10 Best Cold Weather Masks for Running

Wearing the right clothing is key for staying consistent with your winter running. Many runners struggle with breathing in cold air while running. It can hurt! This is why I am rounding up the ten best running masks for cold weather that are comfortable and stay put.

runner in face mask
Running face masks are vital for breathing easy in the winter.

Related: How to Breathe Cold Air While Running

Cold days, dark mornings, wind, snow, and ice — winter is hard enough to brace on its own. Throw in your weekly runs on the worst of winter days and you may as well be trekking Antarctica. In sub-freezing temps, running with proper winter gear could be the difference between surviving the season and thriving within it. 

While cold weather gear essentials like base layers, outermost layer vests, warm socks, hats, and mittens are typically a given in helping to regulate your body temperature on the coldest days, the area most runners often neglect is the face and neck. If you’re running in subzero temperatures, a face covering made out of some type of breathable fabric is always a good idea.

Related: My Top Ten Best Cold Weather Running Gear for 2024

Why Cold Weather Masks are Important 

Breathing in cold, dry air can irritate your respiratory system, making breathing feel harder or even painful. This is especially relevant if you have respiratory issues like asthma. When you cover your mouth with a cold weather mask, this outer layer will trap body heat and moisturize the air before you breathe it in, creating a more comfortable breathing environment.

In addition, if extreme cold and/or wind is present there is an increased risk of frostbite for any exposed area of skin. 

Related: Expert Tips: How to Breathe While Running in Cold Air

What Styles of Cold Weather Masks are Available

There are a few common styles of cold weather face masks found in a variety of brands, prices, and materials.

For those who desire:

  • Minimal coverage, a good choice is a type of mask that offers basic protection for the mouth and nose;
  • Medium amount of coverage, there are a variety of neck gaiter styles that look like a large infinity scarf but are long and secure enough to cover both the neck and mouth/nose;
  • And maximum amount of coverage, the balaclava style offers full protection of the face, head, and neck.

Whatever style you choose will depend on your level of comfortability with the fit, material, and style.

running face masks pin
Pin these best running face masks for later!

Related: 13 Brilliant Tips for Running in Cold Weather

What To Look for in a Cold Weather Mask

Just like being fitted for new running shoes, not all styles and brands are created equal. You may need to try out a few different styles of face coverings before finding the one that is right for you. When choosing a running mask, ensure you are paying attention to the following qualities. 

  • Size: Cold weather masks will often come in multiple sizes. Choose a mask that fits you snug enough to stay in place around your nose area, but isn’t too tight it restricts breathing.
  • Material: The best materials to look for in a face covering are merino wool, or a synthetic fabric like polyester (fleece), or nylon. Merino wool is soft and lightweight, but may be prone to holes. Polyester is durable, yet lightweight, but be on the lookout as some fleece fabrics may not be windproof. Nylon is very flexible, form fitting, and most resembles the fabric we’re used to with sports wear. The only downside is nylon does pill pretty easily. 
  • Breathability: This quality may seem pretty straightforward, but as discussed, not all masks are created equal. The breathability of the mask will depend greatly on the fabric, fit, and overall quality of the product. You’ll want to purchase masks you can try out on the run with first before committing to them long term. 
  • Flexibility: When we run, we twist our torso slightly causing our neck and head to follow in turn. You’ll want to pick out a mask that allows flexibility in movement. A material/fit that is too tight and rigid could cause chafing.
  • Style: As detailed above, the style of mask you choose will be dependent upon the amount of coverage you need.

Related: How to Protect Your Skin When Running in Cold, Dry Air

running face masks pin
Pin these best face masks for running for later.

How we reviewed these best running masks for cold weather:

I worked with my writer and researcher Rachel Penate to find the best running mask for you. We did winter face mask online research, scouring reviews, and asking fellow runners for their favorites. We culled the list to the ten below. 

10 Best Running Masks for Cold Weather 

(In order of minimal to maximum coverage.)

Under Armour SPORTSMASK Featherweight ($25)

UA SPORTSMASK Featherweight
UA SPORTSMASK Featherweight

100% Nylon

For the most minimal coverage, the Under Armour featherweight mask offers all the breathable, dri-fit technology of any other high-performance gear. Engineered with SPF 50+ sun protection, this is a good option for as sports mask with minimal coverage in sunny but cold conditions. The featherweight mask is currently on sale for $1.99 (as of February 2024). Offered in one size and a wide variety of colors.

Nike Winter Warrior Neck Warmer ($20)

Nike Winter Warrior
Women's Dri-FIT Soccer Neckwarmer
Nike Winter Warrior
Women’s Dri-FIT Soccer Neckwarmer

88% Polyester/ 12% Spandex

Nike’s Warrior Neck Warmer is a simple, minimal design winter face mask made with light-weight and sweat wicking fabric. Reviewers praise it for its lightweight yet comfortably warm quality. Would serve as a scarf or neck gaiter. Comes in one size. 

Minus33 Midweight Neck Gaiter ($25)

100% Merino Wool

Minus33 Midweight Neck Gaiter
Minus33 Midweight Neck Gaiter

Made with 100% merino wool, the Minus33 Neck Gaiter is sleek, soft, and comfortable. It is versatile and can be used as a balaclava and headband as well as the standard gaiter. It comes in one size and a ton of very beautiful and vibrant colors. Pair with a warm hat for ultimate warmth.

Lululemon Fast and Free Fleece Running Neck Warmer ($38)

82% Nylon, 18% Elastane

Lululemon Fast and Free Fleece Running Neck Warmer
Lululemon Fast and Free Fleece Running Neck Warmer

Specifically designed for running, this neck warmer is designed with details to match. From reflective accents to a cinchable back drawcord, this design is all about fit and quality. Would serve as a scarf or neck gaiter. Comes in two sizes: XS/S and M/L.  

Tracksmith Brighton Neck Warmer ($50)

47% Merino / 28% Nylon / 25% Polyester, 16.5 micron, 145 gsm

Available in four different colors and made with merino wool, not only is this neck warmer

Tracksmith Brighton Neck Warmer
Tracksmith Brighton Neck Warmer

cute and trendy, but it’s also wildly comfortable. This blend is promised to be temperature regulating, odorless, and warm even when wet. Would serve as a scarf or neck gaiter. Comes in one size.

Under Armour Adult ColdGear Infrared Balaclava ($32)

100% Polyester

Offering full coverage of both the head, neck, and face, the Under Armour Balaclava is a one-stop-shop for warmth on the go. Available in four different colors, this soft brushed fleece is ideal for cold weather runs. Comes in one size.

Under Armour Adult ColdGear Infrared Balaclava
Under Armour Adult ColdGear Infrared BalaclavaBUFF Merino Lightweight Balaclava ($36)


Buff Balaclava ($33)

100% ethically-sourced merino wool

Buff Balaclava
Buff Balaclava

Known across the world for its versatility and comfortability, BUFF offers a wide variety of cold weather masks. Its balaclava is no stranger to high performance in the coldest of months. BUFF’s winter face covers come in two colors and one size. 

Alternatively, BUFF offers another balaclava option made of the moisture-wicking fabric combo of 96% Polyester and 4% Elastane. Priced around the same ($30-$36) this version offers more color versatility and a unique opening in the back to pull your hair through. 

TurtleFur MaxClava ($33)

88% polyester, 12% spandex

TurtleFur MaxClava is another soft, lightweight balaclava found in some pretty adorable colors in synthetic material. Made specifically for people with active lifestyles, this balaclava is meant to be taken out of the house on those cold sunny runs. It comes in one size and four colors.

Turtlefur MaxClava
Turtlefur MaxClava 

Tough Headwear Balaclava Ski Mask ($22)

89% polyester, 11% spandex

Tough Headwear Balaclava Ski Mask
Tough Headwear Balaclava Ski Mask

For a more budget friendly option for a full face mask, the Tough Headwear Balaclava ski mask offers the same comfort and protection for any runs in cold conditions. Made with a mesh paneling around the mouth, this headwear offers increased comfortability in breathing. The hood also adjusts to be worn with a helmet, so your cold weather runs on the road can turn into runs down a mountain. The balaclava is currently on sale for $13.95 (as of February 2024). Comes in one color and one size.

BlackStrap Expedition Hood Balaclava ($38)

Unlisted, but seems to be a specialty merino blend

For winter runs on cold mornings and windy days the the BlackStrap Expedition Balaclava is my go-to for its coverage and bright colors. It offers not only flexible

BlackStrap Expedition Hood Balaclava
BlackStrap Expedition Hood Balaclava

comfort but extra warmth. Offered in many different colors and made with some specialized technology, BlackStrap has put themselves on the map for being a premier cold weather hood maker. The hood also contains a four way stretch design and is adjustable for helmet wear. Comes in one size.

I hope this list of the best running masks for cold weather helps you keep running all the way to your finish line, no matter the weather!

If you want guidance with your running goals including running in cold weather, check out my run coaching services. Also, be sure to check out my free training plans:

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