Best Balaclavas In 2022
If you’re a fan of winter snow sports, ride a motorbike, or enjoy running and cycling outdoors in the winter, then you will no doubt be familiar with the balaclava, also known as a ski mask. It’s an essential accessory, providing excellent protection from the elements. Unlike a neck gaiter, which generally covers the lower part of your face and neck only, the best balaclavas cover pretty much the entire face, leaving just the eyes and mouth exposed. They’re typically constructed from a knitted fabric and are used to block out wind and insulate the head, face as well as the neck. Suitable for a host of sporting activities from hiking, skiing, snowboarding and mountaineering to providing protection from fire and heat for special services and armed forces, the balaclava also does an excellent job of keeping your identity anonymous. We assume you’re looking for the best balaclava not because you want to rob a bank but because you’re keen to hit the slopes! Read on to discover our top product picks in this category.
The Best Balaclava
This balaclava face mask from Self Pro is part of their range of tactical garments, designed to offer advanced protection and performance. Self Pro Balaclava has a highly flexible design that provides full coverage and protection against the elements, in particular keeping out the wind. Thanks to CoolMax fabric technology, the wearer remains cool and dry. The unique high-tech polyester fibers are moisture-wicking and provide excellent levels of absorbency while still being highly breathable. The fabric features a 4-way stretch quality so that it’s soft and stretchy and smooth against the skin. With a more extended length neck design, this balaclava mask provides advanced cold weather protection. One size should fit most and this versatile accessory can also be worn a multitude of ways, including as a hat, neck gaiter, ninja hoodie, as well as both full and open-faced.
Premium quality CoolMax high-tech Polyester construction
Abrasion resistance and wind protection
Highly absorbent and moisture-wicking
Flexible one size fits most design
- BrandSelf Pro
- Weight 1.76 Ounces
Bring the fun factor to the slopes thanks to these uniquely designed 3D face masks. Made from 100% Polyester and designed so that one size should easily conform to most, the range offers extensive choice when it comes to quirky designs. From bears to cats, tigers to dogs, these super soft and windproof balaclavas all feature digital heat transfer printing technology. Wtactful 3D Animal Balaclava Face Masks are comfortable and unobtrusive to wear and feature a multifunctional hinged design, which means that your 3D animal face mask can be worn as a balaclava, a ski mask, or as a helmet liner. Whether you enjoy winter sports, cycling, or are looking for something to pep up this year’s Halloween costume, these full face masks are a superb and inexpensive choice.
Digitally printed funny face designs
Versatility to wear different ways
Constructed from superior warm fabric
Offers excellent windproof protection
- Weight2.4 Ounces
Featuring a versatile hinged design, this softly fleeced balaclava from Zerdocean can be worn in four different ways and is ideal for winter outdoor activities. The slightly stretchy fabric knit is comfortable and just the one size should fit just about anyone. If you want to pull the design down and wear it as a neck gaiter, you can. The design incorporates a mesh vented section to provide excellent levels of heat retention but also breathability. It’s soft and supportive and feels like a second skin. Moisture-wicking and incredibly easy to take care of, the Zerdocean Winter Balaclava is an excellent and cost-effective purchase and besides being available in black, it also comes in different camo options too. If you run regularly, even on cold days, be sure to make this product a part of your winter running gear.
Soft and gentle fleece lining
Breathable mesh vent design around the mouth
Versatile hinged design can be worn in different ways
Stretchy fabric conforms to fit most adults
Comprising of a detachable top and separate bottom part which can either be worn together or apart, this two-piece balaclava set from Ergodyne provides tones of versatility. Made from a lovely soft and lightweight, fleece fabric, it’s functional and comfortable and is streamlined enough to be worn under a construction helmet for cold winter days on a building site. The detachable design also features suspension straps so that it can be secured to a hard for increased stability without hampering mobility or performance. Ergodyne N-Ferno Two-Piece Balaclava Set provides the ultimate cold weather protection and perfectly covers the face, nose, mouth and neck while at the same time being breathable. You may also like some of the best Carhartt jackets from our list, so check them out and pick your favorite for winter outdoor activities.
Detachable top and bottom can be worn separately or together
Lightweight thermal protection
Full coverage warmth
Stretchable fleece fabric should fit most sizes
- Weight2.24 Ounces
The multi-tasking hinged design of this full face balaclava from Chaos can be worn multiple ways providing plenty of flexibility and mobility. Made in the USA, Chaos CTR Howler Balaclava is constructed from a windshield fabric that delivers unparalleled protection from the elements, including wind and rain. It features a softly textured fleece membrane that is both breathable and warm and is ideal for trapping in heat and keeping out the wind. Lycra binding around the face works to prevent elements from entering, creating a face seal that will keep you warm, dry and protected no matter how harsh the conditions may get. It’s an excellent accessory for anyone who enjoys skiing and snowboarding, as you would expect from this popular lifestyle headwear brand, but also a great piece of rain gear. Perfect to wear under your ski helmet.
Soft and gentle fleece lining
100% windproof fleece with membrane
Versatile hinged design can be worn in different ways
Stretchy fabric conforms to fit most adults
- Model9G3 1630
- Weight1 Pound
When it comes to protecting your face from the elements, a balaclava is a perfect choice. But, it’s important to make sure you get the right style. The Achiou Balaclava is designed to be low-profile, so it doesn’t cause you to overheat. For example, when you’re skiing, sometimes the temperature is too high for a thick balaclava but you still need to protect your skin against windburn and UV damage. Speaking of UV damage, the material provides ample protection against the sun’s harmful rays. It’s made from a mixture of polyester (88%) and Spandex (12%), which makes it both soft on the skin and stretchy enough. If you’re looking for a solid low-profile balaclava, the Achiou Balaclava is one of the most popular on Amazon, so it must be one of the best.
Made from polyester (88%) and Spandex (12%)
Available in 10 colors
The Botack Balaclava is the perfect product to keep your face protected this summer. When you’re out cycling, running, boating, or rock climbing, it’s important to have a layer of protection between your gentle skin and the elements. Ever wondered why outdoorsmen look so haggard in their later life? It’s because they’re not wearing a balaclava. The Botack Balaclava is made from ice silk fabric, a material that can hold moisture in and keep cool for hours. If you wet the balaclava before setting off, it will reduce the temperature of the fabric about 6ºC. That means you can wear this on the hottest days of the year, without burning up. It also provides UPF 60 protection, which means it stops somewhere between 90% and 95% of UV rays.
Made from ice silk fabric
Material temperature drops by 6ºC when wet
UPF 60 protection
Breathable and quick-drying
Designed for hot weather
Available in three colors
There’s no feeling like hurtling down a mountain on a set of skis. But if your face isn’t well protected, this dream can soon turn into a nightmare. On those rough days, when the weather is against you, it’s important to choose the right materials to wrap up in. The Oldelf Tactical Heavyweight Balaclava is made from thick fleece, which puts about an inch of protection between you and the elements. It has a wrap around design with an extra piece of fabric to keep your mouth and nose covered. Plus, it has two drawstrings, so you can get the perfect fit around your head.
Made from thick fleece
Available in five colors
Drawstrings for tightening
- Weight5.3 Ounces
Balaclava Buying Guide & FAQ
How We Chose Our Selection Of Balaclavas
Brand - There's lots of competition these days from both recognized brands as well as lesser-known entrants into the market. We try to pull together a cross-section of product recommendations from both leading brands as well as any notable new kids on the block. You never know what hidden gems you might otherwise overlook if you only stick to what and who you already know.
Price - Balaclavas aren't an expensive purchase but there is still plenty of choice depending upon whether you go for something with a cheaper synthetic construction or prefer a mask made from high quality, premium Merino wool. As always, we gather together a cross-section of price points designed to appeal to all budgets.
Reviews - We had no shortage of offers from the team, desperate to hit the slopes and try out all of the balaclavas for themselves and report back on their effectiveness. However, we made them do their research thoroughly, referencing consumer reviews to get a well-rounded opinion of all the positives and negatives that previous purchasers have already experienced and reported. Reviews form an important backbone of our final product selection process.
Features To Look For In Balaclavas
Choosing the best balaclava for you will be based on your individual needs. You might prefer a thinner merino wool one for running and thicker, thermal windproof design for a wet and windy day out on the slopes. Let's quickly review some of the main features to be aware of.
Size - The size, shape and design of your balaclava is essential to get right. Decide whether you'd prefer a full face with just eye slits, or you'd prefer a design with eye, nose as well as mouth openings. You might also prefer to go for a version with an extended, longer neck panel that can be tucked into your jacket to form a protective layer against the elements. Whether you prefer a loose-fitting or tighter style balaclava is also something you should think about. A snug fit is highly effective as a protective base layer and could also be used in conjunction with an additional beanie hat or rain hood.
Material - The material used in the construction of your balaclava is probably going to be your primary concern. You have quite a few different options available, each with their relative merits and associated costs. With everything from Polyester to Nylon, Merino Wool to Neoprene on offer. Let's do a quick run through the key advantages of each so that you can make a better-informed decision about which material type is most appropriate for you.
Polyester - Excellent at wicking moisture as well as being fast-drying, Polyester is a lightweight and inexpensive choice but it is prone to building up a bit of a stink, especially when worn regularly.
Nylon - A popular and versatile choice, nylon is protective but breathable and let's moisture out. It's also durable and relatively inexpensive and can be used in combination with other fabrics to provide a durable blend. It also offers high levels of windproof protection.
Merino Wool - Wool is warm, soft and offers a plush sensation against the skin as long as you go for premium Merino wool and not something that's scratchy. It's naturally moisture-wicking and odor resistant and can be used in a variety of applications.
Neoprene - This is a durable synthetic fabric that provides excellent levels of warmth, water-resistance as well as windproof properties but it doesn't allow the breath to escape very well so you could end up working quite a sweat.
Maintenance - Always refer to your maintenance instructions to ensure that you correctly look after your chosen balaclava. Depending upon what the principle material construction will determine the washing and care procedures. Many can be removed and simply popped into the washing machine on a regular cycle.
Q: What is balaclava?
A: A balaclava isn't a delicious honey and pistachio confectionery hailing from Greece but rather a knitted face and neck mask designed to protect the head from wind and extreme weather conditions. Providing warmth and insulation, balaclava's are popular with snow sports enthusiasts as well as motorcyclists, racing car drivers, special armed forces and yes, bank robbers! Originally designed for use by soldiers battling severe weather conditions in the Crimean War back in 1854, what was a knitted woolen cap has since been transformed into what we today call the balaclava.
Q: What's the difference between a ski mask and a balaclava?
A: Ski mask and balaclava are basically interchangeable names for the same style garment. Both differentiate from what is referred to as Beanie or a Neck Warmer. The ski mask or balaclava completely covers the head, neck and most of the face, providing not just wind and cold weather protection but also flexible insulation, warmth as well as protection from debris, dust, sand and flying bugs! Beanies are similarly made from knitted wool or thermal fabric but designed like a skullcap to tightly fit the top of the head and be pulled down to keep the ears warm. Neck warmers differ again in that they are generally a tubular design, slipped over the head, covering the bottom half of the face and leaving the top exposed.