Key Components of A Good Sports Mask
Jun 01, 20
Masks come in various styles and sizes, but on the surface, they all seem to do the same thing. You put them on and they protect your face and respiratory system, or so the common perception goes. In actuality, the type of protection you get depends on the type of mask you were - a reality that many have been made aware of during the current Covid19 crisis.
Those of us partaking in outdoor activities such as cycling, hiking, or climbing have long understood the need for face masks. They help protect the respiratory system at a time when it is most vulnerable. But what is it about the sports mask that sets it apart from dust or medical masks? The simple answer is complexity.
A good sports mask is made up of complex components which combine shield the user's respiratory system from all manner of potentially harmful elements in the environment. Let’s look at the key components of this important piece gear for outdoor adventures.
The Breathable Plastic Layer
It is the top layer of the mask. It’s which is permeable and enables the natural flow of air through the mask. This top layer also filters large particles such as insects or dirt, but its main purpose is to ensure you can breathe while wearing the mask. The design of the top layer will determine how easily you can take a breath with the mask on. If you find yourself having to work hard to take a breath while wearing a mask, it could be due to the design of the plastic valve.
The Micro-atom Filter
There are usually several layers of micro-atom included in a sports mask. These layers trap micro-particles that are 0.03-0.3 microns - things like dust and pollen. If you have allergies, the micro-atom filters could help ensure you are unaffected while adventuring outdoors. You will also be shielded from some viruses.
The Activated Carbon Filter
An activated carbon filter is usually sandwiched between four micro-atom filters on either side. The function of this filter is to attract tiny particles that slip through the micro-atom filters. As air passes through the filter, the activated carbon absorbs impurities such as benzene, smoke, and certain chemicals, to leave pure air flowing through to your lungs.
A Non-woven Layer
The non-woven fabric is a common feature in most types of face mask. In fact, for some masks, that is all there is; just a layer of non-woven fabric. This material is tightly knit yet highly permeable. Air can flow through freely, but not much else. That makes non-woven fabrics ideal dust masks, but it is only one layer in the complex sports mask.
Ear hooks are not always ear hooks. True, the elasticated hook over the ear is a common feature, but one important aspect of a sports masks is comfort. Most ear hook designs are not comfortable for long periods of wear. The best designed masks feature velcro fastening that goes around the back of the head. That usually means better adjustability, stability, and comfort.
Adjustable Nose Clip
The final key component of a good face mask is the nose clip - that small metal strip at the bridge of the nose. That is an important feature, especially for wearers partaking in high–intensity activity. The little metal strip plays a vital role in keeping the mask securely in place. A good nose clip can make all the difference between your mask constantly ending up underneath your chin our rubbing the bridge of your nose red raw.
Good sports masks are designed with comfort and aesthetics in mind but more importantly, they are designed to protect your respiratory system. The various filters protect you from all manner of impurities. Picking a mask with five filtration levels will certainly help you breathe with more confidence whatever environment your adventure takes you through.