A gas mask is an essential piece of equipment for any emergency preparedness plan. They can protect against a variety of hazards, including toxic gases, particulates, biological or chemical agents and radiological fallout. Considering how common many of these dangers are in today’s world, it is always better to be safe than sorry.
A basic gas mask is essentially a filter with an absorbent, so that any chemicals or particulates can be “sucked” up and not allowed to reach your lungs. To do this, they are rated for N95 or higher, meaning that they filter out 95% of anything larger than 1 micron. To put that into perspective, the average human hair is 75 microns wide. Chemicals are a little trickier, since they can slip right through the fine screens. To combat this, most are designed with an absorbent inside the mask, which is often activated charcoal, a very porous form of carbon that will attract and soak up chemicals as they pass through the screen.
In addition to their protection abilities, gas masks also need to be easy and quick to use in the field. That means that they need to be able to easily support a built-in voice projection microphone, and they should connect to a compatible radio headset, so you can communicate with other people in the field if needed. They should also be able to support one-handed swappable filters, which can be done without removing the mask and can help you quickly adapt to whatever environment you are in.
Finally, you’ll want to consider the cost of the mask, as well as how much it will protect you in a real-world situation. Keep in mind that even the best gas masks will only work if they are paired with the proper cartridge or filter, and it is important to research this ahead of time to ensure you’re protected against any potential hazards.
As a result of all the research and testing I have done, I’m happy to recommend the Avon M50 as my pick for the best overall gas mask. It is the standard-issue mask for many NATO nations, and it offers a ton of features in a compact package. It can also be paired with a variety of other accessories and supports both full-face and half mask protection, so you can adjust it to match the threat at hand.
Another solid option is the Ops-Core SOTR, which is a full-face mask that was created with American Armed Forces personnel in mind, but it also comes in a youth version for kids eight and up that works great for those looking for a basic family gas mask. The SOTR offers a comfortable fit and 40mm thread compatibility for all types of filters, and it can even be worn with a pair of eyeglasses. gas masks