Best face mask for running 2021: the best face coverings for runners, workouts and exercise

The best face mask for running will let you exercise more safely with less discomfort than a standard mask

Included in this guide:

Best face mask for running
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The best face mask for running is more than just a piece of fabric in front of your mouth and nose that block the air. No, unlike masks designed for everyday use, the best face coverings for running, exercise and workouts allow improved air flow and greater comfort during strenuous exercising sessions. And some of them will even let you drink without taking the mask off. 

Running face masks are becoming more and more popular and they will probably be used runners for many years to come. A lot of people are starting to realise how important it is to protect others – and themselves – during exercising and otherwise. It's better to be prepared for the bad times so even if we end up having to isolate again, at least we can go out for a run wearing the best face mask for running.

Why should you wear running face mask

Wearing a mask for exercising can help contain your cough droplets which might stop the spread of viruses and other airborne illnesses. Due to the increased oxygen demand of the body during exercising, athletes breathe more which increases the possibility of spreading viruses and/or bacteria, especially when exercising indoors.

We all agree that wearing a mask for exercising is not ideal, but the best face masks for running make masked workouts less dreadful. If it is mandatory to be masked where you live, they are genuinely essential.

Most running face masks provide a little more breathing space in front of your face as well as being quick drying and easily washable. This means that workout masks will sweat wick away faster, letting you breathe easier during exercising and will not get damp in the best gym bag either.

best face mask for runners

(Image credit: Under Armour)

What are the best face masks for running?

We expect a lot more running face masks coming to the market in the near future but as of now, the best face mask is the ASICS Runners Face Cover. Truth to be told, it is not available to buy just yet but it will be very soon. The ASICS Runners Face Cover is not cheap but it is definitely the best face covering for exercising so far.

If you are after a running face mask you should get the Under Armour SPORTSMASK which is cheaper than the ASICS Runners Face Cover plus has an ISO-CHILL layer on the inside of the mask to keep your face cool during workouts. It also comes with a carry case, more bang for your bucks!

Best face masks for running, in order

best face mask for runners: ASICS Runners Face Cover

(Image credit: ASICS)

ASICS Runners Face Cover

Best face mask for running – you can even drink through it (at a push)

Reasons to buy
+Quick-dry, water repellent fabric+Uses approx. 30% recycled material+Washable
Reasons to avoid
-Twice as expensive as your average 3-pack face coverings-One size only

• Buy the ASICS Runners Face Cover directly from ASICS (available from mid-September)

If you must wear a mask for exercising, maybe because you have an indoor class in a gym or you feel safer wearing a mask when running, the ASICS Runners Face Cover will do a great job providing you with a little breathing space and making sure your nose and mouth are covered adequately.

The ASICS Runners Face Cover is light and breathable and surprisingly enough, you can actually drink through it, should you want to. Better still, it dries quickly so you don't have to worry about getting it wet with either your sweat or by drinking water through it. It is worth noting that if you will actually drink through the ASICS Runners Face Cover, you will sort of wash the mask with the water that goes through it which makes it even less appealing to drink through the face cover. It is possible, though.

All the great performance features come at a price, literally: the ASICS Runners Face Cover is around twice the price of good quality reusable masks, if not three times. That said, even the best fabric masks are not good enough for sports, unlike the ASICS Runners Face Cover, which is, to some degree.

• Read our full ASICS Runners Face Cover review

best face mask for runners: Under Armour UA SPORTSMASK

(Image credit: Under Armour)


The best face mask for workouts

Reasons to buy
+Comes in three sizes for better fit+Inner Iso-Chill layer cools down the skin+Antimicrobial treatment on the inside layer+Water-resistant outer shell
Reasons to avoid
-Ear loops feel rather weak

• Buy the Under Armour UA SPORTSMASK directly from Under Armour

Is the UA SPORTSMASK necessary? Only if you feel unsafe without a mask, or you live in a place where masks are mandatory. Will it protect you from any viruses? Highly unlikely. It will, however, help contain your breath/cough droplets and the special three-layer construction makes it more suitable for exercise than a standard mask.

If you must wear a mask when working out, wear the UA SPORTSMASK as it is at least somewhat suitable for more strenuous activity. Regular face masks sit too close to the face and are also not too breathable, but the UA SPORTSMASK has a few features to make working out in face mask more bearable, such as the antimicrobial inner layer and the water-resistant outer shell.

Unlike the ASICS Runners Face Cover, the UA SPORTSMASK doesn't follow the 'one-size-fits-all' approach and comes in three different sizes. This makes finding the right fit easier so your mouth and nose is covered more adequately. The Iso-Chill inner layer will increase comfort levels even more, at least as much as wearing a face mask during exercising will let you.

• Read our full Under Armour UA SPORTSMASK review

best face mask for running: Adidas Face Cover

(Image credit: Adidas)

Adidas Face Cover

Breathable and made for sports

Reasons to buy
+Cheap as chips+Comes in multiple sizes+Available most of the time+Made from 40% recycled materials 
Reasons to avoid
-Admittedly not as advanced as the SPORTSMASK or the ASICS Runners Face Cover

• Buy the Adidas Face Covers directly from Adidas

The Adidas Face Cover is a more basic concept than the top two choices but it have certain advantages over those, such as being available to buy most of the time and also being significantly cheaper. This doesn't mean that the Adidas Face Cover is cheap per se and wearing this workout mask is definitely better than just wearing a neck gaiter for running.

Better still, the Adidas Face Cover uses 40% recycled material (Primegreen models) and it is also easy to use and reuse, according to Adidas anyway. You get three masks for £15/$20 too, perfect for the price conscious athletes.

best face mask for running: Shock Doctor PLay Safe Face Mask

(Image credit: Shock Doctor)

Shock Doctor Play Safe Face Mask

When you want to show some attitude

Reasons to buy
+Multiple design options+Moisture-wicking fabric+Quick-flip hydration access
Reasons to avoid
-Might be a bit too much attitude for some

• Shop the Shock Doctor Play Safe Face Mask range, prices from $19.99

Not quite as sophisticated as the ASICS Runners Face Cover but the Shock Doctor Play Safe Face Mask offers a way to drink water while wearing a mask nevertheless thanks to its patent-pending Quick-Flip technology. As the name might suggests, the upper part of the mask can be 'flipped up' to reveal the mouthpiece, through which you can take water without taking the mask off.

There is no need to panic even if the Shock Doctor Play Safe Face Mask gets wet as it is made of a moisture-wicking material that dries easily, all the while being comfortable to wear thanks to the elastic dual head straps that wrap around the back of the head. The material is also machine washable, making both the Face Mask and Gaiter reusable unlike single-use disposable masks.

The Shock Doctor Play Safe Face Mask comes in a range of colourways and print options there is even a neck gaiter option for even more protection below the head, ideal for the colder months.

Matt Kollat
Matt Kollat

Matt is a fitness fanatic (a.k.a. fitness and nutrition writer) who's been rambling on about all things health and fitness for over two years now here at T3. His achievements include a short-lived fitness podcast called Fit Mentality Podcast and being a judge on the Fit&Well Awards 2021. In his free time, he works out at home, runs, cycles and loves a good ol' walk around the city. He writes about general fitness stuff, fitness tech, workouts, workout gear/equipment, nutrition and much, much more.