One of the best ways to protect your face from the cold temperatures you’ll face when skiing is with a good balaclava.
There are many balaclavas available, from cheap ski masks to high-end balaclavas made in the most breathable materials. Which one should you get?
There are some things to consider before you make your decision, such as the warmth, the material it’s made of and how well it fits. To help you choose the perfect ski mask, we created a buying guide that helps you with everything you need to know.
We’ll start by showing you everything you need to know before you get a balaclava, from getting the right size to getting the right features. Then we’ll review 5 of the best balaclavas you can get today.
I know some of you don’t have the time to read the whole guide and just want to know what balaclava to choose for skiing. That’s why we start this guide with showing you a sneak peek of the best balaclavas the 2019-2020 ski season:
Best Ski Masks 2019
How to a Balaclava
Before you get a Balaclava for skiing, there are some quick things to look for so you can get the best ski mask on the market.
One of the key reasons to get a balaclava for skiing is to protect your face from the cold air outside on the slopes. Most balaclava does a good job of keeping your face warm but how well the ski mask keeps you warm will differ a lot between different brands and models.
Consider the ski conditions you are going to ski in. If you are skiing in warmer conditions, for example in the spring, a too thick and warm balaclava will make you too hot and will make you sweat. However, if you’re skiing in sub-zero temperatures, you should get a really warm balaclava.
Will the balaclava keep the neck warm?
Mostly yes. Longer balaclavas will protect the neck from cold weather, but in some cases, they will only protect your face. If you are not considering using a scarf, neck gaiter or a jacket with a turtle neck, make sure the balaclava is long enough to protect your neck.
Size and fit
Most balaclavas come in one size fits all. They are often made in stretchy materials and fit most people. If you have a large neck, some balaclavas might be a bit tight so make sure to read customer reviews to see if the balaclava you’re looking for fits a large neck.
Another thing to consider is if it will fit under a helmet. A too thick balaclava may cause issues to have under your helmet.
The most used material in balaclavas is polyester. It’s a durable and lightweight material that dries quickly. Some ski masks are made of a blend of polyester and another material for added benefits. A combination of nylon and polyester makes the balaclava stretch better. Neoprene is material with the main advantage being the great water resistance. It doesn’t breathe as good as polyester but if you are skiing in wet conditions consider neoprene.
There are also some ski masks made of merino wool. These ski masks have warmth as their main advantage. Merino wool balaclavas don’t dry as quickly as those made of a synthetic material, and they are often harder to wash.
Will you be able to breathe clearly with a balaclava?
Yes. However, how well you can breathe in a balaclava often comes down to how much are you willing to sacrifice in warmth. Large holes to breathe through makes breathing through the ski mask a lot easier, but it will also be a lot colder. You should aim for striking a balance between good warmth and good breathability.
The eye holes of the balaclava can’t be too small when skiing. Make sure you have a good enough vision range so you don’t get tunnel vision.
Protection from UV rays
Many balaclavas have good protection from UV rays. This is perfect if you are skiing on a sunny day and don’t have any sunscreen.
Cost and value
Yes, it’s true that you can get a budget balaclava for under 5 bucks at the local supermarket, but you’ll get what you pay for. If you want a durable, breathable balaclava that will keep you warm the whole ski day you should be ready to spend a bit more for the added quality.
Best Balaclavas Reviewed
Blackstrap Balaclava Hood: Best Overall Balaclava
The Blackstrap Balaclava is made for skiing. The fabric is lens safe so you can wipe your goggles with it without risking any scratches or damage on the ski goggles.
It’s a good balaclava in both warm and cold conditions. In sunny conditions, it’s an ideal balaclava since it has a UPF rating of 50 plus. This means it protects from 97.5% of all harmful UV rays. In cold conditions, the way it’s constructed provides excellent insulation. The top of the balaclava and the back and the sides of the face are made of a warm thicker layer. The front of the ski mask is made of a dual layer fabric so you get better wind protection.
Even if it’s quite thick at the font, it’s still easy to breathe through, and it’s light enough to wear under a helmet.
It’s made of a synthetic tri-blend and is milled in the US. The stretch of the material is 400% so it will fit almost everyone. The biggest disadvantage of this ski mask is that some people had issues with the goggles fogging up.
It’s available in many different colors and patterns, so you can go for something flashy that will stick out or something more discrete. It’s a great balaclava that dries quickly and can handle cold weather. However, it’s not the warmest balaclava you can find, so if you know you’re skiing in really cold weather, you might want to go for a warmer option.
|Made with skiing in mind|
|Keeps you warm and dry|
|Many color options|
|Some users report that it tends to fog up their glasses|
|Not the warmest balaclava|
Under Armour Men’s ColdGear Infrared Tactical Hood: The Fan Favorite
Under Armour is a brand people trust for their high-quality products. Their balaclava is no exception. It’s a good option if you want a thinner balaclava with good stretch and with good wind protection.
It’s made of 87% polyester and 13% elastane. This combo of materials gives it a soft feel with good stretch. It’s a thin balaclava, so it drys quickly and it’s easy to breathe through. However, the thin material can quickly become a drawback when the temperature drop. When the conditions start to drop below zero Fahrenheit, it can easily feel too thin.
The thermal layer coating on the inside does a decent job of retaining body heat, but the warmth is not the main reason to get this balaclava. What it really excels at is wind protection. You won’t feel the cold wind on your face and in the rare cases it gets wet, it’ll dry quickly.
Thanks to the good stretch, it’ll fit most people, but one issue is that it’s tight over the nose. That’s why many prefer to have the nose tucked out when wearing it. It works well with a helmet but it has almost no neck, so you’ll often have to protect your neck in other ways in this balaclava.
|Blocks wind well|
|Stays in place|
|Can get wet from moisture from your breath|
|Not suitable for skiing on the really cold days|
JIUSY 3D Animal Balaclava: The Best Looking
If you want something that will make you stand out on the mountain one of the best ways is with an animal balaclava. The JIUSY 3D Animal Balaclava comes in multiple cool patterns, that will make other skiers look up and often compliment the unusual style. The pattern is made with digital heat transfer printing so it will keep looking good for a long time.
It’s a rather inexpensive product, and as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. The biggest issue with it is the material. It’s made of 100% polyester. This means it’s breathable and dries quickly. But it also means it won’t wick away moisture effectively. For some people it tends to get slightly damp around the mouth area.
It’s a thin fabric so it won’t be as warm as with some of the other balaclavas made of warmer fleece material. The opening for the eyes is smaller than what we usually see in the ski masks we recommend, but it’s for most people still large enough for recreational skiing.
To sum it up, this balaclava might not be the best when it comes to warmth or moisture wicking. But it sure is one of the best looking balaclavas you can get and for a price almost half of the other recommended products. You should without a doubt consider this ski mask if your number one priority is looks and are willing to sacrifice a bit on the warmth and comfort.
|Works well with an helmet|
|Small eye opening|
|Can get damp around the mouth|
Mountain Hardwear Alpine Balaclava: The Warmest
If you want a really warm balaclava and are willing to pay a bit more for the best, then the Alpine Balaclava from Mountain Hardware is an excellent choice.
It’s made of a material called Polartec Power Stretch. It’s durable, wicks moisture away, has a good stretch and provide tons of warmth.
With a flat-lock construction, it provides a seamless fit. Thanks to the very stretchy material, it’s one of the best fitting one size fits all balaclavas available. It’s thin enough to go with a helmet, but it’s warm enough to keep you warm the whole skiing day, even in really cold conditions.
The brushed inner fleece feels soft against your skin. The only complaint some users have is the front seam that runs near the mouth can be annoying and can in some rare cases cause chafing.
One cool feature of the Alpine Balaclava is the “Glassket” feature. The balaclava is designed in a way that the ski goggles will stay in place by integrating them into the ski mask. Another advantage of the glassket feature is that it will keep the sun out of your eyes.
The price is on the higher end for a balaclava, but if you want the warmest and probably the best, it’s often worth the extra cost.
|Glassket feature keeps your glasses in place|
|Comfortable and stretchy fleece material|
|Some users dislike the seam on the front of the balaclava|
The best balaclava for skiing depends a lot on what conditions you are going to ski in. For warmer conditions such as spring skiing, a lighter model such as the Under Armour Tactical Hood is a good option. If you are going to be skiing in really cold conditions, you should consider a balaclava such as the Mountain Hardwear Alpine Balaclava.
Most of the balaclavas we recommend are a bit more expensive than the budget balaclavas you can get at the local supermarket. This is because for a bit added cost you get a much higher quality balaclava that will keep you warm the whole ski day. If you want the best Balaclava, it’s often worth paying a bit more to get a higher quality product.