Written by 11:15 amSurvival

Best Balaclavas Buyer’s Guide & Reviews

portrait of man in snowboard mask helmet and balaclava.

Okay keen skiers, listen up – are you planning the next of your trips to plummet into precipitation? Do you miss the cold of Vermont compared to that Chicago city air? Do you need to kit the whole household out with the perfect outfit, complete with full protection? Well we’ve got just the thing to keep you warm, no matter when you need it.

This list will take you through our top 10 balaclavas and skiing masks for full face coverage. We know that it can be hard to find the perfect face mask that will keep your face warm when you’re braving the weather conditions that come with your favorite winter sports, but our list will provide you with a range of picks.

From those made of premium quality merino wool, to those that are one size fits all – it’s never been easier to find the perfect face cover for you. Read on to find the perfect preservers that you could wear with neck warmers or a neck gaiter, and all the other picks you’re going to need in those cold wind conditions.

Best Balaclavas and Ski Masks

For those of you in a rush,here are our products summarised:

  • 1. Arc’teryx Rho AR
  • 2. The North Face Underballa
  • 3. Mountain Hardwear Alpine
  • 4. Icebreaker Merino Wool Unisex
  • 5. Seirus Innovation
  • 6. Self Pro Balaclava
  • 7. Under Armour ColdGear – Best Premium
  • 8. GearTOP Full Face Mask – Best Budget
  • 9. ZERDOCEAN Winter Fleece Thermal
  • 10. CAILEK Ski Mask – 2 Pack – Cheapest Available

Follow the links on these premium balaclavas to find one that suits you! All of our picks offer great levels of mobility and protection on account of their design and material.

1. Arc’teryx Rho AR Balaclava


This is an image of the Arc'teryx Rho AR Balaclava in black color.


Right off the bat, the first pick of our best balaclava listings we have is the Arc’teryx Rho AR. This full face, one size fits all balaclava provides an ergonomic design that fits easily over the head, with a face opening that fits over your nose during those cold spells.

Perfectly suited to mountaineering and other Alpine tasks, this high performance mask made from microfiber polyester and elastane stretches for your comfort.

Key Features:

  • Moisture wicking and quick drying
  • Lightweight and breathable for easy mobility
  • Flatlock construction with stretchy fabric for freedom of movement – Polartec fabric of 90% polyester and 10% elastane


  • Anatomical design with flatlock seams
  • Full coverage protection for the face, neck, head, and nose – to keep warmth in the cold
  • Limited reviews
  • Single size fits all – limited ways to wear and customize

2. North Face Unisex Underballa


Image of the North Face Unisex Underballa Balaclava, color black, with embossed logo of The North Face on its left side.


Our second full face mask comes from North Face, with the Underballa balaclava. This fine, comfortable fleece fabric face mask provides you with face coverage and a neck gaiter all in one. With sizes S-M and L-XL, there’s a bit of leeway for whether you want a loose or snug fit, which has an advantage over balaclavas with single sized balaclavas.

The crown and neck have different fleece material compositions to keep you cosy but also comfortable. The different insulation elements of these ones make them a deserving part of your mountaineering gear – they’d make an excellent base layer to stick under your helmet. Say hello to rosy cheeks and comfy heads, snowboarders! This is the solution to every issue you can think of – including fogging of goggles.

Key Features:

  • Comfortable experience guaranteed with the polyester/ elastane blend fabric
  • Snugger fit assured
  • Flexibility of sizing
  • Positive reviews to take note of


  • Positive reviews to show high quality
  • Will cover and protect anyone in all temperatures and conditions
  • Limited reviews
  • Pricier than other contemporaries

3. Mountain Hardwear Alpine Balaclava


This is an image of a man wearing a black Mountain Hardwear Alpine Balaclava.


This light weight piece from Mountain Hardwear is definitely among some of our best balaclava items – if you’re looking for top tips to make a sensible purchase, look no further. In addition to the power stretch lightweight Polartec material, which combines polyester and elastane, this model gives you space and room to breathe. The combination of breathability and protection makes this a perfect pick to go inside helmets.

Just look at the photo- you can see how beneficial this would be for hiking! This offers premium performance in climbing, hiking, and other activities – and the price won’t break the bank.

Key Features:

  • Easily adjust to a neck gaiter
  • Perfect for climbing and hiking
  • Polartec power stretch fabric
  • Snug fit to go under any hood or hoodie – something for everyone


  • Easily adjusted – so much flexibility!
  • Premium protection from different weather, i.e. windproof, whilst still providing ventilation
  • Limited reviews
  • Single size

4. Icebreaker Merino Unisex Balaclava


Image of the Icebreaker Merino Unisex Balaclava, color black.


Everything about this face covering offers premium protection from the cold – so you’ll have a toasty nose and rosy cheeks. Even your mouth is protected here – it’s just your two eyes on display. The design of these merino wool balaclavas boast an updated design for premium protection that is also kind against your skin.

Hit the slopes to your heart’s content, this hood and face covering is made from premium fabric that will provide temperature conservation and protection from the cold in every which way. It’s a clear choice of a winner for us – do your part for your skin and snap this up.

Key Features:

  • 100% merino wool for maximum heat on the skin
  • Just the eyes exposed so your mouth and head are fully protected
  • Machine washable
  • Updated design to provide maximum face protection


  • Features a range of things that will provide comfort, style, and protection from the sun and its UV rays
  • Won’t conflict with goggles or glasses
  • Mixed reviews
  • Ventilation issues

5. Seirus Innovation Thermax Headliner


Image of a black Seirus Innovation 2205 Thermax Headliner – Complete Head Neck and Face Mask Protection


It’s seriously apt that this piece is called a headliner – because it certainly steals the show here. This model from Seirus Innovation is made from 100% polyester – no blend here – and it’s just about perfect for all temperatures. This top pick gives an ultra-thin Thermax finish.

The 4-in-1 helmet liner, balaclava, neck gaiter and skull liner will leave you toasty warm inside and with plenty of ventilation compared to others with this sort of snug fit. Made with you in mind, the wicking will keep skin dry and sweat/ odor free. The ideal length means you don’t have to worry about a chilly gap between your neck and shoulders, too. The various elements of these options make them seriously worth the price.

Key Features:

  • Sleek style
  • Variety of uses as a 4-in-1
  • Keeps all of you covered including neck, head, chin, and mouth – just your eyes are uncovered
  • Ergonomic design gives a snug fit


  • Rated highly
  • 4 way stretch of the 100% polyester for maximum comfort
  • One size fits all – not very adaptable
  • Customer service

6. Self Pro Balaclavas


This is the image of a man wearing the Self Pro Face Mask Ultimate Protection from Aerosols, Dust & Elements, black in color.


Our sixth option redefines the phrase, ‘all good in the hood’. This breathable fleece balaclava is one of the cheapest on our list, and its cheap price is truly astounding considering the quality of this hood.

The Self Pro balaclava gives you a clear field of vision by way of a roomy eye section, whilst your neck, mouth, and chin remain covered by the neck gaiter feature. This windproof, snuggly hood is perfect for all temperatures and will provide max cover – it’s even windproof. Clearly, it’s one of our top choices and it has your ease in mind, with a long enough length to cover everything you need and give you maximum cosiness under the collar. Perfect for adults or kids.

In case you’re worried you’ll be unsatisfied and left out of pocket, check the reviews! There’s no better assurance that this high performance hiking gear offers anything and everything you could need. The idea is that Self Pro provide you with services suited to the hobby of any wearer.

Key Features:

  • Soft and comfortable fleece fabric
  • Provides full face coverage as a brilliant neck gaiter and hood
  • Hypoallergenic spandex fleece
  • Clear field of vision


  • Easy to pop under outdoor gear
  • Features a high level of cover for premium protection
  • This hood is one size only
  • Easily fogs glasses

7. Under Armour Men’s ColdGear Infrared


Image of the Under Armour Men's ColdGear Infrared Balaclava, black color.


Our seventh pick comes from an amazing brand, Under Armour. This ColdGear balaclava offers an 87% polyester- 13% fabric blend, is easily machine washable, and even comes complete with Infrared technology which will work to give you a soft, conductive inner coating. There’s never been offers like these, not even in the sales.

Grab this fab brand pick that’s on offer, and make it one of the most integral parts of your outdoor wardrobe. Hiking, skiing, even running – there’s always a use for this amazing pick. It’s definitely one of the better purchases on this page, and will aid you as one of your various warm layers while you go out and have fun in colder climates.

Key Features:

  • Infrared technology
  • Form-fitting construction
  • Light, breathable fabric facemask
  • Soft no-itch material… even if you have a beard!


  • Comfortable fabric
  • A conductive, heat capturing hoodie that’s perfect for any adult or children
  • A little pricey compared to other similar models
  • Some ratings discuss concern with the length of the neck

8. GearTOP Full Face Mask


This is an image of a woman wearing the GearTOP Full Face Mask Premium Ski Mask and Neck Warmer, with orange-colored logo printed on the neck part.


Our eighth version of a balaclava provides all the contents you need with a comfortable shape for les than $19.99! Perfect at all altitudes and levels of coldness, this articles information will show you that you have no excuse not to buy the GearTOP face mask.

If you’re someone that needs protection from allergies, germs, or the sun, and you’re worried about getting frostbite because your mask didn’t do the job, then don’t worry! The stitching of these masks will protect the faces of wearers, as these devices dip over your nose to provide as much protection as possible.

There aren’t a lot of hats or coverings of this type that have this range of applications. They’re perfect for any area, and will protect you from sunburn or the cold. There’s nothing it can’t do, which is why it’s such a great value mask for winters… you get the picture. Our editors believe you should put this to the test – it’s a straight favorite, one of the best styles.

Key Features:

  • 4 way stretch material
  • Reliable protection in these caps
  • Perfect for biking, hiking, and more
  • Can be used as a hat, closed balaclava, or scarf


  • Flexibility of wear and reliability
  • Bargain price of less than $13.99
  • Tight and not very breathable
  • Stitching easily unravels

9. ZERDOCEAN Winter Windproof Fleece Thermal


An image of the ZERDOCEAN Winter Windproof Fleece Thermal Balaclava in black color.


Our penultimate balaclava is an incredible windproof pick, perfect for any activity or weather… especially in high winds. Run towards this amazing balaclava, it’s the ZERDOCEAN Winter Windproof fleece head wear.

These pieces are perfect for adults and children alike, and have a soft, no-itch material so even those with a beard are safe. The mouth section provide an easy breathable material, and offers maximum protection for hiking and other activities in cold areas.

ZERDOCEAN as a brand certainly know what they’re doing, as they’re better than the rest by far. They top most lists and have people singing their praises in the amount of positive comments. Five stars from us, the settings of this headgear will make you notice them.

Key Features:

  • Amazing cheap price
  • Stretchable fabric
  • One size fits all
  • Wear as a balaclava, hat, or neck gaiter – easy adjustments to suit your clothing
  • Perforations for easy breathing


  • Hinge design with mesh for breathable functions
  • Flexible fabric which is perfect for any occasion and covers your chin better than a scarf. Tons of style and no cold air!
  • Features four ways to wear in high winds
  • Durability
  • Features don’t stop glasses from fog

10. CAILEK Balaclava Mask


Image of the CAILEK Balaclava Ski Mask in black color, with 4 illustrations on how to wear it.


Our final pick features the best bargains by far. Get this – you get a PAIR of balaclava masks for less than $10! How incredible.

The CAILEK masks are made of a high quality material that blocks airflow from the outside, to maintain your core temperature and reduce windchill or heat loss.

These breathable masks are designed to be worn under a hoodie or helmet, and provides warmth, comfort and ease of wear. The brand are also on your side and not just concerned with making a quick commission – as they note that if you get the mask home and you’re not satisfied, you can post it back free of charge and receive a full refund or exchange.

Key Features:

  • Warmth provided – wear as a face mask, skullcap, dust mask or more
  • Durable stretch polyester – better than spandex
  • One size fits all
  • Reduces wind chill


  • Very cheap
  • Has an array of heat-keeping features
  • Some Amazon members’ posts state that this is very tight
  • Some say the material is too thin – not great in the heat department

Buyers’ Guide

What is a Balaclava?

When we think of a balaclava face mask, we might think of menacing bank robbers in video games like GTA or even the movies, with a fleece hood and eye slits – when in fact, a fleece balaclava has numerous uses outside of the popular perception.

According to the most basic dictionary definition, a balaclava is a face covering, usually of fleece material, which covers the whole head and neck except for some parts of the face mask portion- such as eyes. These are typically made from cotton fabric, fleece, or wool.

For any of you history buffs out there looking to learn more than just how the balaclava face mask provides you full skin coverage, you might be interested to know that the very name ‘balaclava’ comes from the Battle of Balaclava in the Crimean War!

Balaclava vs Beanie vs Neck Warmer

Some of you may be wondering the difference between a balaclava, beanie, or neck warmer. It may come as no surprise that, when considering the protection and warmth afforded to your neck, head, and nose from the cold, the balaclava is the superior option.

The beanie will provide plenty of warmth and protection to your head, yes, but it doesn’t provide full coverage for your neck or face.

The neck warmer, as the name suggests, will provide plenty of warmth and protection to your neck region, but you’ll want to supplement with a hood or beanie in order to keep your head fully protected too.

Ultimately then, the balaclava is clearly the best pick because it’ll provide you with protection via full coverage – no need to worry about the cold wind, with a balaclava you won’t have any pesky gaps between your hat and ski goggles, or around the mouth, or cold ears that you’d get if you just wore a hat in cold weather.

Bottom line: want full coverage? Go for a balaclava.

Considerations for Buying a Balaclava:


One of your key considerations when buying a mask for ski trips will inevitably be size. The size of your ski masks is essential to tailor to your individual needs. For example, is your chosen balaclava mask a 1 size fits all model? Do you want a model with an extended neck gaiter you can tuck into your jacket?

The key feature of the best balaclavas is ensuring that your body heat is kept concealed at all times, so buying a mask that’s an adequate size will easily allow you to gain adequate face protection from the cold weather.


Perhaps some of your primary concerns, the mask for skiing that you choose has to be made of a quality material that will:

  • Last and boast durability
  • Not be ruined in the washing machine – or if it would, can be easily hand washable
  • Keep you warm
  • Provide breathable material and moisture wicking

There are many materials that you can choose from to provide all the best features of your balaclava mask. An option is a fleece balaclava, which great for heat conservation.

Merino wool is also a popular choice, as it is warm, soft, and plushy – so you’re not only getting protection, but comfort in the cold weather too. This is naturally moisture wicking and odor resistant – making it perfect for a variety of winter sports and activities by preventing moisture buildup.

You might also want to consider UV resistance, to protect you from harsh sun glare which emits UV rays. Sun protection is important if you know you’ll be out in the sun all day, skiing away.

Some commonly used in snowboarding technology are neoprene and nylon. A nylon exterior layer is a common fabric for many coverings, whilst polyester is another popular choice of fabric.


So you just saw our previous suggestion of material – this ties into material a lot. You’ll want to make sure that your balaclava mask offers a breathable item in all weather conditions, so that your heat is kept in the ski mask but you can also actually breathe out – there’s no good in feeling suffocated during your winter sports… Double check where the breathing panel or breathing patch, and breathing holes, of your ski mask can be found.

A premium feature of breathable material is moisture wicking.

Moisture wicking is the mechanism by which moisture, such as sweat, is drawn away from the skin – so any full face balaclava face mask should really be equipped to keep your skin cool and your body temp nice and warm.

Design and Openings

The best products will also boast an impressive and ergonomic design that suits everyone. When you’re reading the reviews of each product in this guide, pay careful attention to whether somebody had a problem with the design of the piece. People like their market favorite to appear good and include everything needed… including versatility and convenience.

The construction of your balaclava mask is therefore also really important. Given that balaclavas come in lots of different designs, you’ll want to think about where you want each opening and the number of opening slits on the product. You could opt for a full face covering with just eye slits, or seams that allow for eye and mouth slits.

Fit is another key element when you’re trying to find something that works for your price range. When you’re up a mountain and trying to keep warm, a good fitting ski mask is par for the course. Do you want a snug fit or a loose fit? Many snowboarding pros and winter sports aficionados will opt for a snugger fit piece, which can act as a base layer under another kind of protection such as beanies.

Instructions for Maintenance

The last factor you really need to keep an eye out for is the maintenance advice. Finding a balaclava mask that suits your price, with every possible opening, is half the struggle – you’ll also want to review a number of instructions offered by the manufacturer to make sure your technology is durable.

Check out the product menu and instructions for recommendations of how to take care of your garment: is it washing machine friendly? If so, what temperature should you wash it on? How can you best take care of the fabrics the mask is made of, to ensure the best feel and all the other stuff?

You want to make sure your masks will keep their advantages season after season, providing all kinds of warm, comfortable experiences for teens, kids, adults – anyone at all.


Who makes the best balaclava?

Our range of products within this article – which you can check out via the affiliate links provided – will provide you with some of the best options that money can buy for all of your outdoor activities. However, if you’re really looking for an item with glowing reviews that just might take the place of the market favorite, and take your breath away, we recommend the Under Armour ColdGear skiing mask.

Market favorites, Under Armour, make products with fantastic versatility and construction quality, as well as many other desirable elements you’ll be looking for so you can stay in warmth while you hit the slopes. Click here to check out this best premium pick, number 7.

Image of the Under Armour Men's ColdGear Infrared Balaclava, black color.


How should a balaclava fit?

The great point about balaclavas is, no matter the material – whether you’ve got polyester, fleece, or nylon, the versatility offered means that you can have your choice of fits. It’s really personal preference.

The correct way to wear a balaclava is to pull it over your head so it will provide a snugger fit across your chin and forehead. However, if you’d prefer a looser fit then this is also possible. Just make sure that the ones you opt for have enough variety in style that you can protect yourself and have sufficient insulation.

Before you’re off out in the snow, mountaineering or hitting the slopes, we recommend wearing your balaclava through the following options:

  • Fit the mask snugly under your helmet
  • Make sure the mask doesn’t obstruct your goggles so your eyes are shielded
  • Ensure that everything is tight and comfortable for any cold weather activities you embark upon
  • Customize your use by adding an additional layer or two – add a scarf, a hat, or another part of your gear for maximum warmth

What is the purpose of a balaclava?

The clearest role of any balaclava is to keep you warm and dry while you’re in all of the different conditions you could face. When you’re mountaineering or hitting the slopes for skiing and snowboarding, you’ll want to ensure you’ve got everything you need in your ski mask so you’re perfectly equipped with all of the elements for efficient insulation – no matter the conditions.

Like we’ve said, the ventilation in the construction and style of your balaclava is key to ensure that your ski goggles don’t fog up! You need to stay safe by ensuring that you’re warm, sweat-free, and able to see!

What is the best balaclava for snowmobiling?


ZERDOCEAN Winter Windproof Fleece Thermal Motorcycle Ski Headwear Balaclava


The best balaclavas can be easy to find provided you know where to look. That’s why we’ve compiled this handy list together so you can opt for a face mask that you can put with your scarf, hat, neck gaiter, and other gear.

In terms of snowmobiling, you want a balaclava face mask that’s going to be compatible with your helmet, goggles, and other gear. It’s therefore ideal to look for one with stretch fabric that provides a snug fit. We would recommend the ZERDOCEAN winter windproof balaclava. This pick is made of fleece fabric and is ideal for any outdoor activity, including snowboarding or mobiling, mountaineering, or even just going on a snow covered walk.

The differences are seen when you change environment, so you’ll want to find a top rag from the Amazon store that provides versatility of function for all hobbies and environments.


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