Once the temperatures hit the mid teens I turn to balaclavas; if they keep heading south I switch to a face mask. This is the best one I’ve tried so far, since it lets the moisture-laden exhalations out instead of funneling them up to fog up my goggles and build up inside in the form of sweaty slime. It took a full hour to get a fog started on my goggles today in single digit temps which was a nice change from the mere ten minutes of open vision I usually get with my regular balaclava. It was great to have airflow going without getting my face immediately soaked by the blowback from my own breath (don’t worry, I chew gum so at least it’s nice and minty).
I have been taking the ColdAvenger out on my cold weather bike rides, and it has indeed been cold, with temps just now getting back into double digits for the first time in a week or so. I don’t have any asthma conditions or breathing problems, but I really liked this face mask for just plain comfort. It was a little tight over my nose but one can adjust the nose piece if you so choose. I, personally, am too lazy and would rather just suffer. I rode with the valve fully open because all the panting was creating so much condensation but you can adjust the airflow by turning the valve. I never felt as if my breathing was constricted and it really felt quite normal for the most part.
The Cold Avenger fits around your head like a big blood pressure cuff, with a wide swath of Velcro as a closure. This isn’t my favorite part because if you have long hair, as do I, you run the risk of serious tangle-age as well as the standard cautions against bringing such a device anywhere near your base layer. I also found it hard to disengage the Velcro and take the mask off while wearing the requisite giant mittens that such temperatures require, so maybe the addition of a loop or something would be helpful. I took to just pulling the mask down to perform tasks like eating and drinking and the all-important farmer blow. It wasn’t as easy as it is with a regular balaclava, and it messed up the goggle/Avenger configuration a little, and I noticed that I was drinking less due to the hassle factor and that’s probably something to be aware of. Hair management was a problem and I couldn’t do much else other than fasten the Avenger over my hair which was kind of a sweaty mess at the end of the whole thing. This might suck in the backcountry where there’s no easy way to dry one’s hair. Frankly, though, if it’s cold enough that you have to cover up your face you’re better off with this than anything else or at least as far as I can tell.