Who said you cannot run in winters? The chilly air can be an excellent excuse to sit near the fireplace and skip running. Forget running, even walking in the cold weather can be challenging. While you can cover your body with all the thermal pieces you can get, the face and neck are where you usually leave it open. Cold weather running masks or balaclava is a boon to running enthusiasts during the winter season.
As the temperature drops, inhaling cold air can cause reactions to your lungs. We can breathe through the nose, but sometimes it can be inconvenient. Cold weather running masks are great winter clothing that warms the air before it hits your lungs. You don’t need it just for running, but it is also essential for when you go out and breathe that freezing air.
Here is a comprehensive guide to getting your hands on the ideal cold-weather running mask for your running routines.
Best Cold Weather Running Masks:
- Under Armour Unisex Tactical Balaclava
- Nike Running Therma Sphere Hood Mask
- Buff Lightweight Merino Wool
- Purjoy Warm Fleece Balaclava Winter Sports Cap
- Smartwool Unisex Balaclava
- Oakley Adult Balaclava
Under Armour Unisex Tactical Balaclava
Here is a running mask for cold weather that covers your head with a hoodie, your neck, and face as well. The Under Armour Unisex Tactical Balaclava can be worn under your chin, your nose, or you can run looking like a ninja. This is a comfortable wear made of 84% polyester and 16% spandex that is stretchy for comfort and breathable.
The material absorbs the sweat formed underneath the mask and dries quickly without giving you the discomfort of wet vapors. This mask protects your skin from the harmful rays of the sun with its UPF 30 sun protection material. The fun part about this mask is its four-way stretch that can be pulled in any direction. The mask fits so well you can wear it underneath helmets, which can be worn for other sports like biking and cycling.
One concern that you need to keep in mind is that this mask is not friendly to heat and may melt when exposed to open flames or extreme heat. The melted products may stick to your skin, causing severe injuries.
Comfortable to wear
Fits well underneath helmets
Gives protection from UV rays
Washable in machine
The stretchy material can be pulled in every direction
May fog up in warm weather
Can melt in extreme heat
Nike Running Therma Sphere Hood Mask
The Nike Running Therma Sphere Hood mask makes for a perfect cold weather running mask for your winter runs. This mask fashions a convertible fold-over design that gives optimal visibility around the eyes.
The design and functionality of this mask give comfort as well as protection from harmful elements like dust and cold air to the lungs. One of its main features is the dri-fit technology of the therma-sphere fabric that absorbs moisture quickly.
The material is made of 93% polyester and 7% spandex giving it a good stretchability. You can wear it underneath helmets and caps, as a neck warmer, or cover your whole face with just your eyes exposed. Whatever style you wear it, it is sure to give you warmth as you go running in the cold winter without any discomfort.
Stretchy material for comfort
Absorbs moisture quickly
The material is breathable
Protects from external elements
The Nike logo provides a great design
Not suitable for warm weather
Buff Lightweight Merino Wool
If you are looking for that soft mask that will give you warmth, comfort, and free of odor, the Buff Lightweight Merino Wool Mask is the one. This is a gentle and breathable mask that will keep you warm when you go out to face the chilly air.
The material is 100 percent merino wool, which is known for its ability to keep odor away. Its other features include moisture management, protection, and lightweight layer.
Go for this eco-friendly headwear that can be worn in ten different ways, which adds to its flexibility in style and design. Of the many ways, you can wear this as a headgear, neck warmer, or a face shield.
Can be used in ten different ways
Lightweight but fives enough warmth
Soft and breathable
Absorbs moisture easily
Can be itchy initially
A bit loose
Outdoor Research Ninjaclava
Running during the cold weather demands maximum coverage for the face, and the Outdoor Research Ninjaclava gives precisely that. The breathable material gives you comfort while running. If you feel discomfort from the accumulation of too much heat, you can easily pull back the head cover to let off excess heat.
Besides the warmth and comfort it gives, it protects from the wind and makes it an ideal wear for running. The material is made of 54% nylon, 41% polyester, and 5% spandex, making it snug, breathable, and keeps moisture away.
The flat seam constructed around the rims keeps the goggles in place. The perfect amount of elasticity around the face keeps the mask in place even when you run for a long time without falling down.
The right amount of weight
Snug rims keep the mask in place
Fogs up glasses
Purjoy Warm Fleece Balaclava Winter Sports Cap
The Purjoy Warm Fleece Balaclava is an excellent running mask for the winter season. The drawstring makes it easier to pull when you want more closure to prevent cold wind from entering your face and neck area.
Made from 100 percent polyester fleece, this mask is a combination of comfort, softness, and warmth. Besides running, you can use it for many other activities like skiing, cycling, hunting, and camping.
The design of this cold weather running mask gives you full face and neck coverage, which is perfect for an outdoor winter sport.
It can be used as a headcover, neck gaiter, neck warmer, snood, scarf mask, or a polar hood while you comfortably put on goggles.
Drawstrings make it easy to pull for a snug wear
Comfortable and breathable material
Can be worn in different ways
Suitable for various activities
A long neck that can be easily tucked
Good value for money
You cannot wear it under a beanie or helmet
Smartwool Unisex Balaclava
Go out running this winter without a doubt with the Smartwool Unisex Balaclava. Made of 100 percent merino wool, this is a warm mask that will not let any cold air disturb your outdoor activities.
The woolen fabric locks in body heat, keeping your face and neck area warm even when the temperature drops dramatically. The material has an interlocking knit that enhances the comfort and breathable features of this mask. The merino wool keeps away any unwanted odor and also gives thermoregulation. The double insulation layer guarantees warmth without disturbing your peripheral vision, and you can reverse it for a different look as well.
Whether you are out for a quick run or a long ski trip, this mask will not fail in keeping you warm.
The fabric keeps odor away
Double-layered to give better insulation
Reversible colors for two different looks
Easily washable in the machine
Snug enough to be worn under helmets and beanies
The seam at the center can be a bit itchy
Neck length is not long enough to be tucked in
Oakley Adult Balaclava
Running during the winter season requires full face and neck coverage, and the Oakley Adult Balaclava is the ideal one for you. Whether you wear it as a stand-alone or underneath a helmet, it works both ways.
This balaclava material is made of 53% polyamide, 30% polyester, and 17% elastane that make this mask soft, breathable, and flexible without fogging your goggles.
The length of the mask is long enough to cover your neck and tuck inside jackets, you won’t need a neck gaiter.
Doesn’t fog glasses
Long enough to be used as a neck gaiter
Can be worn under helmets
Slides on and off easily
Comfortable for an extended period
Not for extreme cold as a stand-alone accessory
Factors to Consider Before Buying a Running Mask for Winter
Material is an essential factor whether you are buying a mask or anything else. From polyester and wool to nylon, the fabric will have its advantages and disadvantages as well.
When you go for polyester, you may expect the material to absorb moisture quickly. This fabric is great at wicking moisture and drying fast on getting wet. Moreover, it is lightweight and suitable for the budget as well. One drawback about this material is the odor that builds up quicker than other materials.
Merino wool is excellent for warmth and softness that will not be itchy on your skin. It is another good material that is naturally moisture-wicking and keeps odor-free.
Another common material is nylon, which gives protection against the wind but is also breathable at the same time. If you want a durable fabric that is not that expensive, nylon is the way to go.
If you are more into windproof materials, remember that they are also waterproof. This means you will need breathing holes, unlike most cold weather running masks.
Now that you have taken a look at what fabric you want, you may need to see the procedures to care for and clean your running masks. Some fabrics are easy to wash in the machine, while others require a lot of hand-wash care. While you can bleach some materials, others get damaged on exposure to strong detergents and bleaching substances.
Size and Shape
While determining on the size and shape of the balaclava, determine whether you want full-face coverage with an opening at the eyes only or gaps at the nose and mouth as well. Depending on the length of the mask, you either need a neck gaiter or not. Most people choose the longer one to tuck under their coats.
The fit is another factor to consider. Either you want a fitting mask to be worn under helmets and beanies or as a stand-alone accessory, which requires the mask to be looser.
If you plan to wear the mask for skiing, you will need something that has a minimum opening at the eye area with a fitting rim to hold the goggles.
Here are some commonly asked questions about the cold weather running masks that most people have for clarity before buying one.
What is the difference between a ski mask and a balaclava?
Balaclava and ski masks are usually used synonymously. One thing to differentiate them is, while all ski masks give full coverage with an opening around your eyes for vision, some balaclavas may fashion opening around the nose and mouth as well.
What material is the best for a balaclava?
The best material depends on what type you need for your activities. If you are looking for warmth, go for wool materials. While nylon materials are suitable for wind protection, polyester is best for its lightweight and moisture-wicking features.
How do I choose the fitting in a balaclava?
During the cold winter, any type of clothing that provides warmth are those that are tight enough for heat retention. Similarly, you will need your running masks to be tight enough to retain your body heat, at the same time, stretchy enough to let moisture escape.
With the right size, material, and shape of running masks, you are ready to walk, run, and do all outdoor activities without letting cold air stop you.
While some may deem balaclavas unnecessary for running in the cold weather, there are changes in the performances on wearing them.
As you huff and puff while running, the cold air goes directly to your lungs, making breathing difficult. This is where balaclavas come into the picture; they are ideal for breathing easily while running around during winter. Another problem that a winter mask can solve is the frostbite you get on your exposed face.
The seven hand-picked choices of the best cold weather running masks in this guide have the combination of both design and functionality to best suit your lifestyle, hobbies, and fitness routines.