Winter has arrived, but the fun definitely doesn’t stop. In fact, this season ushers in a whole slew of outdoor adventures amidst a backdrop of magical white snow. Of course, if you live somewhere like Switzerland, you can be lucky enough to experience this season all year round in the Alpine peaks.
But don’t be too quick to hit the slopes – windburn, sunburn, frostbite, and even precipitation, snow, or small stones pelting your face are very real and sometimes very painful reality skiers and snowboarders have to deal with.
A solid pair of goggles is essential, but it will still leave a big part of your face vulnerable to some harsh elements when you go out and play in the snow.
At A Glance: Our Top Ski Balaclavas for Skiing
This is where the best balaclavas for skiing come in handy. And in this detailed review, I will cover 6 of the best on the market.
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TOP CHOICE FOR RECREATIONAL SKIING
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Best for Technical Sports
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The Smartwool NTS 250 Pattern Balaclava is made of 100% Merino wool that is sure to keep your head warm. It provides comfortable face protection and leaves enough space around the eyes to maintain good peripheral vision.
The contoured design, interlock knit construction, and the flatlock seams allow this balaclava to lie flatly and neatly on the face. While it doesn’t have breathing holes, the material is thin and breathable to avoid that suffocating feeling.
It’s also lightweight, making this ski mask ideal for both harsh and mild weather conditions when skiing.
It also comes in four colors so you can match it with any kind of outfit.
For a funkier approach to snow sports, the BlackStrap Balaclava Hood certainly delivers. It offers a wide range of both solid and crazy prints without sacrificing performance and protection.
This balaclava has an ergonomic design with 4-way stretch fabric and dual-hinged mouth that allow you to wear it in multiple ways – a ski mask, a neck warmer, a scarf, or even a bandanna. The stretch fabric also means it can fit any head size and will fit comfortably under a helmet.
The 100% USA milled tri-blend fabric used in this balaclava is UPF (UV) Rated for sun protection and blocks 97% of UV rays. It’s also fully synthetic, quick-dry with moisture-wicking technology and anti-microbial so you’ll emerge just as fresh after hitting the slopes as you were before you put it on.
While the fabric is definitely packed with function, the fully synthetic material doesn’t give the best warmth. The fabric in the forehead and ear area runs thin when stretched. If skiing in colder weather, it’s best to use this as a helmet lining or complement with a neck warmer.
Rounding up this list is the affordable Endrogyne N-Ferno 6823 Balaclava. At just under $15, you’ll think twice about the high quality of this ski mask. However, it’s Amazon’s bestselling balaclava, and for good reason.
The long neck, hinged mouth, and padded mouth cover creates full face coverage. The opening on the face is cut to contour above the nose and under the eyes for better coverage and protection for both the head and face.
Just like any balaclava with a hinged mouth, this headgear can be used in several ways, from ski mask to neck gaiter. It’s 100% windproof with added fabric paneling over vulnerable areas to keep elements at bay.
However, there isn’t enough space to let the breath out, so wearers may experience a bit of fogging when wearing untreated goggles.
The fleece material keeps the wearer warm, but it only comes in one size. While it will fit most heads, fleece is not completely flexible, so fit may be a problem for some people.
The Nike Pro Combat Hyperwarm Hydropull Hood is done in the classic Nike finish – sleek, polished, and very stylish. It also comes in black for those who don’t want to stand out too much.
Made with a blend of polyester and spandex, this ski mask will keep your face warm no matter the wind and chill. The Therma-FIT material insulates the head without being constricting, while its moisture-wicking and dryPerfect technology makes it ideal for even wet conditions.
The streamlined silhouette is finished with flatlock seams for a perfectly contoured fit. It’s breathable and thin and will fit well under a helmet. The hinged mouth also allows this balaclava to convert to a neck warmer when off the slopes.
The biggest drawback to this balaclava is the short neckline. For bigger heads, it will likely end right under the chin, and will scrunch up if not anchored to a parka. However, with complete gear and equipment, the Nike Pro Combat is a viable option.
Windproof balaclavas tend to collect moisture from breathing and freeze, but the Chaos-CTR Multi Tasker Pro Windproof Balaclava has a solution. The dedicated mesh breathing patch around the mouth lets the breath out without letting too much air in.
With that little issue out of the way, this balaclava is high quality, technical headgear made for 100% protection against the elements. The Lycra binding around the face seals the mask to the face. The bottom also provides full coverage without bunching up around the neck.
This can be worn as a ski mask, a balaclava with a face mask, or as a neck gaiter. It is also completely waterproof.
The fleece material ensures warmth, while the multi-purpose hinge allows you to move the face mask portion up and down easily. However, fleece is not as flexible as wool and spandex, so fit can be an issue. It may run too large or too tight if you don’t get the exact size you need.
The Irelia ski mask is made from soft fleece, for premium comfort and insulation. It boasts 3D construction with a breathable design, so although it covers your mouth and nose, you won’t have any issues breathing. The hinged design and the mesh vents also ensure that your goggles won’t fog up, which is essential in good ski masks.
The design of the nose is also great and unique. It covers most of your nose, but the nostrils remain exposed so you can breathe more easily and still stay warm. The mask material is windproof as well, for optimal warmth and protection in cold weather conditions.
It’s also great that you can wear it in six different ways – the material is so soft and stretchy that you can easily pull down the part that covers your nose, and you can even wear it like a simple beanie!
Because the fleece material is so stretchy, this balaclava is one-size-fits-all. It’s great for people with average and large heads, but not the best option for people with smaller heads. The excess material doesn’t allow for a perfect seal, and some cold could come in through the side vents.
Balaclavas come in different materials that create different levels of warmth. It also dictates how flexible and stretchable the balaclava will be, which will affect fit and mobility.
In general, merino wool is the best material for most kinds of winter sport. It’s odor-resistant, moisture wicking, and will definitely keep you warm. Nylon, polyester, and spandex blend for great flexibility and are extremely lightweight. They do tend to capture odor a bit more and will wear a bit more quickly.
In essence, balaclavas and ski masks are the same things. The main difference is how the product is marketed, and you can generally expect to pay more for something that’s being sold as a ski mask. Balaclavas are cheaper and more widely available, but they work exactly the same regardless of the name of the product.
The design of the mask is more important, so pay attention to that instead. It doesn’t matter if it’s called a ski mask or a balaclava if it is comfortable and provides you with the necessary protection on the slopes.
Some are meant to be for full protection, others are meant to be worn under a helmet. Take note of what complementary gear you have to choose the best design for your skiing day out.
Balaclavas are important for any outdoor activity in cold weather. As with any gear, the first consideration is the level of activity you will be doing and the harshness of the weather. There is no one perfect balaclava that you can use for both light and extreme weather. It would be best to purchase several types that will best fit your needs.
Hands down, the Endrogyn N-Ferno 6823 Balaclava is the top choice for recreational skiing. It’s completely affordable and provides adequate protection against wind and cold. It also comes in three colors to suit your skiing look.
For more technical sports, the Chaos – CTR Multi Tasker Pro Windproof Balaclava will be your best bet. You’ll be protected against cold weather, wind, and the harsh sun all at the same time. It also provides good coverage and adequate flexibility.
Check out our related posts for ideas on other must-have travel gear!