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Types Of Balaclava

24 Different Types of Balaclavas & Ski Masks (With Examples)

It is a well-known fact that skiing as a sport is highly dependent on equipment. From skis to ski mask and balaclavas, everything should be perfect and suited to the requirements of the skier. If even one of the pieces of equipment is imperfect, the skier can get hurt. So, perfect equipment’s are 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 balaclavas and ski masks

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 are 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
  • SUITABLE FOR
  • GREAT FOR
  • BEST FOR
Unisex
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 sports lovers. It is a flexible option that has a removable or adjustable attachment. This gives the flexibility of adjusting the balaclava according to the need. The wearer can pull it down and wear the Balaclava as a neck warmer or pull it up until the eyes’ bottom. He can adjust it anywhere in between these two extremes too. He can even remove the attachment and convert the balaclava into a face mask or a neck gaiter.

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 balaclavas; you are done with just one. How pocket-friendly, isn’t it!

  • SUITABLE FOR
  • GREAT FOR
  • BEST FOR
Unisex
All-weather sports and casual wear
People who live or travel to places with varying weather conditions

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.

  • SUITABLE FOR
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  • BEST FOR
Unisex
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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  • BEST FOR
Unisex
Beginner and Intermediate ski and snowboarding slopes
Wearers who want complete cold protection and might not require helmets

5. Hoodless Balaclavas / Half Balaclava / Half Face Balaclava

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 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.

  • SUITABLE FOR
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  • BEST FOR
Unisex
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.

  • SUITABLE FOR
  • GREAT FOR
  • BEST FOR
Unisex
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 fit very tightly on the wearer’s face and head, and therefore, they prevent the wind from passing inside the facemask. Some windproof balaclavas also have elastic in their lining that adjusts to the wearer’s face giving it a tighter fit.

It completely depends on the balaclava’s material, whether it can be worn in hot or cold weather. If made from hot weather-friendly material, then it protects the wearer from extremely hot winds. These are therefore helpful in skiing and Dune-buggying or casually wearing in both weathers.

  • SUITABLE FOR
  • GREAT FOR
  • BEST FOR
Unisex
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 a water-resistant one, because why buy many when one is best for all seasons.

  • SUITABLE FOR
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  • BEST FOR
Unisex
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.

  • SUITABLE FOR
  • GREAT FOR
  • BEST FOR
Unisex
Dust prone regions
Skiing, Snowmobiling, and Dune Buggying

10. Heated Balaclavas

With the advancement in technology, you can wrap an electric blanket around your head while skiing. Well, although this is a joke, battery-operated balaclavas are available nowadays which perform the same function. 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.

  • SUITABLE FOR
  • GREAT FOR
  • BEST FOR
Unisex
Varying cold weather
Professional skiers experiencing different cold levels as they travel to different locations, all round the year for tournaments

11. Cooling Balaclava

As balaclavas are worn for a long time, it is natural that the wearer will sweat. Cooling balaclavas are designed from specialized materials that absorb sweat and water and provide the wearer a cooling effect. Generally, such an effect can be achieved from materials such as ice silk or the likes.

Further, the fabric is lightweight and breathable, which also helps in wearing it for a long time. Cooling balaclavas are preferred in hot weather and are perfect for sun protection.

  • SUITABLE FOR
  • GREAT FOR
  • BEST FOR
Unisex
Hot weather, sun protection, Casual and Fashionable Wear.
Travelers and Locals of Hot and arid regions

12. Breathable Balaclava

Breathable balaclava has a slight mesh component as part of the entire construction, or the fabric itself is thin and light, which allows air circulation. These are perfect for all kinds of weather conditions, whether hot or cold, for different reasons.

In cold weather, breathable balaclavas make it possible for the minimum required air circulation to prevent the wearer from feeling dizzy. Therefore, breathable balaclavas appropriate for winters have the mesh component generally in the region covering the nose and the mouth.

However, in summer breathable balaclavas, the entire material is made of breathable fabric that leads to maximum air circulation while providing maximum sun protection. Breathable balaclavas also lead to the drying of sweat, giving an overall cooling effect to the wearer.

  • SUITABLE FOR
  • GREAT FOR
  • BEST FOR
Unisex
Hot and cold weather.
Skiers, Casual Wearers

13. 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 alternative to 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.

  • SUITABLE FOR
  • GREAT FOR
  • BEST FOR
Unisex
Hot weather, sun protection, Casual and Fashionable Wear.
Younger generation that wears modern and western attire but lives in hot and arid regions

14. 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.

  • SUITABLE FOR
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  • BEST FOR
Unisex
Skiing during snowfall
Advanced and Intermediate skiers

15. Balaclava With Eye Shield

Balaclavas with an Eyeshield have a small and transparent eye-shield to prevent eye closure due to extremely windy or snowy weather. This shield makes the balaclava great for skiing or dune buggying in windy, dusty, or snowy weather. Depending upon the material, it can be worn in different weather conditions.

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

Also, in cold weather, or when skiing on advanced slopes where speed can’t be controlled much, wind or snow can reduce visibility and cause accidents. The eyeshield prevents such mishaps.

  • SUITABLE FOR
  • GREAT FOR
  • BEST FOR
Unisex
Extremely windy, snowy, or dust-prone weather, both hot and cold
Dune buggy races and skiing in windy, snowy places, and dust-prone places

16. Balaclava With Ear Loops

Some wearers prefer not to cover their ears while wearing a balaclava. However, if they don’t do so, the balaclava might not remain stable in its place. For this reason, the balaclava makers have come up with a compromise, which is a Balaclava with Ear Loops.

Balaclava with Ear Loops has two loops that can be placed around the ears to give the mask stability while freeing the wearer from unwanted ear coverage.

Further, Balaclava with Ear Loops doesn’t restrict hearing like other balaclavas that cover the ears. This is helpful while participating in a team sporting event, where you need to listen to your teammates while skiing.

  • SUITABLE FOR
  • GREAT FOR
  • BEST FOR
Unisex
Less cold weather
Team sports players, People who don’t require ear coverage

17. Balaclava With Filter

Balaclava With Filter is great to be worn in areas with a high level of air pollution. The air filter is a detachable element that can be attached to the part of the balaclava covering the mouth and nose region. This filter prevents the wearer from inhaling dust, chemical pollution, particulate matter, and other pollutants.

The filter can be removed once it is dirty and can be replaced with a new one. It is helpful while skiing or working in jobs that involve close contact with pollutants.

  • SUITABLE FOR
  • GREAT FOR
  • BEST FOR
Unisex
Polluted areas or work involving coming in close contact with pollutants
Skiers, construction workers, fishermen, and people who come in daily contact with pollutants

18. Balaclava With Goggles

Balaclava With Goggles is a perfect solution for skiers in snowy or windy regions. Most times, the balaclavas don’t cover the eyes, so skiers have to wear additional goggles, which is an additional cost. However, balaclavas with goggles have goggles attached to them. These can be pulled down when the weather is very windy or snowy or can be pulled up and placed on the forehead when not required.

As the goggles are attached to the balaclava, they prepare the wearer from unforeseen weather changes. This is a life-saving feature because if the skier skies on an advanced slope, lack of visibility can lead to life-threatening dangers.

  • SUITABLE FOR
  • GREAT FOR
  • BEST FOR
Unisex
Areas with varying levels of cold
Amateur and Advanced level skiers and snowmobilers

19. Funny Balaclava / Novelty Balaclava

Funny balaclavas come in varying shapes and designs. They might have ears similar to cartoon characters or might be shaped like animals. The multi-color knitting pattern can also give a character look to the wearer, making him look funny and playful.

Funny balaclavas can have different shapes; the design pattern distinguishes them from the other balaclavas. Some even have teeth printed on the region covering the mouth, making it look as if the wearer has very big and scary teeth like a cartoon character.

  • SUITABLE FOR
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  • BEST FOR
Unisex
Birthday parties or Costume parties
Children and Parents

20. Camouflage Balaclava

The distinctive feature of a camouflage balaclava is the camouflage print. Each armed force has its own camouflage print, which it assigns to the balaclavas. Many forces require their soldiers to wear a balaclava during combats to prevent face recognition.

As the name suggests, Camouflage balaclavas allow the wearers to mingle with the surroundings and prevent discovery by the opponent forces. Further, the camouflage balaclavas are also useful in mountain combats and are generally a part of the regular uniform also in colder regions.

Some non-military or older camouflage patterns are available for civilian use and are therefore part of casual wear balaclavas.

  • SUITABLE FOR
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  • BEST FOR
Unisex
Usual and Mountain Combats, Uniform Component, and Casual Wear
Armed forces personnel

21. 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.

  • SUITABLE FOR
  • GREAT FOR
  • BEST FOR
Unisex
Skiing in very cold weathers where exposing any part of the face could be dangerous
All level skiers

22. 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.

  • SUITABLE FOR
  • GREAT FOR
  • BEST FOR
Unisex
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

23. 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.

  • SUITABLE FOR
  • GREAT FOR
  • BEST FOR
Unisex
Skiing at very high altitudes and on advanced level slopes
Those skiers who require to inhale and exhale the air quickly and immediately

24. 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.

  • SUITABLE FOR
  • GREAT FOR
  • BEST FOR
Unisex
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, Balaclava’s worth 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 balaclava use. 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. Several factors add 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 & ski masks

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 great alternative to the Keffiyeh, preferred by many young wearers. It is gradually becoming a must-have dune buggy equipment too.

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