Best Balaclavas for Protection & Training Reviewed
A balaclava can serve you in a variety of ways. One of the most popular reasons is to keep yourself warm. Despite the mask seemingly being made of a thin type of fabric, that extra layer goes a long way. It will keep you warmer in harsh weather conditions, or if you’re doing sports that involve high speeds or high altitudes. Most of these products will also have an element of wind protection also and it will aid to keep you warm.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 12 hrs of research
Top 10 Picks
1. Ergodyne N-Ferno 6823
Does not work well with glasses
This is a widely popular product amongst people that are working or playing in harsh weather environments. It can protect well against wind, snow, and rain. The materials used on this Balaclava will keep you warm without feeling bogged down.Read more
Most products that are similar to this one will protect against a host of harsh weather elements. In particular, this item beats all the other ones by having extra paneling over areas that are especially vulnerable. Areas such as your cheekbones and nose have an extra layer of warmth sewn in.
While this product is light, it is able to keep the warmth in. The design was to use a light type of fabric so that there was no extra weight on your shoulders when you wear it. The material used is also thin enough to fit under a helmet or other gear you may be wearing. This allows you to stay warm without having sore muscles are using it.
Cost and Value
This is a thoughtfully designed item that looks great when it's worn. One of the most important specifications for a product like this is to not get in the way of your activities. It will keep you warm without restricting movement or your view. It is also light enough that you will not feel like you’re wearing anything.
2. Self Pro
High quality fabric
One size available only
This brand produced a product that is unlike any of the other ones. It can protect against the harmful rays of the sun while not being too hot. The premium polyester that the product is made with allows you to easily breath despite having your nose and mouth covered. It can also be washed in the washing machine, making it very easy to maintain.Read more
UV Ray Protection
Many products that are similar to this one do a great job in protecting you against harsh weather conditions. This includes weather that may be cold, wet, or rainy. However, not many are able to protect you against the sun. Wearing this product in the sun will protect you from the harsh UV rays that can burn and damage your skin. This will allow you to be protected regardless of weather.
This product is made from patented polyester fibers. Unlike most of the other products, the polyester contained in this item is reinforced. Each fibre is double sewn, meaning that two fibers are sewn together to act as one thick fiber. Each of the thicker fibers are then woven and stitched to create the actual balaclava.
Cost and Value
This product is of great value and is easily affordable. It can fit all genders and head sizes easily as the polyester fiber is able to stretch. It is comfortable enough to wear for a long time, meaning you won’t have to take it off every so often. Along with the fact that it is able to protect you from the UV rays of the sun, this is a product that is worth the investment.
3. Oldelf Tactical
Assortment of colors
Not enough size options
This product has a unique design that stands out compared to their competitors. It comes in a variety of colors, allowing you to personalize and find one that works best for you. It is an easy to maintain item that requires little to no maintenance. Simply toss it in the wash when you are done and it will be ready for you to use again.Read more
Most balaclavas are quite plain and bland. Often times, people are reminded of bank robbers they see in cartoons. This product takes a completely different look in comparison to others. It has a revolutionary design that makes the item look great when worn and it can also be used for a variety of occasions.
This product was constructed to be able to give versatility to users. The product itself can be used in six different ways. It can protect anywhere from your head down to your shoulders. Depending on how you would like to, it can function as a scarf, mask, hat, hood, and much more.
Cost and Value
This product has great value simply from its design alone. Because it is meant to be worn in at least six different ways, it saves you money from having to buy multiple garments. Using one of these will replace all the extra items you have, thus freeing up closet space. Along with the fact that it looks great, this is one item you don’t want to miss.
4. Under Armour ColdGear
High quality material
Slightly more expensive
Under Armour is a well-known brand that sells athletic wear and sports equipment. They manufacture their balaclava specifically for winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding. However, this does not mean it will not work for other uses and will do well in providing you warmth and to shield your face from the elements. It is available in a few colors and designs, allowing you to pick one that works best for you.Read more
This product uses patented technology to help you retain the heat inside. The ColdGear Infrared system uses an inner coating that is able to keep your body heat. The inner lining works similar to tin foil and is able to take escaping heat and bounce it back towards your body. This will allow you to feel warmer for longer periods.
4 way stretch
This product can be stretched in all directions, meaning it will not rip or tear as easily. This is important as many materials are meant to stretch latitudinally or longitudinally only. Stretching a product that isn’t meant to be stretched in a particular direction can cause small microscopic tears that lower the integrity of the item. Having the ability to withstand the stretching in all directions improves the lifespan of this product greatly.
Cost and Value
This product is slightly more expensive but it is still in an affordable price range. One of the biggest reasons it is worth it is for its stretchy properties. The increased lifespan of the product will mean that you don’t need to replace it as often, thus saving you money in the long run. This is also a product that is sold by a well known and trustworthy brand, which will guarantee a better quality in the item.
High quality material
This product has a very simple look to it, but do not be fooled. This product contains many little upgrades that make it a trustworthy partner when using it. The seams are reinforced to not rip and the material used to build it ventilates well. The fabric is also soft and not scratching, meaning it won’t cause your skin any unwanted irritation.Read more
One of the most frustrating things when wearing these is how uncomfortable it can be to try and breathe. Most of the time, breathing is restricted and you take in a lot more of what you have exhaled than normal. This product uses a fabric that has tiny holes that allow for more air, allowing you to breathe as if there was nothing covering your face.
The weakest part of any product is usually in the seam area. They are weak because it is the the area that parts and pieces are held together. To mitigate this problem, this particular product has used an articulated seaming process. This makes the seams much harder to tear or rip apart regardless of how you wear it. Having undamaged seams will allow the product to last much longer.
Cost and Value
This is a very affordable product and would be a great investment for anyone that needs this kind of protection. It is built to last longer than most and is resistant to tear. It is also very easy to wash and maintain, allowing you to not waste time on the upkeep. The seam of the product is designed to be soft and will not irritate your skin, allowing you a comfortable wear.
6. Self Pro Fleece
Easy to maintain
Does not protect from wind well
This is a product that is comfortable and works well to keep the heat in. This is because fleece retains heat well, while the synthetic fibers keep the product alive for much longer. It is also mean to double as a scarf, hence the design of the extra long neck. This will not only protect your face but work great to prevent your body heat from escaping.Read more
Many products similar to these only cover the facial area as that is considered the most difficult to cover up. However, there are many people that also want their neck and shoulders covered by wearing a scarf may impede what they are doing. As a result, this product features an extra long neck, guaranteeing it will give you full and complete coverage.
This product was created to be very durable. They have used a synthetic type of fiber in their material that does not wear and tear easily. The synthetic fibers are wrapped each individual fleece fiber which strengthens it greatly. This prevents tiny tears from happening on the fiber level and allows the product to last much longer.
Cost and Value
This is a product that is worth the investment. It is quite affordable and works great as an underlayer to keep the heat in. Fleece is a known material that retains body heat very well, allowing you to feel warmer for a much longer period. Coupled with a well thought out design, this product is very hard to beat.
7. Sunland Lycra
Wicks away moisture
High quality fabric
There is a lot of technology that has gone behind the product. Despite its simple looks, there are so many added benefits such as being able to remove excess moisture. Unlike some other products, this item works to give you unrestricted breathing capabilities. Meaning that it is much more comfortable to wear over a long period of time.Read more
It is a very uncomfortable feeling to not be able to breathe. To prevent restriction on your air intake, this product is designed to allow the movement of air. There are tiny holes within the fabric that allow the air to easily pass through in both directions. This will give you unrestricted breathing and allow the trapped heat to escape, which will prevent you from fogging up any eyewear you may be using.
While balaclavas are usually meant for cold weather, it does not mean you will not sweat wearing one. This is because the heat retained within the product can cause condensation or moisture to form. To prevent the discomfort, this product is able to wick away the moisture. What this means is the moisture is brought up to the surface of the product and allowed to evaporate.
Cost and Value
This product is very inexpensive and worth the investment. Even if you do not wear it as often as you want, it can still be a great product to have as back up. The subtle upgrades that were done to the item make it a much more reliable and durable product than some of the more expensive brands. Along with the fact it is machine washable, this is a product you don’t want to miss.
Lots of colors
Must be hand washed
This product is very well designed and uses a thin lightweight material that not many other brands have chosen to use. It can help regulate your body temperature by allowing hot air that is trapped to escape. This product comes in a variety of colors and is a great addition to any closet.Read more
Wearing one of these can get extremely stuffy, especially if it is for a long period of time. This particular item is constructed with a highly breathable fabric, meaning that trapped heat can escape. Cold air will go into the mask and replace the hot air, circulating and cooling down your head. This will help your body maintain temperature control naturally and be able to prevent heat exhaustion.
There will be times where you find yourself needing to wear the mask on a daily basis. For people that have only purchased one, this can become a problem as it becomes dirty and smelly with everyday use. To mitigate this problem, a light chemical spray has been used on the mask so that it dries quickly. This means you can wash it in the evening and have it ready and available to be used by the next morning.
Cost and Value
This is a product that comes at a very affordable price. It is thin enough that when worn underneath a helmet or other protective gear, it won’t become bulky. It is also very light, allowing you to wear it over a long period of time without feeling sore and uncomfortable. Overall, this is a product that is worth every penny spent on it.
9. ZERDOCEAN Winter
High quality material
Fogs up easily
This is one of the most well-designed balaclavas on the market. Despite being one color, there are subtleties in the design that make it stand out compared to the rest. This product is built using three large pieces and resemble the helmet of a medieval knight. It is an item that looks great while protecting you from the elements.Read more
If there is one thing that can be changed about these products, is how well you can breathe in them. Many people complain that after wearing it for a long period of time, the air they breathe becomes really hot and stale. To mitigate the problem, this particular item has designed holes near the mouth area to increase the airflow channels. These larger openings will allow for air to move through more easily.
After wearing one all day, your neck can become stiff and your ears a little tight. This is because there is a stretchy material that has been pulled over your face and kept your muscles in a particular spot all day. This product is constructed with a material that is similar to neoprene, making it much softer and more comfortable to wear. At the end of the day, you will not feel sore when you take this off.
Cost and Value
This is a great product as it is affordable and has a host of benefits. It is the only product out there that has a higher airflow capacity, allowing you to use it in comfort. There are also not many products out there that consider how sore or tired you may become after using it, but this particular brand has even thought of a mitigation strategy. This is one product you cannot miss!
Easy to maintain
One size only
This is a lightweight and comfortable item that can protect your face from the harsh elements. It can also be used simply to block the wind when you are doing your activities. This product is suitable for all genders and most are able to fit in the one size that it is available in. This item is constructed with a high-quality material that will last a long time before needing a replacement.Read more
It is always great when there is more than one function or purpose to a particular product you purchase. This balaclava can be worn in multiple different ways. It can function as a hat, a neck warmer, a mask, and many more. There are clasps on the side that allow you to change how you want to wear it and how this product can work for you.
Most face masks are designed to keep you warm and the material that generates the most heat is fleece. Unfortunately, fleece does not prevent the wind from coming in. As a result, this product is dual material, constructed with a fleece interior and a fabric that protects you from the wind on the exterior. This way, the mask will keep you warm while keeping the wind out.
Cost and Value
This is a highly affordable product that has many benefits. Simply being able to use it in multiple ways already saves you a lot of money. This product can replace multiple other items and is durable enough to withstand daily use. These two facts alone make this product offer much more value than the price you pay.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Despite all the great things about face masks, there are some disadvantages to wearing them. There is a primary complaint of not being able to breathe very well once donning one. This is because the fabric can restrict how much air makes it inside the mask. Dependent on the fabric that is used to construct it, the mask can also become very hot after a long period of time. The key is to understand what you will be using this balaclava for and finding something that will be useful to your activities.
Most masks are made of a few types of fabric: Polyester, Cotton, Fleece, Lycra, and Neoprene. They all have advantages and disadvantages and it all depends on what you are using your product for. Cotton will keep you cool in the summer as it is super breathable, but at the same time will not keep you warm in the winter. Fleece is the warmest material of all the types but is not windproof at all. When the wind blows, it feels as if you’re not wearing anything else. Polyester is the material most brands have opted to go with as it is a much more affordable fiber compared to the other ones. It does a decent job of keeping the heat it but does not ventilate well. Lycra, on the other hand, is very thin and very lightweight. It does not keep you very warm as the material is thin, however, it does a good job of trapping any heat that makes its way inside. It is ideal for winter but not good for the summer at all. Neoprene is a material that is used to make wetsuits and is a great product. However, it is an expensive material to procure despite the advantages it offers. As a result, not many brands have constructed a balaclava with this particular material.
This is often something that is overlooked. While it is important for the face mask to keep you warm, it is just as important to be able to see through it. Some products have large eye holes that will give you your full range of visibility, but it won’t keep your face as warm. Others will have a smaller area for your eyes, but keep more of your face warm. The key is to find a product that is well suited to your facial structure. Depending on what you do, having complete visibility may be extremely important to you. At that point, it would be wise to invest in something with a larger eye-opening. However, if you are engaged in a sport that requires you to wear goggles and it already restricts your vision, then perhaps something warmer may be more important.
One of the most important things to look for in a balaclava is the fabric. Depending on which one you choose, there will be different properties. Keep in mind that most likely you will be wearing this for long periods of time, meaning that the fabric needs to feel comfortable and not cause you irritation in the long run. Ideally, you should always try to find something that is allergen and scent free. These properties will help reduce the chance of the fabric causing your skin to become uncomfortable. Keep in mind whatever kind of fabric you choose, it needs to be able to keep your skin dry and also be able to retain heat. The face mask should be able to keep you warm during the coldest of the weather and help you eliminate the trapped heat during the hottest days.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
There are many reasons why people use them. Most of them involve a type of sport. Activities such as racing, Motorsports, ATV’s, and dirt bikes pick up a lot of speed
Face masks can work to prevent you from being too cold and protect you against the wind. Others may opt to use these on hikes that have a large elevation or while doing a winter sport such as snowboarding or skiing.
Other Factors to Consider
Another thing people wear it for is to prevent irritation. Many times a balaclava is not worn on its own and is usually under a helmet or hood of some sort. Over long periods of time, that particular hood or helmet can rub against your skin to cause chafing. This means that there will either be a raw spot or your skin will rash in irritation. Wearing a mask can serve as a barrier or separation to prevent the discomfort.
For people that have long hair, wearing a balaclava will also be incredibly beneficial. The mask holds your hair down and keeps it from flying around your face. The hair will no longer be able to distract you and break your focus. It is also a preventative measure to ensure your hair does not get caught or tangled somewhere and cause an injury.
A balaclava is not only suitable to be worn during the colder temperatures. There are also many benefits to wearing one during the summer. While it keeps you warm in the winter, these masks serve to keep you cool and sun-safe in the summer. Most of these are made with a fabric that is able to wick away moisture if you are sweating. They are also highly breathable, allowing heat to escape and cooling your body down. They will also prevent you from overheating in the sun and protect you from the UV rays.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: What is the difference between the necked balaclavas and the ones without?
The difference is the neck and head combo ones protect your neck against the elements as well. While some people may be okay with the exposed skin, others want complete protection. The benefits of having the neck covered as well as ensure that the heat stays within your body and will not escape in that area. Having a cold throat area can also cause breathing problems in extreme weather conditions.
q: Why do I want to purchase a multipurpose one?
Ones that can function as multiple garments are beneficial because they can save you money. Having one product that works in multiple ways eliminate the need for you to spend more money and purchase more items. They will also save you time when packing and give you more space in your bag. Rather than having to go get a hat, scarf, and the face mask, simply grab the one item and go. This will also give you extra space in your bag to store things that you may need to bring on your activity.
q: Are they all one size?
Most balaclavas are one sized. This is because the fabric is stretchy enough to accommodate the head shapes of people. They are made using an average circumference of people’s head and the stretch in the fabric allow smaller or larger heads to also fit.