I finally got the chance to test out my North45 snowboarding face mask yesterday.
I received the mask in early November, courtesy of North45, a company based in Montreal, Canada – but (being on the West Coast) haven’t had a day cold enough to test it…. until now.
It was still just 18° Fahrenheit (-8° Celsius) with wind chill factor – so not icy cold, but cold enough that a face mask was certainly nice to have. I’ll do another test when I find a day that’s really cold (had a couple of -9° (-23° Celsius) days last season, where I really could have used this mask.
UPDATE: I’ve now tried this a few times, including a couple of -10° Celsius days (which felt considerably colder than the -8° Celsius day, for whatever reason).
About the Face Mask
The North45 face mask is facemask/neck scarf that attaches to your goggles magnetically. There is a really easy process for attaching the magnet to the goggles and the face mask has a sown-in magnet that connects to the one on the goggles.
Learn how the process works at the link below:
The mask also has Velcro so you can wear it without goggles if you want to.
What’s Different about this Face Mask
There are a couple of things about this mask that makes it different from your average face mask.
Won’t Go Solid
One of the claims of this face mask that I was really intrigued about was that it wouldn’t freeze solid.
I have found that anything else I have used will freeze solid after breathing into it for a while (the moisture from your breath makes the mask wet and then that freezes). So I was really intrigued to see if this would hold true (find out in the results below).
Eliminates Goggle Fog Ups
As well as keeping the mask from freezing the other claim for this mask is that it eliminates goggle fog ups. This was something else that I wanted to test, as I have had issues with this in the past too.
The North45 facemask is made from Merino Wool. I’m a big fan of Merino wool – and I love it for it’s warmth and sweat wicking properties. I also find merino nice on the skin – I love merino for base layers. So, hearing that this face mask was merino was a great start.
The North45 face mask attaches to your goggles magnetically. This isn’t the only face mask to do this – but not many do – and there are some great advantages to this – including easily attaching and removing the mask – and also helps with eliminating fog ups.
I’ve found with other non-magnetic face masks that I have to have the goggles sitting on the face mask, to keep it in place, and this contributes to fog ups.
I’m going to break down my results into the following categories:
- Fog Ups
- Ease of attaching and removing
- Goggles freezing solid
- Ease of installation
One of the concerns I had when I first received this face mask was that it was going to be too actually be too warm for a majority of the conditions that I’m normally in. It’s designed for Montreal winters, and being based in BC, I was worried that it would make me over-heat in all but the coldest conditions.
Especially given that this was a lot more face mask that I’m use to wearing, especially with the neck scarf part of it.
I was actually pleasantly surprised with how it moderated my temperature. The day wasn’t that cold. I was riding with my brother and he wasn’t wearing a face mask at all, and didn’t seem to be in any discomfort (all be it that he does sport a rather large beard!)
I didn’t overheat at all – but I was nice and warm and it felt like it would be good for warmth in colder temperatures, though I would have to test that properly on a colder day (and when I get one I will update this review).
I did eventually remove the face mask part of the mask as I warmed up and the day warmed up – we were exploring some pretty technical tree runs, so the adrenaline and blood were pumping pretty good. But the neck scarf part was obviously still there – and it was just nice – I didn’t even notice it – and I do tend to overheat pretty quickly wearing a regular scarf or face mask, so this was a nice surprise.
I shouldn’t be too surprised in hindsight though – this is one of the qualities that I like so much about my merino base layers – they keep you nice and warm in colder temperatures but don’t cause you to overheat when you warm up or it gets warmer.
UPDATE: Really nice when it’s cold and snowing too. It was only a couple of degrees colder in my subsequent tests, but it felt much colder than that – particularly when I was stuck on the lift for 15 minutes in blizzard-ish conditions. Was glad to have this mask on that day!
This section is going to be short because there no fog ups to speak of.
With the other face mask I’ve been using recently, I need to tick it under the goggles a little to keep in place. This works ok, but I do find that I get fog ups if I start getting too hot or, particularly when I’m leaning over to strap in – I always have to remove my face mask or goggles to prevent fogging up when strapping in.
Thankfully this face mask didn’t have this issue. I could leave the face mask in place when strapping in, which was cool.
UPDATE: On subsequent tests, I did have one day where I was getting fogging in the bottom left of my goggles. But with a bit of rearranging of the mask the fog-ups stopped.
Ease of Attaching and Removing
Super easy to remove – you just tug on the mask and it comes off. And then it just sits there nicely ready to re-attach if you need to.
I find my other mask gets bunched up and then can get stuck under the helmet strap and then when I want to put it back on, I struggle to find where it is. So, it was nice to have the mask sitting there nicely ready to reattach.
I found attaching the goggles wasn’t quite as easy as the Gif on the North45 homepage makes it look. There were a couple of times when I went to attach it that it didn’t connect and I had to take a couple of goes to get the magnets to connect. But once I got used to it, it wasn’t a big issue. And once it was attached it sat really nicely.
UPDATE: Has been easy to attach in subsequent tests. I worked out that I was bringing the mask straight up – and it wasn’t getting close enough to the magnet. Now, if I first pull the mask away from my face and then up, it attaches much more easily. Now that I’ve got the technique down, it works first pop most times now.
Goggles Freezing Solid
I’ve had issues with this with my other mask freezing solid after breathing into it and creating condensation, so I was really hoping that this one wouldn’t do it.
And it didn’t disappoint!
No freezing! The mask kept the same feel to it the whole time. Again, it wasn’t excessively cold – but it was certainly cold enough that my other mask would have frozen.
UPDATE: Still not even a hint of freezing solid, not even on the colder days.
I found this mask very comfortable. And this is what I was expecting. Merino, IMO, is a very comfortable material and just the way the mask sits is really comfortable too. It doesn’t scrunch up or move around too much, which I found really nice.
Ease of Installation
I found installing the magnet on the goggles was super easy. Just watch the video on the North45 website and follow those instructions and it’s really easy.
Overall this mask is everything that a standard mask isn’t.
The only one downside I found was that connecting the magnets wasn’t as easy as I expected, but it definitely wasn’t super-hard either.
From my first test:
- My goggles didn’t fog up
- The face mask didn’t freeze solid; and
- it was really comfortable to wear
And to my surprise, it wasn’t so warm that I overheated. I was expecting that this would be something that I would only wear on the coldest days, but now it’s something that I’ll wear any day that I need a face mask.
It will be interesting to test it in really cold conditions and once I do (assuming I get a really cold day), I’ll update this review.
UPDATE: After subsequent tests pretty much everything about the first test stayed true – except that I can now more easily attach the mask to my goggles (after changing my technique in that respect) and I did have one fogging up incident but it went away with a bit of a readjustment. I’ve now tested in up to -10 celcius and have also ridden the mask in more like -4, -5. In both colder and warmer conditions, this mask works really well. I still wouldn’t wear it, when it’s like 0 degrees or something – but that’s not what it’s for.
Thanks to North45 for supplying the face mask, another great tool for the snowboard bag. I hope you’ve found this review helpful. Check out more technical specs on the North45 website.