Even with the vaccine rollout projected to reach the majority of Americans by mid-year, we still need to practice social distancing and masking to avoid spreading the virus for the foreseeable future. It’s especially vital to respect this practice while running or working out in other ways involving heavy exhalation, even in the great outdoors in areas where you’re likely to bump into others doing the same.
Heavy breathing can be difficult to do in a face mask, but some are designed specifically with this challenge in mind. We looked at some of the best and top-rated options for sale to see what avid runners love and which varieties companies have been able to produce since the pandemic began. Keep reading to see which lightweight options listed here will give you the protection you need while squeezing in a sweat session outside, and remember to double layer with a surgical mask underneath should you use these to cover up indoors.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn a commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing, expert advice and our own research. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
NxtStop Movement Face Mask
We tested this mast out personally for a month by wearing it the gym for intense cardio sessions and on hour-long or more walks before adding it to this article, and it is perfect.
During the cardio workouts, it was easier than ever to breathe through this double-layered mask, but moisture build-up never seemed an issue as was expected when it was introduced to us as “The absolute most breathable and moisture wicking mask for sports and active lifestyle,” a title it earned. Most impressive, the malleable nose piece was the first we’ve tried in a year’s worth of masking that didn’t allow excess fogging in our glasses–a nearly impossible task when grinding away on the elliptical or stair climber.
Despite it’s sportiness, this mask also looks great when paired with any outfit, especially in black (though the burgundy seen here is gorgeous as well). It lacks the cheap, disposable look of standard surgical masks and the fabric looks and feels expensive. Hand-washing is a cinch between wears, and it dries quickly thanks to that previously mentioned quick-dry technology.
With summer heat coming up, it’s important to note this is also a great mask for tropical or sub-tropical climates thanks to the breathability of the fabric, proving it’s extreme usefulness even outside of the gym or running path.
Under Armour Sportsmask
Under Armour claims when the need for masks was first announced by health officials, they quickly got to work on one that would work for exercise purposes. The result was this high-performance, all-day-comfortable, anti-microbial treated model.
A polyurethane open-cell foam lets air through but makes it difficult for moisture and sweat to pass, and Iso-Chill fabric on interior lining and ear loops gives the mask a cool-touch feeling throughout the length of your wear time. It also comes in six colors and five sizes ranging from XS/S to XL/XXL.
QueensFace Mesh Dot Breathble Outdoor Riding Running Face Mask
Our next option is lightweight, breathable, washable, affordable, and it comes in four colors to suit everyone’s tastes. This QueensFace mask has an average 4.3 rating on Amazon from nearly 1900 users who like the comfortable ear loops, easy-to-breathe fabric, and light inner layer. It won’t provide much in terms of indoor protection, so definitely consider layering with a surgical mask underneath when hitting the grocery store or for any other indoor errands you may need to run.
Nike Men’s Pro Hyperwarm Hood
Nike’s Pro Hyperwarm Hood is a lifesaver if you’re planning to run outdoors in cooler weather. The fabric’s technology is made to prevent droplet transmission, but it’s also designed to keep you dry during while you sweat. Flat lock construction makes it sleek, never bulky, and it easily converts to a neck gusset rather than full hood so you can adjust to suit your rising temperature during the workout.
Face covers M/L 3-Pack
This branded Adidas face covering is made from Primegreen, which uses a minimum of 40% recycled content, and it’s easy to wash and dry so you’re never out of options with the three you’ll receive for $20. Like many, these aren’t medical grade and shouldn’t be used for PPE, but they can help prevent droplet transmission, especially during outdoor workouts.
UA Sportsmask Fleece Gaiter
This gaiter has all the built-in benefits of its Under Armour cousin above, but with the added warmth of a fleece neck covering to keep you insulated during cold weather workouts. Another benefit is its structured nose and mouth shape that helps the mask sit off and away from the fact, therefore improving air circulation where you need it most for breathing.
The 100% Human Face Mask 5-Pack
At $25 for a pack of five, these 100% cotton Everlane masks are an absolute steal and benefit the company’s 100% Human initiative wherein 10% of all sales goes to the ACLU to benefit the organization’s tireless work for human rights. Each double-layered mask is lightweight and reusable, and the company suggests washing after each wear. We love the cool, neutral colors and “100% Human” logo on the masks’ corners.
Zensah Technical Face Mask - USA Made Reusable Fabric Mask for Running, Exercise - Washable, Breathable, Comfortable, Moisture Wicking, Quick Drying (Neon Orange)
This extra-coverage face mask is engineered to fit the contours of your face with its quick-drying, anti-odor fabric, and we particularly love the neon orange color to give runners more visibility and thus safety when jogging through high-traffic areas.