EZ Cool Down vests are a major business for fandom and beyond – EZ Wolf tells why.
by Pup Matthias
Thanks to Matthias for writing for our mission: to show that furries don’t just dream, they make things with awesome DIY power. EZ Wolf’s shirt says it all. – Patch
Such a wonderful last night at AC. Here's Patch O'Furr and EZ Wolf, both famous documentarians of the furry scene! pic.twitter.com/DK9PnLWEXZ— Vox Fox @Vancoufur (@minstrelbill) July 13, 2015
Wearing a fursuit is a pain in the tail. I wouldn’t know myself, since I would like to have a roof over my head for the next month. However, ask anyone who has had the joy of bringing their amazing characters to life, and they’ll tell you it’s like wearing your couch. There’s a lot of sweat and heat that goes into bringing the magic to life. But one member of our fandom has gone out of his way to battle this problem, and has developed one of the most successful fandom businesses. I’m talking about the EZ Cool Down vests created by well-known photographer and video maker, EZ Wolf. Here’s what he told me.
Introduced in 2013, the vest has become a standard for many Furries to stay cool under their fursuit.
(EZ Wolf:) “The EZCooldown Performers vest is specially designed for actors, cosplayers, LARPers, fursuiters, and other costume performers.
This cooling vest provides hours of cooling comfort and prevention against heat stress thanks to four special PCM inserts which provide comfortable cooling relief for up to four hours, even during strenuous activities in high-temperature environments.
Each vest has four inserts made of phase change material.
The four inserts contain biological phase change material (PCM), which retains cold.
The PCM inserts can be quickly activated in your refrigerator or freezer or by putting them in ice water, and they can be reused over and over again. Once activated, the PCM maintains its temperature for a long period, providing comfortable cooling relief.
The EZCooldown Performers vest is made out of thin yet durable polyester mesh, which won’t add a thermal insulating layer to your outfit.
The four inside pockets can house four PCM inserts: two on your chest and two on your lower back.
Our vests come in three sizes and can be easily adjusted with the six Velcro straps to fit each individual wearer perfectly.”
Unlike fursuit making, this is a step up from the process of custom handiwork. EZ Cool Down does not make the vest themselves.
“We work with renowned manufacturers in The Netherlands, China and Poland. All the designing is done here in The Netherlands.
Next to cooling vests we’re currently working on a new neck cooler and cooling shorts, especially useful for fursuiters with digitigrade leg padding.”
When introduced to the fandom, it was received with open paws.
“The feedback we get is overwhelmingly positive!
Some folks are a bit sceptic at first, but during furcons we always have a few vests available for people to try. Once they put it on, you always hear the same reaction: ‘Oh! this feels really nice!’
Next to that it’s the fursuiters who already own an EZCooldown vest who are our biggest and best promoters. I think half of our sales comes from word of mouth promotion.”
Out of curiosity, I asked EZ Wolf how many Fursuiters use his vests:
“Currently, more than 2000 fursuiters are being kept cool by an EZCooldown cooling vest.
It’s something I never could have guessed when I started with this idea only 3 years ago. This also leaves us with a serious responsibility: Fursuiters and costume performers depend on their cooling vest and we want to be sure they have a product that meets up to their expectations. We take after-sales service very seriously and we’re trying to help our customers as much as possible to get the most out of their purchase.”
While EZ Wolf enjoys the success of his business, the journey to making them though was long and full of roadblocks.
“Next to an enthusiastic cosplayer and fursuiter, I am a professional photographer and filmmaker. Combining these two activities, I found myself shooting films with cosplayers and fursuiters since 1999. One of the major problems I encountered was to keep actors cool and comfortable during the extensive shootings, which quite often took place in the blistering sun or under hot studio lighting.
An item on CNN which showed US soldiers wearing PCM vests was a real eye opener for me. I did some research to see if these vests would be suitable for fursuiters, but I quickly learnt they weren’t.
Most industrial and military vests are too bulky to wear under a costume. Other vests combine PCM with evaporation technology which makes them ideal for athletes, football players and Formula 1 drivers but not for costume performers as the vest is not exposed to airflow under a costume. So basically I got stuck with these amazing PCM inserts without a matching vest suitable for costume performers.
From my film making experience I’ve learned that when something you need does not exist, you build it yourself. So I started to design a decent, costume-friendly cooling vest.
I had some ideas about the qualifications and features it needed from my own experiences as a fursuiter but unfortunately I’m not a tailor. That is why I found a good sports clothing manufacturer and together we designed the EZCD vest.
First I tested various versions of PCM applications and asked my fursuit friends to try them out and give feedback. This lead to the first EZCD prototype vests, which were introduced during Eurofurence 2013. Fursuiters who tried it instantly loved it!
After a few modifications I introduced the 1st production version of the EZcooldown vest, which instantly got a lot of positive feedback from fursuiters across the globe.
Early 2016, my partner Tom Lord a.k.a. ‘Malamutt’ joined the company. He designs and maintains our webstores and manages logistics.
Together we’re now catering a broad market in personal cooling solutions: We offer a variety of cooling vests for virtually anyone who needs cooling in whatever situation: entertainment, medical, construction, industry, military, leisure and sports.”
You read right. While the vest was created primarily for fursuits and costume performers, the company has expanded into several other industries.
“We started out creating a product for fursuiters and costume performers. It was a few months until other industries found out about our Performers Vest.
Today our cooling vests are being used by:
- pharmaceutical scientists in Indianapolis US
- ferry boat engine operators in Scandinavia
- oil rig workers on the US West Coast
- cardiovascular patients and people who suffer from MS across the globe
- one of the world’s most famous church organ player
- construction workers at Dubai International Airport
- mascots in the world’s most famous movie theme park
- cargo workers in Lahore, Pakistan
- professional video game testers in Canada
- housekeeping staff at hotels in Singapore and Hong Kong
- go-kart racers in The Netherlands, France and Brazil
- the Swiss Guard in Vatican City
- lots of Stormtroopers, Boba Fetts and Wookiees all over the world.”
With all that, what has EZ Wolf taken away the most with his experience doing EZ Cool Down?
“Most of our customers are costumers. The fact that we can offer a solution to one of the biggest inconveniences with fursuiting is definitely a huge takeaway.
Another one is that we’ve been learning a LOT about doing business within the furry fandom. In fact: the last few years have been quite a roller coaster. We’re happy to share our knowledge with other furs who’re thinking about starting an enterprise.
We’ve hosted some ‘business-furs’ panels during cons and we’re helping a few individual startups by sharing our experiences and the pitfalls we’ve encountered.
The furry fandom is an amazing and awesome community. Working for and with furries, and being able to make a living out of something you love doing is simply fantastic!”
So where do you go to buy these vest?
“We have two web stores: one for the US & Canada:
And one for Europe:
We’re also present in dealer dens at major furcons in Europe and we have plans to attend US cons again in 2017.”
Keep your eyes on EZ Wolf’s Twitter and company Twitter to keep up with all con news. The company still goes out of their way to add to the store. They announced back in November they will be releasing a PCM CoolCollar to help performers keep cool so the magic can go on and on like the Energizer Bunny. If you are a fursuiter and haven’t yet tried an EZ Cool Down vest, ask around or try one at a con if you can.
Stay cool Fluffer Nutters. Stay awesome. Stay amazing. Stay you.