RZ Mask Review: Dust-Free Off-Roading?
Off-road dust – it gets everywhere. It gets on the dash of your truck or Jeep and in your eyes, and if you’re riding a dirt bike, ATV or side-by-side, it’ll get in your hair and in your riding gear. Most importantly, without protection, it’ll get in your mouth and your nose.
That’s where the RZ Mask comes in. Designed to provide clear breathing in the dusty off-road environment, the RZ Mask is a neoprene mask that fits over your nose and mouth that is thoughtfully constructed to fit under helmets for off-roaders playing in the dirt. The RZ Mask is fitted with an active carbon filter that is designed to filter out 99.9 percent of particulates sized .1 microns and larger of dust, pollen, exhaust fumes and more.
The mask integrates a dual-valve system designed for one-way breathing. The one-way valves help vent the rider’s breathe while reducing moisture build up at the same time. The twist-seal locks for each valve keep the inner liner in place to prevent unfiltered air from entering. To secure the mask, the neoprene-constructed RZ Mask features sewn-in Velcro that adjusts as much as 2.5 inches to fit most adults. The durable neoprene material that makes up the outer portion helps give the RZ Mask a long lifespan; users will simply need to replace the filter occasionally, though an extra filter is included with each mask purchase.
There are a number of options when it comes to colors and designs for the RZ Mask. Solid colors are available, as are limited-edition options such as the Inked West Coast Customs Edition, Gas Mask or Katana. There’s also the Premium Mask line, of which we tested the Spitfire model that pays homage to World War II-era aviation. The RZ Mask is available in three different sizes, including Youth (most kids 12 and under, 130 lbs. for less), Regular (designed for most adults), and XL (for larger frames and adults weighing 235 lbs. plus).
We tested the unit during our week in Johnson Valley for the 2014 King of the Hammers race. While riding dirt bikes and side-by-sides around the area, we started the week using a handkerchief under our helmet to cover our nose and mouth – you could say we were going the old school route at first. This simple solution is an easy, tried-and-true way of keeping some of the dust out. The downside to the "old school" way is that it does need constant adjustment when taking on and off your helmet, it doesn’t do a thing to cut the cold morning or evening air; and it only keeps some of the dust out - it's far from perfect.
After a few days of running around the desert with a handkerchief on our mug, we swapped it out for the RZ Mask. First and foremost, the mask is pretty easy to put on – simply fit it around your nose and mouth and the Velcro fasteners on the back help secure it in place. The mask is comfortable and form fitting, and it’s clearly designed to fit under helmets – it does not get hung up on the mouth guard at all when putting on or taking off a helmet.
Since the RZ Mask is designed to keep dust, pollen and other environmental particulates out, it definitely feels much more like a secure mask than a loose handkerchief or something similar. It feels secure and doesn’t easily move out of place, and the neoprene material of the mask actually helps keep your face much warmer when riding in the cool desert mornings, which is something we didn’t even think about until we put it on. Most importantly, the mask provides clear and easy breathing at all times and doesn’t feel constricting – and it definitely keeps dust out of your nose and mouth. At first it reminded us of wearing a mask for staining wood or painting something in the garage, but once used to the feel or the filtered RZ Mask breathing feels normal and unstrained - and certainly much less polluted with dirt and dust.
Overall, we came away very impressed with the RZ Mask. It’s a simple product that provides the best solution we’ve seen to date for a problem many off-roaders face – inhaling and eating dust while riding. With side-by-sides and Jeeps kicking up dust in front of us on the trail, we weren't distracted by inhaling a dust cloud while riding. The RZ Mask model we tested retails for $29.95, which we think is a reasonable price for a piece of gear that should be in every off-roader’s bag. The only pieces that will have to be changed eventually are the filters to keep the RZ Mask at optimum performance, but even those won’t break the bank at a reasonable $6.95 for a three-pack. We’re glad we tried the RZ Mask, and it’s certainly something we’ll be using again on the trail.