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Best Overall: Self Pro Windproof Balaclava at Amazon
"A top-rated product intended for both men and women."
Best Budget: BCOCOB Balaclava Two-Pack at Amazon
"Comes with a matching balaclava for a friend or family member."
Best for Warmth: Under Armour ColdGear Infrared Tactical Hood at Under Armour
"Offers superior insulation, thanks to its innovative fabric."
Most Breathable: Zerdocean Thermal Full Face Balaclava at Amazon
"Allows you to breathe easily while keeping everything but your eyes covered."
Best for All Sports: Outdoor Research Ninjaclava at Amazon
"Suited for skiing, mountaineering, winter cycling, and more."
Best for Hunting: Turtle Fur Ninja Performance Balaclava at Amazon
"Offers UPF 50+ protection and blocks 97 percent of UV rays."
Best for Women: Burton Burke Hood Face Mask at Amazon
"Features pretty colorways that breaks up the monotony of a conventional balaclava."
Most Versatile: Oldelf Tactical Heavyweight Balaclava at Amazon
"Doubles as a hat, snood, neck gaiter, or scarf as well as a standard balaclava."
Balaclavas are the best friend of outdoor sports enthusiasts for good reason. By definition, a balaclava (also known as a ski mask) covers most, if not all, of your face, affording unparalleled protection from the cold, wind, and sun. There are several different styles to choose from, including full face masks, open balaclavas, and ingenious models that can switch between the two.
Read on for our picks of the best balaclavas available.
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Self Pro Windproof Balaclava
A simple yet high-quality all-rounder, the Self Pro Windproof Balaclava is a top-rated product intended for both men and women. Made from CoolMax® premium high-tech polyester fiber, it’s breathable, absorbent, and excellent for wicking moisture away from your skin on warmer days. Whether you wear it on its own or under a helmet, it affords protection from the cold, wind, and sun—making it the ideal companion for a full range of outdoor sports.
The soft, lightweight fabric is also hypo-allergenic. An extra-long neck provides maximum skin coverage, while the versatile design means that you can wear the balaclava in a number of different ways. Opt for the traditional full face mask, transform it into a skull cap or neck gaiter, or leave the upper part of your face uncovered with a ninja-style hoodie. Available in classic black, the balaclava mask is one-size-fits-most (even children). For added convenience, it’s machine-washable and quick to dry after a session on the slopes.
Best Budget: BCOCOB Balaclava Two-Pack
This BCOCOB Balaclava Two-Pack is the perfect budget buy, especially if you’re looking for a matching balaclava for a friend or family member. Made of soft, lightweight polyester, the cut covers the forehead, chin, and cheeks but leaves your eyes and nose free for easy breathing. If you require additional ventilation, you can drop the chin or turn the balaclava into a scarf or neck gaiter.
Intended for all kinds of outdoor pursuits (from skiing to motorcycling and climbing), the balaclava mask fits well under a helmet and features an extended neck that tucks into your jacket. Consequently, you don’t have to worry about snow, wind, or dust creeping under your collar. The stretchy fabric provides a snug yet comfortable fit; and when you’re finished for the day, cleaning the balaclava is as simple as throwing it in the washing machine.
Best for Warmth: Under Armour ColdGear Infrared Tactical Hood
The Under Armour ColdGear Infrared Tactical Hood is incredibly lightweight, making it much more comfortable than a traditional woolen balaclava. Despite its relative thinness, it also offers superior insulation, thanks to its innovative ColdGear® Infrared fabric. This fabric uses a thermo-conductive inner coating to absorb and retain your body heat, while the close fit prevents drafts and protects your entire face—leaving only your eyes uncovered.
On warmer days, you can drop the chin or fold the balaclava hood into a neck gaiter for increased ventilation. The material also wicks sweat and dries quickly—making it especially effective for playing sports in sub-zero temperatures. Better yet, the balaclava’s four-way stretch fabrication offers unparalleled mobility, while the anti-odor technology prevents the growth of bad-smelling microbes. One size fits all, and you have a choice of two colors: black or desert sand.
Most Breathable: Zerdocean Thermal Full Face Balaclava
Dropping the chin of your balaclava or turning it into a neck gaiter when you need greater ventilation is all very well—but what happens when it’s too cold to do so? That’s where the Zerdocean Thermal Full Face Balaclava comes in. It features a perforated mesh vent that allows you to breathe easily while keeping everything but your eyes covered.
The balaclava mask’s molded nose-piece makes for an extra snug fit, while the soft fleece lining keeps you both warm and comfortable. The fabric itself is stretchy, affording a great range of movement that prevents you from feeling restricted even when fully covered. When the sun does come out, it’s still possible to drop the balaclava’s chin and hood. Colors include black, gray, and army green.
Best for All Sports: Outdoor Research Ninjaclava
Specially made for extremely cold conditions on the slopes, the Outdoor Research Ninjaclava boasts nylon fabric that fends off wind and water. Even more, its soft Motion Fleece backing offers warmth and helps wick moisture. This balaclava mask fully covers your head, nose, and face, and can also easily open if you need to take a snack break or to release excess heat. Machine-washable and breathable, the Ninjaclava is suited for skiing, mountaineering, winter cycling, or other winter outdoor activities, thanks to silicone prints that keeps goggles in place.
Best for Hunting: Turtle Fur Ninja Performance Balaclava
A good balaclava mask should do more than keep your face warm: it should also protect you from the sun’s harmful rays. The Turtle Fur Ninja Performance Balaclava achieves that goal admirably, offering UPF 50+ protection and blocking 97 percent of UV rays. It’s also moisture-wicking and anti-microbial, making it an especially good choice for winter sports or warmer climates.
It’s brushed on the inside for superlative softness, while the 92 percent polyester/ 8 percent spandex blend makes for a snug yet non-restrictive fit. Transform it from a full face mask into a neck gaiter or scarf with a quick tug of the hood. Designed to fit adults and teenagers alike, the balaclava comes in a range of different colors, including Black and Blaze (bright orange). A variety of camouflage prints make it especially popular with hunters.
Best for Women: Burton Burke Hood Face Mask
Though most of the balaclavas in the market are perfectly suitable for men and women, the Burton Burke Hood Face Mask is especially popular with fashion-conscious ladies. Made of soft polyester, it features a pretty hooded design in unique colorways that breaks up the monotony of a conventional balaclava. The white floral and tender shoots models are especially feminine, while the black and gray option is ideal for girls who don’t like pink. Additionally, the cinched hood allows you to tighten the balaclava face mask after putting it on, so you won't have to tug it over your carefully arranged hair and make-up. It also offers a one-year warranty.
Most Versatile: Oldelf Tactical Heavyweight Balaclava
While many balaclavas can be adapted from a full face mask to a neck gaiter, the JollyGift Windproof Hat Tactical Balaclava offers a whole new level of versatility. Designed to look like a standard hoodie (complete with drawstrings), its ingenious design allows it to double as a hat, snood, neck gaiter, or scarf as well as a standard balaclava.
It’s made from premium soft fleece fabric, making it exceptionally soft and comfortable. A double layer offers added warmth and helps to make the balaclava windproof, while the extra-long neck means you don’t have to worry about unexpected drafts. You can personalize your style even further by choosing from five different colors ranging from army green to red.