The Best Ski Masks To Stay Warm & Safe This Winter 2022
When snow blankets the ground and the days are far too short, one of the best ways to get outside and stay active is to hit the slopes. But staying warm and comfortable is vital, especially while learning to ski or snowboard. Having suitable clothing and gear can make or break your mountain experiences. But even if you bundle up with ski pants, jackets, hats, and helmets, your face is still exposed to the elements. Ski masks help protect your face from harsh wind, snow, or other precipitation, especially on those freezing chairlift rides up to the top of the mountain.
Gone are the days when 3-hole ski masks existed only for bank robberies; now, ski masks of all shapes are welcome and often necessary items of cold weather gear for anyone who likes to recreate outside in winter. Even for those who don’t ski, if you run, bike, motorcycle ride, or just walk your dog outside in harsh weather, a good-quality ski mask or bandana can help you stay warmer and more comfortable.
But with so many ski face mask options available, finding the right one for your needs and wallet can be tricky. Luckily, many of our staff members, including yours truly, are active skiers so we know a thing or two about what makes ski masks great. After many hours of research and testing while skiing, snowboarding and just walking, we give you our guide to the absolute best ski masks on the market. These protect against snow, sun, wind, and cold and will help keep you warm and safe out there.
- Best Fleece Neckwarmer: Turtle Fur Chelonia 150 Fleece Shellaclava Ski Mask
- Best Overall: BlackStrap The Hood Ski Mask
- Best Merino Wool Ski Mask: Icebreaker Oasis Wool Ski Mask
- Best Convertible Design: Cascade Mountain Tech Ski Mask
- Best CDC Compliant Ski Mask: Outdoor Research Essential Ski Mask
- Best Ski Mask For Everyday Use: Tough Headwear Heavyweight Fleece Ski Mask
- Best Fleece Balaclava: Burton Ember Fleece Balaclava
- Best Balaclava: Tough Headwear Strike Balaclava Ski Mask
- Best Ski Hood: Burton Cora Hood
- Best Neckwarmer: BUFF Original EcoStretch Face Mask
The Best Ski Mask
One of the warmest ski masks on this list, this design from Turtle Fur combines comfort with functionality. The hood part of this balaclava contains a synthetic material that provides a wind-resistant finish. It fits snugly under a ski helmet and the inside is brushed fleece and soft to the touch for comfort on your face. The neck warmer features a double layer of soft fleece, which is what you want to cover your neck and face on the coldest of days. I like this design because it converts easily into just a neck warmer, or you can pull the hood over your head to keep it in place under a helmet. Keep in mind though that this ski mask is not the best for pulling over your nose since the double layer of fleece does not breathe well and can cause ski goggles or glasses to fog up a bit.
Turtle Fur also has an initiative called Project Warmth, where if you take a picture for social media and tag Turtle Fur and #projectwarmth, they will donate hats and other warm products to those in need. So you can be cozy and do good while wearing Turtle Fur.
UPF 50+ Sun protection
Warm and cozy fleece
- BrandTurtle Fur
- Weight2.56 Ounces
BlackStrap’s The Hood was the first balaclava ski mask I ever tried and is our best overall ski mask for skiing. The hinging design allows the face covering to easily pull down without messing up the fit of the balaclava. I also like the feel of the synthetic fabric. It is smooth and cool to the touch and is comfortable to wear all day. The addition of the second layer of mesh material on the face and neck area helps wick moisture from your mouth and nose and keeps you warm, even if it does stay a little bit damp. This balaclava fits nicely under a helmet and contains 4-way stretch and anti-microbial properties. It also has UPF 50+ protection, which is essential because even on a cloudy day, snow reflects the sun’s rays, making sun protection vital. I have also found that this ski mask does not typically cause my goggles to fog up, even when the face protection is up.
Based in Bend, Oregon, Black Strap manufactures its products in the United States. The Hood is machine washable and comes with a one-year warranty. Also, The Hood comes in lots of different colors and patterns to feel stylish and comfortable on the slopes.
Hinging face coverage
Wind rated dual layer on face and neck
UPF 50+ protection
- Weight4 Ounces
I am a big fan of wool while recreating outside in the winter because it is naturally odor-resistant and wicks moisture well. Merino wool is soft to the touch, unlike what you might think of a scratchy wool sweater. It’s also a natural fabric, so merino wool is for you if you prefer to avoid synthetic or plastics. This balaclava features 200gm merino wool which makes it relatively lightweight but still insulative. The design features a ventilation flap, which helps to release any moisture from breathing or talking. The flap allows moisture to escape out instead of going up and fogging your sunglasses for skiing or goggles.
This ski mask is longer in the front than it is in the back, and some reviewers have said that if you have a long neck, it may not fully cover the back of your neck. The fabric though is incredibly soft and comfortable. It is machine washable too, but cannot be tumble dried, only line dried.
Includes ventilation flap for breathability
Flatlock seams for comfort
- Weight3 Ounces
This balaclava is also made out of merino wool and includes spandex for stretch. But it also has added versatility with a 4 in 1 design. The design of this ski mask allows you to wear it as a balaclava with your mouth and nose fully covered. Or, pull down the hinged mouth and nose cover to wear it as a hood. Then you can tuck the hood part into the neck to wear it as a face mask or a neck gaiter. The multifunctionality makes it an excellent choice for a ski or snowboard face mask.
This black ski mask needs to be hand washed to maintain its shape and comfort. Also, it comes in three different sizes so that you can find the right fit for you and the whole family. On the downside, some reviewers say that this balaclava is not able to fully cover the back of their neck.
4 in 1 convertible design
- BrandCascade Mountain Tech
- Weight3.99 Ounces
This CDC-compliant ski mask takes a little different approach to some of the other options on our list. This face mask provides two layers of breathable sun protective fabric and space for the included filters. Earloops and a hook and loop closure on the back allow you to secure this skiing face protection on your face and adjust the fit. You can tuck the bandana-style front into a ski jacket or baselayer to provide breathable protection while on the slopes.
Unlike some more typical balaclavas, this face mask for skiing fits more loosely, taking Outdoor Research’s standard face mask and adding a bandana. It does include a nose wire for adjusting the fit. The polyester fabric of this ski face shield dries quickly, wicks moisture, and is more durable than cotton or merino wool.
CDC compliant ski face mask
- BrandOutdoor Research
This fleece ski mask fits more like a looser balaclava or tighter hood. It can fit under a helmet and is a good option for those who prefer to wear a beanie or hood on the slopes. The polar fleece design wraps around your head for a cozy feeling next to your skin. And the spandex mouth panel provides stretchy and breathable coverage when you need total protection. Pull and tighten the elastic toggles on the coldest of days to keep everything warm and protected, or loosen and pull down the mouth protection to wear this more like a hood.
Many reviewers use this balaclava for everything from chilly walks, to working outside in the cold, to skiing and snowboarding. Like a sweatshirt hood, it is suitable for wearing alone, without being covered by a helmet or other hat because of the fleece.
Polar fleece hood
Adjustable toggle for fit
Spandex mouth coverage
- BrandTough Headwear
On the coldest of days, you need a thick fleece balaclava to keep that windchill out. This ski mask features a comfy THERMEX fleece that dries quickly, breathes well, and repels water. Slide it under your helmet or hat and pull up or down the hinged face coverage. Softlock seams provide a comfortable and chafe-free fit on this simple balaclava. Some reviewers say you can also wear it as just a neck warmer, but I think this one would be better suited for full head coverage as it would be somewhat bulky pulled down. It makes a great ski mask beanie because of the soft fleece fabric and cozy design.
Also, this balaclava comes with Burton’s lifetime warranty in case of any potential manufacturing issues.
Hinging face coverage
Waterproof and quick-drying
- Weight4 Ounces
Our best balaclava for skiing, this ski mask is made of lightweight synthetic material and fits nicely under a helmet. Soft fleece lines the interior of this ski mask to provide a comfortable fit, while the exterior fabric is wind resistant and stretchy. The design includes hinged face coverage for comfortable use as a hood, balaclava, half mask, or neck warmer. When you pull it up to fully cover your mouth and nose, mesh panels help with breathability to keep glasses or goggles from fogging up.
Made with 4-way stretch fabric, it gives a snug but very comfy fit. It helps that the material is also lightweight and wicks moisture while retaining heat. Don’t forget to also check out our list of the best ear warmers currently on the market.
Mesh panel adds breathability and decreases condensation
- BrandTough Headwear
- ModelFba_balaclava – Black
- Weight2.08 Ounces
Are you someone who loves wrapping yourself up in a soft, cozy blanket? Well, this ski mask is pretty much a plush blanket made for being outside. It’s so soft that you might even forget you’re wearing a technical piece of gear. Plus, it looks pretty cool. This hood fits over a helmet, and you can tuck your hair inside or pull it out (slut strands anyone??). But, in fact, this is technical ski gear made out of THERMEX shaggy fleece, which breathes well, dries quickly, and is waterproof. A drawstring allows you to pull the hood tight or loosen it if you want to fit it over a helmet.
This popular hood enables you to meet both function and fashion while you shred.
Drawstring for adjustability
Over helmet design
- Weight4 Ounces
If you are looking for a simple face mask that is versatile between seasons, look no further than BUFF’s original neckwarmer. This simple design allows you to wear it in 12 different ways, from a headband to a hood, to a neckwarmer. The thin weight of the fabric makes it functional during the summer as well as the winter. And the material is moisture-wicking, quick-dry, and includes UPF 50+ sun protection.
This neckwarmer is also machine washable, making it easy to bring on any adventure. As a bonus, it’s available in dozens of colors and patterns, which makes it a perfect gift for skiers.
12+ ways to wear
- Weight3.2 Ounces
Why Trust Us
Between working at a ski resort, learning to backcountry ski, and skiing as often as possible all winter, I have lots of experience with what gear I need on the slopes. I have tried many different ski masks over the years and have brought my knowledge of ski gear to this guide.
Who This Is For
This guide to the best ski masks is for anyone who recreates outside in the winter. Have you ever felt your face go numb while outside in the winter? Wearing a ski mask can protect your face from wind, snow, and ice. Ideally, they can keep you dry and warm while still allowing you to breathe.
Wearing a ski mask helps you stay warm and comfortable, and many ski resorts require face protection during COVID-19. So, whether your activity of choice is skiing, running, hiking, biking, riding a motorcycle, or more, if you need winter face protection, you need a ski mask.
How We Picked
We chose the ski masks on this list by testing them while skiing and snowboarding or thoroughly researching each option. We made sure to include a variety of ski mask options so everyone's needs, preferences, as well as wallets could be satisfied.
How We Tested
To make sure that the ski masks we chose were up to snuff, we wore them while skiing, snowboarding, and even took some out for walks. We considered the materials, design, and comfort of the ski masks, and most importantly, whether or not they caused goggles to fog up while on the move.
Features To Look For In Ski Masks
Material - The material of a ski mask is one of the most important things to look for since this will be what keeps you warm and comfortable out on the slopes. Look for synthetic materials such as nylon or polyester, or merino wool. Don’t buy a cotton face mask, as cotton just absorbs moisture and becomes cold and uncomfortable. If you are always hot, you should look for a thinner ski mask, while if you run cold, you may want a thicker ski mask made out of multiple layers of fabric or fleece.
Face and neck coverage - Make sure that your ski mask covers your whole neck and can cover as much of your face as you want. Some ski masks can convert to cover more or less, while others are just a fixed design. Some ski masks provide more coverage in the front than in the back, and if you have a very long neck, you may want to choose a ski mask with more coverage in the back.
Design - Ski masks come in various designs, from tube-style neck warmers to fleece hoods, to balaclavas. See below to learn more about different options for ski masks. But the design plays a significant role in what type of ski mask you choose since different designs are better suited to various activities. If you always wear a helmet while skiing or snowboarding, you should pick a ski mask that fits under your helmet. Whereas if you prefer to wear just a beanie, a fleece hood might suit your style better.
Fit - Making sure your ski mask fits is vital since you will wear it all day long and want it to perform. Some come in different sizes, whereas others only come in one size. If you know you have an unusually sized head (small or large), make sure to read reviews to see if others have commented on the fit of a specific ski mask.
Comfort - Finding a comfortable ski mask will allow you to wear it all day long while you shred the slopes. Make sure the ski mask does not have any seams in uncomfortable places, as the last thing you want is to be scratching or needing to adjust constantly while you just want to be skiing. The fabric you choose will also make a difference in the comfort of your ski mask. Soft materials like merino wool or fleece can be more comfortable than some polyester or nylon masks. But if you run hot, it may be more comfortable to wear something smooth and cool like polyester on your face.
Integration with goggles - This one is key and hard to know until you try it out for yourself. Many ski masks advertise a fog-free experience, but that may or may not be true depending on your goggles, face shape, and how you use the product. If you plan to wear your ski mask with goggles (a must for any storm day or bluebird day), make sure it covers up to where your goggles start.
Versatility - How will you be using your ski mask? Do you want it to function for multiple activities, such as winter running, biking, motorcycle riding, skiing, and more? Or are you looking for a ski mask that only serves one purpose? Some ski masks convert to various styles, which makes them more versatile. Choosing a lightweight fabric or a neckwarmer style ski mask provides seasonal versatility as you could use it as both summer and winter face protection.
Size - Depending on which ski mask you choose, you may have a choice in size. If you have a small or large head, you may want to choose a ski mask that provides various size choices to ensure you get the right fit.
Types Of Ski Masks
Balaclava - The balaclava ski mask is probably the most popular since it fits nicely underneath other layers such as a helmet or hoods. It is typically pretty tight-fitting against your head, with one or more holes for your eyes/face. Some balaclavas can convert into a neck warmer or half mask. Others include a hinging design that allows you to choose whether or not your nose and mouth are covered.
Half Masks - A half-mask sits somewhere between a balaclava and a neckwarmer. Half masks cover your nose and mouth, but not the top of your head.
Neck Warmers - Neck warmers sound like what they are. Neck warmers usually take the shape of a tube of fabric. Buff has become the Kleenex of neck warmers, where many people refer to their neck warmer as a Buff, even if it is a different brand.
Bandannas - Bandana ski masks are typically longer in the front and secure in the back as if you wrapped a bandana around your face. However, most standard bandanas are cotton, one of our no-no fabrics for ski masks. Our favorite bandana ski mask is made by Outdoor Research, as it is made out of synthetic material and includes a place for filters for protection from bacteria and viruses.
Neodannas - The neodanna is a style popularized by the motorcycle world. It features a neoprene face mask with a bandana around it. They often feature designs such as skulls on the face part of the mask.
Hoods - Hoods are a type of ski mask styled after the hood on a sweatshirt. They are typically fleece or similar materials and go outside other layers such as helmets or jackets.
Ski Mask FAQ
Q: How tight should a ski mask be?
A: How tight your ski mask should be depends on what type of ski mask you are wearing. A balaclava should fit pretty snug on your face since this will be your base layer, and you might be wearing a helmet, hood, or hat over the ski mask. On the other hand, if you wear a ski hood, you might want it to fit looser, as those typically go outside your layers.
Q: What are the best fabrics for a ski mask?
A: I’ll start with the worst fabric for a ski mask: cotton. Cotton soaks up moisture and does not provide any warmth when it gets wet. That’s why most outdoors-people say “cotton kills,” especially in cold and wet environments like a ski hill.
The best fabrics for a ski mask are anything that keeps you warm and comfy, even if it gets wet from snow, condensation, or rain. Merino wool is one of the best fabrics since it is very lightweight, makes a great base layer, and insulates when wet. Other suitable materials for face masks include fleece, polyester, neoprene, or any synthetic fabric.
Q: Can I machine-wash a ski mask?
A: Whether you can machine wash a ski mask depends on what type of fabric the ski mask contains! Most synthetic materials are easily machine washable, while some wool ski masks may not be. Make sure to double-check the washing instructions on the specific ski mask that you purchase.
Q: What are extra tips to overcome extreme cold?
A: There are many ways to overcome the extreme cold, but what you wear is a big one. Make sure that all of your layers are wool or synthetic materials, especially if you are doing a physical activity where you may start to sweat. Wear lots of layers around your core, as that is the most critical area to insulate. Use water and windproof layers as your outermost layer, as you will be warmer if you remain dry.
Other cold-weather tips include:
- Drink plenty of water - Staying hydrated keeps your body warmer
- Bring tea in an insulated container to have something warm to drink
- Avoid drinking alcohol - Even though it feels warm going down, it will ultimately dehydrate you
- Keep moving - This keeps your blood circulating which keeps you warm
- But try not to start sweating, as this adds moisture, which becomes chilly once you cool down