When North45 asked if I wanted to try their new lighter magnetic face mask, I was pretty stoked about the idea.
I really liked the previous face mask they’d sent me. Only I couldn’t wear it every time I was up the mountain, though I wanted to. Problem was it was too warm for a lot of the days that I rode in the West. Awesome for those colder days, but more often than not, I get pretty mild days.
So the lighter mask was definitely appealing to me.
And it lived up to my expectations. The same great mask in terms of not fogging up the goggles and making it easier to connect to the goggles with magnets, but something that didn’t overheat me on mild days.
UPDATE: I wore this again on a colder day. 14°F (-10°C) – with wind chill. Some updates below for that temperature. See Update notes below for more.
UPDATE 2 (BALACLAVA): I also wore on a separate day the 100% Merino Balaclava version of the mask (see Balaclava notes for more on that below). This was on a 5°F (-15°C) day (with windchill).
About the North45 Magnetic Face Mask
Like with their original face mask, which you can read my review on here, the Lightweight Face Mask works by attaching a magnet to your goggles, just under the nose bridge.
There is also a magnet sewn into the face mask, which connect to the magnet on the goggles. By doing it this way you can use whatever goggles you have and turn them into magnetic face mask goggles, which is pretty cool.
On this occasion, I didn’t need to install the magnet on my goggles as I had already installed it for my other face mask, but I remember the process being fairly easy.
What Makes the Lightweight Different to the Original?
North45’s original magnetic face mask is quite a big thick piece of mask. I was quite taken a back at how thick it was when I first got it and though I wouldn’t really get much of an opportunity to use it. I waited for a cold day and tested it.
After I tested it the first time, I tested it again on some even colder days and then on some not as cold days too, and I found it wasn’t as stiflingly hot as I though it was going to be on more mild days.
That said, there were some days that it was too hot to wear for more than a run.
The Lightweight version is made from a blend of 70% tencel (don’t ask me what that is!) and 30% merino wool and is a considerable thinner material than the original. The original, on the other hand, is 100% merino and a fabric weight of 240 gsm (compared to the fabric weight of 170 gsm on the lightweight).
How Much Difference Does it Make
Like I said, the original wasn’t crazy hot on milder days like I expected it to be (merino is usually good like that). But if it was something around 28°F (-2°C) to 37°F (3°C) it was too hot to wear for more than a couple of runs, especially with a helmet on – and goggles.
The Lightweight so far has been fine to wear in any condition. I’ve had it out for a good few days now and find that I can wear it without overheating. Every day I’ve worn it so far has been between 28°F (-2°C) and 35°F (3°C). And I’m happy to leave it on the whole time without taking it on and off.
UPDATE: On the colder day I wore it I did (at the start before I warmed up with riding) wish I had the thicker version – but after riding it was fine. On warmer days when I’ve hiked the park, it’s gotten quite warm – but anything is warm when you’re hiking the park!
BALACLAVA: Great for the colder 5°F (-15°C) day – this or the original great options. I liked that you could use part of it to cover your mouth and nose without having the main facemask part attached to the goggles, so you could have your mouth and nose covered with your goggles up, which is nice. Was also nice to have both parts covering your lips and nose (so you’ve got two layers there), when on the lift, particularly on the first couple of lift rides before warming up.
So far I haven’t had any issues whatsoever with fogging up with this mask and I didn’t with the previous one.
Not sure how it does it. Certainly part of it is the fact that there is a magnetic connection which is minimal, so there’s no facemask actually going under the goggles. Another part, I think, is something to do with the 2 parts of the goggle. There is a gap in the fabric between the neck scarf part and the face mask part. I suspect this somehow lets your breath escape and the mask is perhaps designed to channel your breath in that direction.
I really like that even when bending down to strap in, there’s still no fogging.
Another handy part about this gap is that you can strap your helmet on in that gap – underneath the face mask part and over top of the scarf part. This stops things from bunching and getting annoying as well.
However it does it, it has worked really well so far.
UPDATE: When hiking the park, some semblance of fogging, but still very little – and that’s with me breathing very hard from hiking quickly up the park.
BALACLAVA: No fogging on this one either. Which isn’t surprising, given that it’s the same design for the face mask part. I did find if I had part of the Balaclava (not the main face mask part) covering my nose, that I got some fogging when bending over to strap in. But you only really need to use that when you don’t have the main part of the face mask (the part with the magnet) attached. And when I had both parts covering my face it was fine for not fogging, so long as I wasn’t bending down to strap in.
One big problem with a lot of face masks, I’ve found in the past, is that they tend to turn solid on cold days as you breath in to them and the material freezes.
One thing that this mask is touted to do is stop that hardening from occurring.
So far with this mask I haven’t had that issue, though to be honest I haven’t been in cold enough temperatures to really test it. However, with the original mask I was able to test it in cold temperatures and have never had it freeze up on me.
There are some colder days in the forecast as I write this and I’m going to brave them with this mask (though I might have my heavier mask on hand in case I feel I need it!) and see how it goes – both in terms of hardening and in terms of how well it handles colder temperatures. I’ll update this section once I’ve had it out in colder temps.
UPDATE: On the 14°F (-10°C) day, there was a tiny amount of hardening, but very little and went away pretty quickly.
BALACLAVA: No hardening whatsoever, even on the 5°F (-15°C) day.
Both in terms of against the face and in terms of around the neck, I hardly even notice this thing is on. In fact sometimes I go to talk to someone on the lift and don’t even realize I’m talking through mask.
As I mentioned above the gap between the face mask part and the neck scarf part helps it to sit really well without getting in the way of the helmet strap or getting bunched up.
Easy of Attaching to Goggles
Because there is also a neck scarf part to the mask, this, I think, really helps to have the mask sitting in a really easy place to access. It doesn’t get lost when you detach it. And that gap between mask and neck scarf really helps to keep it in place when it’s not attached. All of this helps when you go to attach it, because the part of the mask that you need to grab to attach to the goggles is easy to find.
If you don’t line up the mask so that the magnet part is directly below the magnet on the goggles, you sometimes have to remove a glove to find the magnet on the mask to attach it.
But if you’ve got it lined up correctly (and it tends to stay lined up as mentioned above), then you can usually just grab anywhere on the front of the mask with a glove and guide it upwards and it finds the magnet. Great for cold days when you don’t want to take off your gloves!
The North45 lightweight magnetic face mask is a great little accessory.
I’ve always liked riding with a face mask, but always had issues with fogging up and the mask going solid in colder temperatures – and with the mask being un-findable if you’re taking it off and putting it on constantly. This mask seems to solve all those issues and makes wearing a mask a more pleasurable thing.
The way this mask sits and feels, combined with not fogging up and not going hard, have made this a staple in my snowboard bag.
Being in the West and getting a lot of mild days, I was stoked when I learned that North45 had made a lighter version of their original and it’s now my daily driver. I’m sure I’ll still get out the original for the really cold days though.
Another I really like about being able to wear this on warmer days is that I’ve been able to wear it on a couple of sunny days, which has meant I haven’t had to use sun screen, which is a real plus too (not that I’m recommending skipping the sun screen, there could be gaps in the mask that you can’t feel that are exposing skin, but for me I find it covers my nose and cheeks well, which, given the rest of my face is bearded, are the only exposed areas of skin when I’m on the mountain really).
Thanks again to North45 for supplying the mask. If you’re interested in getting one of these (and I highly recommend them if you like riding with a mask) or want to check out more technical specs for the mask check out North45s Website.