Cycle Product Evaluation
By Vern Shrader
I stumbled onto what I consider a fantastic product that makes motorcycling in high summer temperatures not just tolerable but very, very comfortable. My summer Rally plans for 2003 included several long distance trips to the 49er Rally in Auburn, CA, (May), the Red Rock Rendezvous in Panguitch, Utah (June), and the Top of the Rockies in Paonia, CO (July). During my 49er Rally trip the temperatures reached highs of 104 F (40 C) along the foothills of the California Gold country and I cooked from the heat! I had to repeatedly stop and ingest large quantities of water and rest longer than I wished because of the high heat. I progressively discarded more and more protective clothing (a bad idea) in an attempt to remain cool. Knowing that both the Utah and Colorado trips were going to require me to traverse large expanses of Mojave Desert during periods of peak temperatures (100 – 115 F), (30 – 45 C) I began my search for a cooling vest. The K1200LT does not offer an A/C option yet!
I looked at several types of cool vests but they all required soaking in water. I admit, this concept was appealing from a convenience standpoint, but I did not like them because of the wet feeling, wet clothing, the trickle of water down the spine and most of all the mildew smell they develop and maintain.
I finally decided on a “phase change” type of cooling vest made by Glacier Tek (Glaciertek.com). This is an adjustable, zip-on vest that contains four pockets into which frozen packets of liquid are placed. I wear the vest over a T-shirt and under my vented Joe Rocket summer jacket. The vest maintains a 59° F (15°C) temperature for about 2-1/2 hours over your upper body and is totally dry. The liquid packets change from liquid to a solid state by placing them in a refrigerator or ice chest for about 20 minutes. I purchased an extra set of cooling packets so that I could rotate them from the vest to my ice chest and be cool continuously. I always carry an ice chest on long trips, so recharging the packets is simple for me and I’m not restricted to where or when I recharge the packets. However, on one occasion I stopped for fuel, got a bottle of water at the stations convenience store and ask the clerk if I could place my packets in his cooler while I fueled. After I explained what they were and what was going to happen he agreed. By the time I had refueled, drank my water and chatted briefly with the clerk, the packets were solid again. He was totally blown away by the fact that the packets turned from a warm, clear liquid, to a white solid within 20 minutes in his 45-degree cooler.
My first real test of the vest took place on my Red Rock Rendezvous trip to Utah. In Barstow, Ca our group stopped for a break and the temperature was in the mid 90’s (32°C). Before we departed I put on my Glacier Tek vest. Temperatures reached the low 100’s (37°C) as we passed through Baker, CA. By the time we reached Prim, Nevada, two hours later, the vest was about half solid and half liquid and still very cool to the touch. I was amazingly comfortable the entire time and never felt the need to shed clothing because of the heat. I used to have to unzip part of my First Gear Pants in an effort to cool my legs. No more! The vest keeps your upper body temperature down (waste to shoulders) and in turn keeps your arms and legs cool too.
My Utah trip totally sold me on the Glacier Tek vest! I know the vest works from first hand experience and from the responses I got from my travel partners. Initially, everyone just wanted to put their hands on the vest at each stop to see how cool it was and how long it was lasting. This faded away and evolved into statements like curse statements “you should let me wear it to try it out and see if it really works?” I knew if I did that, the wearer would be long gone and I wouldn’t see my vest again until we were out of the high heat areas. So I just smiled and remained cool!
If you are thinking about a buying a cooling-vest this summer, I highly recommend the Glacier Tek. If you would like to discuss the vest or try mine on, I’d be happy to let you. Only one requirement though, you have to hand over your bike key before I give you the vest!
Race Across America 2003
Second Place 40 to 49 Year Old Division
Ninth Place Overall
“I went out with the vest today in 116 degree heat in the California Desert and it worked great. It did not flop around, nor did it rub or wear funny. It’s not too heavy it worked just fine. It was a great find, thanks a lot!”