About Us

Why are Steele Cooling Vests so superior to other cooling vests on the market?

We use only the highest quality components in our vests such as:

Heavy-duty domestic thread – not the cheap stuff made overseas which tends to break easily.

YKK Zippers – also made in the USA and known for being the best quality.  We have never had a zipper break!

Fire resistant hook & loop – more expensive and launders much better that the cheap stuff.

Thinsulate® insulation by 3M – the very best insulation available on the market.

Matching bias edges – the bias edges on our vests are the same as the shell fabric resulting in a more professional & even wearing garment.  As we receive shell material we send out rolls from each dye lot to a factory that slits the material into 1.5 inch wide strips.  During sewing these rolls of bias are inserted into the sewing machine which automatically folds and stitches the bias along the fabric edges.

State of the art sewing technology – Our sewing machines are capable of double needle stitching which insures “no rips” along the seams, cinch straps, and cooling pockets.  This, combined with the same fabric bias edges, makes for a very clean looking and extremely durable vest.    As a point of fact, we have nuclear power plants that have been using the same vests for 30 years!



The Story of the First Practical Cooling Vest! 

In the late 1970’s Sandra Steele was a safety specialist working with nuclear plants, DOE & DOD sites, the nuclear navy, and military shipyards on different projects concerning protective clothing.  One particular area of worker safety was constant and critical – the need to protect workers from heat stress when working in hot environments while wearing protective clothing.  Heat stress was just being recognized as a serious health concern that severely limited work performance.

In 1984, after urging from customers, Sandra began the work of designing a cooling vest.  The vest had to be easy to use, allow full worker mobility & balance, and be maintenance free, durable, and washable.  Using some muslin fabric and bias trim Sandra sewed a few prototype vests, and the style of the vest improved when she noted the ferry workers on her island commute wore open sided garments with hook & loop flaps for closure.  She found water ice did not work, as one pinhole and all the liquid would bleed out.  However, she discovered that gel ice, a mixture of corn starch & water, double sealed in polyethylene, was far superior to water ice in terms of cooling intensity and duration.

Late in 1984 Sandra Steele hired her two daughters, Lynn & Lisa, incorporated under the name Steele & Associates, Inc., and introduced the first SteeleVest and Thermo-strips to the nuclear market.  It was an instant success!  Within a year every nuclear plant in the nation and many DOE/DOD sites were using the SteeleVest to prevent heat stress.  After extensive testing of the SteeleVest, the US Navy outfitted every ship in the fleet for use in the engine rooms, galleys, laundry rooms, and on the deck of Aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf and other hot regions of the world.  After even further testing, the British Royal Navy followed suit.  Many military commands outfitted their troops, the shipyards outfitted their workers, and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams found the SteeleVest to be ideal for use under Bomb Suits.

For special Military applications we designed the smaller TrimLite™ Cooling Vest that has 4 pockets, a zip front, plenty of cooling, and a bit more user friendly.  This soon became the popular choice for hundreds of military & industrial users.

As time went on people with heat sensitive medical conditions discovered the SteeleVest.  We were surprised one day to receive a letter from the Veterans Administration authorizing its use for eligible Veterans, as, unbeknownst to us, they had been testing out the SteeleVest in several locations!   About the same time we received a call from a woman named Dixie, a nurse in a steel mill.  She said “all these men are wearing SteeleVest’s, and I’m the one who needs one as I have Multiple Sclerosis!” After working with a MS Support Group in San Jose we designed a new style – the 5 Pocket SteeleVest that was smaller & lighter  with easily adjustable cooling levels using insulated Thermo-bags for the gel ice strips.  At that time there was nothing available on the market except a costly recirculating vest that needed to be tethered to a power source and required careful maintenance, so it was quite exciting to be able to offer such an effective cooling solution to people who were suffering so much from the heat.

Having no medical marketing background or contacts we began by offering free product to all the major MS Centers & Clinics so they could experience firsthand the benefits and convenience of cooling with the SteeleVest.  In 1993 the
SteeleVest was displayed at the first MS Consortium Meeting, and over the next few years at several Abilities Expos.  Soon the SteeleVest had become the standard for body cooling in the medical field, and today literally thousands of people with MS are using the Steele Cooling Vests.

Continually innovating, we have introduced many new products that cross into several markets.  The Steele Cool-UnderVest™, and a larger version, the ZipCool™ UnderVest, are both state-of-the-art cooling vests that accept both sizes of Thermo-strips for maximum cooling.

Here at Steele Inc. we are particularly proud to share literally dozens of test reports that detail the scientific testing done on our Steele Cooling Vests by experts, not by biased vendors.  Steele Inc. has never funded any of this testing.   Tests were performed on both mannequins and human subjects, in the laboratory and in the field, and PROVE the body core cooling effectiveness of the Steele Cooling Vests!