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 wanting to desperately peel off your mask because it’s too hot. There are, thankfully, many 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 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.
In particular, the best face masks for working out are designed from soft, stretchy and moisture-wicking materials like polyester 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.
Please note that some of the most popular athletic face masks, like the Under Armour Sportsmask, are currently back-ordered.
1. Reebok Face Cover 3-Pack
Reebok just 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.
2. Adidas Face Cover 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 curb the spread but still enjoy their favorite outdoor activities, and has the stylish Adidas logo on the side.
This mask is available in blue and black colors. Currently, the blue mask, pictured below, is the only one that’s in stock. You can also opt-in to get notified when the black one is back in stock.
3. 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.
4. 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. The earloops are designed to avoid chafing, and the material against your skin will wick away moisture as you sweat.
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. Their one-size-fits-all 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. Self Pro Store Reusable Face Mask
This face mask for running has more than 4,500 reviews on Amazon and a 4.5-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.
8. Shock Doctor Play Safe Face Mask
This Play Safe mask from Shock Doctor is made for athletes of all kinds for keeping themselves and others safe during physical activity. It has 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 even after wearing the mask for a while, 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 and the material is highly flexible for fitting all head shapes.
9. Under Armour Sportsmask
There’s only one reason we didn’t name Under Armour’s new athletic face mask our best overall — the next batch of Under Armour face masks won’t ship until September 4. However, if you’re an athlete looking for the best face masks for running, you’ll want to place your pre-order ASAP.
Like a lot of great athletic apparel, professional athletes have been testing the UA Sportsmask for months in the field. This mask has everything we look for in the best masks for exercising. 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.
10. 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.
11. Buff Men’s Lightweight Merino Wool Gaiter
Buff makes high-quality neck and face coverings specifically for the outdoors that are sweat-wicking and made of wool — a 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.
12. Jjyye 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, making it a great face mask for running or cycling. 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.
13. 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.
14. De Soto Cooling Athletic Face Mask
This face mask from De Soto Sport is made with three layers of Skim Cooler fabric that’s designed to absorb very little moisture. It’s high-tech, tightly knit and stretchy so it’ll stay comfortable for the duration of your workout, and the straps are made of the same fabric for optimal comfort. The straps stretch and tie behind your ears for a tailored fit and are bar-tracked on either side to prevent them from falling out. This mask is also reusable and can be thrown in the washer and dryer so keeping it clean and fresh post-sweat-session is easy.
15. Zensah Performance Face Mask
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.
16. HCMY Face Masks
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.
17. 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.
18. Wattie Ink Face Masks
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.
19. Eliel Face Masks
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.
20. PRIME LAYERS The Everyday Mask
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 or exercising for a 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.
21. CARBON38 Athletic Face Mask Kit
CARBON38 has created a face mask designed for the strange times we’re living in — designed to move with you, be easy to clean and, most importantly, protect. 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.
22. 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.
23. 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.
24. Hammacher Schlemmer Antibacterial Cooling Face Mask
This face mask for running from Hammacher Schlemmer was designed to stay cool and dry even while you exercise in the hot summer heat. It protects against airborne germs and is quick drying so your face won’t be trapped 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. It comes with five removable filters that trap bacteria while you wear it, and has elastic earloops for a comfortable fit.
25. Oiselle Flyout Gaiter
SPY is focused on connecting men with the best athletic apparel, but if you’re looking for a face mask for women, the Oiselle Flyout Gaiter was designed for women who love working out. This Flyout Gaiter is extra stretchy and easy to pull over a ponytail or larger hair. It’s stretchy, made of soft material and wicks sweat away to keep the wearer dry and cool. It’s designed specifically for warmer weather and includes two layers of material for extra protection.
26. MISSION Max Cooling Neck Gaiter
While gaiters like this one are typically designed to be used in the winter this one is designed to cool you off in the summer. It’s activated by water and cools up to 30°F below the average body temperature in as little as 30 seconds. It can be worn in a few different ways — from a neck gaiter to a headband as well as a regular face mask — and stays chilled for up to three hours. It’s reusable, machine washable and offers UPF-50 protection.
27. Everlane 100% Human Face Mask 5-Pack
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.