Monday 28 September 2020

Face Masks: Reusable not disposable! Please!

Keen face mask for protection against hail on the Cairngorm Plateau


We are all wearing face masks now. Or at least those of us who can should be wearing them. This means there millions and millions of face masks around. And many of them are disposable, which is becoming a big problem. "Disposable masks contain plastics which pollute water and can harm wildlife who eat them or become tangled in them." (BBC report). Too many litter roadsides, car parks, and other places. I've seen the blue scraps in the Coire Cas car park in the Cairngorms. I've not seen any in the hills yet but others have reported doing so.

Disposable masks are cheap. That's their one and only advantage over reusable ones. However washable reusable ones are far better environmentally and although disposable ones may be initially more expensive repeated use reduces the long term cost difference. 

Tilley face mask


Some outdoor companues have started making face masks. In recent months I've been trying washable reusable cloth ones from Keen Footwear and Tilley.  Both companies are making the masks from factory offcuts that would otherwide be discarded as waste.

Keen masks are made from two layers of cotton canvas and have adjustable ear loops. They come in two sizes and seven colours and a pack of two costs £10.  

Tilley masks are available in two layers of cotton or a hemp/organic cotton mix at costs of £20 and £25 for packs of two. They have a slit for inserting a filter and come in a variety of colours and patterns, including camouflage! I've been using the double cotton mask.

Both masks are soft and comfortable and easily washed. In cold weather they're good for keeping your face warm. I wore one on the Cairngorm Plateau for protection against wind driven hail and it worked well for this. I'll be carrying one in the pack throughout the winter now.


  1. I got myself a Respro Sports mask back in May that has filters and valves built in. They are highly technical and expensive but since my life depends on it they're cheap in my view. The Keen ones look good at a reasonable price.

  2. An in the field discovery Ash! Hail was stinging my face and I had the mask in my pack so I thought I'd see if it helped. It did. The Keen mask is quite firm. I don't think the Tilley one would have been as good. I haven't seen the Snugpak ones. They look good value.

  3. I've had a reusable face covering made by
    in my mother's clan tartan, Campbell of Argyle. Haven't given it the 'hail' test but might be doing this week!