Winter outdoor sports such as skiing is for sure a fun thing to pick to go out and enjoy the season. But while doing so what becomes an important thing to pick is the right balaclava ski mask. That’s because, with all the fun on offer with this amazing sport, you need to make sure you protect your face from the dangers of extremely cold temperatures and even frostbites.
Leaving your face open and unprotected can lead to other skin issues as well, such as sunburn, windburn, and other skin irritations. On a cold and windy day, your skin can get chapped in no time. And so to ensure foolproof protects balaclava ski masks come to your rescue. Nowadays, several products in the market are available as face protection gear and hence it could get quite confusing in choosing the right mask.
In this article, we are attempting to provide you with a brief ski mask buying guide to help you with a very prominent question i.e. how to choose ski masks? Let’s begin with the basics of knowing about these masks.
What Is a Balaclava Ski Mask?
Balaclava ski masks or Balaclavas as they are commonly called are a form of clothing that forms a protective headgear covering most of your head, neck, and face exposing only the eyes, mouth and nose. The origin of these masks dates back to the Battle of Balaclava in the year 1854 where the British troops were sent this hand-knit clothing to keep themselves warm. This was sent over to the troops as the supplies these troops were waiting for did not arrive.
The first balaclavas were made out of wool. However, they are nowadays made out of different materials and come in a variety of designs. Let’s find out more about the design and other aspects.
Balaclava Ski Mask - Design and Materials
A balaclava ski mask design if you notice has some peculiar characteristics. They are made keeping in mind the complete protection of your face. While the first ones were knitted out of wool, the contemporary versions are made out of materials such as cotton, silk, neoprene, polypropylene, polar fleece and even acrylic.
These balaclavas are ideal to beat the cold-weather season wherever you are. It covers your head, neck, lips and the ears completely preventing you from the biting cold winds, while you are out racing through the snow. Thus, letting you enjoy the thrill of the sport without worrying too much about the cold.
So how do you find out which one is the right one for you? The balaclavas are not only useful for outdoor winter sports, but they are also widely used in a lot of other areas as well which we will find out in the subsequent sections. So based on the use and purpose you need these masks, you can choose one for yourself.
Let’s look at some of the areas they are used in.
Uses & Applications
These ski masks as we mentioned earlier are multipurpose with their applications in many areas and activities. So what are the areas and what are the activities? Why is a mask even needed? Let’s find out the answers to these questions:
- Used in Outdoor Winter Sports
Balaclava Ski masks are widely used in outdoor winter sports such as skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, etc. These ski masks are a perfect protective headgear that protects the sports enthusiasts from cold winds and also maintain the coziness and warmth. Another important reason why these masks are so popular is because of the breathability they offer. They are usually made out of high-quality breathable material that prevents a common issue of fogging of the goggles and glasses and improves visibility.
These balaclava ski masks hence are popular as warm ski masks for men and women alike, protective masks for winter and outdoor sports for men as well as women, etc.
- Used as a Safety Gear
These are also commonly used as safety gear by the firefighters that are a fire-resistant type of balaclava face masks. These masks are made from Nomex with an opening near the face that is connected to a breathing device.
They are also used by the Electrical workers who wear a safe arc-rated type of the mask along with a face shield while working in an environment that is full of those notorious flares and glares of the fire in the arc.
It is mandatory for race drivers affiliating to internationally recognized federations to wear balaclavas. The balaclavas prescribed for them are to be compliant to international standards are made up of fire-retardant materials. They are told to wear these masks underneath their helmets to ensure their faces are protected from any fire in case of a crash or any eventuality.
- Used by the Security Forces
You will often see the balaclava masks worn by special forces of various countries while they are on some missions. For instance, in 1980 when the SAS stormed the Iranian Embassy, they were wearing balaclavas to protect their identities, lest they might have to go on special deputation assignments later on.
In the Indian sub-continent as well these caps are worn by troops deployed at high altitudes. These masks are commonly known as monkey caps in this part of the world and are also used by the common people in the hills and cold areas.
The US Marine has also started to issue flame-resistant balaclavas with face guards to their troops. In other countries such as Russia and Sweden as well balaclava masks are an important part of the uniform of the Special Forces whether they are from the military or the police.
They are also used by forces such as the SWAT teams and even at times by criminals to protect their identities. For many years men wearing these masks and getting involved in crimes were a common scene on the TV. The balaclava masks were also used by the paramilitary groups fighting the War of Independence in Ireland.
- Used by Bikers and Racers
Due to its amazing design and capabilities such as breathability and prevention of fogging of the glasses, the balaclava ski masks are also being increasingly used by many modern bikers and biking groups. Especially when biking and cutting through the wind, in the cold weather, they provide optimum protection and warmth to the neck and other exposed parts of the face. These masks not only provide protection from the wind but also provide protection against all the dust and pollution and flying pieces of debris or insects while biking.
In the eventuality of a mishap or a fall, while the helmet protects the head, this mask can be a protection to the neck and face as well. Neoprene versions of the balaclava ski masks work best when used by the bikers.
Apart from the above uses and versions of the amazing balaclava ski masks, different parts of the world have come with different versions based on their requirements and needs. For instance, for industrial and other fire facing applications, the anti-flash masks have come up that are fire-resistant and form a basic protective gear for workers involved in such occupations. Other versions are the Japanese facekinis or the three-hole balaclava masks that have openings for the eyes and the nose.
Now that we have covered almost all the applications of these face masks we sure would be able to tell how beneficial they can be in all these applications. Let’s have a closer look.
Though the benefits and the applications can be interchangeably quoted we cannot help but explicitly quote the benefits of the balaclava ski masks. Let’s try and list some of them for your quick reference:
- They provide the protection your face needs from wind and other harsh weather phenomena while skiing or enjoying any other winter sports.
- They provide you with the warmth to keep yourself going in extremely cold weather conditions.
- They provide your face the safety it needs while you are motor sporting or biking.
- They are available in different versions and are easily available and hence can be used for all types of protection you are looking for.
Apart from these stated benefits, there are many unstated ones which you will discover while you use. One other thing to know is how to wear a ski mask? These masks are to be worn as snugly fitting so that it provides the protection and warmth it is meant to provide. Loosely fitting ones won't solve the purpose.
So finally, while choosing a balaclava ski mask, you must recognize and understand why and for what purpose you would be using it. And based on what you need it for, you can go ahead and choose the one that best suits your purpose.
While skiing and winter sports are the prime applications of these ski masks, but as you might be aware by now the possibilities of their usage are limitless.