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The Best Face Masks for Winter Adventures

There's more than one reason to cover your face on the slopes, and there's more than one way to do it, too.

a bunch of neck gaiters and balaclavas

Known to brave temperatures that frequently range well below zero (and to pay for the right to do so), skiers and snowboarders have long used neck gaiters and face masks to cover up in the wind and cold. The tendency is particularly convenient this season, as most ski resorts are requiring face coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on the slopes — ski patrollers are even shaving their beards so that masks fit their faces better. In contrast to travel restrictions and required parking reservations, it's one new rule with which mountain goers are unlikely to take issue.

Mountain-suitable face mask options abound, and while it's tempting to grab whatever old neck warmer has been sitting in the bottom of your boot bag since 2005, it's a good idea to take stock of them. Some things to think about: comfort, warmth, material and sure, style too. You might also weigh whether to go with a gaiter or a balaclava and, with the current season in mind, one that can integrate a filter.

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Voormi Everyday Gaiter
Voormi voormi.com

Voormi's take on the neck gaiter includes ear loops that neutralize the style's annoying tendency of falling down. It's one of our favorites for everyday use but will be suitable on the slopes, too, if you aren't looking for massive additional warmth.

Fabric: 72% merino wool, 26% polyester, 2% lycra

Seirus Snowdana
Seirus amazon.com

Think of this one as a bandana that's actually big enough to fit around your face, no knot necessary. The Snowdana is fleece-lined for warmth and comes in various colors and patterns.

Fabric: 100% polyester

686 Eclipse Merino Neck Warmer
686 686.com

The Eclipse is reminiscent of the old fleece tube neckwarmers you might've worn in the past but has a contoured fit to prevent bunching and an integrated bungee for fit adjustments. Its thick, merino fleece blend provides lots of warmth.

Fabric: polyester, fleece

Buff Filter Tube
Buff USA
Buff buffusa.com

Buffs are already ski resort staples, but now the company makes one with an antimicrobial pocket that holds an included three-layer filter.

Fabric: 95% polyester, 5% elastane

Outdoor Research Essential Midweight Ubertube Kit
Outdoor Research
Outdoor Research backcountry.com

Outdoor Research adapted its Essential Face Mask, one of our favorites for daily wear, to a full-length gaiter design that includes a bungee cord, ear loops and a nose wire for fine-tuning the fit. It also has a pocket for filters, three of which are included with purchase.

Fabric: 82% polyester, 18% spandex

Anon M3 MFI Goggles
Anon backcountry.com

No, goggles are not a gaiter, but the M3's magnetic goggle-gaiter integration is unique, efficient and convenient, providing full-face coverage without a fuss. What to attach to it? The MFI Microfur Neck Warmer ($55) and MFI Wool Neck Warmer ($65) are a couple of promising options.

The 12 Best Synthetic Down Jackets of 2021
Chandler Bondurant

Synthetic insulation rivals down in warmth and surpasses it in durability and water resistance.


Icebreaker Apex Balaclava
Icebreaker backcountry.com

The Apex Balaclava will maintain its midweight warmth when it's wet thanks to its mostly merino wool fabric, which also has the benefit of natural odor control (though regular washing is always a good idea).

Fabric: 86% merino wool, 10% nylon, 4% Lycra

Le Bent Le Balaclava Lightweight 200
Le Bent
Le Bent moosejaw.com

Le Bent's balaclava is ultra-soft thanks to its Rayon-merino blend, and it's hinged design allows you to pull it down and up without the whole thing shifting around beneath your helmet.

Fabric: 66.5% Rayon (bamboo), 28.5% merino wool, 5% elastane

Buff ThermoNet Hinged Balaclava
Buff USA
Buff backcountry.com

The ThermoNet also features a hinged design that makes shifting its position easy. It also features a moderate amount of insulation for warmth in a highly breathable fabric that works to prevent goggle fogging.

Fabric: 53% recycled Repreve polyester, 43% PrimaLoft polyester, 4% elastane

BlackStrap Expedition Hood Balaclava
BlackStrap avantlink.com

The Expedition Hood uses a two-layer fabric construction to provide additional protection from wind and snow. It also has a hinged design and is comfortable beneath a helmet.

Fabric: face: 80% nylon, 17% elastane, 3% other; lining: 100% polyester

Smartwool Intraknit Thermal Hinged Balaclava
Smartwool smartwool.com

Smartwool's merino Intraknit fabric is slightly thicker than the other merino balaclavas on this list, so it'll provide a bit more warmth while maintaining its abilities to regulate moisture and fight odor buildup.

Fabric: 100% merino wool

Outdoor Research Essential Midweight Balaclava Kit
Outdoor Research
Outdoor Research outdoorresearch.com

Like the Essential Midweight Ubertube, Outdoor Research's balaclava integrates a face mask design into a product that's more sport-oriented. It has a hinged construction and an integrated nose wire for a close fit, and it comes with three filters.

Fabric: 82% polyester, 18% Spandex

The Best Lightweight and Breathable Face Masks

Breathe easy and stay cool with these options.


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