q No one likes to breathe dust. In fact, we will go so far as to say that no one even likes the stuff. Unfortunately, being avid ATV riders, it’s something we all have to deal with, especially in the drier climate areas. Some dust is even toxic—certain spores and microbes in some dirt can cause a fungal infection in the lungs if you breathe enough of it in, and no one wants to deal with that. Recently, we have had the chance to test a pair of dust-filtering devices that we are really impressed with, so we thought we would share our results with you.
First up is the Wolfsnout. Designed by avid motorcycle riders, the Wolfsnout is essentially a foam air filter for your upper respiratory system. Using a simple open-cell foam filter that is soft, durable and easily cleanable, the Wolfsnout can strap onto your head or mount in the mouthpiece of your full-face helmet, depending on the model you order. The Pro Race Series, which slips into the helmet, retails for $19.99, and the All-Sport, which has a thin elastic strap, goes for $23.99. The foam is washable, and the Wolfsnout features separate breathing chambers for your nose and mouth for less fogging and more comfort. It can be had in multiple colors, and you can find it online at www.wolfsnout.com or by calling (770) 598-2994.
We also tested the RZ Mask, which is a completely different approach to mask filtration. Using two low-profile, one-way valves and a neoprene mask (the same material wetsuits are made of), the RZ Mask features an “Active Carbon” filter, which is replaceable but not washable. The filter is claimed to be effective at blocking 99.9 percent of dust particulates and even filters out some harsh airborne chemicals, such as those in exhaust fumes. The neoprene mask uses a Velcro closure in the rear and is available in many colors and patterns for $29.99. You can find it online at www.rzmask.com or by calling (888) 777-9422.
We strapped both masks on in some heavily dusted-out desert conditions to test their effectiveness. When you first don the masks, you’ll notice how much lighter and free-feeling the Wolfsnout is compared to the RZ Mask, which is a tight fit for larger heads and isn’t as flexible. It’s easier to slide your helmet and goggles on over the Wolfsnout too. Breathing is easy in both masks, and neither is a nuisance when adjusted properly. Fit advantage: Wolfsnout.
As far as filtering goes, both masks do an amazing job, so long as they are sealed to your face correctly. The RZ Mask does seem to have a slightly higher filtration capacity in really nasty silt, but the Wolfsnout doesn’t let much in even in bad conditions. The best part about the Wolfsnout is that the whole mask is the filter and is washable, just like a foam ATV air filter. The RZ Mask’s filter must be replaced when it gets clogged, and after a while, you will notice a little drag from the mask when inhaling once the filter starts getting clogged with dust and grime. That being said, the Wolfsnout is a slightly cheaper investment in the long run. Filtration advantage: Tie.
Breathing in dust while riding casually is no fun, but when racing, it can be as bad of a disadvantage as any. You will feel fatigued quicker, as the dust particulates build up in your lungs and cause you to cough up some nasty stuff when breathing heavily. Either one is a smart choice for racers, but for warmer climates, we would take the Wolfsnout’s less-intrusive design and lighter carcass. The RZ Mask can ride up on your nose and get a little uncomfortable at times, causing you to pull over and fix the mask. However, in colder climates, the RZ Mask also keeps your face much warmer, so those in snow and cold weather will likely opt for the RZ. As inexpensive as they both are, you can carry a spare in your riding bag without issue. Another advantage of the Wolfsnout is that you can move the foam out of the way to drink from a hydration pack or CamelBak, which is nice on long rides.
They are both great products, and if you ride year round, pick up one of each. You’ll enjoy the RZ Mask more in the colder months, and when it gets warmer, the free-feeling and comfortable fit of the Wolfsnout will keep you smiling, with white teeth. We love both, but for the warmer Western climate we’re in, we have to give the nod to the Wolfsnout. q