Under Armour SPORTSMASK 1st run review: face mask for exercise and running outpaces normal coverings

Under Armour UA SPORTSMASK review (early verdict): breathable and designed for athletes, but is it any good?

Under Armour UA SPORTSMASK review
(Image credit: Under Armour)

This Under Armour UA SPORTSMASK review is not based on months of testing the product, because it only just arrived. Given the amount of interest in face masks for running and workouts, I wanted to give some early opinions, to be updated over time. 

The best face masks are becoming almost as popular as the best running shoes or best running watches, if the interest in the new ASICS Runners Face Cover is anything to go by. It seems that most runners – and people who like to work out in the gym or elsewhere – are keen on finding the best way to exercise in the safest way possible.

• Buy the Under Armour UA SPORTSMASK directly from Under Armour (currently sold out)

This was noticed by established sports companies, of course, many of them announcing the release of their own version of performance face wear at the beginning of summer 2020 . One of the first of these companies was Under Armour and its take on the subject: the UA SPORTSMASK.

• Buy Adidas Face Covers at Adidas for £12.95 (3-pack)

• ...or you can get the Nike Squad Football Snood for £16.95

• In the US? Check out these sports face masks from Shock Doctor

The UA SPORTSMASK was said to be a reusable, water-resistant performance face mask designed for "maximum breathability" and featuring a three-layer model, designer specifically for athletes. But is it any good in real life? I took the UA SPORTSMASK for a spin, here is what I found.

Under Armour UA SPORTSMASK review (early verdict)

(Image credit: Future)

Under Armour UA SPORTSMASK review (early verdict): fit and ergonomics

That's one thing, wearing a face covering when you are in the shop getting some biscuits, it's a whole different story trying to exercise while your nose and mouth is covered. As your body starts to work harder, your muscles will require more oxygen to cope with the strenuous activity. You will start breathing more heavily and frequently, trying to catch up with the oxygen demand of your body.

Now, putting a mask in front of your face when this happens will never be an enjoyable experience but the UA SPORTSMASK tries its best to provide some sort of comfort, considering the circumstances. The mask is not super soft and the three-layer construction helps it keep its shape, meaning it stays away from your face a bit, giving you a little extra breathing space.

Under Armour UA SPORTSMASK review (early verdict)

(Image credit: Future)

You will most likely use the UA SPORTSMASK for exercising so it needs to stay in place, even if your head bobs up and down constantly. Thanks to the nose clip, which probably is just a bit of a wire, similar to the ones used in bras, you can adjust the shape of the top of the mask so it sits better on your nose and won't slide down.

Under Armour UA SPORTSMASK review

Who is this masked man of mystery?

(Image credit: Future)

I ran wearing sunglasses (the excellent Rapha Classic Glasses since you ask) and I was glad to see that breathing into the mask didn't fog the glasses up at all. This also means you can go out running wearing the UA SPORTSMASK and shades, making you pretty much unrecognisable, which is perfect if you want to avoid being recognised when you exercise.

Under Armour UA SPORTSMASK review (early verdict)

(Image credit: Future)

Under Armour UA SPORTSMASK review (early verdict): how to clean the UA SPORTSMASK

The UA SPORTSMASK not only comes with a little soft pouch to store the mask in, but also with an instruction card on how to wear and clean the mask (above). According to this hady guide, once you finished with your workout, you can run some water through the mask to clean it.

This is not a thorough enough approach to rid viruses and bacteria from the surface of the mask bit it will most likely freshen it up so it won't smell sweaty. Once dry, fold up the mask and store in the pouch. According to the label in the mask, you shouldn't dry clean or iron the UA SPORTSMASK:

  • Hand wash cold
  • Only non-chlorine bleach when needed
  • Lay flat to dry
  • Do not iron
  • Do not use softeners
  • Do not dry clean

Under Armour UA SPORTSMASK review (early verdict)

(Image credit: Future)

Under Armour UA SPORTSMASK review (early verdict): durability

From what I can see, the mask is sturdy enough to be called reusable. The weakest links are probably the ear hooks as they are made from a softer fabric and will probably break once saturated with sweat/pull too many times. I guess you can always reinforce them with an elastic band or should they break, replace them completely.

I also assume that due the three-layer sandwich construction, the middle one will eventually be saturated with sweat/dirt and will smell unpleasant, although I'm not sure how long will it take for it to get to that point.

Under Armour UA SPORTSMASK review (early verdict)

(Image credit: Future)

Under Armour UA SPORTSMASK review: early verdict

Is the UA SPORTSMASK necessary? Only if you feel unsafe without a mask, or you live in a place where masks are mandatory. Will it protect you from any viruses? Highly unlikely. It will, however, help contain your breath/cough droplets and the special three-layer construction makes it more suitable for exercise than a standard mask.

The UA SPORTSMASK is not uncomfortable as such but it is far from being a comfortable face covering for exercising, mainly because there is no such thing. Your face needs to be uncovered so you can maximise oxygen intake when needed and covering with anything will stop you from doing that.

• Buy the Under Armour UA SPORTSMASK directly from Under Armour

If you must wear a mask when working out, wear the UA SPORTSMASK as it is at least somewhat suitable for more strenuous activity. Regular face masks sit too close to the face and are also not too breathable, but the UA SPORTSMASK has a few features to make working out in face mask more bearable.

• Buy Adidas Face Covers at Adidas for £12.95 (3-pack)

• ...or you can get the Nike Squad Football Snood for £16.95

• In the US? Check out these sports face masks from Shock Doctor

It’s great that Under Armour is trying to address the needs of fitness fans who want a mask, or are legally required to wear one. SPORTSMASK doesn’t seem like a perfect solution by any means, but I’m not sure there is a perfect solution yet, given the very early state of workout mask technology.