Summer is fast approaching and I’m already pulling out my shorts and tees and other summer wear, putting away the sweats and long sleeves. I love working in my garage workshop, and I have my go-to stack of clothes that I like to wear when working in the Georgia heat. I have a fan in my garage, and it works well, but I will admit there are summer days that are absolutely brutal. Thankfully, I’ve discovered a new clothing technology (yes, an actual clothing technology) that aims to keep me cooler in the summer. Does it work? I put it to the test at the end of the last summer (although it wasn’t yet available to the general public) and now I get to share with you my experiences with the new Omni-Freeze Zero shirts from Columbia Sportswear.
First, the basics. The Omni-Freeze Zero shirt I tried out was the basic short sleeve crew. It has a slippery feel to it that I suspected would be comfortable to wear. And it was. The shirt needs to be form-fitting (but not tight) in order to work properly. Columbia initially provided me with an XL, but it was simply too loose on me to get any noticeable results. They then sent me a Large — and that’s when I noticed an immediate effect. (Also, the shirts provide UPF 50 sun protection and the material is antimicrobial!)
The shirt has these very small circles woven into the fabric. I’m going to include a photo here so you can see the circles, but they become more noticeable when you start perspiring. The blue rings swell, and the idea is that they swell when they encounter sweat and then lower in temperature and allow for more airflow. I have no idea about the science behind it… but it does work, I kid you not. My neighbor wondered if it was just in my head, and I did ponder that for a moment, but I could not deny that the shirt actually felt cooler on my skin and I felt cooler in general.
Now, I only tried out the shirt. They also offer hats, shoes, bandanas and shorts (called “Cool Jewels” – ha!) made of the material. I’m sold on the cooling effect, and I do plan on getting a couple more shirts. At the time I got the test shirts, they only had the white color (with gray sides) but now they’ve got some nice looking color combos, including red, green, yellow, blue, gray and black.
I’m very curious to know if anyone else has tried the technology and can verify the same cooling effect. When I first received the shirt, I was not 100% convinced that this strange looking material with these subtle rings embedded in the fabric would work… but now I’m a believer. I’ve already got a number of projects planned with my boys for this summer that will have us outside in the heat… and I can guarantee you these shirts are going to get some use. I’m all for high-tech clothing, especially if it can make working in the Georgia heat a little more tolerable.
Note: I’d like to thank Andy with Columbia for providing the two test shirts (XL and L).