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Last updated: September 11
While some cities have started reopening shops and restaurants, the majority of the country is still observing quarantine procedures that were put in place to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. One such measure that’s still in place is the wearing of face masks when out in public, with the CDC recommending cloth face coverings to help prevent the transmission of germs and viruses.
But while cloth face masks can keep you shielded on a walk, or quick trip to the grocery store, not all of these masks are designed for physical activity. Generic cloth masks aren’t always breathable, and worse, they can irritate or chaff the skin. They’re often heavy and saggy, and can fall off if not secured tightly, defeating the whole point of wearing a mask in the first place.
Luckily, a number of manufacturers are now designing face masks specifically for running, cycling and working out. Keep in mind: these are non-medical face masks, so while they will help shield you against dust, debris or an accidental spray when talking to someone, they aren’t designed for doctors, nurses or frontline workers.
What Are the Best Face Masks For Running and Cycling?
The best face masks for running, cycling or working out should keep you safe, comfortable and dry, while being flexible enough to bend and move with your workout without falling off. Here are a few important things to look for.
Material: Similar to your workout clothes, you want to look for masks made from lightweight, moisture-wicking materials. The best masks for working out will wick away sweat, to keep your face dry and comfortable. You’ll want masks with a bit of stretch in them too (look for the words “elastane” or “spandex” on the tag). This ensures that your mask stays flexible and stays put, moving with you on your run rather than sliding off.
Breathability: All of the picks on our list are made from breathable materials, so you’ll never feel suffocated even if the fabric is over your nose and mouth. Some of our picks have tiny perforations in the front too, for even more breathability.
Fit: Whether you’re on a jog or bike ride, you’ll be in motion, so you want a face mask with a snug fit. Face masks that tie on using elastic straps around the ear are great, but make sure you adjust the straps to keep the mask tight around the mouth. We’ve also found masks (or “gaiters”) that fit around your neck, letting you pull up the material over the mouth. There are also balaclava-style coverings that can be worn like a hood, with an extra section that covers your face as well.
Before you head out on your next run or ride, make sure you pick up one of these masks, to keep you and others safe, even if you’re breaking a sweat.
1. Masksup Protective Mask
An ultralight and breathable mask, this face covering from Masksup is designed to filter out dust, pollen, spittle, mold and other microscopic airborne contaminants. Masksup says its face masks are tested to hold a minimum of 99% prevention against particles down to the size of 0.1µm (tinier than a human hair).
The company says the mask can be washed and reused up to 60 times without losing its protective properties. It’s also made with an eco-friendly latex that’s soft and gentle against the face.
2. Bloch Soft Stretch Face Mask
This face mask is our top pick for runners, with two layers of soft and stretchy fabric (so it won’t chaff), along with an anti-dust and UV protectant coating. Adjustable ear loops and a moldable nose pad help ensure a snug fit. A built-in neck lanyard lets you hang the mask around your neck when you need to slide it off for a second.
Another nice feature: Bloch says the nose pad forms a tight seal around your nose to slide easily under glasses or sunglasses, so there will be no fogging up of lenses. This is sold as a pack of three
3. Under Armour Sportsmask
Under Armour finally has its best-selling sportsmask back in stock. The mask is made from a sweat-wicking material that keeps you cool and dry — moisture is wicked away from the face and trapped inside an insert layer to prevent chafing. The structured mask is snug around the sides, but sits off the mouth for better breathability. And UA says its “Iso-Chill” fabric feels cool to the touch, no matter how long you’ve been wearing it for. An anti-microbial coating keeps things fresh while a built-in UPF 50 coating protects your face from the sun.
4. SMRTFT Sports Masks
These SMRTFIT Sports Masks are some of the most comfortable masks we’ve tested, made from a comfortable and flexible fabric that makes them our go-to choice for a workout or jog outdoors. It may look like a warm mask, but it’s surprisingly breathable, and not stuffy at all.
These headband-style masks slide over your neck easily. Pull the fabric above your nose and loop the attached straps over your ears to wear as a mask. SMRTFT says its MICROKNIT filter fabric blocks 99% of ultra fine dust particles (particles that are 40 times smaller than a human hair). We’ve thrown our SMRTFT mask in the wash countless times and it’s still retained its shape and protective properties.
5. Brave New Look Geometric Cloth Mask (with PM2.5 Filter)
For extra peace of mind while working out, we like this protective mask from Brave New Look. We’ve been wearing it everywhere thanks to its super lightweight material, and a PM2.5 filter that protects you from small particles and contaminants in the air (The “PM” refers to “particulate matter” while the 2.5 refers to the 2.5 micron measurement of particles that these filters are designed to capture).
Reusable and washable, these masks are available in a simple black design, or choose from dozens of bold colors and patterns. This set of four comes with four filters — one per mask. Slip the filters into a built-in pouch in the mask and breath normally. We recommend replacing the filter after one week of use (more replacement filters available here)
6. Uniqlo AIRism Face Mask
As soft as a T-shirt and as light as a bedsheet, Uniqlo’s face mask features three layers of protection. One layer helps to wick away moisture while another layer blocks up to 90% of harmful UV rays. The built-in filter layer is fully washable; no need to replace filters like some of the other options on our list. And while many running face masks are one-size-fits-all, Uniqlo offers three sizes (S, M, L) so you can find one that fits you best. When you’re trying to stay protected, finding the perfect fit is extra important.
7. Mission Cooling Face and Neck Gaiter
Run this highly-reviewed neck gaiter under cold water for a couple seconds, then wring it out and give it a good snap. The company says the material cools to 30 degrees below average body temperature, and stays cool for up to two hours, making it a great choice when running in the sun. The material also has a UPF 50 coating that can block up to 98% of UV rays, giving you an additional layer of protection when you’re outdoors.
This face covering is machine-washable. Slide it over your head and around your neck, then pull up to cover your mouth and nose.
8. SKL Neck Gaiter Face Mask
If you like the neck gaiter style, a good option might be this one, which combines the comfort of a gaiter with the secure fit of ear loops. This keeps the mask tighter to your face, to help block out more airborne particles. This mask is made from a moisture-wicking material that keeps you cool in the sun, and it holds up to repeat washes too.
9. Buff Original Face Mask
Everyone from marathoners to contestants on Survivor have been known to wear head and face coverings from Buff. This one is made from a lightweight merino wool that not only wicks moisture, but helps to thermal regulate your temperature too. The material is also given a special antimicrobial treatment that helps it repel — rather than absorb — odors. No smelly face masks here. This face wrap is semi-fitted so it stays on even when you’re on the run.
10. FOCO Face Coverings
Support your favorite team with a pack of three, reusable face masks, made from soft, breathable materials and stretchy elastic straps to help them stay put. Choose from designs across all the major sporting leagues.
These face masks are reusable and come with an interior pocket for a filter (filter not included). Prefer a more basic design? FOCO has dozens of solid colors and more neutral patterns available as well.
11. Champion Lay Flat Wicking Masks
Athletic brand, Champion, introduces a stylish camo-print face mask that’s made from a lightweight, moisture-wicking polyester and spandex mix. The poly-blend is machine-washable and keeps you cool, while the spandex lets you move and run freely without worrying about the mask falling off. As the name suggests, this mask sits more “flat” against the face, rather than bulging out, making for a more natural, comfortable fit.
12. Hanes Wicking Cotton Masks (Bulk Pack)
Stock up on these simple, cotton masks from Hanes — the brand known for their super-soft T-shirts is now making equally soft face masks for working out, with a moisture-wicking material that repels sweat as you move. The non-medical masks features three layers of breathable fabric, plus adjustable nosepiece and front panel pleats for extra coverage. The cotton straps loop comfortably around your ears.
This is the best deal on face masks for running, as this value-packed set gets you 50 unisex face masks for just $125 — that’s just $2.50 per mask. Hanes says the masks can be machine-washed and re-used up to 20 times without losing its shape or functionality.
13. Athleta Face Masks
One of the top picks from reviewers online for best face masks for running, activewear brand Athleta has released this five-pack of lightweight face masks, made from a stretchy polyester and spandex blend. The masks slide over your face using the elastic ear straps and are lined with airy cotton for breathability. Athleta has pledged to donate 100,000 non-medical masks to healthcare organizations in support of frontline workers.
14. Reebok Face Covers
Soft, gentle, breathable and durable, this dual-layer face mask is adorned with the Reebok logo against a stark black background. The material has a hint of stretch it in, to help it form to your face better than a stiffer mask, while the straps sit comfortably behind the ears. The mask is safe to machine wash in hot water — in fact, Reebok recommends it.
15. Lookhuman Face Masks
They don’t have the same moisture-wicking properties as other masks on our list, but these hand-sewn cloth masks from Lookhuman are a great lightweight pick. The polyester mask offers full face coverage, with straps that tuck securely behind your ear to prevent the mask from shifting while you’re on the move. We like this gray ombre mask, but Lookhuman has more than three dozen other prints and patterns available here.
16. Adidas Unisex Face Covers
Adidas is well-known for its line of lightweight running shoes, and the athletic brand just released a collection of lightweight face masks as well. Super soft and breathable, the Adidas Face Cover is made with a flexible material that won’t constrict movement. Stretchy straps help the mask stay in place while two layers of fabric help keep dust and particles away from your mouth.
Part of Adidas’ “Primegreen” collection, this face covering is made with 93% recyclable polyester. It’s machine-washable and dryer-safe. This is sold as a three-pack, with various sizes available. Adidas says $2 from every pack sold will go to Save the Children’s Global Coronavirus Response Fund.
17. iHeartRaves Seamless Face Mask
As the company name suggests, these printed mouth coverings were designed to keep dust and dirt out of your face at outdoor festivals and raves, but they’ve come in handy these days as great face masks for running. They’re made from a microfiber material that wicks moisture to keep you dry (the company says the mask dries fully in minutes). The seamless design means no loose threads to worry about, or rough edges to scratch your face.
The one-size-fits-all design fits easily over your head and stays put, even while you’re in motion. Choose from more than 20 patterns, from classic to more fashion-forward. Again, this is best as a general cover-up but won’t have the same protective properties as some of the fitted masks on this list.