Need a face mask? We’re making them.

This spring, we rapidly changed gears at our manufacturing facilities to begin producing personal protective equipment—or PPE—for the medical community. Now we’re proud to offer protective face masks to consumers, too.

Our new washable, reusable Face Mask Kits work on their own as a basic face covering, and can also pair with the included filter cartridges (replacement Face Mask Filter 3-Packs sold separately), which are made in the U.S. and filter greater than 95% of virus, bacteria, and particles in accordance with ASTM test standards. The Face Mask is treated with HEIQ V-BLOCK® NPJ03. Learn More about the treatment here.

Though not for medical use, when used with the included filter, the Face Mask exceeds the Centers for Disease Control guidelines for everyday use, reducing the risk of contaminant transmission by utilizing very high filtration efficiency.

READ MORE: How Does The OR Face Mask Compare? Here’s how our reusable face mask with filter stacks up against other options—from bandanas and cloth masks to N95 respirators.

A person wears an Outdoor Research Essential Face Mask.

The Face Mask Kit features adjustable ear loops and a nose wire, which means you’ll get a customizable fit for maximum protection. The face masks are designed with minimal seams for comfort and packability. They fold flat and come with a protective storage pouch.

Our masks are made of polyester fiber, which absorbs less moisture than cotton, so it wicks and dries much faster. Plus, our polyester fabric is more durable than jersey cotton in a 10,000+ cycle abrasion test. The mask, filter and ear loops are all latex free.

Since they’re breathable, non-irritating, durable and water- and stain-repellent, the Face Mask Kits are designed for both indoor and outdoor use. The mask itself is polyester so it can be washed repeatedly and reused, as opposed to other disposable, single-use styles. It can be laundered up to 30 times with 100% effectiveness, maintaining HEIQ V-BLOCK® NPJ03 performance. These masks are built to last.

Each face mask kit comes with a three-pack of filter cartridges made of disposable polypropylene nonwoven material and a protective storage pouch. They offer increased protection compared to a simple fabric mask. We also offer refill packs of filter cartridges.

The Outdoor Research Essential Face Mask Kit.

How often do you need to replace the filters? The filters are designed to be disposable. Replace them based on your amount of use and judgment. If you live in a hot climate or wear a mask 8+ hours a day to work, you may want to replace your filter more frequently. Average wear should give you approximately 5-7 days.

To wash the Face Mask, simply remove and dispose of the filter, wash the mask gently with soapy water and hang to dry. Machine washing on the gentle cycle is also OK for the Face Mask, but hand washing will extend the life of the mask. Masks are water and stain repellent and microbe resistant. The fabric maintains 100% of the HeiQ treatment for up to 30 washes, and after that never degrades past 50%. Think of it the way you would a jacket with a DWR finish—keeping it clean is important.

A person skateboards down a city street while wearinig an OR Essential Face Mask.

When should you wear the Face Mask? According to CDC, protective face masks should be worn in any public place where social distancing efforts might be difficult or impossible, like the grocery store or busy trailheads. The Face Mask Kit is designed to be durable and fit comfortably, so it can even be worn for increased protection while in motion outdoors.



Is there a layer of material between my face and the filter? If so, what is that material between them?

There is no layer between the filter and your face. The inside of the face mask has slots on the left and right sides, so the sides of the filter nest in the slots and there is nothing between your mouth/nose and the filter. The filter has a center seam that helps lift it off of your face so it won’t sit directly on top of your mouth and make it hard to breathe. You can see the filter slot in the photo below.

Closeup of the Essential Face Mask with filter slots visible.

What is particle filtration efficiency?
This is a measurement of filtration of airborne particles, expressed as a percentage, of a mechanical filter media.Wood smoke, airborne dusts, pollen, bacteria, and virus are all particles that these types of media are designed to filter out, explains Alex Lauver, director of commercial innovation. It's important to note mechanical filters are usually not effective against gases, vapors or oils, he adds.
How do face mask filters work?
Mechanical filters retain particulate matter when contaminated air is passed through the filter media, Lauver says. 'These media are created with microscopic webs of fibers that create many twists and turns to catch and trap particles inside. Filters must have a tight enough web to create filtration efficiency but open enough to breathe through. There are multiple physics principles involved in the movement of particles and a high particle filtration efficiency relies on more than one. Some larger particles have enough mass to simply be caught in the web of fibers while others can “ride” on air currents and are much harder to filter out."

Why is the OR filter better?

"The U.S.-made filter media OR uses has a very high particle filtration efficiency that exceeds the CDC guidelines for a face covering," Lauver says.

While breathing while wearing my own cotton mask, moisture collects on the fabric. Will the moisture collect on the fabric as well as the filter upon first and second use?

The nose wire allows you to contour the mask to your face, while the center seams of the mask and filter lift it off your mouth and nose. This helps reduce moisture buildup and it feels comfortable to wear. This is also one reason we chose polyester over cotton. "I wear my mask eight hours a day at the office/factory as has many of our team in the factory,"  Lauver says. "We have superior results with this compared to cotton masks. It also is noticeable with glasses (regular or safety), as ours fog dramatically less than cotton. I have a basic mask (not OR made) at home for groceries, etc and it fogs every time."

How do I insert my filter into my face mask?

Begin by holding your filter so the curved side is on top, and straight side is on bottom. Peel it open on the short end, and match your filter to your face mask so that they sit seam-to-seam. Now, tuck in the wings of your filter one at a time into the pockets on both sides of your face mask. Put the face mask on and adjust the nose wire for a perfect fit.

For more information about how protective face masks work or how and when to wear a face mask, check out our Face Mask FAQ. We expect the masks to be availeble to ship in the U.S. in June, and in Canada a bit later in the summer. Learn more and be notified once available.