Psolar.Ex Cold Weather Face Mask

Breath-warming winter workout wear

I’ve used this face mask for two winters to go running and biking in temperatures from single digits to the low thirties ºF. It sure does make it seem so much warmer outside, and it’s especially great for preventing my lungs from taking a beating from the cold air.

When you put on the face mask, there is a heat exchange device right in front of your mouth. It looks like a miniature fan-folded filter and has a desiccant coated plastic that uses the heat from your exhalation to warm the air you inhale. Even if you’re just standing out in the cold (not exercising), it will keep you much warmer since you lose a lot of body heat through respiration.

The air you breathe in is also humidified a little, keeping you from drying out in the cold, and I’ve found it’s even been a preventive aid for my bronchitis. Every winter I used to come down with bronchitis (usually shortly after a good run when it was frigid outside). I’d always feel warm enough from layers of clothes and the exertion, but afterward my throat would feel raw from having breathed hard in the cold dry air. The throat irritation would always seem to develop into bronchitis. My doctor recommended the use of a scarf, but I tried scarves, neck gaiters and a neoprene face mask and could never keep them on and maintain a good level of exertion. I’d always feel the need to pull them down so that I could get enough air while running hard. Or even if I decided to just lay back and not work as hard, I’d find they would get soggy and unpleasant after a short time. With the Psolar, I can get out there and run as hard as I want (it is surprisingly easy to breathe through), my throat feels fine afterward, and the mask stays dry.

I find I don’t need it once the temperature clears freezing, especially later in the season once I’ve acclimated. The only drawbacks I’ve found are that you have to breathe through your mouth because your nose is covered (I trained to be a nose breather during exercise, so this took some adjustment). Sometimes during a run I find it can get a bit warm, but you can always pull down the mask if need be. Also, it does smoosh my nose a bit and before I broke it in, it seemed to slide down from time to time (another reviewer’s advice helped: wear a hat on top of it), but it’s still a really great mask.

I haven’t gone skiing since I got it, but I think it would be an awesome ski mask too, provided it doesn’t fog your goggles. I don’t wear glasses, so I haven’t tried this solution, but they also sell an add-on piece that is supposed to take care of fogging.

-- Alfred H. Raschdorf, Jr. 03/19/07

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