It’s mid-summer in Central Texas (and everywhere else in the Northern Hemisphere) and that means blistering sun and hot, hot temperatures. Most of us grit our teeth, make sure we have ice in our water bottles, and slather on the sunscreen before heading out on a ride. But this year, some riders are showing up with another arrow in their anti-heat quiver: arm coolers.
We who live in climes where the temperature gets below 65 degrees (18C) probably have a pair or two of arm warmers — those slip-on black sleeves that we can pull off once the temperature rises enough. Arm coolers serve just the opposite function: They keep the arms cool under the burning sun.
At least four members of my cycling club have taken to showing up on ride days sporting these things. And they swear by them.
Do they keep your arms cool? I asked my friend, Laura.
“Oh, yeah, they really work,” she said. She’s been wearing them every week for at least a month.
Janice echoed that opinion. “They do,” she said.
But there are some actions users must take to get the best out of them. For example, in our ride Sunday, we faced the usual hot sun and high temperatures, and Laura said she’d forgotten one important thing.
“I forgot to wet them down,” she said. She, and the others who use them, pour water over the sleeves before heading out into the elements. But Laura didn’t do that Sunday, and she said the sleeves didn’t cool her arms.
Janice said that’s okay. “I use mine as suncreens,” she said. “My skin is so light that I need all the help I can get.”
Laura said preventing sunburn was the only real effect the arm coolers had on her arms that day.
On really hot, bright days, Laura and other users have been known to slide ice cubes under the sleeves to beef up their cooling power.
A quick check of some online sites shows arm coolers to cost more than arm warmers — about $30-$45, depending upon the brand and the site. But for those who’ve become hooked on them, that doesn’t really matter.
“I’m going to get some leg coolers to go along with these,” Janice said.