We all know we need to wear a face mask whenever venturing outdoors, and we’ve already written about our favorite stylish cloth face masks. However, your standard cotton face mask isn’t designed for cycling and running. While non-joggers love to point fingers, there’s a good reason many joggers lower their masks while out on a run — wearing a face mask can get hot, sweaty and even itchy after a while — no thanks. The good news is that several sports gear companies have joined the effort to keep everyone safe, and the best face masks for running won’t slow you down or 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 with sweat and are generally uncomfortable for physical activity. And have you tried running or cycling with an N95 mask? Impossible to breathe through, even if you can find N95 masks for sale. Instead, you want a face mask that’s 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 type of athletic apparel. That means polyester, nylon, spandex and fabric blends instead of cotton.
- 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 is going to 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 like polyester, nylon or spandex. High-performance athletic fabrics will generally offer more breathability and stretch than cotton or linen face masks.
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 and/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 great choice. These looser types of face coverings may increase your risk of exposure, and also open you up to more 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 are producing hilarious cat prints, psychedelic universe swirls, and other weird stuff.
So don’t despair! You can still get out there and train or go for a jaunt and not feel ashamed for not wearing a mask. And remember to keep your distance!
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. As we explained above, you’ll want to find face coverings made from breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics. We’ve included both traditional face masks and neck gaiters, although we recommend the former over the latter.
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 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.
Like a lot of great athletic apparel, 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 like 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 the vast majority of athletic face masks, it comes in multiple sizes. And it can be easily hand washed and reused as much as you want. Pre-order your Sportsmask today, or order an entire box for your team.
2. Reebok Face Cover 3-Pack (Back In Stock)
Reebok recently debuted their face mask for running and athletic activity, and it really delivers everything athletes need to stay safe. It’s made with 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 to switch between. 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.
3. Rhone 3-Layer Athletic Face Mask (2-Pack)
BEST NEW MASK
Rhone is one of our favorite activewear brands for men, and we love these athletic face masks, which have everything we’re looking for in face coverings. This three-layer design includes a surgical-grade cotton filter for advanced protection, an adjustable earloop to avoid irritation, breathable and moisture-wicking fabric, and stylish designs. Basically, it’s everything you could want in a face mask for running. The exterior layer is made from a high-performance nylon, while the layer touching your skin is made with light and soft poplin cotton fabric. At $15 a mask, you’ll need to spend a bit more if you go running every day, but in terms of quality and style, you can’t do better than Rhone. If you’re looking for something that’s a little more lightweight, Rhone also makes a 2-layer athletic face mask that we highly recommend as well.
4. Athleta Athletic Face Masks 5-Pack
Athleta is best known for making women’s athletic wear; however, they also make 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. Each of 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 your airflow won’t be blocked as you sweat. To wash these masks, hand wash with cold water and lay flat until dry. Best of all — you get five masks for just $30. If you’re looking for the best face masks for running, this apparel company has the best option we’ve found yet.
5. PAGE ONE 12-in-1 Multifunctional Face Mask
There are over 12 different ways to wear this face covering from PAGE ONE, but for your workouts, we recommend wearing it over your mouth and nose. 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.
6. Koral Athletic Face Masks
Koral is another women’s athletic apparel company making some of the best face masks for running and working out. The brand’s one-size-fits-all athletic masks may be a bit tight for men with large heads, but these face masks will securely fit most men and women. The best athletic face masks are made from high-performance fabric, and Koral’s face masks were designed with the brand’s fast-drying antimicrobial athletic fabrics.
7. Shock Doctor Play Safe Face Mask
BEST FOR YOUTH SPORTS / BEST FOR CONTACT SPORTS
Shock Doctor makes safety equipment for athletes, and the company has designed one of the most innovative sports face masks for sale today. This face covering features Quick-Flip technology that enables you to take a sip of water or access a mouthguard without removing the mask or touching your face. It has dual-comfort straps designed to remove pressure and ease irritation during long workout sessions, and it’s made with lightweight material that’s breathable and moisture-wicking to keep you cool. The no-tie straps won’t irritate your head even if you’re wearing a hat or helmet, and the material is highly flexible for fitting all head shapes. Finally, this face mask comes in sizes for both kids and adults.
With the fall sports season starting up, this is hands-down the best face mask for student-athletes. Sure, it’s not the most stylish face mask on the market, but it provides more protection, comfort and convenience than the average cloth face mask.
8. Hanes Signature Stretch-To-Fit Masks 6-Pack
If you work out every day, then you’ll need athletic face masks for every day of the week, which is why we love this 6-pack of ultra-breathable masks from Hanes. The unisex masks come in a variety of colors and are made with a soft and stretchy nylon fabric. The earloops are designed to avoid chafing, and the material against your skin will wick away moisture as you sweat.
9. Cuts Athletic Face Masks and Bandanas
Cuts Clothing is best known for super soft men’s t-shirts, and their face masks are made from the same buttery smooth PYCA fabric. The lightweight and breathable fabric won’t weigh you down during sweat sessions, and all Cuts masks have adjustable earloops for a comfortable and secure fit during movement. The reinforced seams will stand up to sweat, intense movement and repeated washing. Not only does this multi-pack include four athletic face masks, but customers will also receive two bandanas for those days when you need a looser fit.
10. 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 of time. 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 is sized for most adults looking to flatten the curve but still enjoy their favorite outdoor activities, and it has the familiar Adidas logo on the side.
Update: Unfortunately, all Adidas face masks are currently sold out, but you can sign up for email alerts and be notified as soon as they’re back in stock.
11. Self Pro Store Reusable Athletic Face Masks
This face mask for running has more than 7,400 reviews on Amazon and a 4.4-star rating for its versatile fit, breathable, 4-way stretch material and quick-dry capabilities. It provides protection against the dust, sun, aerosols and the elements in general during your workout and when used as a face covering can protect others from the spread of COVID-19. It’s reusable, designed to stay cool on hot days and the 2020 model covers your mouth and nose in one go. Stay comfortable and safe during all of your activities and choose from a variety of colors.
12. GSW ‘You’re Too Close’ Mask
FAVORITE MOTTO MASK
GSW has face coverings in a wide variety of patterns, and we especially love the “Too Close” design pictured below. Their dual-layer masks have a pocket for a filter insert. Even better, GSW designs their masks from 100% polyester micro fleece, which is perfect for working out. The elastic ear loops fit comfortably and the mask is designed to fully stretch over your nose and mouth. In addition to athletic face masks with fun designs, you can also create custom designs or choose one of the 3-packs for sale.
13. 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 few different 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 great option.
14. 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 that’s built to withstand heavy sweating without chafing, blistering or causing irritation. This covering has a completely 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 as the weather gets cooler you can still hit the trails safely.
15. Jjyye Cooling Neck Gaiter
WARM WEATHER NECK GAITER
Balaclavas aren’t usually a common sight during the summer months, but there’s nothing “usual” about 2020. Balaclavas are a popular face covering, but most of these wraps are designed for winter weather, which causes overheating. This half balaclava neck gaiter is made from a light and breathable silk that has a cooling effect as you run and sweat, which makes this 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.
16. Masksup Reusable Face Mask
BEST FILTER FACE MASK
This Masksup mask takes protection to another level with a super lightweight microfiber outer layer that’s great for staying cool but responsible during exercise and outdoor activity. It’s crafted with a PM 2.5 filter and is tested for protection from particles down to the size of 0.3um. They can be used up to 60 times and are made of environmentally-friendly material. These masks come in a variety of designs, so choose a color or print that speaks to your sense of style.
17. INTO THE AM Outdoor Face Mask for Running
This bandana style face covering is made from 100% polyester and comes in a ton of colorful designs. The polyester will help keep moisture off your body, while the material itself is light and breathable. You can wear this athletic mask in a variety of different ways depending on your preferences.
18. Zensah Performance Face Mask for Runners
ANTIMICROBIAL SILVER FABRIC
Zensah has made an ideal mask for running: it has moisture-wicking material which is great for sweating as you exercise. Unlike most cloth face masks, it’s not made from cotton, so you won’t have any bacterial growing on this antimicrobial fabric. The antimicrobial properties come from the silver sewn into the material, halting the growth of bacteria and keeping the mask odor-free. In short, the perfect face mask for running, cycling and working out.
19. HCMY Face Masks for Running
These multifunctional bandanas serve as excellent face masks and can be reused and washed. Made from 100% polyester, these bandanas will cover your face and let you breathe. While it might get hotter with more material around your neck and head, they are still useful. They stretch to cover your nose and mouth and don’t have any strings to hold them up. They’ll move as you do, which is ideal for anyone who feels claustrophobic with a mask pressed tight against their face. Just but be sure to wash them when you get home. Better yet, choose a few of your favorite designs and have a running bandana for every day of the week.
20. 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, which could include 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.
21. Wattie Ink Face Masks
BEST FOR RACING
These face masks are custom made by a California triathlon apparel company with the same fabrics they use to create performance racing apparel. All of Wattie Ink’s “Mask Packs” feature an assortment of designs and colors. Made from moisture-wicking material and designed to stop glasses from fogging up, these masks are great for cycling because you’ll be able to breathe easily. Be sure to wash in between uses. These running face masks are available for pre-order from Wattie Ink and come in packs of five.
22. Eliel Face Masks
BEST FOR CYCLING
This cycling company has made a line of “fun facade” masks. Like all of the best face masks for cycling and running, each are uniquely hilarious and quirky. Made with breathable, moisture-wicking material, these masks will last you for as long as the pandemic does — and maybe afterward, too. Eliel manufactures these maks in their San Diego factory, and they are also donating masks to local healthcare providers. With an excellent, snug fit around the mouth and nose, you’ll feel comfortable yet still able to breathe as you climb those hills, on your bike or on your feet. Even better, users can insert a dust filter between the layers of fabric for extra protection. These safety masks come in a pack of five or six and will be available to ship around May 13.
23. PRIME LAYERS The Everyday Mask
BEST FOR LIGHT EXERCISE
Another great choice for ultimate coverage, Prime Layers 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 is a lighter cotton, which makes it better for warm weather.
24. CARBON38 Athletic Face Mask Kit
CARBON38 has created a face mask designed for the strange times we’re living in. These face masks were designed to move with you, be easy to clean and, most importantly, protect athletes and those around them. The masks come in a set of two with an accompanying laundry bag for cleaning. The masks are built with a multi-layered filtration system and quick-drying fabric that’ll keep you dry and comforting during your next outing, no matter what’s on the agenda. The fit is secure with an adjustable nose strap 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 face mask and will be tight 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 is easily tucked away into a pocket. If you’re finding face masks hard to find, consider neck gaiters or face covers that stretch easily.
26. Colorful Neck Gaiters
This neck gaiter can be pulled up to cover your face when you’re running and easily pulled back down when you’re alone. The material is a polyester microfiber that is breathable, sweatproof and moisture-wicking. It dries quickly which is nice for these upcoming hot days; another trick is to run it under cool water before heading out for your run or bike ride to keep your face cool and other people protected. It comes in wacky colors and is fun to wear.
27. 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 exactly 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.
28. GSW Face Coverings – Custom Face Masks
BEST FOR SPORTS TEAMS
Do you need to design and order face masks for an entire sports team? Whether you’re looking for masks to match your varsity soccer team’s logo or want to intimidate rival kickball teams in the company league, GSW makes it easy to order custom face masks for your group. It’s a great solution for youth sports teams and other organizations who need sports face masks with their team name, colors or logo. As we mentioned earlier, GSW’s athletic face masks are made with two layers of 100% polyester micro fleece, a breathable fabric that won’t chafe. Finally, unlike most of the masks featured in this piece, GSW offers sizes for both kids and adults to provide a more secure fit.
29. Everlane 100% Human Face Mask (5-Pack)
MASK THAT GIVES BACK
This face mask from Everlane is a part of their 100% Human project that supports fights for human rights. With every purchase, 10% of sales go directly to supporting the ACLU, so you know your purchase is going toward a good cause. Each of these Everlane face masks is made from double layers of knit fabric with comfortable ear loops built-in. Because they’re made of 100% cotton, they’re best for light exercise. They’re soft to the touch and have a one-size-fits-most design. They’re machine-washable and designed to be used and washed again and again.