Finding the right mask for running in cold weather can make winter running feel easier, more enjoyable, and much more manageable. Whether the temperature is below zero or the wind is making winter running feel impossible, running balaclavas are a simple way to turn things around.
Should you wear a running mask in cold weather?
It’s not always necessary to wear a mask for cold weather running, but when the conditions make running feel uncomfortable, a mask can make the cold feel much more bearable.
If the temperatures fall significantly below freezing, or the windchill leaves your face feeling frostbitten, it’s safest to use a running balaclava or face mask.
What is a running balaclava?
A balaclava is piece of headgear that covers the head, neck, and sides of the face while leaving the mouth, nose and eyes exposed. Balaclavas can help significantly when it comes to keeping warm when running in cold weather.
In addition, many cold weather running masks can also be pulled up over the mouth and nose, keeping only the eyes exposed for those frigid runs. Masks that are specifically designed for runners are made with breathable fabrics, so you can safely and effectively breathe with a covering over your mouth and nose.
Here are the 10 best running masks for cold weather in 2021 – from balaclavas to lightweight face coverings, wool face masks and more.
10 Best Cold Weather Running Masks
- Under Armour Coldgear Infrared Balaclava
- Nike Stride Snood
- Buff Standard Face Mask
- Adidas Alphaskin Balaclava
- Oakley Balaclava
- Pearl Izumi Balaclava
- Buff CoolNet Balaclava
- Nike Therma Sphere Hood Mask
- Nike Dri-Fit Wrap
- Smartwool Merino 250 Balaclava
Shop the Best Cold Weather Running Masks
Here is your guide to the best masks for running in cold weather. These 10 masks and balaclavas will keep you warm, dry and comfortable in any conditions this winter. Try them today!
Under Armour HeatGear Balaclava
The Under Armour HeatGear Balaclava is designed for both men and women, and is adjustable in style. The mask can be worn over the nose and mouth, or pulled down to the chin.
Nike Stride Snood
The Nike Snood is a great alternative to the full balaclava. This cold weather running mask covers the neck, chin, ears, nose and mouth, but can easily be pulled down. This mask keeps the head free but protects the cheeks and neck from harsh winds or cold.
Buff Face Mask
Buff Face Masks are a budget friendly alternative to full balaclavas. They are created in a one-size-fits all version that can serve as a scarf around the neck, or full face mask over the nose and mouth. Buffs come in many different colors and are a versatile choice for many runners.
Adidas Alphaskin Balaclava
The Adidas Alphaskin Balaclava covers as much skin as possible to keep you warm and protected from the wind and cold temperatures. The hat is designed to keep air out in order to help runners stay as warm as possible.
The Oakley Balaclava has the potential to cover all skin except your eyes, keeping you fully protected on cold weather runs. This balaclava can be adjusted for less coverage if desired, and is a great way to stay warm and safe on any winter run.
Pearl Izumi Barrier Balaclava
The Pearl Izumi Balaclava provides a looser fit to keep runners comfortable while still protecting from the wind and cold. This balaclava is designed to cover the mouth and nose, and can be worn over a hood or jacket if desired.
Buff CoolNet Mask
The Buff CoolNet Mask is available in many different colors and provides versatility to every run. The Buff can be worn as a simple scarf or headband, or pulled up over the nose and mouth for extra protection.
Nike Therma Sphere Hood Mask
The Nike Therma Sphere Hood Mask is designed with dri-fit technology to prevent moisture build up and keep the interior dry. It can be pulled over the mouth and nose or kept down to protect the neck.
Nike Dri-Fit Wrap
The Nike Dri-Fit Wrap is a great alternative to the full balaclava. This wrap can serve as a scarf by protecting the neck and preventing air from entering your shirt. It can be pulled up higher to help protect the chin, nose and mouth as well, all while keep the interior dry from moisture.
Smartwool Merino 250 Balaclava
The Smartwool Merino 250 is a cold weather running mask designed to keep you warm on any run. The fabric is thick enough to prevent the cold air from entering, yet comfortable enough to be worn for long periods of time.
Common Running Balaclava Questions
Running with a face mask often feels foreign, even to runners who regularly run in cold weather. It’s often not until they actually try one that they realize what a difference it can make.
Here are a couple of the most common questions and concerns about cold weather running face masks and balaclavas.
Is it safe to wear a face mask while running?
In most cases, the answer is yes. Face masks that are specifically designed for runners are made with breathable fabrics, so they can safely be worn over the mouth and nose. Most cold weather masks, even when not designed specifically for runners, are designed for breathability, meaning that they can safely be worn in all circumstances.
However, running in cold weather with a mask might be a bit difficult for those with underlying health conditions such as asthma, which makes it more challenging to breathe during physical activity. If you struggle to breathe on runs in moderate temperatures, it’s best to check with your doctor before wearing a mask.
What are the benefits of a balaclava for running?
Balaclava running is a great way to stay warm and protected from the elements in harsh conditions. Wearing a balaclava while running in especially cold or windy conditions will help avoid heat escaping from your head, which in turn makes it easier for the body to regulate its temperature.
In addition, running with a balaclava will help reduce the risks of windburn, as well as the chances of experiencing frostbite or hypothermia in extreme conditions.
How to Choose the Best Running Mask for Cold Weather
Finding the right cold weather running mask is key to your enjoyment and success during the winter. A mask that does not fit correctly won’t properly keep your head warm. Similarly, a mask with irritating or thick fabric will leave you frustrated and more uncomfortable than without it.
Here are a few things to consider when choosing a mask for running in cold weather.
Not every face mask and balaclava are the same size. You’ll want to pay special attention to the size around the head and neck; a mask that’s too big will let air in, while a mask that’s too small will feel tight and uncomfortable.
While just about every running mask is designed to be breathable, not every material breathes the same. Be aware of how the fabric or material will effect its breathability, and if at all possible – try before you buy.
One of the most important aspects of a running mask or balaclava is the material from which it is made. The material will affect the breathability, comfort and warmth. Thicker materials are often warmer, but might feel less comfortable. Test out different fabrics to determine which feels best for you.
Many cold weather masks come in a one-size-fits-all style and are designed to be flexible. Some masks can be adjusted easily, while others are more set in stone. Check to see if the face mask can be adjusted, has multiple styles, or if it is only designed to be worn a single way.
Although most running balaclavas and masks aren’t the most stylish accessory, they can certainly be designed in ways that allow runners to flaunt their personality. Running masks come in many different materials, styles and colors. If you’re unhappy with what you see, take the time to narrow your search a bit more to find one that appeals to you.
Finding the right cold weather running mask can make staying active outdoors much more comfortable. Try one this season to stay outside and beat the winter blues!