There are several kinds of ski covers, each mask may suit different requirements. To help you cut through the jargon and find the most suitable product, we will take you through a detailed buying guide.
What is a Balaclava?
A balaclava is a type protection (kind of a mask) that covers the entire face leaving some space for eyes, nostrils and mouth. The name originates from the Battle of Balaclava that was fought in Crimea. This balaclava was utilized during this battle for the very first time and therefore came to be known by the same name. Since this war was happening in Ukraine where the winter is brutal, soldiers needed a mask that could protect their skin as well like the balaclava. Traditionally they were made from cotton or wool but now they are made using a wide variety of materials like nylon, acrylic and neoprene. Balaclavas are also dubbed as ski masks as people rock them during ski and also for snow-boarding and hiking. The main purpose of this is to provide a warm environment which is essential in tough winters. To keep extra warm, make sure you have a good pair of Ski Socks (click here for the review).
A balaclava can be worn in a number of ways. If you so choose you can turn balaclava into what is called a gaiter. If you take the hood down of the close-fitting garment and just keep the neck warm and covered then that is called neck gaiter which is essentially the same as warmers. These products are unisexual and usually come in one measurement only. For this reason these usually apply elastic materials to provide ample flexibility and some even have Velcro to provide a few inches of adjustment on either side.
A balaclava is a kind of snowfall mask which covers the entire face. These accessories are not all the same and many companies put their own twists into their fleece products. Some have hole to provide venting and are stylized with logos. The majority are minimally designed and come in dark colors.
What is the right fitment for me?
You will see that the top ski, snowboard and mountain-masks including balaclava and half are advertised as ‘one size fits all.’ This means that it can fit every adult no matter what age or sex they are. This holds true for most of these especially those from good brands like Nike or Airhole. So you should not have to worry about fitment of the balaclava-masks too much.
Sometimes these full or semi masks do have some dimensions given like the length of the mask or the circumference. Note that this would not be the actual measurement of that these hats can easily stretch and therefore increase in size. However, if you are very particular about the measurement of the ski mask find the one that is adjustable with straps or Velcro. Some types of ski accessories give a little room for adjustment should you feel like the ski mask is not really your size. These products stick very close to the skin and have contours that are designed keeping in mind the human cheek structure. The child would usually have their own size of the ski mask like balaclava or half types which is also only one size. So, you got to be a little more cautious when choosing a mask for your children.
Material and Feel
The materials used in full, half and bandannas are nylon, cotton, acrylic, neoprene and wool. In modern days these ski-masks, the material nylon and neoprene are the most popular materials especially for these items. It is both soft and light and since it is cheap, it is made from this stuff as it is usually the cheapest. There is no direct answer as to which cloth is the excellent for ski masks as each has its own qualities and benefits. It boils down to your own preference as to which quality suits you and which you prefer the most.
Wool is the softest element for any mask and knitted ones are all wool. If you are looking for something toasty and very soft then wool ski mask should be the top choice. However, wool masks can get a bit itchy for some skin types so ensure your skin is fine with this products material. Neoprene is an elastic and long-lasting substance that is commonly found in divided ski masks as well as other kinds too (neodanna). This close-fitting garment’s substance is deeply water resistant, excellent for areas that have rain and snowfall all through the wintertime and of course for ski. Nylon is light, water resistant and stretchable too. You will see that many of the top balaclavas and other types of protection of this element have other material incorporated as well like polyester or spandex. This is for making hats stronger and durable which is essential for snowboard exercise.
Many people are concerned with nylon or polyester gathering up moisture and therefore harvesting bacteria in their ski masks the same as balaclava or neodanna (half neoprene ski mask plus bandanna). This usually is not the case as these are made breathable with perforations that allow timely venting so as to evaporate the moisture in time. Secondly, some have anti-bacterial properties that do not let any kind of bad odor exist in the face shelter. If you sweat a lot then ensure you buy a ski mask that is breathable and anti-bacterial.
Face and Neck Coverage
Yes, the highest quality of full ski masks, the same as balaclavas, hide the face and neck entirely and that is the whole point of them. Of course, these balaclava or other types of ski masks do leave out space for your eyes. Some of these products even have hole for mouth and ears but every other part of the face is covered snugly by the ski mask.
Half covers usually hide the lower section from nostrils till your chin. If you want caps that don’t cover your head during your Alpine-skiing session, then a half mask is the one to go for. These too have hole for ventilation. However, if you solely want to hide your neck then don’t go for one of these products, but instead, buy a warmes. You can add this to a fit ski mask like balaclava or even a part one to increase assurance although the ski mask itself is enough for both the face and the area below chin.
If you have varying needs as sometimes you want your to keep your neck warm or just the face then a balaclava would be the top option for you. They can be worn in several ways like a gaiter, cap or part ski mask. This is why they are suited for wearing in cold countries for both regular use and sport exercise similar to Alpine-skiing, boarding or mountain climbing. A balaclava can be quickly changed to whatever your require is at that hour. Full covers also prove very toasty when utilized as a lining under helmets in winter sports. Especially when they are fleece lined.
Integration With Goggles
You will see that all of these essentially leave space for eyes only where the eye protectors will sit. Most people buy these separately and they work with almost all kinds of products. Since these types stick close to the skin they do not really come in the way of the ski goggles.
You can also find that have eye visors already integrated with them. These are good for those who strictly wear the mask for ski, snowboard or other adventurous exercise involving mountains. Obviously, this option with ski goggles is more expensive than buying a ski mask alone. However, you might find something that is a bit of a bargain on the visors as you get a ski mask too in the price of a goggle. Both these are essential for all activities in the powder as your face needs complete assurance from tough and cold winds and of course all that snowfall you will be flying at yourself when you ski and snowboard on the mountain. This is why it is useful to always stunt a close-fitting garment or at least half mask paired with these products during these outdoor activities.
Are bandannas warm?
The temperature of bandanna depends on the cloth utilized in it. If you are buying a bandanna to provide temperature during ski then go for the one made with fleece material as it keeps the body heat retained. Whether you wrap it around your dome or rock it as a mask to cover face or neck, you should be able to feel enough warmness. Many people stunt these instead of these items listed because they look stylish with a lot of color and print choices to play with. These windproof stoppers are one dimension fits all type of wearable that fits all heads. Choosing a cotton one is not recommended for wintertime as they are light and will not retain so much heat. Also, they get wet pretty fast so they will disrupt your slope activities. You can also stunt bandana as a lining under your helmet instead of full ones when doing any sport in the cold.
Many people now love the new type of ski mask which is a combo of mask and bandanna, the neodanna. It works out great when you want both the temperature of a ski mask and a little bit of style. If you are concerned about the bandanna being not too toasty or protective then this is the top alternative.
It is important to know about the cloth applied in the ski mask like full balaclava or half face before you buy. This usually determines the level or heat and comfort the balaclava mask or any other kind of mask would provide. The comfort is also a personal preference parameter as some people find some materials more comfortable than others. The materials used in these product are generally cotton, nylon, neoprene, acrylic, wool and polyester fleece. Many times the fabric in the two types is a mixture of these different materials. Some snowboard masks also have a little bit of spandex in them which makes them more elastic. This is usually required to ensure the balaclava or part mask one measurement fits all kind of wearable. Wool of course is the softest and warmest and for some that is what they prefer, but fleece is usually used in knitted and snowboard windproof covers instead. A more popular and rather cheaper option is nylon and you will see that most ski masks utilize this material only. This is because it is light, soft and comofortable – not to mention very cheap. Neoprene is also very elastic cloth and many good brands like Airhole utilize it in their face balaclavas.
Most of the highest quality are usually one measurement that fits all faces which is mostly true as they are made from stretchable materials and virtually any kind of face can be fitted. Choosing the correct product with Velcro at the back allows you to adjust it a few inches. This provides you the greatest opportunity to ensure the balaclava is an excellent fitment for your measurement.
Most of the windproof masks are usually unisexual too. Neck warmers and bandannas may have some prints dedicated to women or men in particular. Other ski accessories especially balaclavas are minimal and come in solids that can be worn by both sexes. As for children, you will have to find the ones that are suited for children’s faces. These balaclavas and other types too are one measurement for all children which means that they will not require another snowboard shelter until they reach late teenage years.
Choosing the design
The designs are many for each kind of these items for outdoor winter sports. The additional customizations are added to designs to improve the overall functionality. Some designs come with small holes over mouth or ears to provide necessary ventilation so as to dry up any moisture. It is really up to you which design suits you and your needs. Choosing a mask can give you a multi-functioning equipment that can take whatever shape you prefer. If you want a stylish and not an old-school mask then a bandana or neodanna made from neoprene would be the top option. You will find many as a combo with other equiptment parts which, if you will, can be very beneficial.
These ski snowboard and mountain covers are not really expensive and a single full balaclava or part mask can last several seasons. However, investing in highest quality ski mask means you pay a bit more but in return you get highest quality like ski or snow-board mask from brands similar to Nike or Airhole. You will find most of these ski or snowboard masks within the range of $5-$50 and can easily find a high quality balaclava mask under $20. Bandannas are usually way cheaper than other kinds of ski or snowboard masks. It entirely depends on your own budget as some people would find spending anything over $20 on a balaclava or other types of warmers as they are too expensive.
Types of Ski and Snowboard Masks
Balaclava is a kind of ski mask that is a full mask which covers the 95% with some openings for some parts such as eyes, nose or mouth. The name of balaclava originated from a battle of the same name in the Crimea region where these balaclavas were first worn. There are many ways you can rock the cover. You can rock them as it is, or over the head similar to a cap for ski. Because they cover the head and provide heat, balaclavas mask make a great protection for outdoor winter sports similar to ski or snowboard and for climbing mountain too.
2. Half Masks
As the name suggests, these cover half from the nose towards the chin. Some part covering models have a hole for mouth or small perforations for venting. These make a good choice for moderate wintertime and can be paired with a helmet to complete assurance.
3. Neck Warmers
Warmers are worn around the neck to provide necessary amount of heat. These are like a shape of a tube and made from soft and comfortable materials. They can be pulled up to the mouth too to protect from snowfall or dirt similar to a semi mask. Some have a hood attached as well which basically makes them a neck gaiter. This is good for both regular use and outdoor sports such as mountain climbing or snowboard if you have something covering your dome already like a hat or balaclava. Unlike balaclavas, with these you have a little bit room to play with in terms of color and prints. Some basic ones are essentially unisexual.
Bandana is a triangular piece of cloth worn around the dome. These can be worn as a lining during tough sports in snowfall similar to mountain climbing. They provide ample heat so to speak but are more suitable for moderate cold. These come in myriads of prints and colors similar to flags, logos, patterns etc. If you want to add a bit of color to your overall outdoor sport kitting these can be worn.
This is a combination of bandannas and the neoprene. This basically covers part of the face and the bandanna covers the chin below part as well. This provides the assurance and heat of this combined with the softness and flair of a bandanna. It is a mountain mask that brings together the benefits of two things. Since it is also a bandanna you get a wide variety of prints to choose from.
6. Designer Masks
Designer masks for ski and snowboard are essentially the same as the other kinds of mask similar to balaclava but with few customizations to ensure the mask unique. The designer items could have perforations or could mix different materials to achieve extra strength and flexibility.
This is a very fun kind of mask for ski and mountain climbing balaclavas essentially that has synthetic beard on them for both decorative purposes and for providing heat. This is a relatively new kind of ski mask but is gradually getting very popular as mens balaclavas to rock on the slopes.
Took me a while to write this review since there are so many different types of these products and so many to test. I went into all the local slope shops in Colorado to find the various styles and fits to create this review by. If you fancy it, have a suggestion or just want to say hi, please comment below!
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