While wearing a mask is not compulsory in UK gyms (yet) and it’s not become common practice to wear one while exercising outdoors either (also yet), we still think it’s worth considering premium options from sports brands for two reasons.
The first is that it might well become the norm to wear a mask while exercising at some point, and the second is that the performance-focused fabrics used in sportswear just so happen to create a more comfortable mask.
That’s certainly what we’ve found with the Asics Runners Face Cover, which has become our go-to option for trips to the shops and the rare occasions when we venture onto public transport.
The washable mask is designed to cover the mouth and nose without restricting air flow, with the slightly peaked front allowing you to breathe more easily. The design also seems to be among the best solutions to the problem of foggy glasses that many of us have been encountering with standard masks that sit tight against the face.
At the bottom of the mask is a small mesh section that allows more air inside without allowing droplets to sneak out, which would somewhat undermine the usefulness of the product. The material used is also quick-drying and water-repellent, and the adjustable straps are easy to tighten.
We’ve tried a couple of workouts in the Asics mask and, while it’s definitely better than with a standard mask, it’s not what we would call an entirely comfortable experience. Even on a relatively easy run it got hot and sweaty under the mask after about a kilometre, though if you take the approach of wearing it around your neck and only pulling it up when passing people you won’t overheat. Unless you’re passing people the entire time, in which case you might want to have a look at a running route planner.
It’s the best mask option we’ve found, though, and if new rules come in or you do want to start exercising in a mask, the Asics face cover or something like it is preferable to a basic fabric mask. It’s obviously more expensive at £35, but for a comfortable washable mask you might be wearing every day for some time to come, we think that’s not bad at all.