooling towels operate very similarly. They're made from evaporative materials that absorb water and turn cool to the touch, remaining that way for hours. That being said, there is a cotton towel on this list that doesn’t need water to activate, relying instead on essential oils and breathability to provide a cooling sensation.

In a hurry? These are the best cooling towels:

  1. The Overall Best: Tough Outdoors Instant Cooling Towel
  2. The Best-Seller: Chill Pal
  3. The Best Cotton Towel: Chill Now Towel
  4. The Best Bamboo Towel: Bogi
  5. The Best Multipack: Suleen Cooling Towels
  6. The Best For On-The-Go Use: YQXCC Cooling Towels
  7. The Best Design Options: UGREVS Cooling Towel
  8. The Best With Multiple Size Options: SportsTrail
  9. The Best 2-In-1 Cooling & Drying Towel: Mission DuoMax
  10. The Best Color Options: Mission Max Plus
  11. The Best Towel, Hat & Gaiter Set: Mission Cooling Accessories

Beyond that, the big differences you'll find in cooling towels are price and bonus features, like UPF protection from the sun, extra length, or fun designs that make staying comfortable even more fun. Start scrolling and you'll find the best cooling towels that are perfect for any sweltering day or night.


The Overall Best

This instant cooling towel is actually one of the most protective — and cheapest — options you'll find. Built with UPF-50 sun protection, the polyester mesh fabric blocks ultraviolet light and radiation, keeping you cool and protected from harmful rays. Just get it wet, wring it, and snap to activate its cooling properties, which, according to reviewers, can last for up to three hours. While you should avoid machine washing this (with some towels you can, but this isn't one of them), it's durable enough to last through repeated reuse.

According to a reviewer: “It's a wonderful and lightweight with two layers of soft, drapey fabric. One layer is solid and the other is perforated all over. [...] After it warmed a bit over time, I just lifted and "aired it out" for a few seconds and it was cool all over again. I love that it's long enough to go behind my neck and even drape over my shoulders for additional coolness.”


The Best-Seller

This Chill Pal towel is made with an extra-thick PVA material that makes it one of the best (and best-selling) cooling towels around. Its thick fabric holds moisture for longer than your standard towel, and one reviewer reported it can stay cool for up to eight hours. This towel is simple to use: Just submerge this in cold water, wring it out, and snap it dry. While it’s shorter in length than the above option, one reviewer wrote that it's "the perfect size for wrapping around your neck during any outdoor activity." One thing to keep in mind: The PVA material does dry stiff, so it won’t retain its softness once the water evaporates. That being said, it's machine-washable and comes in four colors.

According to a reviewer: “At first I was skeptical that this would be any better than a wet towel but I'm now a believer. Like people said, it feels like soft rubber when wet and dries stiff which is a little weird. Besides that, it definitely works and is easy to reactivate. I do a lot of outdoor stuff in Texas and this is one thing I never want to forget.”


The Best Cotton Towel — & One That Fends Off Bugs

While most cooling towels are made of synthetic fabrics designed to retain moisture, this cotton cooling towel is all natural, offers exceptional breathability, and can still keep you cool. This towel also stands out because it doesn't need to be activated in water; instead, it’s infused with essential oils like menthol, orange, and eucalyptus, which offer a cooling sensation. Plus, the addition of lemongrass and citronella works to naturally repel mosquitoes and other bugs in the heat. It’s simple to use: Just remove from the package and wave a few times to activate. Keep in mind, though: it can’t be washed and does have a scent. It’s also the smallest towel on this list, measuring in at a length of just 16 inches.

According to a reviewer: “My car's AC doesn't work very well, so I use it and re-use it while driving. It makes my car smell like essential oils, and it's refreshing to rest on my head or around my neck when I drive. It also doesn't need water and it's instantly cool after briefly shaking.”


The Best Bamboo Towel

Made from ultra-soft bamboo, this cooling towel stays silky soft, whether it’s wet or dry, and since bamboo is more breathable than microfiber or PVA, this option will feel great draped around your shoulders. It’s activated by soaking, wringing, and snapping, and comes with a carrying bottle, so you can wet it and then use it later on. It offers UPF-50 protection and stays cool for about two hours — so not quite as long as some options — but it may be worth it if you’re looking for something super soft. There’s no mention of whether it’s machine-washable, but it’s available in a handful of colors and two sizes — including an impressively long 47-inch length.

According to a reviewer: “These cooling towels are great! [...] It folds up super small and takes up no space in luggage. I also like that it was longer than some other brands, so I could wear it different ways, almost like a fashionable scarf. I would recommend this cooling towel to anyone.”


The Best Multipack

This budget-friendly four-pack is a cost-effective choice that always ensures you’ll have a towel on hand. The evaporative microfiber towels are activated by wetting, wringing, and snapping, and each one stays cool for up to three hours (although one reviewer reported theirs stayed cool for 12). The mesh design enhances breathability, and they’re machine-washable for easy upkeep. Each towel comes with a carrying pouch and carabiner, so you can hook it onto a backpack.

According to a reviewer: “I've lived in Florida all my life and while you never really get "used to the heat" here, I now have a new way to deal with it. These towels made a huge difference in being able to tolerate being in the sun all day at a theme park. It kept us cooler and much more comfortable than the many times at theme parks in the past.”


The Best For On-The-Go Use

If you’re spending the day away from home and don’t plan to use your cooling towel until the weather heats up, these on-the-go cooling towels are for you. The towels can be stored wet in the included canisters, which will help fend off evaporation until you’re ready to use them — whenever that may be; just remove and snap to activate a chilled temperature. The machine-washable microfiber towels feature a mesh design for breathability, and stay cool for three hours (or up to seven, according to a reviewer).

According to a reviewer: “These cooling towels really work. They kept me very comfortable while walking in the humid heat of Thailand. The canisters are very hand because you can moisten the towel, roll it up and keep it in the container until needed, so you don't have to search for water or use your drinking water to activate the cooling effect.”


The Best Design Options

If you want to go beyond the basic, this microfiber cooling towel comes in four unique designs, including the galactic version pictured here. The microfiber towel’s cooling powers can be activated by soaking, wringing, and then swinging through the air, and according to one reviewer, will maintain a cool temperature for “several hours.” It’s machine-washable and comes with a handy carring pouch and carabiner.

According to a reviewer: “The towel is great at cooling me off while hiking, just keep it wet! I start out with it wet, and as it dries, I add water to it from my water bottle. It really makes a difference to bring your temp down.”


The Best With Multiple Size Options

While most of the options on this list are about 32 to 40 inches long, the SportsTrail microfiber cooling towel comes in three different lengths: 40 inches, 50 inches, and 60 inches — the latter of which is perfect if you want to chill your entire body. The microfiber towel is activated by soaking, wringing, and stretching, and it maintains temperature for three hours (or up to eight, according to a reviewer). It’s machine-washable and provides UPF-50 sun protection.

According to a reviewer: “This is a great cooling towel. Large, too! Plenty long to wrap around the neck a couple times. It absorbs well and doesn't drip, if wrung and snapped as per the instructions.”


The Best 2-In-1 Cooling & Drying Towel — & One That Lasts For 11 Hours

This two-in-one towel is a versatile buy and perfect for anyone who wants a lot of bang for their buck. The towel features a cooling side that retains cold temperatures for up to 11 hours (!) and an absorbent terrycloth side that’s perfect for wiping away sweat. The UPF-50 towel is machine-washable, and its cooling technology can be activated by soaking, wringing, and snapping.

According to a reviewer: “Best towel ever !! Keeps my cool one one side and on other side I can wipe my sweat of my face . Used at work during hot days last a few hrs and then just wring it again and keeps me cool for another few hrs . Best investment ever.”


The Best Color Options

Most cooling towels have a decidedly sporty look — not a bad thing — but if you’re looking for something a little different, the Mission Max towel comes in a design-savvy porcelain rose color, as well as black, charcoal, and blue. The soft knit towel boasts UPF-50 protection and can be activated by wetting, wringing, and snapping. It’s machine-washable and stays cool for up to three hours.

According to a reviewer: “I'm a US postal worker in Southern California, and it can get pretty hot down here. I needed something that could protect my neck from UV rays, that would cool me down [...] Before I step out of my vehicle I wet the towel thoroughly, wrap it around my face, and I am no longer reeling from the oppressive heat outside. The towel is lightweight, and feels well made.”


The Best Towel, Hat & Gaiter Set

If you’re looking for full-body protection from heat, this three-piece cooling set is a budget-savvy buy. It includes a towel and neck gaiter, both of which can be soaked, wrung, and snapped to activate up to two hours of cooling power. Plus, the baseball cap shields your face from the sun — essential when spending time outdoors. The towel and gaiter are machine-washable.

According to a reviewer: “These really work great!!! Keeps you cooled off in the heat. Love the color & the way they fit. Arrived on time. Will definitely purchase again.”

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