The best masks for travel, comfort and safety during the COVID pandemic

Masks are back, like it or not, while for travelers they’ve never left. All flights, and in most places, all public transport, require them, as do many domestic and foreign destinations, especially within the interior. Even where they are not mandatory, they are a great idea even for people who have been vaccinated, with a growing number of so-called “breakthrough” infections, as well as a social responsibility to protect the young and the immunocompromised. For those who are unvaccinated and put themselves and others at high risk, wearing a mask in all public places should be a moral requirement where it is not regulatory.

The bottom line is that mask usage doesn’t seem to end anytime soon, at least to varying degrees and especially for travel. So if you have to wear a mask, it might as well be the best in terms of expected work, which means both comfort and protection. This is a topic I wrote a lot about at the start of the pandemic when everyone needed to buy masks, often for the first time, and since then I have done quite a bit of travel and a lot of masking and I have some critical observations and advice to offer.

For starters, I prefer reusable cloth masks over paper masks, mainly because it’s still hard to know what you really get with the paper masks. Inexpensive hospital style rectangular masks are easy to obtain, mainly because they do not offer as much protection as the higher filtration of the N95 and KN 95 masks. As a result, many people have doubled down, and even the authorities doctors have recommended this strategy of one mask over another. But you can get the same benefit with a single, multi-layered reusable mask, without waste or additional expense. Ear bands on paper masks are also generally the least comfortable, which is a concern on long trips.

As for the N95 and KN95 masks, they are great when they are real, but with so many frauds you have no idea, and a fake mask that gives you the peace of mind to do more things and travel more. may put you at greater risk. Just yesterday, the Washington post reported that Homeland Security Investigations agents intercepted a shipment of more than 400,000 fake N95 masks. It was not the first time.

Choosing the right mask for traveling is more important than going to the grocery store or other daily chores, simply because the time you need to wear it is much longer. Flying to Europe nonstop typically means two hours at the airport in advance, seven to twelve on the plane, and maybe another hour to go through customs and collect your luggage, all covered up. All flights, national or international, with airport connections considerably lengthen this hidden period. So, comfort becomes much more of an issue and a simple tip that I learned the hard way is that masks that wrap around the ears (vertically) become much more itchy than those that wrap around the back of the ears. the head (horizontally) as the hours go by. hang out. The skin behind the ears is the first to get annoying, so I would mostly avoid masks above the ears for flying, although they can be great for exploring the destination once I get there.

I was also disappointed with most cloth masks with removable filters, something I originally stood for as the filter selection includes many options that are reliably HEPA certified and often produced nationally or in Europe than in disposable masks. But while the theory is great, in practice many fail with physical design flaws where the filter won’t stay in place, fold in on itself, or slide down. Once the filter insert slides under your nose, the result is similar to all those people you stupidly see wearing a mask that doesn’t cover their nose which defeats the purpose. To make matters worse, filters are often expensive and difficult to put in the mask in the first place. But multilayer with high filtration is the best solution, as long as everything stays together.

Dr. Ruth L. Bush, associate dean of medical education and professor at the University of Houston College of Medicine, told TODAY.com. “Research has shown that some loosely woven masks block only 10-20% of particles, but by adding one or more layers of filter material, higher percentages of particles could be blocked.”

So here are my personal favorites, born from experience and protective features.

Kitsbow Wake ProTech: This is my favorite and most used mask, and I have several. A reusable and washable model with a built-in permanent filter, it was developed as part of a partnership between North Carolina-based cycling clothing specialist Kitsbow and healthcare professionals from nearby Wake University. Forest. Typically, double or triple layer masks are more effective than a single layer, but they have a four layer construction, including two internal permanent filter layers. As a result, it’s stronger and heavier than many other models and after repeated washings it still looks new, while others I’ve tried have warped, wrinkled, or have threads that slip through. through. I still use the first one I got over a year ago all the time. It comes in multiple sizes and is an oversized rectangle, larger than most, so you get full coverage that won’t slip, there is a moldable band in the nose area to customize the fit, and that works well with glasses. Two easily adjustable horizontal straps around the head straps with toggles keep the ProTech comfortable even on the longest trips ($ 30). It’s my choice of flight. A few months after its release, Kitsbow released a lighter, more breathable merino wool version with the same features at the same price.

Nanofilter masks: This is an exception that addresses the issues that many other masks have with replaceable paper filters. Based in Prague, är uses a disposable three-layer nano-filter insert made in the EU, which blocks up to 99.8% of particles. In addition, the exterior of the mask is treated with Swedish-made ViralOff, an antimicrobial treatment that reduces 99% of viruses on the surface within two hours. This is important because you often touch the outside of your own mask with hands that may not have been cleaned recently enough. The front is also treated with Eco Aqua Zero, which makes the exterior water repellent and causes water to bead and roll, and although many mask buyers don’t consider what it’s like to wear one under the hood. rain you may need at some point. The masks are light and comfortable, but are used around the earrings, although they have the nice addition of a locking toggle on each for a better fit.

My favorite thing that sets the är masks apart from similar high filtration models is that the filter is a single, fitted piece designed in sizes and shapes to mirror the mask itself, attaching to the inner panel via three bands. Velcro, rather than a pocket. It fits perfectly, stays in place, is very easy to insert, remove and replace, and won’t shift or wrinkle. Plus, the filter itself has an aluminum band built into the nosepiece to perfectly adapt to the perfect fit of the mask, and the disposable filters are reusable rather than single-use – each can be used. up to two weeks. The only downside is that the fit is more precise and ruthless, and getting the right size for your face is essential. They come in three sizes ($ 30 but currently on sale for $ 15). It’s important to note that är offers two versions, with and without an external exhalation valve, a feature that most airlines forbid.

Inex Best Mask: This is the most comfortable premium model I have found, and certainly the most comfortable style with earrings. Los Angeles-based Inex Gear designed The Better Mask in collaboration with Oscar-nominated costume designer Luis Sequeira (The shape of water), and it features a deep scalloped nose bridge so that you can see the wearer’s expression more easily. The shaped chin bar provides a perfect seal, and it features a built-in permanent nanofiber filter layer that covers the entire mask and is washable and reusable for everyday use – without having to remove or replace the filter. The nanofiber is sourced in Europe from a manufacturer who claims it is 98% effective and the mask has been treated with Swiss HeiQ V-Block antimicrobial technology. It has locking toggles on each earring for a highly adjustable, secure and comfortable fit, and is available in three sizes (suitable for ages 5 and up) and four colors. ($ 33). But the biggest difference is that it is very light, comfortable and breathable.

Travel in safety!

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About Marion Alexander

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