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Does your default face cover a? You may have noticed that cloth face masks are not ideal or the most active outdoor activities and that a standard earloop can become uncomfortable to wear over time. One alternative face mask you can look into is a neck gaiter, which is also known as a neck warmer or warmer.
While they may not be as effective as a surgical mask, the best neck gaiters can still be helpful in slowing the spreadwith the bonus of keeping your nose and face warm as the winter temperatures drop.
Do neck gaiters reduce the spread of the corona virus?
Whether they slow down the spread of the corona virus is a matter of debate. Asuggested that neck gaiters may not capture droplets as well as other types of masks, but only evaluated one neck gaiter during testing. The study authors acknowledge that more testing is needed to definitively determine whether neck gaiters are effective in slowing the spread of the coronavirus.
Additional research suggests that neck gaiters are effective at containing respiratory droplets, as long as they use multiple layers of fabric.
Whether you’re looking for neck gaiters to protect you from the elements or as a face covering, this list of the best neck gaiter options has you, your face, and your neck covered. We update it periodically.
This neck gaiter won me over because it’s made of super soft fabric, comes in multiple sizes, and blocks UV rays. The small/medium size is tight, so these are great neck gaiters to choose if you have a small head and face like I do — I had no problems with them slipping. Also comes in a large/extra large for an average adult head.
The soft bamboo fabric makes it comfortable to wear for long periods of time. Since the fabric is thin, you’ll want to double fold it to use as a face covering. It’s not the thinnest gaiter I’ve tested, though, and that’s a good thing—it feels sturdy enough to keep you warm in cold weather, and it’s not too thick or stuffy to wear on hot days.
This might be the only gaiter I trust to slow the spread of germs. It has multiple layers of fabric, including a filter. The Biogaiter advertises that it uses “G95 filtration technology” that filters out “99.75% of all airborne particles 0.1 microns and larger” throughout the gaiter. That level of protection is higher than the N95 respirator, which blocks up to 95% of particles 0.3 microns and larger.
That protection comes at the cost of style and comfort. There’s no way around it, the design of this gaiter is, well, ugly. It’s basically a canvas bag with no bottom and it’s tightened around the head with an elastic band. To keep it from sliding off or riding right into my eyes, I had to tighten it until it pressed against my nose, which was uncomfortable.
I’m not going to write this gaiter off though, as everyone’s head is different and it filters air, something that none of the other gaiters I’ve tested claimed to do.
If you’re looking for neck gaiters that reliably slow the spread of the coronavirus, you can get them on sale right now for $39.
The Buff Original leggings are longer than others I’ve tested, which makes them versatile as you can wear them in a few different ways, including as a bandana or headband. The fabric tube is seamless and unmarked, and it’s light enough to not feel uncomfortable on warm days. Even though it’s thin, you can double up on the Buff Gaiters to give yourself more protection from the elements.
This lightweight neck gaiter also offers UV protection, with a UPF 50 rating. If you burn easily no matter how much sunscreen you put on, this is a good gaiter to wear in the sun as a face shield to give you an extra layer of sun protection.
The Buff comes in a wider range of prints and colors than most of the leggings on this list, and comes in several different styles, including ones that repel insects, block wind, and have extra insulation for cold weather.
Smartwool has built a solid reputation for producing wool clothing and accessories that are soft enough to make you want to wear them. The same goes for this merino wool neck gaiter.
It has two layers of soft merino wool to protect your face from cold weather and warm your neck while also wicking away moisture – perfect for winter sports like skiing or snowboarding. The tube is short, so you can’t wear it in as many different ways as other buffs on this list. It’s also wider than most I’ve tested, which meant I had a hard time keeping it from falling, but it’ll fit someone with an average-sized head just fine.
Recommended but not tested
I wasn’t able to test these neck gaiters before posting, but I’m including them because they have significant features.
Although I haven’t had a chance to test this fleece gaiter, I urge you to as it’s another good option for extra warmth in cold weather, especially in the cold winter temperatures. Patagonia is a trusted brand and I give them props for using 100% recycled fleece fabric and using fair trade labor to make it.
If, like me, you have a small head and face, you may struggle to keep some of the leggings on this list from slipping while wearing them. This Banana Republic gaiter has a similar design to the Biogaiter, with a string that secures it around your head so it doesn’t move.
It’s also made from a stretchy jersey fabric that I bet is softer than the fabric on the Biogatier. It’s also only $15, making it cheaper than almost every other product on this list.
In my research, I wanted to see if the cheap leggings found all over Amazon were actually a good deal and offered decent breathability. I found this highly rated two-pack for $9 (now $12) and what arrived in the mail was pretty much what I expected – cheap and inconspicuous.
The “moisture wicking” fabric is breathable but thin, so this neck tube isn’t as protective against cold weather, dirt, or the spread of germs. If you’re ready to buy a cheap face mask, get a mask instead.
As I tested
I’ve rated each of these neck gaiters based on quality, design, warmth, moisture wicking, and value. Although neck gaiters have been used during the coronavirus pandemic as a non-medical face mask, all but one of the products I tested—the Biogaiter—were not designed to slow the spread of germs and do not claim to do so.
Since I do not have access to laboratories to scientifically test the effectiveness of these neck gaiters as face coverings, I conducted the match test popularized by Bill Nye. Hold a match or lighter about a meter from your mouth and blow as hard as you can to put out the flame.
This test is not safe or definitive, but it helps show how much air passes through a standard neck gaiter, and thus how many droplets can escape. For reference, I have a two-layer cotton mask from Target that passes the match test.
With a single layer of neck gaiters, I doubled them up for the test. The only two that passed were Biogaiter and Smart woolen leggings, both of which have several layers of fabric. The biogaiter even passed as I brought the flame closer and closer to my face. I was eventually able to put out the flames while wearing the Smartwool neck gaiter, but had to huff and puff hard several times to do so. For the rest, I could blow a match with one puff.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care professional with any questions you may have about your health condition or health goals.