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Types Of Balaclava

Types of Balaclava | 16 Types and Styles (Ski Mask & Balaclava)

It is a well-known fact that skiing as a sport is highly dependent on equipment. From skis to the goggles, everything should be perfect and suiting to the requirements of the skier. If even one of the pieces of equipment is imperfect, the skier can get hurt. So perfect equipment is very important.

One of the most important skiing equipment components is the ski mask, also known as the Balaclava. However, it is a misconception that balaclavas are only wearable while skiing. These are also very useful in hot weather or sports such as dune buggying. This makes it interesting to find out more about this piece of equipment.

What is a Balaclava?

Balaclava is a specialized cloth ski mask covering the head, neck, and everything up to the wearer’s nostrils. It only exposes the eyes of the wearer and thus giving him ample protection while skiing.

There are many styles of wearing a Balaclava. Some wearers prefer covering only up to the lower lip and leave the nose uncovered. This is helpful in foggy weather because skiers also wear goggles, and covering the nose can lead to fogging on the googles and reduced visibility.

Along with being a useful cold protector, a Balaclava is also a fashionable accessory and stylish addition to your skiing wardrobe. Find out about the different styles described below and take your pick based on your personality, style statement, and fashion aspirations.

Types of Balaclava and Ski Masks

1. Solid Front Balaclavas

A Solid Front Balaclava is named after its most special feature – the rigid frontal part covering the mouth and the nose. While the rest of the mask is made of the same kind of fabric, the part covering the mouth and the nose is easily distinguishable. It is made of a thicker material, whether cloth or plastic or something in between.

There are several benefits of the rigid or the solid front. These are as follows:

  • Protects the injury-prone parts of the face. The nose and the mouth are softer parts, and any injury to these is extremely severe. So they get the added protection that they need
  • Gives the front of the Balaclava the necessary structure. If the entire ski mask is made from cloth, the material can get into the wearer’s mouth. This can be very irritating and also prevent mobility and agility
  • The meshwork with holes prevent fogging and make the mask more breathable
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Advanced level ski slopes and skiing competitions in which skiers can’t be distracted for even a split-second

Those skiers who don’t like cloth folding and entering into their mouths or who don’t like fogging

2. Convertible Balaclava

A Convertible Balaclava is the most economical option for winter sports lovers. It is a flexible option that has an adjustable attachment. This gives the flexibility of adjusting the ski mask according to the need. The wearer can pull it down and wear the Balaclava as a neck warmer or pull it up till the bottom of the eyes. He can adjust it anywhere in between these two extremes too.

This attachment gives the Convertible Balaclava its namesake convertibility and makes it a multipurpose option for n number of sporting activities and weather conditions. Whatever is the mood, you don’t have to purchase multiple ski-masks; you are done with just one. How pocket-friendly, isn’t it!

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Skiing, Snowmobiling, Snowshoeing, Winter Mountain Climbing, Sled-riding

People who love the variety of winter activities and don’t want to spend on multiple gears.

3. Neckwarmer Balaclavas

Not everyone is a fan of cloth wrapped across his face. Some people prefer protecting only their heads and the neck region, i.e., below the chin region. Neckwarmer Balaclavas are the best option for such wearers. Further, when it is not so cold that the wearer needs to cover his mouth and nose, Neckwarmer Balaclavas are the go-to ski mask.

Neckwarmer balaclavas can be folded up to cover the face when it is too cold and folded down when the wearer is indoors. It is great to wear one that blends well with your outfit; generally, black goes with all colors.

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Less cold places

Wearers who prefer not to cover their mouth and nose

4. Hooded Balaclava

Hooded Balaclavas are the most sought after balaclavas. These give overall cold protection because they cover the head too. These are appropriate for beginner and intermediate ski slopes where helmets are not required. Although some are made of thinner yet warm fabric, That makes them perfect for wearing under a helmet.

Covering the head also gives the mask a lot of support and stops it from moving while skiing. This is preferable by most skiers because constant movement could cause irritation while skiing and might also result in an accident.

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Beginner and Intermediate ski and snowboarding slopes

Wearers who want complete cold protection and might not require helmets

5. Hoodless Balaclavas

If you plan to ski on the advanced slopes, then you have to wear a helmet to protect your head in case of a fall. Even while snowboarding, helmets are recommended. Therefore, wearers prefer a hoodless balaclava that only covers the nose and below portions. These specifically don’t cover the head, which makes it more helmet-friendly in the following ways:

  • Give more room for the helmet to fit well
  • Remove the possibility of constantly having to adjust the balaclava underneath

With the lack of head support to keep the Balaclava in its place, hoodless balaclavas some with a snap or Velcro closures to perfectly fit the wearer. Further, some come with ear covers that fix at the top of the ear and prevent the masks from moving.

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Advanced ski and snowboarding slopes

Wearers who have to wear a helmet on their heads

6. Sub Zero Ski Mask

As the name suggests, Sub Zero Ski Masks are appropriate for extremely cold weather conditions. The most important feature of this ski mask is that it covers the forehead almost completely. Further, the hood has fur lining, and the mask is doubly layered.

Some Sub zero ski masks can have a detachable facemask and neck warmer to suit the wearer’s preferences. These are not just appropriate for skiing and other winter sports; they can also be worn as fashionable casual wear in extreme winter.

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Extreme cold and windy weather, mostly below zero degrees

Wearers who want to participate in winter sports or just want to be carefree in extremely cold conditions

7. Windproof Balaclavas

Windproof Balaclavas are the most basic balaclavas with a small and transparent eye-shield to prevent eye closure due to extremely windy weather. Some even come with detachable goggles. Depending upon the material, it is great for skiing or dune buggying.

If in a desert, it is always advisable to be prepared for a sand storm and extreme heat. For this reason, many locals wear a Keffiyeh. Although it lacks an eye-shield, it is great for sun protection. This is where a Windproof Balaclava wins the race. The eye-shield prevents from sand messing the view. It is popular in dune buggy races.

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Extremely windy weather, both hot and cold

Dune buggy races and skiing in windy places

8. Water Resistant Balaclavas

When Balaclavas are made from good quality fleece, they become water-resistant. These are great for skiing in the rainy season or to prevent getting wet in unexpected rains. They might not be completely water-resistant; it totally depends on the material. However, they are resistant enough to give the wearer time to search for a shade.

Any kind of Balaclava can be water-resistant so that you will find all the previously-mentioned styles with this feature. If you want a thorough option for all seasons, you should go for water-resistant one, because why buy many, when one is best for all seasons.

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Rainy & non-rainy seasons

Skiing in rainy places and places of unpredictable rains

9. Anti-Dust Balaclava

Again it all boils down to the material a balaclava is made from. The Anti-Dust Balaclavas are generally made from materials that are slippery to touch. The most common material is polyester, but others can be used too.

Further, Anti-Dust Balaclavas are great not only for skiing but also for dune buggying. It is very dangerous to ski on advanced slopes if you don’t protect against the dust. Dust can cause irritation, such as lost visibility or breathing issues. Further, while dune buggying, deserts can experience a sand storm, so these balaclavas a strongly recommended.

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Dust prone regions

Skiing, Snowmobiling, and Dune Buggying

10. Battery Heated Balaclavas

With the advancement in technology, you can wrap an electric blanket around your head while skiing. Well, although this is a joke, their battery-operated balaclavas available. These have an on-off and temperature control mechanism attached to them.

Now you don’t have to be dependent on the material, and neither should you be limited to the same heating capacity. Use a battery heated Balaclava according to the weather requirements and also while traveling to places with varying levels of cold.

It is a great investment for professional skiers who travel a lot.

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Varying cold weather

Professional skiers experiencing different cold levels as they travel to different locations, all round the year for tournaments

11. Sun Mask Balaclava

Balaclavas are not always Ski Masks. At times, they are also for sun protection. This is exactly what the purpose of a Sun Mask Balaclava is. It is a fashionable replacement of the Keffiyeh and preferred by the younger generation.

Sun Mask Balaclavas are generally made of lightweight, breathable, non-warm materials as they are worn in hot weather. These are very comfortable and cover the neck very well, and prevents sunburn completely.

These can be worn under the helmet also as the material is very thin. They cover the face completely; only a little part around the eyes is visible. This can easily be covered using a pair of goggles.

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Hot weather, sun protection, Casual and Fashionable Wear.

Younger generation that wears modern and western attire but lives in hot and arid regions

12. Balaclava with Visor

Balaclava with a visor is one of the most suitable ski-masks when skiing in snowfall. It has a short visor that keeps the snow away from the eyes and prevents visibility loss. However, the visor is not too long to prevent visibility in non-snowy times.

Balaclava with a visor most appropriate when the skiers can’t be distracted even for a split-second. It can be used on intermediate and advanced ski slopes. It is a great tool to prevent injuries, if not worn, ski injuries can be very severe.

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Skiing during snowfall

Advanced and Intermediate skiers

13. 1 Hole Ski Mask

1 Hole Ski Mask is more of a Balaclava design than a style. It is a balaclava with only one opening around the eyes without any opening for the mouth or the nose.

1 Hole Ski Mask is appropriate in extremely cold conditions where exposing the mouth or the nose can get very dangerous. As the entire mask can’t be hole-less, the exposed area is generally covered with ski goggles.

This design is the most common one for ski-masks because it gives maximum protection to the skier.

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Skiing in very cold weathers where exposing any part of the face could be dangerous

All level skiers

14. 2 Hole Ski Mask

2 Hole Ski Mask is also a Balaclava design and not a style. It is a balaclava with two separate openings around the eyes and no opening for the mouth or the nose.

One of the biggest drawbacks of the 1 Hole Ski Mask is that it may not stay in its place. So even if the eyes are covered with ski-goggles, the mask might move a little and expose the parts of the face to the cold weather. This can cause a lot of skin rashes and make the skier very uncomfortable.

A 2 Hole Ski Mask is helpful in such situations because the mask doesn’t move from its place.

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Skiing in very cold weathers where exposing any part of the face could be dangerous

Those skiers who get distracted by the movement of ski mask

15. 3 Hole Ski Mask

3 Hole Ski Mask is again a Balaclava design and not a style. It is a balaclava with two separate openings around the eyes and one opening for the mouth while no opening for the nose.

Even if 2 Hole Ski Mask stays in its place, many skiers find it very uncomfortable as there is no space for breathing in and out. When skiing on advanced slopes or at very high altitudes, this can be very dangerous because the oxygen level is lower. In such places, the 3 Hole ski mask is very useful.

The third opening for the mouth only exposes the lips and not the nose. As the nose is very fragile, this mask protects it well against any accident.

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Skiing at very high altitudes and on advanced level slopes

Those skiers who require to inhale and exhale the air quickly and immediately

16. Double Layered Ski Mask

Double layered ski masks are very useful in extremely cold weather. These make the wearer very confident that cold weather won’t be a hindrance while skiing. Most of the previously-mentioned styles come with double layers, which make them suitable for very low temperatures.

These are great for skiing for long hours and in any kind of skiing venue. Most ski resorts also recommend double layered ski masks because the weather is unpredictable, and tourists don’t want to spoil their skiing trip just because they don’t have the right mask.

Further, tourists might not be very used to the low temperatures, so double-layered masks make them comfortable in new surroundings.

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Skiing in very cold conditions

Tourists not used to the cold weather and also the frequent skiers

Are These Balaclavas Fashionable?

Some of the balaclavas described herewith form part of the most professional ski gear. These are recommended by ski resorts all over the world, and therefore these are of top quality.

Some of these are very fashionable such as the Solid Front, Battery headed, and Sun Mask balaclava. However, the worth of the Balaclava is best measured through its utility, while fashion is only the second-degree parameter.

What to Wear With a Balaclava?

Most times, balaclavas are worn with ski gear only because skiing is the most common use of a balaclava. However, some balaclavas such as the Anti-dust, Sun-Mask, and Neckwarmer can be worn casually also. So balaclavas are casual wear and look great with comfortable clothing such as jeans, a t-shirt, and a jacket in cold weather while no jacket in hot weather.

How Much Does A Balaclava Cost?

A balaclava can cost anywhere between $7 and $150. There are several factors adding to the costs, such as the fabric, print, and design.  Double layered balaclavas are costlier, and Battery headed ones also cost the buyer a little more. However, a Sun Mask made of thinner fabric can come for a very low price.

types-of-balaclavas

Final Thoughts

Balaclavas are must-use ski equipment that gives protection against the cold and makes the wearer look very professional and fashionable. However, Balaclavas can also be used for sun protection and is a modern replacement for Keffiyeh, preferred by many young wearers. It is gradually becoming a must-have dune buggy equipment too.

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