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TechNiche Evaporative Cooling Vest

Move over Cool Tie; let’s cool down the core too

It’s one of those 95 degree days and you’re canyon carving through the Gorge, over the Rockies or wherever your adventure has taken you. No matter how fast you go, you just can’t seem to ride cool and if you have to stop, heaven forbid, you’ll melt down entirely.

Dehydration and heat stroke are two of the most critical dangers in warm weather riding.

In the old days there were a few of us who had the sense to soak a long sleeve tee shirt down and put it on under our jackets. That worked…for about an hour… then we had to pull out at the next rest stop and re-soak the shirt. Pain in the butt.

About 2000, the first mesh clothing was hitting the market. Good stuff if it’s 80 degrees outside, but what about getting hit with 96 degree air at 60 miles an hour? Dry heat like that on your dry skin means any moisture on the surface of your skin is going to be pulled out right away and you’re going to be about as hot, or hotter, than if you were sweating away inside a full coverage jacket.

Then someone came up with the cool tie, a neck device you hydrated for 45 minutes with water and put…around your neck. That did okay for reducing your carotid artery from sending over heated blood to your brain lessening your chances of heat stroke, but what about your overheated core? Still overheated.

Finally several years ago mankind stumbled upon the water retaining properties of certain polymers and began to develop vests that you could hydrate with water in about three minutes and ride with all day without having to re-hydrate them. Evaporative Cooling Vests were all the rage, but expensive.

I watched ECV’s hit the market from various manufacturers like Joe Rocket, Marsee and others. Joe Rocket’s Sahara was $79 and was designed to fit…Joe Rocket gear of course. Marsee’s unit was $129 and the prices from other manufacturers went up from there.

Someone at TechNiche got the bright idea to take the JR Sahara concept and make it for the rest of us who don’t wear JR gear. Voila – finally an Evaporative Cooling Vest for $37 that works!

In fact we tested a JR Sahara against the TechNiche just to see if there was much difference. The medium size on both has a dry weight of 7.5 ounces. Once hydrated for 3-10 minutes they both bloat up to 5.25 pounds. That’s just under two thirds of a gallon of water that each one saturates. So far they seemed about the same.

Next test. The vests were placed outside and allowed to dry under the same weather conditions of about 60 degrees. The TechNiche actually retained water longer than the JR taking a total of four days to completely dry when not on a human body!

For the record, ECV’s retain more water longer after the first time they’ve been put to use. Be sure you do a dry run with your new ECV before you go for that first real long hot ride.

An ECV works well with a full coverage jacket, or when used under a mesh vest. Joe Rocket tells customers to only use their Sahara with a mesh jacket. Perhaps they want to encourage another purchase, but it’s more likely they want to keep customers away from the properties of ‘funk’ that occur with wet gear under a full coverage leather or textile jacket. The simple solution for that scenario is to be sure to air dry your gear each night before you ride the next day. Hang it up on a hanger, don’t lay it down crumpled up in the hotel chair. Common sense goes a long way here.

At 7.5 ounces, ECV’s pack up light and small and are easy to carry with other gear. If the air should cool down, simply place the ECV into a plastic bag and slip it back into your gear bag. Just remember to take it out at night and let it air dry.

It's not easy finding the TechNiche ECV’s at local dealers. In response we’ve added all the models and colors to the Sound RIDER! store in all available sizes ranging from Small to XXXL. 

The vests now are available with optional collars and a zip on/off sleeve option.  I'm fairly happy with the simple standard vest, but if you're going somewhere really hot, like Death Valley, the sleeved versions will add a lot more cooling to your adventure. 

With all the great events happening this summer, you can bet I’ll be doing a lot of warm weather riding, as I’m sure you will too. The TechNiche ECV is a great way for us all to keep our cool allowing us to ride safer and enjoy the road at a price that’s right.

Ride Safe, Ride Often, Ride Cool

PT/May05 (revised Jun10)


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