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Columbia Freezer Zero Bandana

rated 3.5 of 5 stars

The Freezer Zero Bandana has been discontinued. It was replaced by the Columbia River Chill Bandana.

photo: Columbia Freezer Zero Bandana neck gaiter

5-Star Fabric & Concept:
This bandana has wonderful fabric, and has so much going for it technically. Wonderful fabric and concept. 5-Stars as a deluxe cloth napkin (but too expensive for this single use).

3-Star Final Design, due to size (and lack there of):
So frustrating, it's too small for me to be very effective for use as a bandana. A small person will benefit from many more uses than I can.


  • Soft, stretchy, pilable, nice weight, strong
  • Absorbant, wicking, easy to dry, UV blocking
  • Zero Freeze technology cools when wet then evaporative cooling kicks in
  • Durable


  • Limiting flaw: just too small -- listed 21" square
  • Single stitch on edging

From Columbia site

• Omni-Freeze ZERO fabrication lowers the material’s temperature
• Omni-Shade UPF 50 provides premium protection from the sun
• Measurements: 21 in. x 21 in.
• Imported
• Omni-Freeze ZERO, Omni-Shade 92% polyester/8% elastane

The Review


How many times are you on a hot trail hike sweating and like a little relief? For me that is a lot! I've got a Zero Freeze tee shirt. which does cool. Thus, I was really looking forward to this working too.


Bandanas are amazingly useful pieces of gear, for comfort and survival. They can be used around the neck to absorb sweat. The can be wrapped, folded and tied to make a sweat band, localized neck/head/face swamp cooler, neck shade, hat, face shield, etc. Then there is using it as a container to help gather food, water filter for dirt and debris removal, rope to tie things together, make bandages, sling rocks to scare away bothersome critters, etc, etc.

And technically this Omni-Freeze Zero fabric works very well. The stretchable pliability makes it perform very well from a physical sense. But unlike most bandanas, this one is very soft and feels great on your skin.  Omni-Freeze Zero technology makes it in a class of its own. It has a marked cooling effect as it first wets, giving some instant relief. Not cold like ice mind you. Just a couple very welcomed degrees. Then the evaporative cooling kicks in. The fabric absorbs, wicks. and evaporates like crazy, and so it continues to stay cool. This makes it feel great.

How does Omni-Freeze Zero technology work? Ever chew Xylitol sugar sweetened mint gum? It seem to taste cool. For a good reason, it cools (actually drops temperature) as the xylitol wets! In Zero Freeze products xylitol molecules are bound into a resin like carrier. I'm not totally sure, but it looks like the fabric manufacturer just densely prints the xylitol complex onto the fabric, as those gray colored, donut shaped circles. Isn't chemistry and physics neat!

Xylitol has a hydroxyl group (-OH) on every carbon. Those polar -OH groups REALLY like to bind to water (H-O-H).  When water binds, they take up energy from the environment, so the environment gets cold!


The Gray Donut Circles of Cooling ... yes, Xylitol is indeed cool! You can even print the technology name with it 'Omni-Freeze'!



Surface printing, rather than being chemically bound to the fibers means that it will eventually wash off, just like painted logos on tee shirts will wear away over extended use and washing. I think I read 60+ washings. Using Sportswash and cold water, the my bandana pictured here has had well over 80 washings. And my bandana still cools the same as new. Washed after every hike, the bandana looks as good as new, and has not picked up stains or odors.

So why am I not giving this bandana a higher score?  Size does matter here.

Ever experience your bed being "short sheeted" as a joke? This feels kind of like that to me. My bandana was purchased as their standard 21" square, and now measures 20.5". I wear a men's large hat, and a bandana for me needs to be larger.

I can use it for many of its intended uses. However, there's little fabric available to tie good knots or drape better across your head, neck or face. Standard bandanas are more like 22" square. ExOfficio's are 23" square. This couple of inches would make a HUGE difference in the ability to tie. Survival bandanas I've seen can be 27" square. I think Columbia would have a pure winner here (and 5 stars from me) if they made a 24" or 25" wide bandana.

What's a guy to do ... sew two together? I like their fabric enough to consider doing it, but that makes for a very expensive bandana!

My "Go-To" Cloth Handkerchief

For me this Omni-Freeze Zero item has become a generous hiking handkerchief. It goes on every hike year round. I clip it to the side of my pack chest strap normally and zip it into a pocket when raining.  It feels great ... very absorbent, cool and soft on my face, hands and arms as I need remove sweat. It cleans my glasses nicely too.

Margo and Gary on Heliotrope Ridge trail during 'early fall', late August 2015 over looking Coleman Glacier, on Mt Baker, WA.  This bandana-ette has become my favorite "go to" handkerchief on the trail. Osprey 2 & 3L Hydraulics system hoses and Outdoor Research Men's Ferrosi Hoody and Women's Reflexa Rain Jacket are our outershells.  We are both wearing Gregory Z40 backpacks.  I have an Outdoor Research Foray Gore Tex rain jacket in the pack, in case the light rain increases or turns to snow. Be looking for upcoming reviews on these items.


Coleman Glacier, after arriving from the busy greater Seattle area, makes you feel like you have entered an alien world!

And tiny human-like ant people are crawling over it here and there, practicing how to climb out of crevasses, intentionally or not!


Makes me want to go get an ice axe and crampons, like my Wife's!



Want to try to guess why I bought the Asolo Aconcagua boots reviewed here on Trailspace? They kept my feet safe and totally dry on lasts Sundays hike to Heather Lake, see Peet Dryer review. Rocky, rooty, very wet, beautiful, and not very long Alpine Lake hike (~ 5 mile). Yet another and another ... break ME into boots hike. The Nikwax Nubuck & Suede Proof water proofing helped to keep them clean and dry, see review here on Trailspace ... amazing water shedding action!

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $15 direct sale online Columbia

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Price Historic Range: $13.83-$27.95
Reviewers Paid: $15.00

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