Worth It: Keep Your Laptop From Frying Your Legs

Much unlike many a magazine editor who recommends you buy all sorts of crap that they most likely got for free, your Jezebel staff doesn't get jack shit (other than books, unsolicited). And that's how it should be. But on our own time, in our personal lives, we still buy stuff. So this is Worth It, our recommendation of random things that we've actually spent our own money on. These are the things we buy regularly or really like, things we'd actually tell our friends about. And now we're telling you.

Last summer, I started noticing some weird blotchiness on my upper left thigh. It almost looked like a patch of sunburn, but in a place that was hardly ever exposed to the sun. I puzzled and puzzled over it, until I had convinced myself I was suffering from some kind of rare thigh cancer, and then one day when I was at the dermatologist I asked her what she thought it was. She shrugged and said, "Dunno. Looks a little like a burn. Do you use your laptop a lot?" Duh! Yes, in fact, my laptop is glued to my lap for the majority of my waking hours. When I got home, I checked and sure enough my blotch was right underneath where the laptop battery was.

In the interest of not permanently disfiguring my thigh, I immediately set about finding something that I could put between my actual lap and my laptop to keep things a bit cooler. I didn't want anything bulky, like an actual lap desk, since I tend to shift around and sprawl in any number of very non-ergonomic positions when I write. And I didn't want any contraptions that plugged into a USB port and whirred and clicked. After some googling, I came upon the ThermaPAK HeatShift Laptop Cooler, ordered one up, and I have not looked back since.

It's genius. It's basically just a flexible, lightweight pad about the size of your laptop (they come in sizes from 10 inches to 17), and it has "safe eco-friendly cooling crystals" inside. You put it between your computer and your legs, and it absorbs the heat—keeping you and your computer cooler. The top layer has these little dents in it to promote air flow. The bottom is made of soft fabric that feels totally fine against skin but also doesn't scratch your desk; so you can also use it to keep your computer cool while you're working on a flat surface if you like. Mine is black, but you can also get them in white and bright pink.

For the most part, I don't even notice the heat from the bottom of the laptop anymore. The pad moves in any direction the laptop will go, so I can sprawl away. If I am working for hours and hours on end, the pad does warm up a bit, but it's still far better than having the computer right against your leg. The best part is that my thigh returned to its normal color after about a week of using it and has stayed that way.

HeatShift Laptop Cooler, $24.99-34.99 at ThermaPak.