Remember when you were little and you’d stick out your tongue and your mom would say, “Watch out or your face will freeze like that?”
It’s been so cold here in Vermont that this has almost felt like a real possibility. Temperatures have been in the single digits and below, and there’ve been times when it seemed like I could end up with a permanently affixed expression.
Okay, maybe I exaggerate. But below zero temps are not to be taken lightly. Leave your face unprotected, and you could end up with frost bite. I suffered a spot on my cheek a few years ago, and it left me with a small, permanent mark. I’d prefer not to have that happen again, so on really cold days you need a face mask. Yeah, I know — not the most flattering look, but really, it beats the alternative.
That said, face masks have their own set of problems. Conventional masks can cause warm air to back up and fog your goggles. What’s more, they’re just sort of icky. I hate the way your breath condenses on the fabric around your mouth. It’s wet, uncomfortable, and just plain gross.
Lately I’ve been using something that I think is a whole lot better: a partial face mask. This covers your cheeks, nose, and upper lip, leaving your mouth exposed so your breath can escape. No more condensate backing up into your goggles, no more wet fabric on your lower face.
So I have to give two ski poles up to the FaceSaver Mask. I learned about the FaceSaver from a friend of mine who lives out west. It turns out that it hasn’t yet made it to stores outside of Utah, Idaho, and Colorado, but you can order directly from the company’s web site — which is what I did. Made of fleece-lined neoprene, the FaceSaver comes in junior/extra small, small, medium, and large, and velcros around the back of your head. It’s sturdy, comfortable, easy to use, and I can attest that it works perfectly. My face stays warm, and my goggles don’t fog up. I use this in combination with a neck gaiter to cover my face below my mouth, and I’m as warm as toast.
FaceSaver isn’t the only partial mask out there. I recently learned about another that’s now looking for funding on Kickstarter. It’s called the FaceGlove, and it comes with interchangeable straps that fasten either around your ears or around your head. The FaceGlove is available in a heat moldable material or as a more conventional soft shell. You can find out about it here.
Do I recommend partial face masks? Yes. I’m a convert. A great way to stay warm, dry, and protect yourself from frostbite.