I’m always on the lookout for new gear to prevent my goggles or glasses from fogging up when I’m hiking above treeline in winter. I believe that poor venting of moist exhalations is the main culprit behind lens fogging, and if your breath can be vented farther in front of your face, it’s likely that you can curtail moisture buildup.
In good conditions, I try to get away with sunglasses and a balaclava when I’m on top of unprotected summits and there’s little or no wind. There are times however, when have to put on a face mask and goggles to prevent frostbite. Everyone I know hates doing this, but them’s the breaks.
When required, I use a Serius Neoprene facemask that I’ve modified slightly to enable drinking and eating while wearing It still causes my glasses to fog though, so I was open to trying the Talus ColdAvenger Pro Face Mask, as an alternative.
The ColdAvenger Pro
The ColdAvenger is really odd-looking. Unlike other face masks, it has a rubbery snout-like protuberance that fits over your nose. Honestly, it looks like a gas mask. But it’s advertised to ward off fogging better than a regular mask, particularly if you wear glasses, so I put it to the test.
The snout has an adjustable air vent inside that lets you regulate how much air can get flow in and out, enabling you to regulate the temperature of the air you breathe. It also has drain holes along the bottom of the snout which are needed to drain the snot that invariably flows from your nose in colder weather.
The mask itself has velcro tabs on the ends that connect behind your head and allow the mask to be worn with a ski helmet. When worn without a balaclava, the mask covers your ears, nose, cheeks, ears, and neck. Talus also sells a combination face mask and balaclava, which looks worth a try. I like the way the sides of the mask attach directly to the balaclava.The drain holes are significant because the the ColdAventger is made out of a softshell fabric and not neoprene like other mountaineering face masks. A neoprene mask can stay warm, even when it’s damp, but I’m not sure that a softshell fabric (of unknown composition) can insulate as well in subzero windchill.
To test the ColdAvenger Pro Face Mask, I set up the following test matrix with the different kinds of head and eye protection I use above treeline, including Smith Knowledge Turbo OTG Snow Goggles (includes a small built-in fan in the goggle frame), Chilis OTG sunglasses, and an OR Sonic Windproof Balaclava. As a control, I also alternated using the Serious face mask and the ColdAvenger Pro, so I could do a side by side comparison.
Then I went snowshoeing for three hours to build up my body heat, warm up my breath, and test the variations.
Here’s the bad news. The ColdAvenger Pro doesn’t prevent my glasses from fogging any better than my current Seruis neoprene facemask. It doesn’t matter if I’m wearing goggles or OTG sunglasses, or if the built-in fan on my Smith goggles is on low or high speed. It also doesn’t matter how open or closed the venting on the ColdAvenger snout is, or if I wear the optional foam nose bridge included with the product for eyeglass wearers.
But all is not lost. The ColdAvenger Pro does successfully add a new element of COMEDY to cold weather activities that you don’t want to pass up! Especially, if you have children.
As your nose runs, your snot runs out of the holes in the bottom of the ColdAvenger snout, freezing to the front of the face mask in an alarming way. It is unbelievably gross, but funny. How can you pass that up?
Disclosure: Talus Outdoor Technologies LLC provided sectionhiker.com with a complementary ColdAvenger Pro Softshell Face Mask for this review.