Face Masks: Which Ones Are Best For Skiing?

Clay Malott | | BrainsBrains
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Stay safe to stay open. Credit: Mono County Tourism

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has presented new constraints and restrictions in every aspect of our lives, including skiing this season. Face masks have become the norm for preventing droplet travel and reducing both your and others’ risk of infection. So what are the best masks for skiing?


BUFF Made Its ThermoNet Headwear for Cold-Weather Performance | GearJunkie, masks
Buffs and equivalent face coverings are NOT suitable for COVID skiing. Photo credit: GearJunkie

Buffs and gaiters are NOT good COVID face masks. In fact, a recent study from Duke University found that a buff/gaiter is actually worse than wearing no mask at all, as it aerosolizes the droplets, making them easier to inhale through others’ masks. The study found that any single layer mask, including buffs, gaiters, and bandanas, are actually detrimental to infection risk.

For the safety of yourself and others please do not wear single layer masks at the ski resort.

Double layer masks – the right choice

Which type of face mask is most effective against COVID-19? | LLUH News, masks
Double layered face masks – the safest option for skiing in the age of COVID. Photo credit: Loma Linda University Health

While buffs and gaiters are not good choices, almost any double-layered mask is a great choice to keep yourself and others safe from the virus. Double layer mask options include surgical masks and double-layered cloth masks. Many warm, thick neck warmers also do the trick and prevent droplet spread.

Testing your mask

What is the candle test? A way to tell if your face mask works
The flame test – perfect for testing your mask before hitting the slopes. Photo credit: The Today Show

Not all of these masks will work for everyone, and some may need to get creative in order to find a safe solution. However, these solutions must be effective – in other words, they must be able to prevent the spread of droplets and therefore the virus. The flame test is one of the best ways you can test the effectiveness of your mask.

To perform this test, first, light a match or a candle. With your face mask on, move your face about 6 inches away from the flame. Then blow hard into your mask at the candle. If the flame stays completely put, you have a fantastic mask. If the flame wavers slightly, your mask will probably do the trick, but still, try to find a better mask. If the flame is extinguished, your mask is not good enough to stay safe at a ski resort.

Final thoughts

This pandemic has been tough on everyone, but we need to remember to be patient with each other. So let’s all be a little more kind this season, why don’t we? Let’s kill bad energy with kindness. Let’s ensure a positive experience both on and off the hill, and not kill each other—literally.

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3 thoughts on “Face Masks: Which Ones Are Best For Skiing?

  1. I’ve used the outdoor research neck gaitor with the paper mask filter insert to great success for early season snowboarding. Recommend!

  2. The vented mask on the right is a poor choice if you want to protect others and be welcome on the chair…COVID spreaders are generally unwelcome anywhere so why set yourself for failure?

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