Look, nobody wants to wear a mask. But, if you must wear one for hours at a time - while doing sports, no less - then Under Armour's SportsMask is a great option. The only drawback is the price - almost a grand may seem a little extreme when you can get a low-tech equivalent for R50.
Stuff will test pretty much anything, provided we can get our hands on it. Smartphones, TVs, tablets, notebooks… sure. But we’ve also fiddled with night-vision goggles, thermal cameras, surfboards — you name it, if it’s even slightly technological, we’ll test it. As is the case with Under Armour’s new SportsMask, which has been designed to keep sportspeople safe from spreading the dreaded ‘Rona.
Just a pretty face?
The Under Armour SportsMask (just to look at it) is an attractive bit of apparel. Especially if you’re a fan of slick design. Under Armour knows how to design gear that looks good (though it helps if you are already fit and in shape) and that carries through to the SportsMask.
And that’s mostly functional, as well. The exterior is a uniform black, with a soft upper and lower section and a little bunched stitching on the sides. Inside, there are a series of panels that perform the job of keeping the mask in shape and, crucially, away from your nostrils and mouth. Basically, it’ll hold its form no matter how long you’re wearing it. Even soaking wet, it’ll hang onto its shape — which is a little weird to see when you’re washing the thing. By hand, please. Under Armour uses some interesting fabric and it doesn’t like washing machines.
Wear and tear
Nor does the other feature — there’s a built-in nose bridge, in the soft upper section of the mask. This is just a strip of wire that can be moulded around your nose and along your cheeks, to seal air and moisture travelling upwards. Anyone who has tried to run while wearing a mask in even moderately cool weather while wearing glasses will appreciate the nose bridge, but it’s not really the be-all and end-all of mask tech.
That’s probably reserved for the layers of material that make up this make. The outer layer is polyester, the insert is polyurethane but it also incorporates UA’s IsoChill tech. The company talks up what the mask can do, but in practice, it’s really easy to breathe through. Exhale, however, and there’s almost zero air moving out. The SportsMask traps moisture inside, where it’s supposed to be while remaining breathable. But are these features worth the price you’ll pay for one?
Under Armour SportsMask Verdict
There are other masks out there that’ll cost far more than the R45 or so a cloth mask at Checkers or Woolies costs. And they’re even more technological than the Sports Mask, if that’s what you’re after. Air filters are very dystopian and that’s really in right now. But Under Armour’s SportsMask wears its tech on the inside. It’s designed to retain its shape, even in the face of vigorous activity, and it’s also designed to let you breathe while wearing it. And, at this, it succeeds.
The biggest hurdle to buying a SportsMask is the price. We’ve got approximate pricing for the mask — about R700, which is considerably higher than you’d pay for just about any other mask on the market. Is it worth it? If you’re a sportsman, or you’re serious about comfort, then yes. Ditto if you’re all about style — though, maybe, opt for the right size for your face. But it doesn’t really do anything beyond what other masks do — it protects others from you if you happen to have COVID. If that’s all you want, you don’t need to spend seven hundred bucks to get that result.