The Best Face Masks For Running and Cycling

Ira T. Martin

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While some cities have started reopening shops and restaurants, the majority of the country is still observing quarantine procedures that were put in place to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. One such measure that’s still in place is the wearing of face masks when out in public, with the CDC recommending cloth face coverings to help prevent the transmission of germs and viruses.

But while cloth face masks can keep you shielded on a walk, or quick trip to the grocery store, not all of these masks are designed for physical activity. Generic cloth masks aren’t always breathable, and worse, they can irritate or chaff the skin. They’re often heavy and saggy, and can fall off if not secured tightly, defeating the whole point of wearing a mask in the first place.

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Luckily, a number of manufacturers are now designing face masks specifically for running, cycling and working out. Keep in mind: these are non-medical face masks, so while they will help shield you against dust, debris or an accidental spray when talking to someone, they aren’t designed for doctors, nurses or frontline workers.

What Are the Best Face Masks For Running and Cycling?

The best face masks for running, cycling or working out should keep you safe, comfortable and dry. Here are a few important things to look for.

Material: Similar to your workout clothes, you want to look for masks made from lightweight, moisture-wicking materials. The best masks for working out will wick away sweat, to keep your face dry and comfortable. You’ll want masks with a bit of stretch in them too (look for the words “elastane” or “spandex” on the tag). This ensures that your mask stays flexible and stays put, moving with you on your run rather than sliding off.

Breathability: All of the picks on our list are made from breathable materials, so you’ll never feel suffocated even if the fabric is over your nose and mouth. Some of our picks have tiny perforations in the front too, for even more breathability.

Fit: Whether you’re on a jog or bike ride, you’ll be in motion, so you want a face mask with a snug fit. Face masks that tie on using elastic straps around the ear are great, but make sure you adjust the straps to keep the mask tight around the mouth. We’ve also found masks (or “gaiters”) that fit around your neck, letting you pull up the material over the mouth. There are also balaclava-style coverings that can be worn like a hood, with an extra section that covers your face as well.

Before you head out on your next run or ride, make sure you pick up one of these masks, to keep you and others safe, even if you’re breaking a sweat.

1. PAGE ONE 12-in-1 Multifunctional Face Masks

This mask is made from a moisture-wicking material that dries quickly and won’t chaff. The microfiber blend is soft against the skin, stretchy and breathable, while still offering protection from the sun, dust, wind, sand and potential germs in the air.

PAGE ONE calls this a multifunctional design, noting that it works as a scarf, headband, wristband, bandana and more. Slide it over your neck, then pull up the sides to cover your mouth. Use the drawstring to tighten and adjust the fit as necessary. Rolled edges prevent the face mask from fraying. Choose from more than two dozen colors and prints.

face mask for running

PAGE ONE Multifunctional Face Mask, $17.99, available at Amazon

2. Buff Original Buff – Bandana Print

Everyone from marathoners to contestants on Survivor have been known to wear head and face coverings from Buff. This one is made from a unique microfiber material that not only wicks moisture, but helps to thermal regulate your temperature too. The material is also given a special antimicrobial treatment that helps it repel — rather than absorb — odors. No smelly face masks here. Toss it in the wash after your run and it’s good to go for your next outing.

Original Buff Face Covering, $19.95, available at Backcountry

3. iHeartRaves Seamless Face Mask

As the company name suggests, these printed mouth coverings were designed to keep dust and dirt out of your face at outdoor festivals and raves, but they’ve come in handy these days as great face masks for running. They’re made from a microfiber material that wicks moisture to keep you dry (the company says the mask dries fully in minutes). The seamless design means no loose threads to worry about, or rough edges to scratch your face.

The one-size-fits-all design fits easily over your head and stays put, even while you’re in motion. Choose from more than 20 patterns, from classic to more fashion-forward.

face mask for running

iHeartRaves Seamless Face Mask, $12.95, available at Amazon

4. Athleta Face Masks

Activewear brand Athleta has released this five-pack of lightweight face masks, made from a stretchy polyester and spandex blend. The masks slide over your face using the elastic ear straps and are lined with airy cotton for breathability. Athleta has pledged to donate 100,000 non-medical masks to healthcare organizations in support of frontline workers.

Athleta Face Masks (five-pack), $30, available at Athleta

5. Columbia Trail Summit Balaclava II

Columbia is no stranger to outdoor gear, and we like this lightweight balaclava, which helps to cover your face and neck while you’re outside. The tight-weave construction is made with 15 percent stretch for a flexible fit that moves with you. Columbia says its “Omni-Wick” technology pulls moisture away from your body to keep you dry, while its “Omni-Heat” thermal reflective layer helps regulate body heat, reflecting warmth back to your body. Tiny holes near the mouth allow for breathability.

Columbia Trail Summit Balaclava, $22.50, available at Zappos

6. BULA Fjord Face Mask

This perforated face mask covers the nose and mouth and wraps around the head like a stretchy headband. The neoprene-style material is lined with fleece for softness. The material is flexible, durable and sweat-resistant. We like that it’s machine-washable too.

BULA Fjord Face Mask, $15.99, available at Zappos

7. Lookhuman Face Masks

They don’t have the same moisture-wicking properties as other masks on our list, but these hand-sewn cloth masks from Lookhuman are a great lightweight pick. The polyester mask offers full face coverage, with straps that tuck securely behind your ear to prevent the mask from shifting while you’re on the move. We like this gray ombre mask, but Lookhuman has more than three dozen other prints and patterns available here.

Lookhuman Face Mask Cover, $13.99, available at Lookhuman

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