Friday, February 20, 2015

Review: The North45 Face Mask

In my continued search for ways to deal with how glasses and visors fog up on you while motorcycling in cold weather, I stumbled upon the North45 face mask for skiers using goggles.

Now, they don't market this product for motorcycle riders but I thought it might work; so I asked the manufacturer for a review face mask and he happily obliged.

Please see their website for full details and other pics on how the mask works for skiers wearing goggles.  LINK

Regular readers known, that I wear glasses and have been using a Skidoo Snowmobile Helmet with accompanying face mask when temperatures are below 20°F (-6°C).  It does the job 95% of the time but is very constrictive and sometimes uncomfortable to wear for prolonged periods of time.

The Skidoo Helmet's rubber face mask

It could be because I probably need the next size larger helmet to allow more room for the face mask that comes with the helmet.  Also, due to my small/flat nose, I've had to add insulation materials where the top of the rubber face mask hugs my nose.

Now, with the North45 face mask, it being basically a scarf one puts on over one's head and around one's neck and lower face area, it doesn't take up a lot of room under a motorcycling helmet.

There's a magnet, to help lock it in place with goggles but in my case I just used it to center the scarf on my face.

The sides of the helmet help hold it in place once you position the face mask.  In my case, I positioned the top edge of the face mask as close to the lower edge of eyes as possible, using the lower edge of my glasses to try and hold it in place.


Once you things lined up, the face mask does pretty good at keeping your exhaled breath from rising up and fogging up your glasses while wearing a helmet, with the visor down.  The face mask you see, is really two parts (see the website for full details).  The part that goes over your nose, is open at the bottom, allowing most of the hot, moist air coming out of you to be directed downward.

Pros:

1.  Very comfortable to wear on face and even just as a neck scarf.  The merino wool material is not scratchy and is quite warm.

2.  Doesn't take up much room within the helmet, unlike the rubber "fighter pilot" type face mask that came with the helmet.  Much more comfortable!

Cons:

1.  I would say it does pretty well, perhaps 85-90% good job, in my case, at keeping my breath from fogging up my glasses.  If I let the top edge of the face mask slip much lower than the edge of my glasses, it doesn't do as well.

2.  I did, sometimes, have to crack the helmet visor open while stopped at lights and such to prevent fogging of my glasses.  Once I started moving again though, the glasses if fogged, would clear quickly.

3.  Unlike using the rubber face mask, any kind of physical exertion on my part resulted in fogging of my glasses, whether visor was up or down.  Of course, physical exertion while wearing the rubber face mask results in shortness of breath very fast.

Overall, I like this face mask a lot.  It provides as warm, if not better wind protection as the neck gator I usually wear and the material it's made of appears to be much more long lasting than the neck gator.

The "drier" the cold, the better it performs, in my opinion.  Higher humidity in the air, seemed to lower its effectiveness as a water vapor barrier.

I wore this face mask in temperatures down 18°F (-7°C) so far, and it's done well enough for me to consider it part of my cold weather riding gear.

3 comments:

Richard M said...

The rubber face mask of the Bombardier helmet is pretty uncomfortable. Plus, the side vents tend to plug up with ice after a while and I still get fogging when it's below say -20F. Whojigger, from Ketchikan, had the same helmet with the electrically heated visor and had no fogging problems and didn't need to use the face mask at all. I might look into that for next year though it may not be worth the investment.

David Masse said...

Dom, when I saw the photo, I thought you had bought yourself a Russian air force second-hand MiG.

Imagine my relief to find it was just a Kanuk Skidoo helmet.

Charlie6 said...

I looked into a the heated visor, RichardM, but it doesn't get that cold here....pricey too.

David Masse....a MIG would be cool.....