What to Look for in a Running Mask

a Running Maska Running Mask

Masks are here to stay—at least for the near future. You may have a favorite face mask for your trip to the grocery store, but your daily 5-miler or gym session might require something more specialized. The good news is, compared to a year ago, there are now plenty of options to choose from. Use this guide to help identify the best running mask for you. We promise, with a bit of research it's totally possible to stay comfortable and safe on a run!

It's worth mentioning that the COVID-19 pandemic is a fluid situation and that many communities have specific regulations in place, so make sure to check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website and your local county's guidelines for up-to-the-minute developments and recommendations.

Mask Wearing Guidance

The CDC recommends that "people wear masks in public settings, at events and gatherings and anywhere they will be around other people." Whether you're looking for a mask for your next run or you need protection at the gym, it's important to follow these guidelines. A face mask should:
  • Cover nose and mouth completely
  • Fit snugly; avoid masks that gape open at the sides of the face
  • Be made of breathable material (avoid plastics and vinyl) 

Additionally, if you wear glasses, choose a mask that fits tightly across the bridge of your nose or has a nose wire to minimize fogging. Plus, it's important to avoid exhalation valves or vents—they might allow particles to escape out of the mask.

Features to Look for

When it comes to the mask's construction, keep in mind that generally two layers are better than one, and three layers are better than two


Choose high quality, breathable fabrics with a tight weave—this does a better job at preventing droplets and particles from passing through the mask.

Make sure your fabric is breathable. Look for options like cotton, linen or a moisture-wicking synthetic fabric. If your breath can't get through the material of the mask, it will find another way out (like through the sides). This may ultimately cause more droplets to exit and enter the mask, which is not something you want!

If you opt for a gaiter, choose one with a double layer, or fold it over to make two layers. 

Need Some Mask Inspiration? Try These Picks.

For your daily run or gym visit, Cotopaxi offers a line of cotton face masks made from leftover fabric. Their Teca cotton face masks are lightweight, reversible, machine washable and come with adjustable nose wires and ear loops. At just $13 a pop, they're the perfect pick for everyday runs. 


Vistaprint is another good option for affordable face masks. These masks also feature moldable nose wires, adjustable ear straps, breathable fabrics and tons of design options. Plus, you can use them with an optional filter. 

If you have a long run on your training schedule, you might want to consider a mask that allows access to hydration and nutrition without removing the mask or touching your face. The Run Safe Face Mask from Nathan features a Quick-Flip design that lets runners quickly move aside fabric to take in fuel. The mask is quick drying and is made of stretchy fabric, offering a custom fit for all face shapes. Plus, it offers 50+ UV skin protection.

For your next goal race, look no further than Buff's filter mask. These masks utilize filters that block 98% of airborne particles and have a unique back-of-head adjustable elastic band design to keep the pressure off your ears. The moisture-wicking fabric dries quickly, is very breathable and also provides UPF 50+ skin protection.

Remember, no matter what kind of mask you choose, something is better than nothing. And the most important thing is to choose a mask you'll actually wear.

MORE: 9 Running Dos and Don'ts During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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