A lot of backpacking gear companies are making masks these days, but I like the Mystery Ranch Street Mask the best because it has a head strap like a surgical mask and not just ear loops, so you get a tighter, more secure fit. One end of the head strap runs around your neck which the other can be secured on top of your head to behind it and tightened with a cord lock. Pulling the mask tight also seals the sides against your face providing more protection for you and everyone you come in contact with because it blocks airflow in and out of the mask.
Specs at a Glance
- Exterior: Dri-Lex Starlight 1033 fabric
- Liner: Dri-Lex Dri-Belle fabric
- TPU extruded stretch headband
- 3D bendable nose piece
The Mystery Ranch Street Mask is a two-layer mask, as recommended by the CDC, with a shapeable nose wire, so it creates a better seal around your nose that also helps prevent fogging if you wear glasses. It is conically shaped making it more comfortable to wear for an extended time period, rather than flat or pleated masks, and is even compatible with short beards.
The Street Mask is available in two sizes, a small and a large, and costs $16, which isn’t bad considering how robust and durable they are. In fact, I like the Mystery Ranch Street Mask so much that I bought 20 of them and shipped them to friends and family around the country.
Laundering the Street Mask
The Street Mask is quite durably built like everything Mystery Ranch makes, and the claim is that they can go through many laundry cycles. That’s true, with one caveat. While we’ve experienced very little shrinkage of the mask fabric, the TPU strap can melt if your drier is too hot. Mystery Ranch does not warrant the product against this issue, and they won’t replace the strap or send you a free replacement, which I found pretty disappointing from a brand that’s usually good about such things.
The workaround is to wash the masks (with soap) in the washing machine or by hand since exposure to soap destroys the Covid19 virus molecule. Instead of running the masks through the drier which would be my preference, we just hang them up to dry outside. They’re still very good masks, and remarkably bomb-proof, so this is an extra step that we’re willing to take to keep using them. Here’s a link to the CDC’s recommendations for washing and drying masks.
The Street Mask is available in small and large sizes. The small size fits people with smaller faces, like my teenage niece and my mother-in-law, while the large size fits adults with larger faces and heads, and even a modest amount of facial hair. A medium-size is not available, but it probably should be. See the Mystery Ranch website for fitting instructions and sizing details.
How to Enhance Mask Effectiveness
The primary purpose of wearing a mask is to minimize the transmission of virus molecules that you exhale if you have the virus or are an asymptomatic carrier. But they provide limited protection to the wearer unless the edges of the mask are sealed tightly around your face.
You can increase their self-protective effectiveness from about 30% to 50%, by wearing a strip of pantyhose over the mask to tightly seal the edges around your face. You can read about a study that demonstrated this that was reported on by Fox News and NPR. My wife and I do this whenever we go food shopping, which is pretty much the only time when we can’t social distance as much as we’d like.
Mystery Ranch sells through its inventory of Street Masks very quickly whenever a new batch becomes available. However, they refill their inventory continuously so you won’t have to wait long if they’re sold out when you visit their site. Leave your email address and you’ll be notified when they restock their inventory.
Questions and Comments – Please Read
If you’d like to ask a question about the Mystery Ranch Street Mask or how best to use it, please leave a comment below.
If you are opposed to mask-wearing, please don’t leave a comment about it. I have an 86-year old mother who hasn’t stepped out of her apartment for 3 months as a precaution against catching COVID19 and is likely to remain imprisoned there until a vaccine is available. Needless to say, I’m adamantly pro-mask for her sake and the rest of my friends and family.
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