This study investigated a compact regenerative evaporative cooler (REC). To achieve practical applications of an REC, it is very important to consider the compactness as well as the cooling performance. Therefore, a prototype of the REC was designed and fabricated to improve the compactness by reducing the length through the insertion of fins in both the dry and wet channels. The REC prototype was tested in terms of performance evaluation under various operating conditions. An analytical model was also developed to analyze the effects of the axial conduction through the solid body of the REC, the wetness of the surface in the wet channel, and the thermal capacity of the evaporation water flow. The model was validated by comparing the results of a simulation with experimental data. The numerical simulation was based on the model to analyze the performance of the REC and to suggest methods to improve the cooling performance of the REC. Finally, the performance of the present REC was compared to that obtained in previous experimental studies. The results showed that the REC prototype in the present study is the most compact and achieves the highest cooling performance.