Best ski mask

Snow Sports

Besides keeping you warm, some ski masks are designed to serve as camouflage, too. These are typically worn by members of the military and hunters.

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Which ski masks are best?

While you wouldn’t think of going outside in the winter without gloves, many of us neglect to protect our faces in cold weather. A ski mask helps trap heat so you can stay comfortable for longer periods when exposed to low temperatures.

The best ski mask will fit well, be durably made, and fit comfortably. It will also allow freedom of movement so you can engage in any activity you desire. Under Armour Men’s ColdGear Infrared Balaclava, for example, is a top-quality ski mask that features a thin, breathable design yet has an inner thermal layer that retains body heat to keep you warm.

What to know before you buy a ski mask

Why do I need a ski mask?

According to the Mayo Clinic, “​​Most heat loss is due to heat radiated from unprotected surfaces of your body.” These surfaces include the head, which houses the brain. When your brain gets cold, you can become dizzy, disoriented and have diminished alertness. At the very least, this can cause you to underperform. In extreme weather, however, it can be life-threatening. Wearing a ski mask protects your head, face, ears, neck and brain from the cold.

How should a ski mask fit?

A ski mask needs to be tight around the head so it can stay in place to trap and retain body heat, but it also must be somewhat loose around the face and openings so it is not restrictive. A ski mask shouldn’t limit your ability to turn your head and it shouldn’t be so tight that it is problematic to put on or remove.

What material is best for a ski mask?

The best material for a ski mask depends on how you will be using it, as well as your personal preferences. In general, thin, flexible material such as knit polyester is good because it is comfortable and wicks away moisture to dry quickly. Wool may be warmer than nylon, but it can feel scratchy and might not fit as easily beneath your helmet. Nylon holds up well and offers excellent protection against the wind, while neoprene provides even greater benefits, but doesn’t breathe well, which can be a deal-breaker for some.

What to look for in a quality ski mask


A quality ski mask doesn’t just retain your body heat, it also helps protect you from the elements, such as wind, rain, and snow.

Comfortable fit

You can immediately tell you have a quality ski mask because it is comfortable to wear. The best options feature flatlock stitching to keep the seams from being an irritation.

Durable build

If your ski mask tears after just a few wears, you won’t be happy. Look for one that gets high marks in durability.

Compatible with other gear

Not all ski masks are meant to be worn with gear. If you will be wearing a helmet and goggles, make sure the ski mask you are considering can accommodate these items.

Custom design

While the primary purpose of a ski mask is warmth, with comfort coming in a very close second, that doesn’t mean you have to forgo style. If you want to add a little pizazz to your outerwear, consider a designer ski mask or a custom ski mask.

How much you can expect to spend on a ski mask

When shopping for a ski mask, you will find they range in price from roughly $5 to over $50. In general, a quality ski mask will cost around $20.

Ski mask FAQ

What is a balaclava?

A. When you shop for ski masks, inevitably, you will be directed toward balaclavas. This can be confusing until you realize that, essentially, “balaclava” is just another name for a ski mask. Actually, if you want to be accurate, “ski mask” is just another name for a balaclava. A balaclava is the handmade garment that the British troops wore in the Battle of Balaclava. Though the battle took place on Oct. 25, 1854, it took a few years for the name to stick. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the first known use of “ski mask” wasn’t until 1966, which was over a century later.

How do I wash a ski mask?

A. Always read the manufacturer’s care label to determine the best way to clean a ski mask. This is important as not all ski masks can be machine washed. If you place a hand wash-only item in a washer or dryer, it will not last as long as expected.

What are the best ski masks to buy?

Top ski mask

Under Armour Men's ColdGear Infrared Balaclava

Under Armour Men’s ColdGear Infrared Balaclava

What you need to know: This is a high-quality ski mask from a company that is known for keeping athletes warm.

What you’ll love: The thin, breathable design of this face mask provides a comfortable fit. The unit is manufactured using a soft, thermo-conductive inner coating that absorbs and retains your body heat to keep your face warm. The material extends below the neck and can convert to a neck gaiter if needed.

What you should consider: While most individuals thought this ski mask provided a great fit, some said it didn’t sit quite right on their head, and allowed their ears to get cold.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Dick’s Sporting Goods

Top ski mask for the money

3-Hole Full Face Knit Ski Mask

3-Hole Full Face Knit Ski Mask

What you need to know: If budget is important, this no-frills ski mask comes in a pack of four for added value. 

What you’ll love: There are three holes in this ski mask — two for the eyes and one for the mouth. Since the mouth is fully exposed, it is easy to get fresh air, and the mask won’t collect as much moisture in the fabric. When you don’t need the face covering, the unisex mask can be rolled up and worn as a hat.

What you should consider: The stitching between the eyes is the weak point in this design.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

The North Face Whimzy Powder Hooded Fleece Neck Gaiter

The North Face Whimzy Powder Hooded Fleece Neck Gaiter

What you need to know: This is a high-quality ski mask that is manufactured by a trusted name in outerwear.

What you’ll love: Made of 100% wool, this ski mask has natural anti-odor properties. The manufacturer offers a limited lifetime warranty for peace of mind.

What you should consider: While this is a top brand, it also has a higher price tag than other options.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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