8 Best Ski Masks and Balaclavas of 2022

Ski Masks and Balaclava

When skiing, it can get cold, and you have to stay warm. There are many ways to make that happen, including jackets, pants, and gloves. However, if you need to go the extra mile, balaclavas or ski masks are a great way to add extra insulation to your ensemble.

A good, well-made mask is the perfect way to handle tough environments or icy days. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean everyone has the same quality or comes with the same features. As with any piece of gear, you need a mask or balaclava that works best for the type of skiing you like to do.

Some skiers want a lighter option for warm days, while others might want something much tougher. It all comes down to personal preference and where you most often find yourself out on the mountain.

Regardless of what mask you want, the options laid out in this guide will provide you with great results. Each one, despite having its own niche, is warm, durable, and well-made.

Quick Summary

Who Should Get This?

Truthfully, not every skier needs a mask or balaclava to enjoy a winter day. Some many runs or areas don’t require any extra gear beyond a few well-insulated items. You only need the extra protection if you’re someone who often finds themselves out in extremely cold weather. 

Extra insulation is only a bad thing if you don’t need it or it causes you to overheat. If you’re someone who gets cold no matter how warm it is out on the slopes, a good mask provides you with an extra layer that helps lock in heat around your face.

Balaclavas are the perfect accessory for skiers who deal with extremely tough conditions. A balaclava won’t always be needed on clear or sunny days, but they do come in handy when the temperature rapidly drops.

Balaclavas are also good options for skiers with sensitive faces or for those who tend to run cold. If you find that the wind gives you problems regardless of when you ski, a balaclava cuts down on general discomfort.

They also help add a bit of extra protection for people who are out on the mountain for long periods of time.

Top Picks of Best Ski Masks and Balaclavas

Here, you’ll see a list of my top recommendations along with a quick review of each ski mask and balaclava. The goal is to help you get to know the pros and cons of each product so you can make a more informed purchase decision.

1. Best All-Around: Smartwool Unisex Balaclava

Few balaclavas are more well-rounded than the one from Smartwool. This unisex option isn’t just soft, thanks to the merino wool construction, but it is also warm and durable. This gives you the ability to stand up to the elements without weighing you down. 

It is one of the most comfortable balaclavas around and is incredibly versatile. The double-layer construction is warm, the insulation stands up to snow, and it’s lightweight to boot.

The merino wool construction makes this a good choice for skiers who value comfort, while the insulation is for those who run cold. With so many different features, there’s something for everyone here.

What We Like:

  • Sturdy
  • Lightweight
  • Thin and breathable
  • Comfortable
  • Double-layer construction
  • Merino wool construction
  • Incredibly soft
  • Several colors and styles
  • Can be worn under a helmet

What We Don’t Like:

  • Eye cutouts can be too narrow
  • A bit tight for larger heads

2. Best Budget: Fantastic Zone Balaclava

You may not recognize the name Fantastic Zone, but their balaclava is one of the best on the market. Not only does it have a light, 4-way stretch fabric for extra ventilation, but it also comes with a polyester construction that will last for years. 

This is also split into two separate halves. That gives you the option to mix up how you wear it and provides you with unmatched versatility.

What We Like:

  • Thin-but-durable construction
  • Separate upper and lower half
  • Extremely versatile
  • Affordable
  • 4-way stretch fabric
  • Fits just about all sizes

What We Don’t Like:

  • No breathing hole
  • Can fog goggles

3. Most Versatile: Tough Headband 12-in-1

As the name suggests, the Tough Headband 12-in-1 is a mask that can be worn in twelve different ways. If you want a tough mask that can be used as a balaclava, hood, face mask, or gaiter, this is the choice for you. 

In addition, there are many colors available and it offers solid protection. The thermal is breathable and wicks away moisture. The 12-in-1 is also one of the most affordable balaclavas, which is always a nice bonus.

This model is perfect for those who need different types of coverage. It can be worn in twelve different ways, allowing you to freely adapt to different climates and weather conditions. 

Also, the stretch and fit both feel great. If you’re a skier who cares about comfort, this is a solid option.

What We Like:

  • Most versatile mask on the market
  • Can be worn in a range of ways
  • Breathable
  • Warm
  • Moisture-wicking properties
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Many colors and styles available
  • Affordable

What We Don’t Like:

  • Thinner than similar models
  • Doesn’t hold up to extreme conditions

4. Best Full-Coverage: Ergodyne N-Ferno

The Ergodyne N-Ferno is a fantastic mask for skiers that care about coverage. While many masks protect different sections of your face, this model goes over everything but the eyes. 

The tough fleece design is soft on the skin and has what it takes to stand up to the elements. In addition, it is wind-resistant, durable, and locks in heat. This can also be worn in three ways and utilizes reflective accents to keep you safe out on windy or overcast days.

It resists the wind, stands up to the elements, and stretches down to your neck. Those who value versatility will also appreciate that this can be worn in three different ways, as a neck gaiter, open face balaclava, or a full ski mask. Perfect for different conditions.

What We Like:

  • Incredibly durable
  • Wind resistant
  • Reflective accents
  • Hinged design
  • Can be worn in three ways
  • Fleece is soft and warm
  • Offers full coverage
  • Anti-fog design
  • Multiple color schemes

What We Don’t Like:

  • Can be a bit big for smaller heads
  • Not the easiest to breathe in

5. Lightest Option: Zerdocean Winter Full Ski Mask

While not as warm as similar options, the Zerdocean Winter Full Ski Mask is a great lightweight balaclava perfect for skiers who value ventilation. This model’s mesh vent design is incredibly breathable, allowing you to work hard without getting overheated. 

In addition, it is also flexible, thanks to the one-size-fits-all design, and can be worn in different ways. It comes in standard black but has a sleek camouflage option as well.

This model utilizes a breathable mesh vent design that enables you to breathe no matter how much you sweat on the slopes. 

Also, the comfortable, stretchy material makes it perfect for those who need a well-fitted mask. If you want a light-but-strong balaclava, this is the way to go.

What We Like:

  • Soft fleece lining
  • Breathable mesh vent design
  • Hinged design
  • Comfortable
  • Flexible fit
  • Camouflage design
  • Helmet compatible
  • Simple, elegant look

What We Don’t Like:

  • Not as durable as heavier options
  • Could be warmer

6. Most Durable: Self Pro Balaclava

The Self Pro Balaclava is incredibly tough. It comes with advanced construction that stands up to a range of different elements, protecting you from water, wind, ice, and snow. 

In addition, the long neck locks in warmth, and the polar fleece is incredibly soft. If you want a mask that keeps your entire face protected, it is hard to do better than this one. It gives great UV protection as well.

Not only does the tough material hold up to the elements, but the long neck gives you excellent coverage. Despite the strength, this is also one of the more comfortable balaclavas thanks to the soft fabric and polar fleece.

What We Like:

  • Full protection from all elements
  • Extremely warm
  • CoolMax with polar fleece offers enhanced comfort
  • Tough materials
  • Breathable
  • Helmet compatible
  • Soft, feels great on skin
  • Longer neck offers better protection

What We Don’t Like:

  • Limited color options
  • A bit on the heavy side

7. Best Unisex Option: Seirus Innovation Unisex Neofleece

If you’re looking for a simple-but-effective face mask, Seirus Innovation should be your top choice. This fully polyester model warms your face and neck without weighing you down. 

It is completely water-proof and uses a breathable liner to ensure you don’t overheat or sweat too much. The 5-layer construction adds durability, while the velcro closure is easy to use. There are different designs (Camo, Black, Hi-Vis Yellow) available too.

This model does exactly what it says it will, providing you with a warm, durable mask that keeps your face toasty in all types of weather. It is water-proof and breathable. The velcro closure also makes it a good fit for those who want a solid item that’s easy to use.

What We Like:

  • Water-proof
  • Simple design
  • Form-fits your face
  • Breathable
  • Four sizes, great for adults and kids
  • Breathable liner
  • Velcro closure makes it easy to put on and take off
  • Three different designs

What We Don’t Like:

  • Fog-up, not great for goggles
  • Can run big
  • Doesn’t offer full protection

8. Best Looking: Beardksi Ski Mask

We’ve covered a lot of strong, sturdy options on this list, but if you’re in the mood for something a bit more fun, look no further than the Beardski Ski Mask. It is very easy to dismiss this option, but it is warm, durable, and well-made. 

It is also unique, thanks to the truly innovative design, and fully protects your neck. As a bonus, this model is easy to put on and take off. It may be bulkier than other options, but that’s more than worth it for the fun look.

This model, as the name suggests, has a big bushy beard attached to it. However, this is more than a gimmick. The neoprene item is easy to put on and take off, and it’s quite warm as well. 

In addition, it has a tougher construction than you might expect and easily protects both your mouth and neck in one compact package

What We Like:

  • Warm
  • Unique eye-catching appearance
  • Beard helps protect your neck
  • Easy to put on and take off
  • Affordable
  • Many fun beard styles available

What We Don’t Like:

  • A bit bulky
  • Heavier than similar options
  • Can’t store it in a pocket

How to Choose Ski Mask or Balaclava: Buying Guide

Not sure how to narrow down the choices from the crowd? Take the factors below into account during your ski mask and balaclava research journey.

Material

When looking at a ski mask or balaclava, you have to pay attention to its material. In today’s market, most brands make their products out of polyester, nylon, neoprene, and merino wool.

Polyester tends to be light and wicks away moisture, while nylon is extremely versatile and more affordable and durable, and it is also the material of choice for skiers who want a strong wind-proof option. 

While nylon stands on its own, it is most often blended with other materials to create a tougher design.

Merino wool is the warmest fabric out there and is quite soft and comfortable. It also resists odors and easily wicks away moisture. Despite that, some people do find it itchy. Always be aware of that. 

The final material, neoprene, is another warm, inexpensive synthetic fabric. It is wind-proof and water-resistant but doesn’t have the breathability of similar materials.

Know what each material does. You can either get a mask or balaclava made of just one material, or you can get one that mixes different ones. It’s completely up to you.

Design

Balaclavas are typically made to cover your entire head, neck, and face, but they come in many shapes and sizes. Some have mouth holes, while others provide a full fit with just two eye slits. 

Do you need half-protection? What about one that covers your neck or ears? Such questions are extremely important, and they all need to be answered before your final purchase.

As for masks, some only cover your cheeks and mouth, while others only cover the mouth and neck. 

Those with helmets may want a thinner design that isn’t too thick, while those who wear goggles will want small eye holes that seal in the mask. Such considerations are important to keep in mind.

Fit

As with any type of ski gear, your balaclava needs to fit your body. Everyone has a different shaped head. Getting a mask that’s too small will cause it to pinch, and getting one that’s too big will cause it to hang loosely off your face. 

Both of those scenarios will let in the cold air, which defeats the entire purpose of a balaclava. Always ensure the mask you get fits your head well without causing any discomfort.

Comfort

Your balaclava should also be comfortable. Not only does that refer to a good fit, it also means soft materials that feel good against your skin. 

For instance, while some skiers like merino wool, others may find it itchy or uncomfortable to wear for extended periods of time. Don’t get a mask that doesn’t work for you. When it comes to picking the right one, softer is always better.

Weight

Almost all ski masks are light. However, that doesn’t mean they all feel that way when you’re pushing through the snow. Tougher or thicker models made for freezing cold might work well at locking in heat, but they can also smother you if you aren’t careful. 

Lightweight options take away that discomfort and enable you to speed through the snow with little to no worries.

Strength

Durability is another important consideration for your ski mask. Both light and hardy masks need to have quality construction that enables them to stand up to the elements. That goes double if you’re someone who needs a balaclava for tough weather. 

Ski masks tend to be cheap, but that doesn’t mean you want to replace yours every year. Premium materials from a trusted brand will ensure you get a quality item that’s able to take a beating on the slopes.

Ventilation

Ski masks and balaclavas are meant to keep you warm, but they also need to let you breathe. A warm mask or balaclava, no matter how much it keeps out the cold, isn’t worth it if it causes you to sweat or overheat. 

Some skiers may want a light, breathable mask or balaclava, while others may want something much heavier. 

Try to find options with great ventilation and always prioritize masks or balaclavas that wick away moisture to let your skin properly breathe. Such models are especially important for racers or backcountry skiers. 

Your ski mask or balaclava’s breathability depends on what you want to get from it. If you’re often in extreme or rough conditions, a little extra padding with less ventilation may be your best bet.

Useful Tips and Information

A good balaclava or ski mask will keep your face protected from the elements no matter where you ski. However, it is far from the only way to stave off the freezing cold.

Balaclavas are fantastic ways to add extra warmth out on the mountain. Many great items help keep you nice and toasty. If you’re interested in other ways to fight the wind and ice, look at the tips and tricks outlined here.

Ski masks can handle a range of conditions, but they are best used on tough slopes or harsh weather. Skiing in those areas, while fun, is not easy. 

Luckily, there are many ways to properly move through the heavy snow. If you’re someone who often needs to take on the elements, this video will give you some great tips.

Another important part of skiing is layering. You may have warm gear or modern clothing, but such items don’t matter if you don’t know how to use them. 

Rather than guessing the best way to wear your clothing, watch this video to learn how to best utilize your layers to get their full effect.

Remember that rough, cold days do come with their own issues. All skiers, regardless of individual skill or experience, need to properly prepare for their time on the mountain. This helpful guide will give you some important things to keep in mind.

Final Words

Not every skier needs a mask or balaclava, but the items are perfect options for when the weather drops and the snow starts to come down.

If you’re someone who skis on icy peaks or in the dead of winter, you know that every bit of insulation helps. It is not about protecting your face, it’s about keeping your body warm at all times.

When choosing a ski mask or balaclava, make sure to get one that suits your skiing conditions. Lighter, flexible models are good for lighter environments, while heavy-duty ones are best for skiers who brave tough slopes in frigid weather.

The above masks and balaclavas are great models that work in all different conditions. If you do your research and know what you need, you’ll find a model that works for you. They are also great for all disciplines, providing fantastic results both on and off-piste.

Do you use a ski mask or balaclava? Which brands do you prefer? Let us know in the comments below!

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