We probably have to wear face masks for a while, as this Covid-19 pandemic is not going to be over anytime soon.
Personally, it has been a dilemma between a disposable face mask and a reusable cloth face mask. I always find disposable surgical face mask to be more breathable and comfortable, but its one-time use means it is not environmentally friendly.
Cloth mask, like those issued by the Singapore government, can be re-washed and re-used. However, I find them less breathable and not as comfortable as the disposable ones.
Enter Airinium’s Urban Air Mask 2.0. It is a re-usable cloth face mask said to be armed with cutting-edge filter technology for high-level of protection and breathability.
It comes in four sizes (XS, S, M, L) and three colours of black, pink and grey. I reviewed the grey version in L size.
The Urban Air Mask 2.0 (UAM) actually consists of two parts – a cloth mask skin and an air filter.
+ Very comfortable
+ Good fit
+ Great breathability
+ Offers valve stopper for two-way filtration
– Filters (expensive too) need to be replaced after 100 hours
– Still need to wash the mask skin after every use (up to 25 times)
Out of the box, there are two air filters, one cloth mask skin, two valve caps, two valve stoppers, a head strap and a travel pocket.
You will notice that the mask skin has two holes. These two holes are for the air filter’s two air valves to go through.
To assemble the UAM, simply attach the air filter to the mask skin. The top inner of the air filter has foam paddings to rest on your nose. You can use the two air valves of the air filter as guidance.
Align the velcro sides of the air filter to the velcro patches of the mask skin. When attached, insert the valve cap or valve stopper (based on your preference) to secure the air filter to the mask skin. Finally, attach the head strap to the ear-loops of the mask skin.
Let me explain the difference between the valve cap and valve stopper before I continue. The valve cap allows better breathability but offers only one-way filtration. On the other hand, the valve stopper offers two-way filtration but less breathability.
In the current climate of Covid-19 tightened measures, I strongly recommend using the valve stopper to prevent the spread of the virus. You never know you actually caught the virus and unknowingly spread it to others.
According to its maker, the UAM is tested in Swedish laboratory with results showing 98 per cent filtering efficiency against particles down to 0.3μm in size.
In layperson terms, this mask is able to filter fine particles, dust, pollen, bacteria and other allergens and germs. Plus, it is said to provide UPF 50+ UV protection.
For your information, the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that caused Covid-19, is around 0.09μm in size.
Without a proper lab test, I will not be able to ascertain these claims. But I can definitely say that the UAM is very comfortable. I like the inner top foam-padding of the air filter, as it rests nicely and comfortably on my nose.
Breathability is great with either the valve cap or valve stopper. In fact, it is able to provide breathability not experienced in any cloth mask that I have tried.
The entire mask fits my face nicely. It is able to cover up to my chin. Yet, in this hot weather, the sweating inside this mask is comparable to that of wearing a surgical face mask.
Not to mention, the head strap helps to loosen the pressure on your ears from the ear-loops. But the head strap is a tad difficult to adjust when worn. I found myself taking the mask off to adjust the head strap before putting it back on again.
In addition, you have to wash the mask skin after every use. In other words, you have to disassemble the whole thing, wash the mask skin and assemble it back again before you can use the mask. A bit of a hassle. Furthermore, the quality of the mask skin can only be guaranteed up to 25 cleaning cycles.
The biggest downer though has to be its hefty price tag. On its own, it is $119. You can buy a few boxes of disposable face mask with that amount of money.
Plus, one air filter is said to last around 100 hours or two weeks, depending on your usage. While you can purchase the air filters in packs of three (S$42.90), it is still rather expensive.
The Airinium Urban Air Mask 2.0 is undoubtedly one of the best face masks in the market. But it comes at a rather hefty starting price and high maintenance costs. However, it might be a price not too high to pay since health is of paramount importance.
VALUE FOR MONEY: 7.5/10