The other week I was contacted by our new friends at RZ Mask to test one of their Breathe Safe filter sets. For those of you not familiar with RZ Mask (I was one of you until recently), they produce a multi-purpose mask used by motorcyclists, construction workers, hunters, soldiers, Baja racers, etc. These masks are made of a waterproof neoprene that protects the wearer from the elements (rain, cold, etc.) and is very similar to masks worn by snowboarders and cold-weather enthusiasts. The part that makes these masks different and very cool is the integrated filter technology that provides the user with additional protection from dust, pollens, and other air pollutants.
RZ Masks come in many different colors with a wide variety of graphics and themes. I was sent their Digital Camo Mask model, which is designed for hunters and soldiers in dusty desert terrain. When I first opened the package, I was very impressed by the ingenuity behind the product. At first impression it looks like a simple neoprene half-mask combined with a surgical mask; however, it is much more than that. The mask has two hard plastic exhaust vents integrated into the front of the mask that directs the air flow through internal filters that look similar to surgical masks. Unlike surgical masks, these interchangeable pieces are very soft and very thin carbon filters that remove 99.9% of dust and particulates from air directed in by the vents. There are also interchangeable Scentless RZ filters designed for hunting that filter not only the air inhaled, but also your exhaled breath so extra-sensitive prey do not smell you and get spooked.
After trying on and inspecting the mask and its components when it arrived, my next step was to figure out how to test this gear out. I don’t have any equipment that can test the quality of the air before, and after it had traveled through the mask, so I couldn’t check the claim that it filtered 99.9% of dust and particulates. I also didn’t have any dust storms or opportunities to subject it to heavy pollutants or particulates, so I settled for an extensive wear-test to judge it for comfort and fit. I also took the opportunity to use it while doing some heavy cleaning around the house, which subjected it to lots of pet dander (that I am allergic to) and some household chemicals.
The masks come in three sizes: Youth, Regular, and XL. The mask I tested was a Regular (“Fits Most”) and was very comfortable. I have an extra-large head (Size 7 ¾ in fitted baseball caps), and it fit perfectly, so someone in need of the XL would have to have a huge head. On several occasions, I wore the mask for more than a few hours, and I did not find myself sweating profusely or feeling strangled as I expected. When I used it while cleaning, I noticed a big difference in my reaction to all of the pet hair and dander I was exposed to. Normally I have a terrible reaction where my nose runs profusely, and I end up with irritated/clogged sinuses. I did not experience any discomfort or reaction while using the mask. When I exposed the cover to household chemicals fumes/vapors, I noticed a small difference, but still smelled and felt the chemicals in the air. It should be noted that these masks are not designed to meet OSHA requirements and are only suggested for individuals dealing with light pollution and dust/particulates, but I had to test it out to see how good they were.
Overall, I like this product and will keep it handy for the next time I know I’ll be riding ATVs or traveling to an area with the dusty terrain. If you are an avid motorcycle rider, dirt biker, or support one of our troops overseas, this is a great product to buy for yourself or as a gift for someone else. I know I’ll be looking for future situations where I can test this mask some more.
Please Note: This was given to me as a promotional item, and these are my views and opinions