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With winter sports kicking off across the country this month, thousands of high school athletes are getting back into the gym – and adapting to wearing their masks for indoor practices, workouts and games.

While facial coverings are undoubtedly crucial in slowing the spread of COVID-19, they can also be uncomfortable, itchy or hard to breathe in. It’s important to find a mask that’s comfortable for you, whether you’re sprinting down the basketball court, lifting in the weight room or doing yoga on your day off. Luckily, many brands have stepped up to create athletic masks over the past six months, giving consumers a lot of options.

With so many choices available, we scoured the web to find five of the top-rated, most breathable face masks for high school athletes. Before we walk you through them, here are some key factors you should consider when choosing a mask:

  • The weight: A lightweight fabric goes hand-in-head with a mask being breathable and cool, which is crucial when playing sports.
  • The fit: A mask should be comfortable and secure around your nose and ears. Not only does this keep you safe, but also keeps your mask from rubbing or sliding off your face.
  • The adjustment: If a mask doesn’t come in your exact size, it’s important that you’re able to alter its ear straps or nose piece.

If your mask is lightweight, breathable and well-fitted, you’re probably in good hands. But if not, or if you’re just looking to try something new, here are five great options to consider:

Adidas Face Covering 3 Pack – $20

This best-selling mask was created with soft, breathable fabric and the option to insert a filter for additional protection. With a snug fit over your nose and ears, this mask stays in place during intense physical activity. The bands that go around your ears, while not adjustable, are made of a soft elastic that helps keep the mask in place. 

Under Armour Sportsmask – $30

This mask was designed with athletes in mind. It has a water-resistant outer shell and three layers of fabric that allow ample airflow while also protecting you. One of its best features is that its interior and ear bands feel cool to the touch – which is perfect when you’re building up a sweat. It’s also positioned off your lips and face, making it easier to breathe and stay cool.

Athleta Made to Move Mask 3 Pack – $25

Designed to keep you comfortable during light fitness activities such as yoga and barre, this lightweight mask is a great option for your low-impact days. The interchangeable head strap allows you to alleviate pressure on your ears by attaching it to the ear loops. The strap can be positioned at the nape of your neck, crown of your head or wrapped around a ponytail. If you’ve found that masks hurt your ears easily, this may be the solution you’ve been searching for.

Carbon38 The Mask Kit – $29

This kit comes with two masks and a laundry bag for easy washing. With a multi-layer filtration system and fabric with antibacterial properties, it’s designed keeps you safe and comfortable on the court. The mask is available in two sizes with adjustable straps, making it easy to find one that fits just right. With a snug fit, however, the company does suggest sizing up if you’re between sizes.

Onzie Mindful Mask 2 Pack – $24

Created by a yoga brand, this sustainable mask is made with up-cycled stretchy, quick-drying fabric. It’s praised for fitting snuggly over the face despite having stretchy fabric. A breathable option, but lacking adjustable straps, this is a good option for your favorite low-impact gym workouts like cycling or rowing.

What’s the best mask for coaches?

Now that we’ve gone through some of the best mask options for athletes, we want to highlight one of the most popular masks for coaches. You may have noticed many prominent college coaches wearing it on the sidelines at football games this fall:

Shema97 Functional Active Mask – $14.50

This lightweight mask uses nano fiber fabric, filtering particles down to one micron. It comes in four sizes with easy-to-adjust straps, allowing a sturdy fit on nearly any face. The mask also has a cooling function that ensures good air circulation. Built for comfort, it’s a great option for coaches.

Sources: Best face masks for exercise sessions in 2020, Best face masks for runners, 9 breathable face masks to protect you while exercising, Sherma97 Functional Active Mask.

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