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I tried a so-called wearable air conditioner — and the branding left me cold

If you didn’t realize it yet, hurricane season is in full force for those living on the East Coast. I know all too well the devastation of these powerful storm systems after Superstorm Sandy rolled right through where I lived in New Jersey in 2012, leaving many without power, not for just days — but for weeks. I’ve been pretty lucky since then, mainly because the longest I’ve been without power was less than 24 hours.

I’m substantially more prepared this season than any other in the past. From portable power stations that have outlets to wireless security cameras that work offline, I have many gadgets to help me get through any storm. However, the latest one in my arsenal is an oddity of sorts — a so-called wearable air conditioner. I’ve previously expressed my love for wearable fans when it comes to staying cool in the summer, but this is certainly taking it to the next level. The question becomes: Is it legit?

More cooling band than air conditioner

Yes and no. I’ve been trying out the Torras Coolify for a little while now, and it is explicitly referred to as a wearable air conditioner on the packaging. It’s actually this band that sort of looks like a pair of headphones you wrap around your neck. It features a semiconductor cooling plate that’s effectively chilled to a low temperature — while fans on both ends of the band blow air toward the face and body.

Ceramic plate on Torras Coolify wearable air conditioner.
John Velasco / Digital Trends

Surely, it’s a fascinating implementation, especially when it goes outside of the norm in how you’d expect an air conditioner to function. When I think of an air conditioner, the first thing to come to mind is air that has been put through a system that removes the humidity and subsequently cools it, with the end result being the refreshing air we all get from a standard air conditioner. However, the Torras Coolift acts more as an ice pack slapped against your neck. The point here is to cool down your body temperature.

Ceramic plate on Torras Coolify wearable air conditioner.
John Velasco / Digital Trends

While it does indeed chill the area around my neck, making it somewhat tolerable to endure the outdoors on a warm, muggy afternoon, it doesn’t quite as effectively provide that refreshing feel of chilled air hitting my face. The air coming out of the fans is just forced air, nothing else.

Not the first time

Now this isn’t the first time I’ve come across a gadget that claims to be a portable air conditioner of sorts. The Evapolar Evasmart is another example, and it classifies itself as a USB-powered portable air conditioner. Thankfully, it’s more air conditioner-like than the Torras Coolify, but it does have more components to it. Essentially, you add water to the tank, which is then purified, chilled, and then blown out. It’s closer to a true air conditioner than the Torras Coolify, but it’s obviously not something that can be worn. It’s best reserved for small spaces.

Evapolar evasmart portable USB-powered air conditioner on table.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

This brings me to my point about how companies use the term air conditioner loosely with these gadgets. Nothing has yet come close to delivering the cool, refreshing breeze you expect from a traditional air conditioner — and I understand that miniaturizing the process for portability is a challenge of its own. But still, companies need to better classify these gadgets so they’re not nearing that boundary of false advertisement. The more appropriate classification for the Torras Coolify is a wearable cooling neck band. It makes more sense that way.

Better something than nothing

I will admit, though, the Torras Coolify can make most situations bearable. Even though it’s not a true air conditioner in the sense that cool air is being expelled from it, the relief it provides from the heat and humidity while outdoors is appreciated. It’s a tough sell, however, given its sticker price of $149. That’s a hefty sum to dish out, especially when you can find a decent wearable fan that goes around the neck for under $50.

Torras Coolify worn around neck.
John Velasco / Digital Trends

The cost is naturally driven by the unique technology of its ceramic semiconductor radiator, which delivers a cool down of 18 degrees Fahrenheit in about three seconds. I haven’t come across anything like this before, but I’m impressed by how chilly the plate becomes after wearing it for a short period. It also has an impressive battery life rating of eight hours. I’ve used it straight for a couple of hours, which is the maximum amount of time I’ve worn it so far.

Now that hurricane season is here on the East Coast, a gadget such as this definitely comes in handy when power goes out. Rather than suffering from the stickiness of the weather, I can at least get some relief. It’s better to have something than nothing at all.

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John Velasco
John is the Smart Home editor at Digital Trends covering all of the latest tech in this emerging market. From uncovering some…
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