Jonathan Cottor and Ron Laikind

Jonathan Cottor and Ron Laikind are the COO and founder of ExtremeMist PCS, respectively.

The idea for ExtremeMist Personal Cooling Systems came to founder and northern Scottsdale resident Ron Laikind while on a 1,000-mile trek through the Sahara Desert in the early 2000s.

“I’m not kidding you, the heat coming off the sand every day brought that temperature up at head-level of 140 degrees,” said Laikind, a long-time, avid outdoorsman. “It was horrible and miserable and the worst thing anyone would probably ever do.”

After his trek companion showed him how to create “darn-near ice-cold” water about two weeks into their hike, Laikind mentally noted that a personal cooling and misting system should exist.

Years and many, many more hikes later, Laikind created just that: ExtremeMist, hands-free, professional misting systems designed to keep outdoor enthusiasts refreshed, hydrated, and safe.

“I invented ExtremeMist PCS to be lightweight and easy to use so you never have to slow down to cool down,” Laikind said. “The main thing is you’re drinking from the same system. You’re drinking and misting at the same time.”

The ExtremeMist inventory currently includes more than 20 products, two of which were recently picked up by REI as part of its Co-Op Innovator program.

“REI is Mecca to me,” Laikind said. “I don’t like going to any stores, but I’ll go to REI and maybe Home Depot.”

The two ExtremeMist products selected by REI include the PCS Retrofit Kit, $119, which is currently available in select retail stores nationwide and on REI’s website, and the “Just Add Water” Hydration Pack, $189, which will be available soon at REI.

It is, however, currently available on ExtremeMist’s website.

The PCS Retrofit Kit installs onto any hydration backpack to add a cooling mist that can lower temperatures up to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. 

The rugged, lightweight system that weighs just 16 ounces provides two-in-one hydration to drink and mist from the same reservoir for continuous cooling.

The PCS also features a high-pressure pump with multiple speeds, rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack, a wireless remote, and special nozzles, connectors, and hoses.

“My retrofit kit will go into any hydration packets that already has the reservoir built into it,” Laikind said.

The “Just Add Water” Hydration Pack, on the other hand, comes with the PCS unit fully installed.

REI will carry the newer version of the pack, which will be released next year.

“It’s a two-liter day pack, but it’s a vest style that fits you like a running pack; it fits like a glove,” Laikind said. “You put everything up front — your phones, all your gadgets, your nutrition, everything you can, so you don’t have to take it off very often.”

ExtremeMist products are not only useful for runners, hikers, and cyclists; but they’re also useful for people who walk with kids and pets, those who work outside for long periods, equestrians, and even dogs.

“My dog has a mister, too,” Laikind said.

Simply put the Retrofit Kit on one side of the dog’s saddlebag and a liter of water on the other end and attach the mist nozzle to his collar. 

“When he walks, it goes under. That’s where they cool, from underneath, so he’s always walking in the cool cloud just like I do. And I have his remote control because I have multiple speeds, up to eight speeds, so I control his and mine when we’re out for walks – but never over 90 [degrees].”

Laikind pitched ExtremeMist in April to buyers at the REI Co-op Innovator event at REI’s corporate headquarters in Kent, Washington.

“That was exciting. It was probably about a 30-minute meeting,” Laikind said. “We showed them what it was all about and how it worked and turned it on and let them wear it. They thought it was fabulous.”

REI started selling the PCS Retrofit Kit in October. 

So far, Laikind has spotted his product at the REI Paradise Valley store and at the REI Tucson store.

ExtremeMist products are also sold at Fleet Feet Sports Scottsdale, Lower Gear Outdoors in Tempe, IRun in Phoenix, and The Hike House in Sedona.

And, just prior to getting picked up by REI, Laikind began selling ExtremeMist products this summer at two military bases in Arizona, Luke Air Force Base and Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson.

“They could only take the Retrofit Kit because Camelbak is their standard issue at this point,” Laikind explained, adding that the product is located right next to the Camelbak bags. 

Laikind spent two years developing and testing the ExtremeMist PCS, taking it on hikes locally, including hikes up Tom’s Thumb.

During the hikes, people would not only stop him to ask him about the mister – “I go by and they get a little spritz and they’re like, ‘Oh my God, what is this? Where’d you get that?’” – but Laikind has also helped a few exhausted, dehydrated hikers by misting them.

“I’m a firefighter for the City of Scottsdale, and I met Ron on a mountain rescue that we were assigned to,” City of Scottsdale Firefighter Wilson Petty wrote in his testimonial published on the ExtremeMist website.

“I saw the mister he was using to cool down the patient upon our arrival and thought it was just about the coolest and most practical thing I had seen in a long time. I simply must have one. And quite frankly, every fire department in the Valley should supply them to their rescue teams.”

That rescue took place two years ago on Memorial Weekend.

Although the ExtremeMist PCS wasn’t necessarily designed for non-stop use, Laikind said he has yet to run out of water. 

“On the lowest speed, I use about one-and-a-half cups an hour. So, if I’m going out for two hours, if I go up Camelback or something like that in the dead afternoon in the summer, I’ve got enough water for drinking and misting and leave it on the whole time,” Laikind said. 

Laikind is already working on several other ideas, including solar charging for long adventures, a lawn-mower attachment, and an integrated safety vest for construction workers, traffic police, and municipal road workers.