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Best bike mask 2023: The best N95 and N99 anti-pollution masks still in stock

As city cyclists and runners are exposed to more pollution than ever, look after your long-term health with an N95 or N99 bike mask

Most commuter cyclists are based in cities, where pollution is a serious hazard. A 2018 report by the World Health Organisation found that, in the UK, more than 40 towns and cities were at or had exceeded WHO air pollution limits, exposing urban riders (and other outdoor types, such as joggers) to a host of health problems, including stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and respiratory infections. And this isn’t just a theoretical risk: a study conducted by King’s College London suggested that up to 36,000 people in the UK die each year as a result of long-term pollution exposure.

So it’s well worth investing in a cycling mask, and practically essential if you frequently cycle in a busy urban area.

These simple, low-cost accessories can cut down the air pollutants you breathe by up to 99%. And, best of all, they’re available in a range of styles and colours, so you needn’t look like a movie villain (unless that’s your style).

Here’s our guide to everything you need to know about bike pollution masks – their benefits and any potential drawbacks – along with our pick of the best options on the market.

Disclaimer: Expert Reviews is not a medical authority. Our recommendations are based on advice published by non-affiliated organisations.

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Best anti-pollution masks: At a glance

How to choose the best bike mask for you

Why do I need a cycling mask?

Anyone who regularly cycles, jogs, or walks in an urban environment can benefit from an anti-pollution mask. These masks are designed to filter harmful particulate matter and gaseous pollutants out of the air you breathe, protecting you from diesel fumes, roadwork dust and even airborne viruses. They can also reduce the amount of pollen you inhale, which is great news for hayfever sufferers.

And while you might do most of your cycling in the UK, a mask can also be a particularly smart investment if you’re travelling to a country with even higher pollution levels, such as India, Saudi Arabia or China.

What certifications should I look for in a bike pollution mask?

Western anti-pollution masks should carry either an N95 or N99 certification. These ratings are issued by the US government and indicate the percentage of air particulate matter that a mask can filter. An N95 rating will thus protect you from 95% of particles, but we recommend you look for an N99-certified design. These masks can filter out PM 2.5 particles, which are the smallest, lightest and most dangerous, due to how long they can stay in the lungs.

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What can’t a bike pollution mask filter?

No matter how good your pollution mask, it can’t keep everything out. Cigarette smoke, for example, is very difficult to filter completely as some of the particles are extremely small. A regular cycling mask also won’t reliably protect you against viruses and diseases; if that’s what you need, look for a device with a European PPE or US MDC classification.

How do I get the right fit for my bike pollution mask?

It’s essential that your mask fits correctly. If it’s too loose, polluted air will slip in at the sides; too tight and it will restrict your breathing. Look for a sizing chart before you buy, so you can ensure you’re ordering the correct size.

Is it better to get a mask with replaceable filters or valves, or neither?

Certain manufacturers make bike masks with replaceable filters or valves; other models have built-in filters, which means you have to replace the whole thing once it’s reached the end of its lifespan. Disposable masks may not be quite so environmentally friendly, but they’re simpler, and each one should last between six months and a year, depending on the frequency of use and pollution levels. It’s up to your personal preference which to go for.

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The best anti-pollution bike masks you can buy

1. Respro Ultralight: Best bike mask for hot conditions

Price: from £18 | Buy now from Amazon

Respro is a world leader in bike pollution mask sales and, while its masks might look a little sinister, the filtering technology certainly does the job. The Ultralight is our favourite from Respro’s range – its mesh-like stretchy fabric keeps you cool when it’s hot and humid, and the double-valve filter makes it easy to breathe, even when you’re pedalling hard to get to the office on time.

The Hepa-Type sport filters on the Respro Ultralight tackle PM2.5 and are replaceable. You can even buy specialised filters designed to reduce allergic reactions or eliminate bad smells.

2. Totobobo Anti-Pollution Mask: Best replaceable-filter bike mask

Price: £25 | Buy now from Totobobo

Totobobo is a popular alternative to Respro’s market-dominating masks. Instead of the ‘Sith Lord’ look, this manufacturer has gone for a clear design, with simple ear straps and a white filter on each side. It’s very lightweight, and kept my face cooler than either Vogmask or Cambridge Mask’s offerings – although we suggest you steer clear of the “SuperCool” model, as this doesn’t cover your nose and offers much less effective protection.

There are two sizes to choose from (large and “petit”) and, while the supplied filters only have a 92% efficiency rating, you can order replacement filters with ratings up to 96% for greater protection from harmful particles – and, when replacing the filters, it’s very satisfying to remove the old, blackened ones and see all the filth that’s been prevented from entering your lungs. If simplicity is your thing, this mask is a great choice.

Buy now from Totobobo

3. Respro Techno Anti-Pollution Mask: Best for a custom-fit

Price: £22 | Buy now from Cycle Store

Another strong choice from Respro, the Techno anti-pollution mask has a contoured design made from hypoallergenic Neoprene, fitting closely to your face while remaining comfortable. The dynamic activated charcoal cloth filter is designed to filter out sub-micron particles, such as pollens and respirable dust, and the two Techno valves allow for easier exhalation, reducing heat and carbon dioxide buildup inside the mask.

The mask comes in three sizes – medium, large, and extra large – and can be adjusted with a velcro strap for the most secure fit. The filter is designed to be effective for at least one month of normal daily use, and can be easily replaced thereafter.

Buy now from Cycle Store

4. Cambridge Mask Co. Pro: Best value bike mask

Price: £25 | Buy now from Wiggle

UK-based Cambridge Mask Co. offers its N99 anti-pollution masks in no fewer than 28 colourful and charming designs. If you really want to express yourself, and you’re willing to order in bulk, you can even order custom-designed masks. The company also caters specifically for children, with sizes to suit every member of the family.

The masks don’t have replaceable filters (filtering is performed by the mask’s triple-layer lining) but the Pro does feature a valve to help breathability. And Cambridge Mask offer a useful chart, with advice on how often to replace your mask depending on your area’s pollution levels. In all, it’s a fun and stylish mask.

Buy now from Wiggle

5. Vogmask N99 C2V: Best double-valve bike mask

Price: £27 | Buy now from Vogmask

Vogmask started out in 2011 as a small-time San Francisco-based mask manufacturer, but now sells its anti-pollution masks in over 40 countries. Alongside a top-tier N99 certification, its devices boast a European CE Mark and approval from the Chinese and Korean health ministries.

Vogmask produces both single-valve and double-valve masks. We found that the single-valve model didn’t allow enough air in during a hard cycle, but the double-valve was superbly comfortable and worked brilliantly. The filters aren’t replaceable, so in pollution-dense areas you’ll need to replace your mask every five months for maximum effectiveness. For an extra few pounds, you can also order a reusable head-strap accessory from the website, which we strongly recommend to ensure a good, snug fit.

Buy now from Vogmask

6. Airinum Urban Air Mask 2.0: Best premium bike mask for stylish looks

Price: £59 | Buy now from Airinum

The Swedish-designed Airinum mask is reusable and KN95 certified for protection against pollution, smog, and pollen. With four different sizes available, they have a measuring guide to help you find the right fit. Alongside the adjustable earloops, it comes with a head strap to take the pressure off your ears, and features 3D memory nose-foam and a nose-clip to stop your glasses fogging up.

There are three colours to choose from, and the two exhalation valves match the colour of the mask, which really streamlines its look. The removable filters last for 100 hours of use and, when you’re not using the mask, you can pop it in the travel pouch to keep it clean. The only drawback is the price – not only is the mask expensive, but it has ‘running costs’ because the filters have to be replaced at the sum of £25 for a pack of three.

Buy now from Airinum

7. Respro Bandit anti-pollution scarf: Best bike mask scarf7. Respro Bandit anti-pollution scarf: Best bike mask scarf

Price: £22 | Buy now from Amazon

This bandit-style anti-pollution scarf from Respro features a built-in dynamic ACC filter that has been treated to be fully washable. This eliminates the faff of filtered bike masks and still provides effective protection from air-borne dust and dirt for an impressive six months in urban conditions. However, while Respro claims that the DACC filters out the “broad spectrum of pollutants commonly found in major cities across the globe” – which should reduce the discomfort of breathing in dust and dirt while you’re using this scarf – it’s not N99 or N95 rated. So, if you need protection from smaller particles in the air, opt for one of the other masks in the roundup.

It’s one-size-fits-all and ties around your head, so if you’re not keen on normal bike masks, then this is a great alternative. Even with the looser style, there’s an under-chin fastening that helps keep out any pollutants trying to sneak in around the sides.

8. Airhead Mask: Best mask for e-bike and e-scooter riders

Price: £49 | Buy now from Airhead

Not to be confused with the popular taffy brand of the same name, Airhead is a new UK startup that claims to have been in the top 0.5% most funded of all Kickstarter projects. Their Airhead Mask is a bulky, yet lightweight, reusable anti-pollution mask that’s capable of filtering out over 99% of all particulate matter, including the harmful PM2.5 and PM10 molecules. It looks slick, is constructed of sturdy materials, and is easy to adjust for the perfect fit. It’s also modular by design, and its filters are replaceable, resulting in less environmental waste.

However, we couldn’t recommend wearing it for long bike rides or jogs lasting more than 20 minutes. The reason being that, once you start to sweat, that airtight TPE seal isn’t of much use. As your body temperature rises, the mask acts like a localised sauna, and sweat starts to pool where the seal meets the face. Once that happens, the mask begins to slip, even when the straps are properly tightened. It’s uncomfortable and requires constant readjustment that you don’t want to be making while navigating busy city traffic. So we feel the Airhead is best for people who won’t be sweating heavily – e-scooter and e-bike riders would get the most from it, as would city drivers who are sick of breathing in the harmful fumes that creep inside their vehicle.

Buy now from Airhead