I had the pleasure of doing T&E for approximately four months with the Cool Shield shirt. I can say with the utmost certainty that if you wear any body armor (PPE) professionally that this product falls in the category of something you cannot do without.
Initial Impressions. The shirt has an (athletic type) feeling to it. Normally something that feels this way is associated with something that will not last, this is not the case here. The vertical running ribs that allow the air flow to move between the user and the vest have also proven to be dense enough to not collapse under the weight yet comfortable enough to make the shirt worth wearing even in it isn’t particularly hot outside. For more of a personal note, I am extremely picky with shirt collars. I hate when any T-shirt I own has a collar that doesn’t touch my collar bone and presents an otherwise ragged or unkempt appearance. The test samples I received proved worthy there as well. The collars; just in an of themselves proved to meet even my pickiest of expectations.
Sizing and fitment. The sizing is 100% true, anyone considering this product should absolutely adhere to the sizing chart listed on the website. It is recommended that you measure your chest and then choose the appropriate size. I am 6 feet tall and weigh 195 pounds with a 41 inch chest. The large fits me like a glove. These shirts are your base layer to be worn under your PPE. Making sure you choose the appropriate size is crucial in order to maximize the performance from the shirt.
Performance, past / present experience. Due to the nature of the product I feel it’s important to understand my past experiences with body armor. I was In the Army for 12 years. 9 of those years were spent in Scout Platoons, 3 years combat time and 3 years as a shoot house / weapons instructor. Currently I am the Director of Training for One Chance Tactical Solutions. The company I currently work for focuses more on the responsible armed citizen, however, we still have local Leo and Military classes we teach. The reason I bring this up is, I of all people understand what it’s like to be in sweltering heat with PPE on. Through the four months I had this shirt it has seen approximately one hundred hours of use, I lost track of how many times its been washed and it still has held its initial form. Admittedly, I do not wear body armor a terrible amount anymore, it’s really dependent on the student population and what the class is, however, I made it a point to wear this shirt under armor for testing purposes. Some things I found, 1) The vertical running ribs do in fact keep you cooler (I’ll get into that a little later) 2) The ribs make your armor way more comfortable and keep the plates very consistent and uniform fitting across your back and chest, while also preventing the plates from ever digging into your chest or back regardless if you’re seated or standing. 3) With a properly fitted shirt it also prevented any binding of other layers of clothes under the vest. I wanted to see just exactly how much (cooler) this shirt would keep me. Without a lab or any serious equipment I did some of my own testing in house. I ran at a slow jog on day one with a plate carrier on, treadmill set at 6.0 for exactly one mile, once complete I used a laser temperature gun to see how hot the thoracic area of my chest was. After a mile with a PC on my chest was 101.6 degrees. Day 2 I ran the exact same mile, same speed but with the shirt on and when I was complete the same spot on my chest came in at 99.4 degrees. While 2 degrees do not seem like much, it most certainly is.
Final thoughts. Over the years I have been handed countless shirts, devices, gizmos etc. All in the name of value added / increasing human performance to keep someone cooler. A lot of them relied on being plugged in, energy sources, batteries or one of those (great) ideas that falls short and simply does not work. The convenience of this simply being just a shirt and what it does for you, paired with its price point is what makes this product awesome. There is no power source, batteries or any other quirky things that need to happen. Just put the shirt on and go-