I subscribe to about 5 different things that are like Groupon or TeamBuy [so, yes, two of those, plus three or more]. One day, one of them was proclaiming its sale of cold weather face masks. Good idea, internet! My face can not freeze maybe and I can maybe proceed to not continue wrapping very long scarves around my face in a ridiculous fashion as I have been doing since circa Winter 2008.

Except, then I realized the problem with why I don’t wear such items and instead use scarves ridiculously is because they look kind of ridiculous and water just freezes to your face and then you end up cold anyways. My bigger issue is breathing in cold weather, and the issue with these masks is that I invariably end up fogging up my glasses or something and then can’t see, and can’t really get home or indoors or anywhere to be able to see without removing the scarf and then that does not solve my “cold air is among my worst asthma triggers” problem, right?

Enter ColdAvenger.

“If you can’t breathe, you can’t play.”

—ColdAvenger 

Okay yeah, that’s a hell of a slogan there, especially for this Canuck, right?
Then I read about the science behind the mask. Because, let’s be honest here… the black version of the mask looks kind of Darth-vader-esque, and as a 23-year-old-girl who frequently wears pink and purple outerwear, I’m not sure that Darth Vader is the look I’m going for.
Except I’m not into sounding like Vader, either, and we’ve already got enough Darth Vader asthma memes, right?
And so on.
Anyways, I reached out to the cool people at Cold Avenger, told them a bit of my story and offered to review on my blog, and they offered to send me out a media package to try out the Cold Avenger myself. Phil was awesome to deal with, friendly and personable, and—get this—I e-mailed my request in, and had a response within ten minutes. So, clearly their customer care isn’t lacking! Phil and I discussed what I intended to use the mask for, and he decided that the Cold Avenger Pro half mask was the better bet for me, “Just in case you start jumping out of planes with your new ability to breathe in cold weather.”
That’s what I’m talking about!

So, in avoidance of looking like Darth Vader (though very confident in my overall level of badassmatic!) I opted for the white “SnowHunter” version of the Cold Avenger Pro half mask, which arrived in my mailbox from Missoula, Montana little more than a week later.
Except it was still October then so clearly I did not yet need the mask […fortunately. I do live in Winnipeg, after all].
So I tried it out a few times last week once the hardcore chill hit, and damn, I am okay looking the part of a super hero/villain/whatever I am not up on my superheroes really for the way this thing works.
The science (more technical version here): Breathe in cold air to the mask. Cold air enters through vented part up front (which is adjustable—so if you need a higher level of ventilation to accommodate for increased respiratory rates due to activity, you can rock that, but if it’s super windy and too much air is being pushed in, you can make the gaps smaller/fewer and thus allow less air to be forced into the mask.) The very (flexible material) that protrudes out over the nose and mouth also catches the moisture/warmth of the air that gets exhaled, so that the next time air is inhaled, it mixes with some warm particles and… viola, no more breathing in crazy cold air!
A bit of a user-end primer on how the valve system works: if I’m doing something of low intensity, like walking to the bus except straight into a north wind, I’ve got the internal bit adjusted to let less air in at me because my respiratory rate isn’t that high and because more air is already being pushed into the mask. [Science, I tell you. Diffusion is where it’s at.] Keeps the air going into the body warmer and thus, the Cold Avenger team argues that it keeps you warmer by doing so—pretty cool, right?
So… Does it work?
 (Note: I’ve since found it is much better to run my earphones UNDER the mask. Also, on this 10 minute walk to the bus, ice crystals formed on my earphone wires just because of how it was hanging by the mask. Easily rectified by running the wires along the side of my face—and, proof of how cold it actually was outside?)
First thing’s first, you’ll see the gap where my earphone wire goes in on the right side—rectified, as stated above, but this was the culprit for the glasses fogging I experienced. The Cold Avenger, for ski goggle wearers and glasses wearers alike, comes with a nose wire so that it can be adjusted to seal more completely around the face.  This picture is from day 1 of Cold Avenger use. By day 2, I had the kinks worked out with the earphones and my hair and everything (the toque’s real use this day was actually because my hair kept sliding around outside the mask, and into my eyes/face and whatnot, so the toque’s sole purpose was actually keeping my hair back ;).
My asthma is really triggered by cold air (yes, I know, Canadian problems much?). Within five minutes of being outside in weather like it was on day 1 of using the Cold Avenger (-10*C, or -18*C with the windchill)—or even milder sometimes—I’m usually at the very least coughing, or feeling some degree of breathing discomfort. WITH the Cold Avenger? I didn’t cough at all until I got to the bus stop (8 minutes into being outside, walking fairly briskly). In fact, while the Cold Avenger people say [and I won’t dispute them, just an observation!] you’ll be warmer in the mask, I actually think I felt colder simply because I wasn’t hyperfocused on my breathing being crappy! So, hey, if I’m going to feel a bit colder because I can breathe!? I can deal with that, guys.
I’ve had a few friends ask (unprovoked even!) about the mask, and I’ve had nothing but good things to say—I mean, of course with the occasional joke included about being a superhero, how could I not?! I can’t wait to find some ice and try it out while skating or playing hockey outdoors with my friends, because if it can make those things more enjoyable, then I will be excited—and, as Phil discussed, if I find some planes to go winter skydiving out of, then hey, I’m ready for that, too! While I used to sometimes have to pre-medicate with Ventolin before even going outside briefly, I hope the Cold Avenger brings me back to a place where I can simply pre-medicate for exercise outdoors like normal instead of for simply going outdoors!
While I got this thing for free to review, now that I’ve tried it and experienced how it works with my asthma, I definitely think it would be worth shelling out the $60 for if you live in a place like I do where it’s cold for up to half the year and have cold induced asthma, or simply do a lot of activities outside and are looking for a solution that doesn’t restrict your ability to breathe or cause ice to form on your face like many alternatives (the crazy scarf wrap, for example) do. Plus, as you can see, I highly recommend upping your badass quotient and rocking some coordinating sunglasses with the Cold Avenger, too.
…Because I’d say that goes with the badassery of avenging, no?
Disclosure: I reached out to Phil at Cold Avenger who agreed to send out a mask and a kit containing information and stickers (!!!) for free for me to review. I offered to do the review in my initial message, but was under no obligation to provide a favourable review (but, they know their product, so clearly they knew they’d win me over :]). 
edit 5:34 pm 11/24/14: Kat pointed out that I meant diffusion and not osmosis up there. She is correct.

8 thoughts on “cold avenger pro review

  1. As a Chicago resident, I think this is a great thing for people with asthma. I won’t be here too much longer otherwise I would do the superhero look too! Goodbye cold and wind. Off to AZ soon!

  2. Enjoyed your review. Our son works outdoors in the worst weather fixing knocked down light poles from people who do not know how to drive when it snows, even in Western SD.
    On November 10th, he had to work with wind chills in the -25 degrees F. He actually froze his cornea and thought he had a piece of glass or something get into his eye through his safety glasses. The eye doctor said it was rare but The doctor said he needs to protect his face and eyes with protection.
    How bad did your glasses fog up? That is the biggest concern for him, as it could be real dangerous if he is moving a 40ft light pole and he can’t see.
    Thanks!
    PN from South Dakota

    1. Hi Peggy,

      So this one is hard to say; can he get, for example, ski-type protective goggles? If so, the fogging shouldn’t happen [the Cold Avenger is designed for winter athletes]. The other thing is, it mostly comes down to adjustment. I had no fogging one time last week, but several incidences of fogging today, which I think is mostly because of adjustment–I also wear over-glasses sunglasses so this may be a contributor with any updrafting from the mask.

      I’ll try to remember to check back in with an update in a few days on the fogging situation, but if I don’t, please don’t hesitate to drop me a message here or e-mail kerriontheprairies [at] gmail.com :].

  3. Nice post! What happens if the air thing is on the wrong setting? You suffocate? I think I’d be a bit self-concious wearing that, but it sounds great.

    … Says the lady who took a few hits of Ventolin while stopped at a red light on her drive to work yesterday…. in 13 degree rainy weather.

    1. Haha, it can never block air completely haha. The slats are basically identical so if you have it in the most open position they’re unrestricted, and if you have it less open it’s like a checkerboard kid of deal :).

      I mean, am I self conscious? Totally. But was I also self conscious about the whole wrapping the scarf like crazy around my face? Yep. So, at least this way it LOOKS like I know what I’m doing ;). Welcome to Canada! 😛

  4. Just letting you know that your review is appreciated. I am contemplating getting one of these and live over in Calgary where it doesn’t get as cold or windy as Winnipeg but the air is uber-dry. Regular balaclavas and scarves aren’t helping my asthma anymore when the temps drop below -18c out here for me. Need something new. I reviewed a couple of cold-weather masks years ago on my ski-blog (long gone – moved on) that were nothing more than novelty items so thanks for this review. Seems like this might work.

    1. Hey Jason,
      Nice to connect with you! I hear that–I find that the coldavenger is pretty helpful at least when it’s adjusted right to minimize fogging issues. I went out Christmas shopping and slogged around in -25 from store to store outdoors after busing over to the shopping centre area–first real cold day of the year, and on a lower dose of zenhale, and things were good!
      Let me know if you go with the coldavenger and how it goes for you!
      (PS. If you ever want to guest blog about skiing and asthma, or whatever you’d like, let me know! Would be happy to have you :).

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