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A review of three items for surviving heat in the Middle East

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My wife and I recently took an early summer Middle East cruise with stops on Dubai, Oman, Egypt (Safaga for Luxor and the Valley of the Kings), Jordan (Aqaba for Petra), Israel, and Malta.  We knew it was going to be hot and it was - temperatures routinely exceeded 100 degrees with an apex of 113 degrees at the Valley of the Kings with no shade in sight.    So we had researched products to help us cope with the heat and came up with three to take with us: a sun protection umbrella, a handheld battery-operated fan, and cooling bandanas that you soak in water.   


Before the trip we hypothesized that the umbrella would be most helpful; that the fan would come in second; and that the bandanas would bring up the rear.  Were we wrong!  Here is what we actually found in order of helpfulness:


#1:  The cooling bandanas.  The bandanas have polymer beads that allow them to stay wet for the entire length of a 13+ hour shore excursion.  They stayed remarkably cool in the heat - all we needed to do was rotate the bandana when our body temperature warmed the bandana.  The effect of cool water against our necks made a big difference and the effect lasted all day, even when exposed to 100+ degree temperatures.  Very impressive!


A distant #2: The cooling fan.  The fan worked as advertised and blew a reasonable amount of air in your face or wherever you pointed it.  The problem was that with the temperatures at 100 degrees or more, we were blowing hot air in our face.  That prevented evaporation and mitigated any cooling effect.


An equally distant #3: The umbrella.  We were quite surprised that the umbrella (which were specifically designed for sun protection) had little effect.  It seemed to be just as hot under the umbrella as when only a hat was used.  It was much cooler when we could find a tree to stand under.  So the umbrella did not equal finding shade; shade was much more effective.    I'm not sure why the umbrella did not help.  The only thing I can think of is that the hard surfaces of sand, gravel, bricks. concrete, and rocks we routinely faced reflected the heat from the ground back up under the umbrella.


The specific products we purchased are below.  All three are available through Amazon.  The cooling ties (bandanas) can also be picked up at REI.  All three do get good reviews on Amazon.


1)  Umenicie UPF 50+ UV Protection travel umbrella.  ($30)

umenice UPF 50+ UV Protection Travel Umbrella Ultra Light Weight

From Amazon:   

  • Aluminum frame
  • PROTECT YOU SKIN:UPF 50+ Double coated silver canopy to protect your skin from over 98% the UVA and UVB ray
  • WINDPROOF SYSTEM:Strong fiberglass frame with windproof system for sunny and windy day.
  • ULTRA LIGHT WEIGHT AND COMPACT SIZE: Good quality aluminum frame to reduce the wight, 11.6 inch long make it fit you handbag well, so that you can take the umbrella with you in any time.
  • PU COATED HANDLE NEW DESIGN: PU coated makes the handle both good feeling and last long time



2) Jisulife Portable Handheld fan  ($15)

For $15 this fan is solid and quite well made.  It claims to last 14-21 hours on a charge, has a flashlight, and can charge your phone.

From Amazon:



  • 【Super Long Endurance and Strong Airflow】- Adopted the advanced technology, it lasts for 14 hours with 2-speed, 21 hours with 1-speed after about 3 hours full charge. The maximum rotating speed of the fan is 3400 rpm which is enough for personal use to keep you cool.
  • 【Foldable Design and Mini Size】- The foldable design makes it easy to carry and store. Besides, with the oval shape(1.3*1.3*4.7 Inches, Weight: 4.4 Oz), this rechargeable fan can hide the fan blade, small and easy to slide into your pocket and purse.
  • 【Power Bank Function and Quiet Operation】- 5V/1A USB output port makes the mini hand fan to be a power bank(2000mAh) in an emergency, supplying power for mobile phone, MP3, etc. With no frame design, make the noise low to 50db that causes no bother during work.
  • 【Flashlight and Include Wrist String】- Long press the power button to open the flashlight feature when the fan is not spinning. The flashlight is quite bright and can be used in dark areas or if electricity is out. And with a lanyard included, you can hang it on your hands or travel backpack.
  • 【USB Fast Charge & Gift Choice】- You can use a wall charger, laptop, power bank to charge it. And the handheld fan only needs 2-3 hours to get fully charged. This mini handheld fan will also be a gift for your family, friends. Cute, tiny, and useful gadgets for most people.


3)  Kafka Cooling Ties Original Cooling Bandana  ($15-$18 depending on quantity).  There are dozens of colors.
From Amazon:
  • Since 1992! Kafka Kool Ties are The Original Cooling Bandana Neckwear-Do not accept imitations! Made in the USA in Phoenix Arizona! Lifetime Warranty too!
  • Look for the Silver K on each Kafka Kool Tie to insure you are always purchasing a Original Kafka Kool Tie!
  • HOW TO HYDRATE YOUR KAFKA KOOL TIE: To hydrate, submerge the Kafka Kool Tie in clean water for 30-45 minutes. You can not overhydrate a Kool Tie, but you can under hydrate your Kool Tie. Do not leave your Kool Tie in water though for long periods as it can eventually wear out the seams of your Kool Tie. Once finished soaking, check for color fastness before using. One good way of doing this is to let it hang for 10 minutes and drip away any colors that may appear.
  • HOW TO WEAR YOUR KAFKA KOOL TIE: Allow for air flow around your Kool Tie so it maximizes the cooling effect. As you begin your activity, and your body heats up, periodically rotate the Kool Tie. Think of when turning your pillow over at night to access the cooler side. You can also re hydrate as needed for 10 minutes. When you are finished using, always let air dry so crystals dry out and returns to the original state. This can take a couple days as these crystals are built to hold moisture.
  • ACTIVITIES & USES OF KAFKA KOOL TIES: Kafka Kool Ties are comfortable and easy to wear an amazing product to use for many outdoor activities! Favorite uses are hiking, camping, travel, pickle ball, tennis, golf, dogs walks and just trying to stay cool in the warm time of the year! Another great reason to wear on a hot day even when you are just hanging out at your home and trying to stay cool!
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Thank you for posting this information.  We are taking a similar cruise April/May of '24.  The bandanas are a great recommendation.  Did you purchase special clothing to combat the heat?

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1 hour ago, never2home said:

Thank you for posting this information.  We are taking a similar cruise April/May of '24.  The bandanas are a great recommendation.  Did you purchase special clothing to combat the heat?


1 hour ago, never2home said:

Thank you for posting this information.  We are taking a similar cruise April/May of '24.  The bandanas are a great recommendation.  Did you purchase special clothing to combat the heat?

The clothing you choose does make a big difference in high temperatures.  I wore what I refer to as my “zoo keeper collection” because the outfits come in tan and green and make me look like zoo staff.  They are the silver ridge light line of pants and shirts made specifically for hot weather hiking by Columbia.  They are quite thin yet strong and made of synthetics that wick moisture away from your body - it really helps when your back does not stay soaked in sweat - and have lots of vents.  My wife does not like synthetics so she wore mostly linen.  She also wore Eddie Bauer guide pro pants which are her favorite hiking pants.  They dry quickly.  Our socks were made of merino wool.  This may sound counterintuitive in hot weather but merino wool actually keeps you cool, wicks away sweat, and can be worn multiple times since it controls oder.


The pros advise staying away from cotton in hot weather.  Cotton does not breathe as well as synthetics, stays wet once sweat gets on it, and takes a long time to dry after you wash it.  Synthetics made for hot weather can be hand washed and they will dry overnight.


Please let me know if I can speak to any other questions.

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2 hours ago, broberts said:

Long or short sleeves?

Shorts or long pants?


The Columbia silver ridge lite line has long sleeves and long pants.  They incorporate Columbia’s “Omni-Shade” technology (whatever that is) that Columbia says is rated at SPF 50.  Just as the bedouins cover their entire body in the heat, we found shielding our arms and legs from the direct sun with loose fitting clothes kept us cooler.  Plus we didn’t have to deal with arms and legs slathered in sunscreen.  

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Posted (edited)

I found that loose long dresses are cooler than pants.

Open sandals let my feet breathe.

My umbrella is a good friend, rain or sun.

Easy "bandana" option is a wet washcloth folded into a narrow strip and placed on the back of my neck.

Thank you for your experiences.


Edited by bcummin
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