While they can also double as protective or hygienic face coverings, the best cooling neck gaiters can help to cool your body temperature down. That said, an Amazon search yields more than 2,000 results, so it's not easy to narrow down your options. Ultimately, the best gaiters set themselves apart with quality materials, convenient design touches, and the endorsement of the most discerning online reviewers.
Most top-selling options are made with a similar fabric blend: polyester or nylon with a hint of elastane (also known as spandex or Lycra) for stretch. When woven right, these fabrics support rapid evaporation, so when damp, they feel especially cool to the touch. Studies show that applying cold water to your skin continuously is an effective technique to lessen hyperthermia and that wet skin can cause your body to expel 10 times as much body heat. As a result, when you wet these special materials and ring them out before wearing them, they help to keep you cooler for longer. (But one of the options below even works on sweat alone.)
Still, it's not just about the fabric; you'll also want your gaiter to be versatile, comfortable, and convenient. Most best-selling options use a tube-like design that allow it to be worn as a neck wrap, headband, face covering, bandana, and more. Some have a mesh-like panels throughout, which make the fabric more breathable. Depending on your needs, you may even want to look for a neck gaiter with ear holes, so you can wear it over your mouth without having to constantly readjust, or UPF protection, so you can shield yourself from harmful UV rays.
With those factors in mind, these are some of the best neck gaiters on Amazon when it comes to staying cool.
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1. The fan favorite
Material: 90% polyester, 10% nylon
The details: The Mission cooling neck gaiter is a best-seller on Amazon, with more than 4,500 reviews and a 4.4-star rating overall. Fans love it for its versatility (you can wear it in more than 12 different ways, thanks to its stretchy, tube-like design), but they also reported that it's one of the most effective options on the market in terms of cooling you down: Less than a minute after you wet it, wring it out, and snap it, it'll cool to 30 degrees below the average body temperature, according to the brand. It also protects you against dust and wind, not to mention the sun thanks to its UPF-50 fabric.
One reviewer wrote: "They really keep you cool. These are great! I now own 4 of these. I use them playing golf, yard working, hiking, camping, nearly any time it is hot, and in South Texas, it is hot most of the year."
- Available colors: 8, including black, charcoal, and a cloud-inspired print
2. The one with ear holes
Material: 95% polyester, 5% spandex
The details: If you intend on keeping your neck gaiter over your face for protection while biking, hiking, and more, the ROCK BROS gaiter has something that others on this list don't: stretchy ear holes that keep it secured over the bottom half of your head. In addition to its rapid-cooling effect (which, according to reviewers, amplifies when wet) and its moisture-wicking tendencies, the fabric also offers UPF 50+ protection. Due to the flexible fabric blend, it's comfortable and can be worn several other ways, too.
One reviewer wrote: "Great for cycling. It’s comfortable, doesn’t fall, and is breathable-important for tough rides. A cyclist I ran into complimented me and asked if I made it myself bc he had a gaiter without ear holes which kept falling off."
- Available colors: 4, including black, black with yellow, and white
3. The budget multipack
Material: Not specified
The details: When you opt for a three-pack of the Dark Lightning neck gaiters, it breaks down to roughly $3 a mask. Still, it has a 4.4-star rating overall after almost 2,000 reviews on Amazon. Like more expensive options, it aims to drop your body temperature when you wet it, wring it out, and wear it, and while the material isn't specified, reviewers noted that it's stretchy, and the mesh-like design offers more breathability. It also can be worn several ways.
According to reviewers, it's also fairly durable, despite the affordable price tag. (Thanks to the multi-pack, it's a great choice for people who wear gaiters on a daily basis but don't want to wash the same one constantly.) The material has a UPF-50 rating for UV protection, too. In fact, the only possible downside is that if you're looking for a solid color, you won't find it here — just patterned designs.
One reviewer wrote: "Cost is low, quality is high. These are great, cooling with breathable fabric and holes in fabric."
- Available colors and pack sizes: 13, including a three-pack of colorful diamond designs and a single galaxy print
4. The sweat-activated one
Material: 89% polyester, 11% elastane
The details: The Columbia Freezer Zero II neck gaiter offers the quality and well-thought-out design that shoppers have come to expect from the brand. Unlike most others, this one's available in two stretchy sizes, and the UPF 50 fabric provides protection from UV rays. The sweat-activated material helps keep you cool all day using just your perspiration, while the laser-cut venting makes it breathable (and easy to breathe in while the mask is over your face).
One reviewer wrote: "Fantastic quality, great protection, happy I went with the large for my medium-sized noggin. The coolness emitted once body temperature elevates is just amazing."
- Available colors: 4, including white and blue
- Available sizes: Small/Medium and Large/X-Large
A.P. Gagge, J.A.J. Stolwijk, J.D. Hardy, Comfort and thermal sensations and associated physiological responses at various ambient temperatures, (1967) https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/0013935167900023
Wasserman DD, Creech JA, Healy M. Cooling Techniques For Hyperthermia. (2021) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK459311/