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Expert Shopper Health & Wellness

The best balaclava ski mask

Which balaclava ski mask is best?

If you love to see wintertime arrive because you enjoy cold-weather outdoor activities like snowboarding, hunting, and cross-country skiing, you may want to consider a balaclava ski mask. The balaclava is a head covering designed to keep the head, neck, and face warm with a tight fit that cuts down on wind striking the bare skin. Some also provide extended fabric in the neck area, so you can tuck it inside your coat, further limiting skin exposure.

To learn more about how to choose the best balaclava ski mask for your needs, keep reading our guide, which includes a few reviews of our favorites at the end. Our number-one pick is the Ergodyne N-Ferno, which delivers outstanding performance, even in sub-zero temperatures.

Considerations when choosing a balaclava ski mask


Thinner materials: For moisture wicking with a budget-friendly price point in a balaclava, thinner materials are good choices. Nylon is extremely thin, so it doesn’t give a lot of warmth, but it does block the wind nicely.

Polyester is one of the better materials for wicking moisture away from the skin, when your head is sweating while cross-country skiing.

Among thin materials, neoprene provides the highest level of warmth and wind resistance.

Thicker materials: Thicker fabrics in balaclavas deliver the highest level of warmth, but they can be uncomfortable for some people to wear underneath helmets. Using fleece lining in a balaclava delivers excellent softness and comfort for the wearer, providing a warm feeling.

Balaclavas consisting of merino wool have the highest cost, but they’re naturally moisture-wicking and warm without retaining odors.

Balaclava ski mask features


After picking the type of material you want in your balaclava, think about the type of fit. Loose-fitting balaclavas provide more comfort than tight-fitting models. However, tighter fits are better for warmth in cold weather, and they won’t slide around while underneath a ski or snowmobile helmet.

Physical design

A balaclava has a wide opening in the area around the eyes. This makes it easier to wear ski goggles while wearing it. Because of the way the balaclava works, using tight-fitting goggles gives you a better chance of avoiding fogging up the eyewear versus loose-fitting sunglasses.

Some balaclavas have short fabric in the neck area, covering only a little bit of skin under the chin, while others have long fabric that tucks into your shirt or coat.


The majority of balaclavas are solid black. Commonly, you can find solid white or solid gray as well. However, for a bit more style, if you’re willing to shop around a bit, you can find a balaclava in almost any color. Some fabrics may have stripes or artwork on them.

Balaclava ski mask price

Extremely lightweight balaclavas don’t provide much protection from the wind, but they’re inexpensive at up to $20. Balaclavas made of fleece or neoprene run from $20-$65.

Balaclava ski mask FAQ

Are balaclavas washable?

A. Yes, you should be able to wash a balaclava. However, certain models must be hand-washed rather than tossed into a washing machine, so read the care instructions carefully.

What’s the difference between a ski mask and a balaclava?

A. The balaclava has a large opening for the eyes, so ski goggles fit better with it. Ski masks tend to have small cutouts for each eye separately, keeping more skin covered.

Best Balaclava ski masks

Best of the best

Ergodyne N-Ferno Balaclava Ski Mask

Our take: If you want your balaclava to block the wind above all else, this model does an excellent job at cutting down on wind chill.

What we like: Has a design made to fit perfectly under a ski helmet without being too tight. Made to handle all kinds of temperatures comfortably.

What we dislike: Some people feel like the fabric presses too hard on the nose area.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best bang for your buck

AstroAl Balaclava Ski Mask

Our take: Despite its low price, it gives you the protection from below freezing temperatures that you’re seeking.

What we like: Uses a fleece material that keeps you feeling warm. Has mesh over the mouth, so you can speak more clearly.

What we dislike: Mask fits loosely around the chin and neck, so it may not cut down on the wind perfectly.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

GearTOP Balaclava Ski Mask

Our take: When you want some different colors and a bit of style in your balaclava, this model delivers.

What we like: Has a tight fit, meaning a cold wind won’t penetrate it. Should fit perfectly under a ski helmet without sliding around.

What we dislike: If you’re wearing sunglasses, they’ll probably fog up quickly.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Kyle Schurman writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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