7 Best Neck Air Conditioners To Keep Cool, According To Editors
Jun 06, 2023
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Keep cool and carry on, no matter where you’re headed this summer.
You don’t need us to tell you that this year’s been hot—like, crazy HOT. If you’re lucky enough to live where summertime temps barely dip above 85 degrees, stop gloating. The rest of us are chasing air-conditioned rooms from the house to Target to pilates and back again like it’s an Olympic sport. But what if you could take all that sweet, cool air-conditioned air with you anywhere? I have great news: Now you can with a legit wearable air conditioner.
We get it: The idea of wearing a portable air conditioner might not sound like fun. But, the latest models, including most of our picks below, are compact, lightweight, horseshoe-shaped travel gadgets that wear comfortably around the neck. They take in hot air, cool it down, and recirculate it around your head, neck, and face. It might sound like a gimmick (and some are), but our staff found the best neck air conditioners have been game-changing this summer.
Our editors spent the last few months researching and comparing neck fans and wearable air conditioners. We also tested over 15 neck fans, and carefully noted every feature and spec, from weight to durability to price to how well they did what they promised to do—all so you don’t have to. In the end, our picks below are the very best of the best neck air conditioners for keeping you cool, calm, and collected in 2023.
In all our testing, we found most neck air conditioners tend to be “me-too” copies of most other models on the market. Torras stands apart, however, especially with its latest Coolify 3 Neck Air Conditioner. It’s more premium and more pricey, however, than any model we’ve ever tested.
Straight out of the box, it looks and feels like a well-designed product. One of our testers noted, “It looks like a pair of slick, futuristic headphones!” We also loved that it’s available in black and white. Beyond that, the Coolify 3 worked much better than any other wearable AC we tested this year. That’s thanks in part to a cooling chip built into the neck that reduces skin temperature by up to 12 degrees. That’s in addition to the neck fan cooling function—both features work together and are surprisingly effective.
The beefy 6,000 mAh rechargeable battery lasts longer than most other models we tested, too. Torras claims a battery life of up to 13 hours in low “Wind Mode,” though we measured it closer to 10, which is still plenty to get through most all-day outings. Switching it to full “Cooling Mode,” however, we couldn’t push it past two hours. Thankfully, the battery quick-charges in just three hours and can be used while charging if you happen to carry a spare battery pack. By swapping out your power bank, it’ll technically run indefinitely.
Our editors agreed that the Coolify 3 was our runaway favorite wearable neck air conditioner. The only downside? Price. At roughly $300, it’s significantly more expensive than the competition. But, if only the best will do …
Black+Decker’s Comfortpak is a unique alternative to neck fans and wearable air conditioners. Ultimately, it does the same thing—regulates your body temperature—but in a different way. It’s basically a battery pack that works to heat or cool a stainless steel plate that stays in direct contact with your skin. It’s designed to be flexible, so you can place that plate on your neck, face, back, legs, or even just hold it in your hands.
Our editors had mixed reviews on this model but liked it overall. We found it worked best by placing the plate in contact with the skin near the back of the neck or the small of the back. The included silicone strap made it relatively easy to get it where we needed it, although our taller testers did wish it was a bit longer. We liked the versatility of this model. Compared to traditional neck fans, it can be used year-round to stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter. In either mode, it’s easily adjustable with a dedicated 3-position slider on the side that’s accessible even with gloved hands.
At around $100, it’s a midrange option that’s pricier than most on this list. But because it both cools and heats, we think the price tag is justified. For those looking to color coordinate their personal climate control devices with their own style, it’s also available in several colors.
Of the many budget neck AC models we tested for 2023, this one was a recurring favorite among our test panel. Like most on this list, it features a similar bladeless design, three fan speeds, and a simple lightweight design that wears comfortably around the neck. Plus, it’s very reasonably priced at around $25.
But, our testers really liked the simplicity of the ChillGo. The three fan speeds provide good airflow, especially on high, and the design blows air in a way that cooled us better than other budget models we tested. Our tests found that the hinged collar design fits comfortably and stays reasonably well put around the neck. It fit well enough for some of our testers to use during light exercise like walking and light jogging. “This is one of the few horseshoe-style neck ACs that I can actually wear jogging,” said one of our writers.
We found the life of the 5,200 mAH battery to be decent, at around 10 hours on low (compared to ChillGo’s claim of 12) and less than three hours on the highest setting (compared to the claimed 3.5). It also charged from zero to full in less than three hours from a USB-C power bank.
Our main gripe is that it’s noisier than other models we tested. Although more powerful fans typically make for louder wearable neck ACs, so it’s hard to find a way around that.
Value is what sets this wearable neck air conditioner apart for our testers. It’s not better than the Coolify 3 above, but it is less than one-tenth of the price.
At less than $25 on sale, this is one of the best value neck air conditioners we tested this year. It offers all the essential features and specs we expect, including a three-speed bladeless fan design, a decent 4,000 mAh battery, and a lightweight, comfortable construction you’ll forget you’re wearing even after a few hours.
Most of the neck air conditioners and wearable fans we tested this year are lightweight, typically weighing 12 ounces or less. While that might not seem like much, it can get a little uncomfortable after wearing it all day. At around nine ounces, the JISULIFE Portable Neck Fan is one of the lightest we tested. Our reviewers agreed that they basically forgot it was there after the first 30 minutes. That’s due in large part to an upgraded design with a smaller, more compact battery. The latest model is also among the quietest we tested (JISULUFE claims less than 25dB of sound, although we think that might be a little optimistic).
Battery life for the built-in 4,000mAh rechargeable battery is claimed to max out at 16 hours (on the lowest settings). Our testers averaged closer to 12-13. But, because this model isn’t quite as powerful as its competitors, we found ourselves always needing to use the Medium to High settings.
The combination of lightweight construction, all-day battery life, and great price make this a winner in our book. It’s not the best, most powerful, or most durable, but it’s hard to beat the sub-$25 price tag.
Another good value wearable neck fan, Sweetfull’s appropriately named Portable Neck Fan checks all the boxes for what we look for in a personal climate control gadget. That includes three fan speeds, a lightweight, blade-less design, a comfortable collar, and a good selection of available colors too.
For a budget (read under $20) wearable neck AC, our editors unanimously liked this model. It’s simple, not overly complicated, and extremely comfortable to wear (with a nicely padded neckband), with a total weight of just under nine ounces. On mild days, while running this model on Low or Medium, we mostly forgot it was there. That’s also thanks to a quieter operation than most. Sweetfull promises “less than 45 decibels.” While this figure is probably too optimistic, we enjoyed just how quiet it was.
Battery life is where this neck fan suffers. The company claims a maximum of nine hours on the lowest settings. Our team found it was closer to eight and less than four on its highest setting—both of which are surprising given the decently sized 5,000-mAh battery. It also takes longer to charge than some of the best neck air conditioners we tested—more than four hours from zero to full.
Still, we think it’s a steal at under $20. With the money you save, you can score a cheap portable power bank on Amazon and keep cool all day.
Vagau ditches the sleek look of most modern neck air conditioners in favor of an almost goofy “bug eye” design. It’s definitely unique, and our team wasn’t sure if that’s a good thing. This model is strictly a neck fan rather than a neck air conditioner, which means it works a little differently than most in our roundup. Maybe you’re new to wearable air conditioners or neck fans and want to give them a try without dropping a ton of money on a premium option like the Coolify 3. If that’s the case, this entry-level model is the least expensive option.
We found the dead-simple design works exactly as promised. The dual, compact, open-design fans deliver a combined blast of cool-ish air to your head, face, and neck. What we don’t like is the bladed design. For anyone with long hair or who wears baggy/relaxed clothes, either can easily get caught in the blades. At best, it’s an inconvenience. Worst case, however, it can be downright dangerous. We didn’t find this to be too much of a problem during our testing, but it is a concern, especially with the fan set to the highest setting. The unique design is lightweight. But it’s also clunky and hangs low around the neck, making it all but unusable for anything like jogging or working out.
What sets this model apart is the long battery life. Vagau claims up to 10 hours, and we found that to be pretty spot-on. But it’s also the most affordable wearable neck fan in our roundup at just under $15.
And now for something completely different … The Koonie Portable Waist Fan might be the most versatile on this list. Instead of the horseshoe-shaped design of almost every other model we tested, it works by clipping it to just about any article of clothing. That means it’ll clip to your waistband, your neckband, your shirt sleeve, your sock—the sky’s the limit (almost). No matter how you choose to wear it, it creates a blast of cool air wherever you put it. Plus, it even doubles as an ultra-compact table/desk fan, making it a great option for travelers.
Our testers found this Portable Waist Fan worked best as it was intended: By clipping it to the inside waist of a pair of jogging pants or running shorts and directing the blast of air upward toward our chest. It's like having a constant cool gust of wind blowing up your shirt. Technically, it works as a neck fan, too, but we found it to be too heavy and bulky (compared to others in our roundup). Everyone on our test panel agreed that it awkwardly pulled down on the collar of our shirt and, wearing it that way wasn’t compatible with intense workouts. On the plus side, however, a few of our testers accidentally dropped our review unit in the process. In every case, it survived the abuse, making this one of the most durable wearable fan models we tested this year. What’s more: If it does break, it’s relatively cheap to replace.
The unique design of this portable/wearable fan won’t suit everyone. But, overall, our panel agreed that we loved the combination of versatility, durability, and price (right around $35).
The first and most obvious reason is personal comfort. If you live anywhere that sees sky-high temperatures in the summer (or year-round), a portable neck air conditioner or wearable fan can make being outdoors a lot more tolerable when it’s hot out.
But, more importantly, for high-intensity activities like hiking, jogging, playing outdoors, etc, they can help regulate your body temperature to potentially fend off everything from dehydration to heat exhaustion to heat stroke.
Wearable air conditioners and neck fans aren’t overly complicated. But there are a few main features and things to consider when shopping for the best model for you.
The best neck air conditioners use a bladeless fan design for one simple reason: It prevents your clothing and hair from getting stuck in the blades. They tend to be a little more expensive than a bladed design. But, if you can spend the extra $25, it’s worth it, in our opinion. Note, however, that bladeless designs aren't necessarily quieter than their bladed counterparts. You’ll probably hear the fan working with either model type.
Neck Fan Speeds
All of the neck fans (and neck ACs) we tested have multiple speeds. It’s a great option to be able to control the cooling intensity. Faster speeds are more effective, of course, but they’re also typically louder.
Like most tech gadgets these days, the best neck air conditioners run on rechargeable batteries. Most models are designed to last for roughly half a day or so on low. Be wary of the manufacturer’s battery life claims. We found most neck AC batteries last 50-60% of their claimed times (i.e., just six hours versus 10 hours claimed).
Our editors and heat-averse staffers researched and combed through reviews for dozens of wearable neck air conditioners over the last year. We personally tested many of the top-selling models to find only the ones we’d honestly recommend. We compared battery life, overall noise level, fan speed, and how well they actually, you know, kept us cool. The final list above represents our honest picks of the best neck air conditioners and neck fans of 2023.
Portable Air Conditioners | Cooling Fans
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Mike Richard has traveled the world since 2008. He's kayaked in Antarctica, tracked endangered African wild dogs in South Africa, and survived a near-miss great white shark attack in Mexico. His travel advice has appeared on the websites for Forbes, Travel + Leisure, CNET, and National Geographic. He loves the great outdoors and good bourbon, and (usually) calls Tulsa, Oklahoma home. Mike also enjoys speaking in the third person.
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