We’ve already written about our picks for the best N95 and KN95 masks — not to mention getting expert advice on how to spot counterfeit N95 face masks — however, wearing any mask outdoors has become less necessary and less common. The risk of contracting COVID-19 outdoors or running past someone is rare, and thus the need to don a face covering while out for your morning jog, an afternoon hike, or beach HIIT session is more a choice than a command. If you’d still prefer to wear a face mask while exercising, you’re best off having one specifically designed for your chosen activity. The good news is that several sports gear companies have created top-notch face masks that’ll keep you and others protected, not slow you down and not interfere with your breathing.
Some of our favorite athletic apparel companies have moved quickly to manufacture athletic face masks that help you breathe and sweat without desperately peeling off your mask because it’s too hot. There are, thankfully, many great choices out there, so let’s find the one that’s right for you and your fitness routine.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Face Masks for Running
Most surgical masks are prone to bleeding through sweat and are generally uncomfortable for physical activity. And have you tried running or cycling with an N95 mask? Impossible to breathe through. More so, many N95 and KN95 masks have a vent on the front, which makes it easy to breathe out because all that breathe is not filtered — meaning you’re not protecting those around you. Instead, you want a face mask designed for athletes, which means it will be sweat-resistant and won’t cause chafing. This is especially important if you’re a long-distance runner or cyclist.
The best athletic face masks for working out have a few things in common:
- The ideal exercise mask is made from moisture-wicking material, just like you would want in any athletic apparel. That means polyester, nylon, spandex and fabric blends instead of cotton. Wool is another option, especially in winter, and wearing a mask actually helps keep your feet warm.
- The best athletic face masks are breathable and comfortable around your face and ears.
- They should also offer durability, with the ability to wash and reuse the masks many times without too much wear and tear. No one needs a mask that will sweat through and become a sopping mess after their run.
- Many athletic face masks now come with adjustable earloops to avoid chafing and irritation around the ears.
In particular, the best face masks for working out are designed from soft, stretchy and moisture-wicking materials such as polyester, nylon or spandex. High-performance athletic fabrics generally offer more breathability and stretch than cotton or linen face masks.
What Are the Best Face Masks for Running & Cycling?
Below, we’ve included the best options for athletic face masks. Do your part to keep your community safe and mask up before your next sweat session. You’ll want to find face coverings made from breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics, as we explained above. We’ve included both traditional face masks and neck gaiters, although we recommend the former over the latter.
Please note that some of the most popular athletic face masks, like the adidas face mask and the Under Armour Sportsmask, go in and out of stock as inventory becomes available.
1. Best Athletic Face Mask: Under Armour Sportsmask
Under Armour was one of the first major sports apparel companies to design a face mask for athletes, and if you ask us, it’s still the best on the market. On top of that, it’s one of the only face masks for runners that’s currently in stock online.
Professional athletes have been testing the UA Sportsmask for months in the field, and this face-covering has everything we look for in the best masks for running, cycling and other sports. It’s made from performance fabrics, polyester and spandex, which wick moisture away from your face. It has a comfortable fit, with a moldable nose bridge so that it stays securely on your face. Even better, unlike most athletic face masks, it comes in multiple sizes. And it can be easily hand washed and reused as much as you want.
Also From Under Armour: UA Sportsmask Featherweight
Under Armour also has a featherweight version of their classic SPORTSMASK made with high-performance UA fabric and designed lightweight and breathable. The outer layer is water-resistant to protect you from the elements during your workout, and the mask uses UA’s Iso-Chill fabric to feel cool to the touch while you’re wearing it. The material is soft and smooth and offers UPF 50+ sun protection.
2. Rhone 3-Layer Protective Face Mask
Rhone is one of our favorite athletic wear brands for men, and their face mask is excellent for protection during running, cycling and other fitness. It’s got a breathable 3-layer construction and is designed to wick away sweat. It’s been treated with their permanent GoldFusion technology that decreases drying time, controls odor and contains real gold that improves colorfastness. It also has a moldable nose bridge and 3M bungee ear loops with a silicone bead adjuster to help ensure the perfect fit.
3. Reebok Face Cover 3-Pack
Reebok recently debuted their face mask for running and athletic activity, and it really delivers everything athletes need to stay safe. It’s made using breathable, soft recycled polyester and elastane that’s comfortable and reusable. It’s machine-washable for daily use and comes in a three-pack, so you’ll have multiple masks to use as needed. Each one has two layers of fabric for protection and stretches around the ears easily. It has a tight fit for coverage and lack of movement while exercising and comes in a sleek black color.
4. Adidas Face Mask (3-Pack)
Who would turn down a chance to rock adidas? Especially when it means potentially protecting others from the spread of COVID-19? This adidas face cover is made for use during athletic activities, with a breathable fabric that’s comfortable to wear even for long periods. It’s made with elastic fabric for a tight, snug fit that wraps around the ears and won’t shift around a lot during activity. This face covering has two layers of protective fabric built-in and is machine washable for daily use. This soft mask fits most adults so that they can enjoy their favorite outdoor activities, and it has the familiar adidas trefoil logo on one side.
5. Outdoor Voices Adjustable Face Mask 5-Pack
Outdoor Voices makes another great mask option for working out that features their signature “Doing Things” branding and dual layers of breathable fabric. The masks have adjustable straps, a speckled deep sea blue color and come in a pack of five, so you’ll have plenty to rotate between after sweaty workouts.
6. Athleta Athletic Face Masks 5-Pack
Athleta is best known for making women’s athletic wear; however, the brand also makes some of our favorite face masks for running for men and women alike. We love the neutral colors and stylish prints, as well as the easily adjustable ear loops. These masks are made from a stretchy, moisture-wicking polyester and spandex blend with a cotton liner for extra protection. Like medical masks, they feature three layers of fabric but don’t worry that all that fabric will get in your way. The breathable materials will feel light and airy on your face and won’t block your airflow as you sweat. To wash these masks, hand wash with cold water and lay flat until dry. If you’re looking for the best face masks for running, this apparel company has the best option we’ve found yet.
7. Athleta Activate Face Mask
ALSO BY ATHLETA
This pack of two face masks is a solid contender for the Athleta masks above. However, they differ because they are designed for your active lifestyle, are made from a performance-drive, Turbo-Dry fabric, and have advanced, patent-pending technology that helps block small particles. If you’re looking for a slight upgrade from your favorite brand, then these activate masks are made for you. While “designed for women,” these masks can be considered gender-neutral and come in two attractive colors. Come on, a good mask is a good mask, right?
8. Allbirds TrinoXO Face Mask 3-Pack
Allbirds, the internet-famous washable shoe brand worn by tech CEOs and everyday Joes alike, also makes one-size-fits-most face masks out of moisture-wicking material that would work well at the gym. They’re lightweight, designed to fit snugly without being too tight, and come with adjustable ear straps as well. The 3-layer face masks are made from upcycled materials from the brand’s t-shirts and are designed to stay soft and fresh.
9. Blue Bear Protection ProSport Face Mask
Blue Bear Protection makes disposable face masks worth stocking up on and has an excellent, breathable, reusable face mask made for use while playing sports. They’ve got a filter pocket for inserting a replaceable filter, are anti-fogging and designed for a secure fit. They’ve got a contoured design for breathability and are available in a bunch of colors.
10. Mission All Season Neck Gaiter
This adjustable gaiter from Mission makes for an easy, breathable face covering for workouts that are powered by VaporActive heat-release technology to keep you dry and avoid excessive moisture buildup. It’s got multiple layering options for your nose, mouth and chin as well, and the lightweight fabric pulls moisture away from the body to keep you fresh and dry. It’s an excellent covering for keeping you comfortable, and SPF protected while running, hiking, cycling, doing yard work and more.
11. Columbia Tech Trail Face Mask
BEST KNIT FABRIC
If you want to hit the trails and stay safe in a potential crowd, then Columbia’s face mask will treat you well. Made from a breathable knit fabric, you’ll stay cool while exercising and won’t feel the need to pull this mask down. It fits comfortably over the nose and mouth and is equipped with elastic hooks for the ears, keeping it secure but not too tight. You’ll be able to enjoy your workout while staying safe.
12. Knit Engine Mask
The Knit Engine mask is so lightweight that you’ll forget you’re even wearing it. Although it feels nonexistent, the four layers of knit fabric will keep you well protected, and while it covers your mouth and nose exceptionally well, don’t be surprised if you forget to take it off even when you get back home. Knit Engine makes its masks with water-repellant technology, which is excellent news for anyone taking it with them for a run. You can keep exercising without getting your face totally soaked with sweat.
13. Boco Gear Performance X Mask
If you’re looking for a very lightweight mask, so light that you’ll forget to take it off when it’s not needed, then check out Boco Gear’s Performance X Mask. While it covers every vital part of your face, it still leaves you enough room to breathe without feeling constricted, and another bonus of this lightweight fabric is the inner layer for added protection. You can’t go wrong with this safe and lightweight option that is an upgraded version of their first Face Mask.
14. Carter’s Face Masks
BEST FOR KIDS
If you’ve been searching high and low for the best face mask for your children, then look no further. The lightweight and colorful options from the children’s store Carter’s are well made, breathable, and easy to wear. Even though kids are notorious for removing their masks, they’ll enjoy these so much that they’ll (hopefully) keep them on as long as needed. These masks are great for kids going to activity classes indoors and for schooldays.
Read More: The Best KN95 Face Masks for Kids
15. Asics Face Mask
BEST FOR CYCLING
The ASICS Institute of Sport Science designed this ASICS face mask for runners and cyclists to wear while working out. It’s made with quick-drying fabric for a roomy interior that provides plenty of room to breathe. It’s got strategically-placed air holes for proper ventilation while also preventing saliva from spreading via droplets in the air. Additionally, it’s made using 31% recycled materials to achieve better sustainability.
16. PAGE ONE 12-in-1 Multifunctional Face Mask
There are over 12 different ways to wear this face-covering from PAGE ONE, but we recommend wearing it over your mouth and nose for your workouts. It’s made of thin, lightweight fabric that’ll protect without making you feel smothered. The moisture-wicking fabric is quick-drying and designed to keep you cool even in high temperatures. The face-covering is also breathable durable and features 4-way stretch like all of your favorite athletic apparel. It will snugly fit most head and face sizes. It has upgraded stitched edges to prevent fraying or rolling up during movement, and it comes in a bunch of different colors and styles so you can find what works for you.
17. Self Pro Store Reusable Athletic Face Masks
This face mask for running has more than 7,700 positive reviews on Amazon for its versatile fit, breathable, 4-way stretch material and quick-dry capabilities. It protects against the dust, sun, aerosols and the elements in general during your workout and, when used as a face covering, can save others from the spread of COVID-19. It’s reusable, designed to stay cool on hot days, and protects your mouth and nose in one go. Stay comfortable and safe during all of your activities and choose from various colors.
18. SMRTFT Sports Mask
This lightweight, stylish face mask is built for sport and blocks 99% of ultra-fine particles ranging from 1.7 to 2.6µm in size (that’s about 40 times smaller than a human hair). Even after 100 washes, this mask will maintain the same strength against foreign particles and protect you and others from infection. It’s made of a nylon and polyester blend and comes in a selection of unique color choices. Sure, it looks a little bit like underwear for your face, but if you care more about safety than style, then this is another excellent option.
19. Buff Men’s Lightweight Merino Wool Gaiter
BEST FOR COLD WEATHER
Buff makes high-quality neck and face coverings specifically for the outdoors that are sweat-wicking and made of merino wool — a soft and light fabric able to withstand heavy sweating without chafing, blistering or irritating. This covering has an entirely pull-on closure, is hand washable, and is semi-fitted to comfortably cover most face sizes and shapes. It has Microclimate control that’s breathable and contains natural odor prevention. The best part? You can wear this in the summer and winter with the same results, so you can still hit the trails safely no matter the season.
20. Jjyye Cooling Neck Gaiter
WARM WEATHER NECK GAITER
Balaclavas are a popular face covering, but most are designed for winter weather, which can cause overheating in warmer months. This half balaclava neck gaiter uses light and breathable silk that has a cooling effect as you run and sweat, making it one of the best face masks for running or cycling in warm weather. This light moisture-wicking fabric will transfer heat, sweat and humidity away from your body. Openings for your ear will help keep this face-covering in place while you cycle or run.
21. INTO THE AM Outdoor Face Mask for Running
This bandana-style face covering is made from 100% polyester and comes in many colorful designs. The polyester will help keep moisture off your body, while the material itself is light and breathable. Depending on your preferences, you can wear this athletic mask in various ways.
22. FAYBOX Outdoor Masks (6-Pack)
This six-pack of outdoor athletic face masks comes with an assortment of bright and colorful patterns. Each order will include a mix of different designs, including solid colors, space prints and paisley. These scarf-style wraps offer UV protection and are loose and breathable. You can wear them around your neck or mouth and quickly adjust as needed during your run. These masks are made from 100% polyester material.
23. PRIME LAYERS The Everyday Mask
BEST FOR LIGHT EXERCISE
Prime Layers is another excellent choice for ultimate coverage and has made a mask made from a double layer of chambray cotton. This material won’t be the best for moisture-wicking during an intense workout, but it will be fine for walking or other forms of light exercise. Chambray fabric is a more lightweight cotton, making it better for warm weather.
24. CARBON38 Athletic Face Mask Kit
CARBON38 has created a face mask designed for the strange times we live in. These face masks were designed to move with you, be easy to clean and, most importantly, protect athletes and those around them. The covers come in a set of two with an accompanying laundry bag for cleaning and are built with a multi-layered filtration system and quick-drying fabric that’ll keep you dry and comforting during your next outing. The fit is secure with an adjustable nose piece and toggles at the strap. The masks are antibacterial and antimicrobial, offer UV protection and are non-toxic.
25. Summer Neck Gaiter
This versatile neck gaiter can be used as a tight face mask around your mouth and nose. It comes in various colors and lets your sweat and moisture breathe through the material. It can be used as a headband or a sweatband, and it tucks away easily into a pocket. If you’re finding face masks hard to find, consider neck gaiters or face covers that stretch easily.
26. Hammacher Schlemmer Antibacterial Cooling Face Mask
The best face masks for running are designed to keep your face cool and dry even while you exercise in the summer heat, and this product from Hammacher Schlemmer will do precisely that. It protects against airborne germs and is quick drying so your face won’t be irritated by heat and sweat while you work out. The mask is lined with breathable technical fabric similar to the athletic wear you’re used to wearing that allows moisture to escape and air to flow, cooling off the body in the process. Best of all, it comes with five removable filters that trap bacteria while you wear it and has elastic earloops for a comfortable fit.
Does It Have To Be a Mask? Can I Run in a Bandana or Gaiter?
Ideally, you want to look for a mask that securely attaches to your face without becoming too snug. In a perfect world, that means elastic bands that secure behind your ears or thin straps that can be tied around your head, neck or ears and adjusted to the right fit. You want to keep the mask tight enough to avoid slipping, but not so tight that it affects your breathing. A tighter mask will be more protective for you and those around you and will cause less fogging of your glasses.
However, we know these masks can be a bit stifling, especially on a hot day in the middle of summer. If the trails you love tend to have a ton of sun exposure and you want something that’s a little looser, a bandana or gaiter is another excellent choice. These looser-style face coverings may increase your risk of exposure, but they are more comfortable. There’s a risk tradeoff with comfort, but if you’re running outside, the chances of spreading COVID-19 or getting it from someone else are much lower than indoors. Style points count too, and plenty of companies produce hilarious cat prints, psychedelic universe swirls, and other weird stuff.
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