The Best Running Mask for Winter: 6 Must Have Features

Runners are without a doubt some of the toughest people on the planet. Their routine is seldom disrupted by trivial matters such as the weather turning colder.

Still, just because you want to keep up your running routine doesn’t mean you shouldn’t gear up.

In addition to your running snowshoes and fleece-lined tights, you should protect your head and neck from the cold by wearing a running mask for winter.

In this article, we provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to find the best running mask for winter, as well as a few tips on how to protect your face from cold weather while running.

We’ve also put together a list of the best five running masks for winter, so be sure to stick around!

Muscular fit hispanic guy exercising in a gym machine with a. running mask for winter

How to Find the Best Running Mask for Winter

The running mask market is so vast that narrowing down your options and finding the best mask for you can seem impossible.

After all, no one wants to buy a running mask that’s uncomfortable or doesn’t fit them because they made an ill-informed decision.

That’s why it’s essential to have a good idea of what a running mask for winter should offer you.

To ensure that you make a wise purchase, you should always consider the following factors before buying a running mask for winter.

Running Mask for Winter: Size

A proper running mask fit is one that’s comfortably snug around your face, without restricting your movement or hampering your breathing.

At the same time, the mask shouldn’t be so loose that it moves around or leaves gaps.

The problem is that running mask brands have chosen to make their masks one-size-fits-all.

As a result, people with larger or smaller heads may have difficulty finding a running mask that fits perfectly.

Luckily, there are high-quality running masks available in a variety of sizes.

Remember: wearing a running mask that’s too tight or too wide can make your run unpleasant and uncomfortable.

So, don’t be afraid to give yours to someone who fits the mask and buy yourself a new one.

Running Mask for Winter: Material

A running mask’s material is what allows it to be one-size-fits-all, as well as provide warmth and breathability.

As a result, many running masks are made from elastic fabrics for stretch and fleece linings for warmth and wind resistance.

Fleece or nylon running masks are popular choices for cold weather.

However, many runners nowadays wear balaclavas. Not only are they fashionable, but they also have the best warmth-to-comfort ratio of any running mask style.

Balaclavas were originally made from wool but are now made of a variety of materials, such as silk, cotton, Merino wool, and neoprene.

However, balaclavas made from polyester, nylon, and other synthetic fabric blends are more popular among runners due to their lightweight and moisture-wicking properties.

Running masks can be super fluffy and warm, or they can be lightweight and a little less cozy.

So, choose the material that feels the most comfortable and keeps you warm in the weather you run in often.

Running Mask for Winter: Warmth

It goes without saying that one of the main functions of a winter running mask is to keep you warm. A mask’s ability to retain warmth is dependent on its material and interior fabric.

Wool running masks are often the best option for warmth. However, for ultimate warmth, you should go for running masks with polar or thermal fleece linings.

Because of their insulating capabilities, these interior fabrics provide the most warmth of any other fabric.

They offer adequate wind protection while also feeling extremely soft against the skin.

Running Mask for Winter: Breathability

Because running masks cover the nose and mouth, breathability is critical. That’s why all the best running masks and balaclavas are specifically designed to be breathable.

Still, some masks are more breathable than others. So you’ll need to make sure that you choose a mask that allows you to breathe easily.

You can go for running masks with mesh panels or holes over the nose and mouth.

These openings make the mask more breathable. Just keep in mind that they may decrease the mask’s warmth since they’ll release exhaled warm air immediately.

Breathability is also crucial for those of us who wear glasses or goggles with our running masks. It’s quite common to have our specs fog up fairly quickly while running. This situation isn’t only inconvenient, but it also increases the likelihood of an accident occurring.

A mask with poor breathability is frequently to blame for this problem. A running mask with good breathability, on the other hand, eliminates this issue.

Because the mask allows your breath to pass through the mesh, it gets rid of the water vapor from your breath that causes your glasses to fog up.

Breathability for Asthma Patients

Running masks for winter are a great option for asthma patients who don’t want the cold air to irritate their bronchial tubes and stress their cardiovascular system.

That said, a mask’s breathability is extremely essential for people with asthma.

If you have asthma, your mask must be extra breathable.

Look for running masks with mesh panels or vents over the nose and mouth. Even better, look for running masks with filters to prevent pollution or pollen from triggering your asthma.

Such openings allow more air to flow in and out of the mask while blocking dust and pollen.

Running Mask for Winter: Adjustability

Most running masks, or balaclavas, are made from stretchy materials, such as nylon and polyester.

These materials are what make running masks elastic, which allows them to hug the widest parts of your face regardless of the size of your head.

As a result, most running gear brands sell one-size-fits-all running masks.

Some brands, however, go a step further and provide their running masks with elastic cords that you can use to adjust the mask’s fit however you want.

You can tighten the mask in certain areas to prevent cold airflow or loosen it slightly to make it more comfortable.

Coverage

Running masks for winter offer full coverage, partial coverage, or both.

Most of the popular running masks are ones that offer full and partial coverage.

Running Mask for Winter: Flexibility

Flexibility is one factor that most people overlook when looking for a running mask. I mean, if a running mask is elastic, isn’t it already flexible?

You’d be surprised to know that even though most running masks are elastic, not all of them are flexible enough to allow you to move your head freely.

A running mask should be flexible enough to allow you to turn your head quickly and bend your neck comfortably without the mask tugging at your face.

Look for a running mask that has a versatile design. If the mask can be worn in several different ways, it probably has a good design that improves the mask’s flexibility.

How to Protect Your Face in the Winter While Running

It’s cute to have a flushed pink face after a run, but not if the flush is caused by skin dryness and inflammation.

Wind and cold weather can dehydrate your skin, leaving you with a dry, patchy complexion and cracked lips. That’s why you should take certain precautions before going for a run.

Here’s how to protect your face from cold weather while running:

Put Enough Moisturizer

Moisturizing is essential in the colder months for everyone, but especially for runners.

Dry, cold air pulls moisture away from our skin, leading to dryness, inflammation, and even breakouts.

Can you imagine what the wind lashing at your face could do if it isn’t properly protected?

Before your run, you should apply a good layer of moisturizer to your face and neck. You want to go for an emollient moisturizer that contains ceramides and humectants.

These substances can help your skin retain moisture while providing a protective barrier against harsh elements.

Don’t forget about your lips! The skin on your lips is susceptible to damage from inclement weather. Even if you wear a mask, your lips will become dry and chapped.

Apply a thin layer of your moisturizer, followed by a layer of lip balm.

If your run will last longer than an hour, you should bring the lip balm with you. Reapply as soon as your lips begin to feel dry.

Caucasian smiling woman applies moisturizer onto face

Wear Sunscreen

In the winter, most people leave their sunscreen to collect dust until summer. The problem is that as long as the sun still shines, there’ll be harmful UV rays that need protection against.

Even if it’s not bright out or overcast, you should wear sunscreen, especially in areas where your skin is visible.

Lips are often overlooked during sunscreen application, but our lips are just as susceptible to UV rays as the rest of your body.

That’s why you should apply sunscreen to your lips along with your face, or use a moisturizing lip balm with SPF.

Remember to apply sunscreen to your hands and ankles if they’re not covered with clothes.

Wear Running Mask

We don’t want to sound like a broken record, but wearing a running mask in the winter is essential for protecting your face from the cold, dry air.

Wearing a mask is a simple and effective way to keep your face warm and protect it from the biting cold wind.

It’ll also keep your face sufficiently moist, preventing dry air from damaging your skin.

The best running mask for any runner is one that’s a suitable size and covers the head, ears, nose, and lower face.

You should also make sure to dress suitably.

Dressing according to the weather is essential to ensure you get the most from your run. Wear running-suitable clothes that’ll keep you both warm and comfortable.

Wear Sunglasses

Wearing sunglasses in the winter, like sunscreen, seems unnecessary.

However, wind and low humidity can severely dry out your eyes, causing inflammation and even increasing the risk of infection.

What’s more, if you’re going for a run in the snow, you should wear sunglasses that can reflect the sun’s glare and reflections.

Even better, if you have a spare pair of ski goggles, you should put them on for your run.

It may seem silly at first, but those goggles can do a better job at shielding your eyes from the glare of the snow and sun.

In addition, unlike regular sunglasses, most ski goggles are anti-fog.

This advantage will keep you from having to remove your glasses to wipe them frequently and will protect you from any accidents caused by poor vision.

Take a Warm Shower

Nothing beats a steamy, hot shower to loosen your muscles after a cold-weather run. However, hot water can damage your skin and isn’t even beneficial after a workout.

What’s more, dry, cold weather can cause sebum in your skin to solidify, clogging your pores. It can also irritate by drying out your pores.

Instead, you should opt for a mildly warm shower. The steam from the warm water will open up your pores and soften the sebum in your skin, making it easier to cleanse your face.

Warm steam can also dilate the blood vessels in your face and increase circulation, which helps your skin produce more collagen and elastin.

Don’t forget to moisturize afterward.

Quick Look: Best Running Mask for Winter

When looking for a running mask for winter, you want one that will keep your face protected from wind and cold weather while also providing you with a comfortable running experience.

In this section, we take an in-depth look into the following running masks:

  • Under Armour ColdGear Infrared Balaclava
  • Tough Headwear Balaclava Ski Mask
  • Nike Strike Snood
  • Outdoor Research Ninjaclava
  • Smartwool Merino 250 Balaclava

Under Armour ColdGear Infrared Balaclava Running Mask for Winter

Under Armour Men's ColdGear Infrared Balaclava , Black (001)/Graphite , One Size Fits All

If you’re not sure what you’re looking for in a running mask, this Under Armour ColdGear Infrared Balaclava is a great option. It’s suitable for all types of weather and can be worn in a variety of ways.

Just keep in mind that this balaclava is one-size-fits-all, so people with larger heads may find the mask a bit too tight.

Key Features

  • Thermo-conductive inner-coating that locks in body heat
  • Full coverage, but can be converted to a nose/mouth cover
  • Anti-odor technology that keeps mask fresh for long
  • Moisture-wicking properties
  • Lightweight material and high breathability

What People Say

According to Syl on Amazon, the balaclava is “Great quality, super warm, works in -35 Celsius [-31 Fahrenheit], blowing snow and was surprised by its warmth…highly recommended.”

Tough Headwear Balaclava Ski Mask

Balaclava Ski Mask - Winter Face Mask for Men & Women - Cold Weather Gear for Skiing, Snowboarding & Motorcycle Riding Black

This Tough Headwear Balaclava Ski Mask has a lot of similarities to the Under Armour Balaclava but without the high price.

It has a versatile design that allows you to convert the mask from full to partial coverage. In addition, even though it has a snug fit, the ski mask is comfortable and flexible.

The ski mask also has mesh panels that allow for great breathability, so there’s no need to worry about any fogging up.

Key Features

  • Very low cost without sacrificing quality or functionality
  • Multi-purpose fit can be used for full or partial coverage
  • Heat-retaining and moisture-wicking properties thanks to the polyester and spandex fabric blend
  • 4-way stretch fabric for a comfortable and snug fit

What People Say

KingLeighr on Amazon said, “Great fit and works perfectly under helmet. Provides enough warmth and flexibility to adjust to the conditions and your preferences.”

Nike Strike Snood

This face mask is for those who only want to cover their face, ears, and neck Nike Strike Snood. It fits securely over your ears by adjusting the drawstring to the size of your head and level of comfort.

The 100% polyester fleece fabric is soft and comfortable against the skin. It also wicks sweat away from your face, preventing it from becoming cold.

Key Features

  • Available in 2S/XS, Small-Medium, and Large-X-Large
  • Dri-fit technology to retain heat while wicking sweat away
  • Adjustable fit with drawstrings that hold in place for many hours of running

What People Say

Jarrell Mcmillan said on Amazon, “The size small fits like a glove w/out pulling the drawstring, which is what I wanted. If you want a looser, more relaxed fit, get the large. Breathability is great with the mesh mouthpiece. I use it mainly in the gym and on runs. Solid 9/10”

Outdoor Research Ninjaclava

Made from nylon, polyester, and spandex, the Outdoor Research Ninjaclava is another strong contender for full coverage running masks.

The design and stretchy material of the mask make it ideal for wearing goggles on a snowy run. It also easily retains heat due to the material’s low breathability.

Unfortunately, this ninjaclava isn’t as breathable as other running masks on the list, which means that it’ll need to be washed often. Fortunately, it’s made from moisture-wicking material and machine washable.

Key Features

  • Silicone printing for eye goggles
  • Available in Small-Medium and Large-X-Large
  • Retractable hood to vent excess heat
  • Wide eye area makes it easy to pull down and turn into a neck gaiter

What People Say

According to Jonathan Brett’s thorough review on Amazon, this ninjaclava is:

“This thing is very comfortable with the perfect amount of elasticity around the face and nose. It is equally comfortable whether the mask is pulled up to the eyes or down below the chin…I have only worn this for about an hour today, with temps around 12 degrees F, and a wind chill factor of -7 degrees F. The only other head covering I had on was the hood from the shell of my winter coat. I did not get cold at all. This thing was plenty warm.”

Smartwool Merino 250 Balaclava

This Smartwool Merino 250 Balaclava is perfect for runs on the coldest of days. It’s made from 100% Merino wool, which is warm, soft, cozy, comfortable, and even moisture-wicking.

You may think that because the mask is made from wool, it won’t have good air circulation. However, this balaclava has excellent breathability, allowing air to flow in and out smoothly.

Key Features

  • 100% super dense Merino wool with thermoregulating properties
  • Excellent airflow
  • Moisture-wicking
  • Two-year manufacturer warranty

What People Say

Jose Nunez said, “Very warm, it does not itch and it’s fast drying. It is a little bit tight but with a couple of uses it should get a little bit more loose.”

Final Thoughts

Most people forget that a running mask for winter can significantly improve their running experience.

Aside from making you look cool while running, wearing a running mask keeps you warm while protecting your face and neck against the cold.

That said, because running masks are available in various styles and materials, there are many factors that you should consider to ensure that you buy a mask that keeps you comfortable and warm.

With our guide, however, you’ll be prepared to buy your new favorite running gear. Good luck!

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