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Still Searching for a Face Mask? You May Already Have One at Home

Check your outdoor gear stash before you splash the cash.


From the look of the latest headlines, a lot of us will be practicing major COVID-19 precautions for at least another month. One big CDC-recommended step is wearing face masks, and the scramble for these items continues. However, one small brand’s recent, well-researched video solidifies a helpful fact: a lot of us have pretty good makeshift face masks somewhere in our outdoor kits.

In the video, North x North founder Chad North shares some interesting findings: studies have shown that while surgical and N95-rated masks filter 80 to 90 percent of virus-sized particles, a single-layer cotton T-shirt can filter 50 to 60 percent of particles one-fifth the size of coronavirus particles for several hours.

Among other materials, merino wool is similar in weight, thickness and construction to the cotton t-shirts tested and can provide a similar level of protection. The key is to make sure it is tight fitting, covering your nose and mouth and extending to the sides of your face and below your chin.

Point being, in the absence of a high-end face mask, that neck gaiter or balaclava or kerchief you take on every ski or snowboard trip can still provide a significant level of protection at this time.

On a personal note, I have a wonderful face mask my sister made for me, but having a large beard, I’ve been opting for my BlackStrap Balaclava on bike rides to really extend the protection all over my mug — a solution that just might outperform those viral flip-beard-over-face videos.

Comb through your kit, or peruse the items below, which will serve you well in the great outdoors long after this pandemic is behind us.

Buff Lightweight Merino Wool

This stretchy item can be worn at least 12 different ways, and its merino wool fabric is naturally odor-resistant and moisture-wicking.

BUY NOW: $29

BlackStrap Hood Balaclava Face Mask

I swear by this quick-drying synthetic, tri-blend garment, which provides wind and sun protection in addition to covering everything but your eyes.

BUY NOW: $30

North x North Merino Wool Kerchief

North x North’s flagship item is a 42-inch by 42-inch square of Australian merino wool that can be worn a hundred different ways. Right now, NxN is offering 15 percent off all online orders and donating a further 10 percent of proceeds to DirectRelief.org to help supply frontline doctors and nurses with personal protective equipment as they lead the fight against coronavirus.

BUY NOW: $75 $64

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