Nathan’s Run Safe Face Mask reviewed by trail runner Laura Clark. Laura is an avid mountain, trail and snowshoe runner who lives in Saratoga Springs, NY, where she is a children’s librarian. Flask provided free of charge by Nathan. Retail Price $19.99.
If you are like me, you have been struggling with the necessity of complying with coronavirus racing guidelines, and the burden of running while masking. I also struggle with an additional layer of complications as I contend with exercise-induced and cold weather-induced asthma. That first trek uphill on a cold day reminds me of the initial plunge into the summertime Atlantic Ocean or a gut-sucking Tower staircase climb.
Enter the Nathan Run Safe Face Mask. Double layered with a breathable, moisture wicking polyester/spandex combination, I was able to resist the urge to tug my mask to the forbidden below-the-nose zone. Moreover, the generous, flat straps do not dig into your skin or pinch behind your ears. The longer top strap wraps directly above your ears and the other wraps around the back of your neck. Once properly located, they magically stay in place and do not slip or slide. There is nothing worse than trying to breathe, fiddle with a mask, and remain competitive in a sporting event. For a quick visual, just make sure that the orange NATHAN logo is right-side up, positioned on the left side of your face.
This placement is crucial because of the other unique feature of this sports mask: the quick-flip almost-touchless lip vent which enables you to insert a water nozzle for on-the-run hydration or to pop in a gummy or shot block for a sugary boost. I have also found this feature extremely useful in a race carpool situation where you don’t want to expose anyone but are reluctant to arrive under-hydrated. I have also worn this mask at work and find I am more likely to maintain my usual fluid intake than I am with the standard cloth or disposable mask.
It has been a source of frustration to me that I have a smallish head which makes ordering online problematic. The test mask I sampled was an adult one-size-fits-all, which didn’t quite provide a snug enough fit around the nose and lower jaw. But I washed the masked, stuck it in the dryer and emerged with a perfect fit. Which implies that if your fit is already optimal, air dry! With the stretchy, quick-drying material though this should not be a problem. If you have concerns, visit the Nathan website, scroll down and you will discover a customized measuring/fitting guide.
With mask restrictions in place for the foreseeable future, this would be an excellent addition to your running kit. And while you are at it, would make a great present for a running friend.
DISCLAIMER: This is not a medical-grade mask and is not intended as a replacement for medical-grade personal protective equipment.