Considering the world we live in today, a gas mask is a vital tool to have in your survival kit even if you hope you never have to use it. If you work in security, law enforcement, preppers, US military, as first responders, or even the medical profession, a high-quality gas mask is a crucial piece of equipment that will also allow you to do your job efficiently.
The best gas mask will protect you from NBC (Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical) and CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear) agents, whether they are in a weaponized form or not. They also provide optimal respiratory protection against airborne toxins, including bacteria and viruses.
Why You Should Own a Gas Mask
Many survivalists say that clean, drinkable water is the most critical thing in a survival kit, but they forget you can survive 3 whole days without drinking water. On the other hand, you can’t last more than 2 minutes without breathing!
There are several situations in which you and your family would need to invest in the best gas masks or respirators, including:
- Smoke and soot from wildfires or volcanic eruption
- Nuclear, chemical, biological warfare
- Biological attacks or virus/bacteria outbreaks
- Chemical spills
- Riot agents like tear gas or pepper spray
- Particulates (pollen, dust, soot, etc.) launched during natural disasters
If you live in a city, a multi-floor building, or an area where wildfires are a norm, you need the protection of a reliable gas mask also against smoke inhalation as well.
Even if you spend a considerable time underground in subways, going to-and-from work, it is recommended to have the best gas mask filters on hand. Fires at the subway stations are not unheard of.
It is easy to take clean breathable air for granted. And just because it is breathable, it doesn’t mean the air can’t be deadly. There is a reason why the firefighters, police departments, and the military all have the best gas masks money can buy.
Anyone who is serious about preparing for disasters – natural or manmade – must invest in a quality gas mask for survival and the highest level of protection.
Types of Gas Masks
The first step in making sure you buy the best gas mask possible is to determine which type or model is right for you. There are two different styles of tight seal gas masks that provide different levels of protection (and their shelf life may also vary).
Air Purifying Respirator (APRs)
If you are looking for a cheap gas mask respirator that’s easy to use, you could buy an air-purifying respirator. Most APRs in the market only cover your mouth and nose but leave your eyes completely exposed.
In case of a chemical, biological or nuclear disaster, these respirators won’t offer much protection because eyes are highly vulnerable to that kind of damage.
APRs work by removing fumes, dust, mist, vapors, tear gas, and other types of gas from the air through the use cartridges, filters, or canisters. As the name suggests, APRs only purify the air: they don’t supply oxygen. So, if you find yourself in an atmosphere with no oxygen, APRs won’t help at all.
An APR is worn around the face and generally contains two cartridges of breathable air and a face visor. There are 2 types if APRs:
Positive Pressure Respirator: Positive air pressure is produced by a fan, and it forces incoming air through the mask filters.
Negative Pressure Respirator: A chemical medium or mechanical filter ports are used to filter the air.
The APRs clean particles out of the air as you breathe, which is great, but they fall dangerously short when it comes to best chemical warfare protection.
Full Face Gas Mask
Full face gas masks are the ones you usually think of when someone says the word “mask”. Since they cover and protect your entire face, they are an excellent defense against hazardous/poisonous chemicals and gases.
These gas masks contain a cartridge or filter ports and some of them use activated charcoal or carbon in the mask filters. However, once this charcoal becomes full, it will start re-releasing the captured toxins. In that case, you’ll need to change the mask filter or cartridges, which is very easy to do.
These full-face gas masks are designed to provide a very high level of protection. The gas filters will purify the air you breathe in, preventing you from inhaling anything unsavory present in the atmosphere.
Exposure to toxic gases, vapors, and fumes can cause a variety of devastating diseases, like cancer, and even death. If you think there is even a bit of a chance that you could get exposed to hazardous elements, do yourself a favor and buy a quality full face gas mask for total respiratory protection!
We recommend buying a full-face gas mask instead of air-purifying respirator for obvious reasons. APRs provide great protection against pollution and air-borne particles but not much else.
How to Choose a Gas Mask
Gas masks have evolved significantly in the last few years. The modern gas masks have better filtration, seals and comfort to offer maximum protection against smoke, fog, steam, and pathogenic bacteria. Choosing the right gas mask may end up saving your life one day. Since speech is a vital part of your natural protection, make sure the mask does not obstruct your speech diaphragm.
If you are feeling overwhelmed with the vast choices in the market today, our buyer’s guide will help you make an informed decision. By focusing on protection, comfort, durability, and visibility, you’ll be able to choose the best gas masks for you and your family. Protection even against the risks of nuclear, biological and chemical warfare is possible with the right model.
Protection Level: NIOSH, CBRN, NBC, N95, and P100 Ratings
Whether you’re buying a quality full face gas mask respirator or a disposable gas mask respirator, you must have seen numbers printed on those air purifying gas masks, like P100 or N95. These numbers indicate oil resistance ability of the gas mask.
Oil resistance is a crucial protection factor because oil-based aerosols eliminate electrostatic charge that helps trap particulates in the mask’s filter.
Here’s what those letters mean:
N: Not Resistant to Oil
P: Oil Proof
R: Resistant to Oil
100 = Filters 100% of Airborne Particles
99 = Filters 99% of Airborne Particles
95 = Filters 95% of Airborne Particles
If you are concerned with dust particles, pepper spray, or airborne diseases, an N95 gas mask will be a good choice.
Then we have the NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) standard of safety. If a gas mask has a NIOSH printed on it, it means it will protect against CBRN agents, along with several other contaminants. Law enforcement officials typically use these high rated masks.
NBC rated gas masks will protect you in the best way against nuclear fallout, biological, and chemical agents and gas. But they don’t provide any protection against radiation.
On the other hand, CBRN gas masks are kind of a new-and-improved version of NBC masks because they protect against radiation as well.
If you are in a situation where you need to wear an air purifying gas mask, you’ll obviously want to make sure you can wear it for extended periods without feeling uncomfortable or without any obstruction to your speech diaphragm.
So, what makes a gas mask also comfortable? The adjustable straps and the nose cup.
The mask straps are responsible for securing the gas mask to your head and ensuring it fits just right. If too tight, and they will squeeze your head so hard you won’t be able to wear the mask for long. If too comfortable, they could compromise the mask’s degree of protection.
The gas mask nose cup protects the nose and mouth. If it presses on the bridge of your nose or pinches your cheeks with too much force, you won’t be able to wear the mask for a long time. At the same time, the nose cup of mask shouldn’t be too loose, or you could risk exposure to potentially dangerous agents or poisonous gas.
You have to be very careful while choosing the right size of the mask. It should be adjustable enough that you have some freedom regarding how it fits. The product should ideally not entangle with your facial hair, and allow you sip conveniently from a drinking straw.
The best gas mask you choose should be able to withstand long-term use. Since these face seal masks are used in some of the most extreme circumstances imaginable, they must be able to endure those situations without breaking down.
Instead of buying a one-and-done type of mask, you need to invest in a good quality gas mask that will last you years. Durable and sturdy gas masks are made of superior materials like silicone and butyl rubber. For field of view lens, polycarbonate material makes for the most durable lens that provides maximum protection.
A high degree of visibility is pivotal when it comes to gas masks. You must be able to identify objects, risks, and your overall surroundings with your field of view when wearing the face seal mask – it could even mean the difference between life and death.
Gas masks with singular lenses offer the best clarity of vision and also reduce obstacles to your peripheral vision. The best gas masks in the market today (which are also used by law enforcement) only hinder about one inch of the peripheral vision.
You’ll also need to ensure that the mask visor is resistant to heat, at least to an appreciable degree. Gas mask Israeli and American technologies are considered among the best in the world.
Top 7 Gas Masks
Now that you know what to look in a gas mask, here are our recommendations for the best gas masks for survival in 2020.
1. DISKIN Full Face Respirator
DISKIN is a CBRN gas mask with a built-in mechanical speech membrane so you can communicate clearly. This is a very adjustable, one-size-fits-all mask for adults that is quite inexpensive as well.
DISKIN brand is well-known for their high-quality, durable, and functional gear. Any gas mask you choose from this brand is bound to be great but the Full Face Respirator is one of their best.
In addition to being super affordable, this DISKIN mask also offers unmatchable protection against pretty much everything you can think of. It is also highly adjustable, so no matter your how small, big, or angular your head is, this butyl rubber mask will fit you perfectly.
This mask is NBC certified so you really don’t have to worry about the protection levels at all. It is also very lightweight, which makes it easy to carry and comfortable to wear. You can carry this DISKIN mask with yourself whether you’re going to work or school.
The butyl rubber material makes this mask extremely sturdy and durable. If you’re looking for a gas mask respirator that is made of quality materials and will protect you against all sorts of hazardous gases and chemicals, the DISKIN Mask is a salient choice for personal use and fail-proof protection.
And as if all these amazing features weren’t enough, the brand also offers a 100% money-back guarantee!
The only downside is, you’ll need to buy the air filters separately.
Why should you buy it: Best overall pick!
|(+) Affordable price||(-) Filters need to be bought separately|
|(+) Easy to adjust straps||(-) Not easily available (almost always sold out).|
|(+) CBRN rating protection|
|(+) NBC certified|
|(+) 100% Money-back guarantee|
2. M-15 Gas Mask W/Filter and Drop Leg Pouch Black
The M-15 gas mask was originally designed and supplied by the Israel Defense Forces for their personnel. This mask comes with integrated voice meter for better verbal communication and big triangular-shaped eyepieces that offer a superior field of vision.
This mask also has an enhanced exhalation valve that makes breathing much easier. The M-15 also contains a drinking tube.
The mask lens is made from scratch-proof polycarbonate material and the mask fits any regular 40-millimeter NATO filter gas canister. It has easily adjustable straps make the mask wearable for any adult, regardless of their age and size.
But the best part about this mask is the drop leg dump pouch which is spacious enough to store a variety of items without compromising your comfort. You can use this pouch as extra storage or as a dump pouch.
The sturdy insert retains the structural form of the pouch for easy access (to quickly retrieve your stuff) and easy dumping. The pouch can easily carry the weight of pistol mags, M4 mags, or even 40mm filters. You can wear the dump pouch over your clothing quite comfortably since it is designed to stay attached to your legs during physical activities.
The M-15 comes with a gas mask, filter, and the pouch.
Why should you buy it: Best quality!
|(+) High-quality face gas mask||(-) Can be bulky|
|(+) CBRN protection||(-) No mechanism to stop the airflow in absence of canister|
|(+) Excellent fitting|
|(+) Includes drop leg pouch|
3. Mestel Safety – Full-face Gas Mask
If you live in a place where volcanic gases are a threat, then you need a superior gas mask like the Mestel SGE 400. This mask provides ultimate protection against all nuclear, biological, and chemical agents.
Also, this mask has a one-piece full visor that will give you total visibility of your surroundings. Its lens is solvent- and scratch proof as well.
In addition to protecting you from the fumes, the Mestel SGE 400 3 will also protect your face from any type of physical impact. The solid polycarbonate body of the mask can withstand a bullet, as proved by numerous lab tests.
The Mestel SGE 400 3 gas mask will never mist either, no matter what kind of temperature you’re in. Due to its impeccable ventilation system, the mask has a great anti-fogging mechanism.
If you’re looking for an easy-to-carry, lightweight, and highly-effective mask, the Mestel Safety could be one of the best gas masks for you.
Why should you buy it: Best visibility!
|(+) Total NBC protection||(-) Filter need to be bought separately|
|(+) Excellent ventilation||(-) Higher price|
|(+) One size fits all||(-) Requires practice to put on perfectly|
|(+) Wide view visor|
4. SAS Safety 7650-61 Opti-Fit Full-face APR Respirator
- Silicone skirt offers exceptional durability and comfort
- Nose cup prevents fogging
- Wide viewing area offering distortion free visibility and optical clarity and easily converts to supplied-air respirator without the aid of tools
If you are a big guy, this mask is guaranteed to fit you as it comes in 3 sizes: small, medium, and large. Each size can further adjusted, thanks to the flexible straps.
One of the things that make this mask stand out is its tight seal that ensures optimal protection against all CBRN substances. It also has a silicone border that makes the mask extremely comfortable and durable as well.
This gas mask also provides maximum visibility without exposure, so, you can also this mask if you work with harmful substances. The large lens of this mask is scratch-proof. But that’s not all: the brand has taken special measures to make the nose cup fogging-proof.
In other words, there won’t be any fogging or distorting your vision as you breathe in! The only downside is, you can’t wear glasses while wearing this mask.
Why should you buy it: Worth every dollar!
|(+) Excellent air sealing||(-) Can be a little bulky|
|(+) Scratch-proof lens||(-) You can’t wear glasses under it|
|(+) Great range of view with little to no obstruction|
|(+) Available in different sizes|
|(+) NIOSH approved|
5. MSA Millennium CBRN Mask
Made in good old USA, this gas mask is US military-grade and can protect against all kinds of respiratory hazards. If you’re looking for a CBRN safety mask that can protect you during military warfare or riot situations, the MSA Millennium will do that job perfectly.
This is a NIOSH-approved premium quality mask that will protect your health during the most extreme conditions. It has one-size-fits-all adjustable straps that can fit anyone. As for the lens, you will get a clear vision with no obstructions at all.
The only thing that bugs us about this mask is its heavy nature. Other than that, this mask doesn’t have any flaw regarding design, functionality, or protection.
Another essential aspect to note is, this is one of the handful of gas masks that offer complete protection against biological threats like the Coronavirus as well.
Fun fact about MSA Millennium, this is the first NIOSH-approved US military gas mask that was originally designed for the US Air Force
Why should you buy it: Best protection for long time!
|(+) NIOSH approved||(-) Can be bulky|
|(+) Provides protection against Coronavirus||(-) Relatively more expensive than other masks|
|(+) Offers excellent vision clarity with little to no distortions|
|(+) Built-in drinking system|
6. 3M Safety 7800S-L 7800S Series
If you are looking for the best gas mask to protect you from dust particles and smoke fumes, the 3M Safety 7800 might be a salient option for you.
However, it won’t protect you in a chemical or biological warfare!
Still, this mask is one of our top recommendations due to its incredible quality and amazing features. It comes with a quick latch mechanism that offers speedy application. You can even take the face piece off once you are a safely out of the contaminated area.
This mask comes in 3 different sizes: small, medium, and large. No matter the size of your head, this mask will fit you. There is also a customizable head cradle inside the mask to ensure best fit, even for people with oddly-shaped heads.
The 3M Safety 7800 is also perfect for people who sweat a lot. It comes with a Cool Flow Valve that prevents the sweat buildup inside the mask.
If you wear glasses, this mask will be a better option than most other masks in this range. You’ll have unrestricted line of vision as your glasses will sit comfortably above the mask’s nose piece.
This mask is made of heavy-duty silicone which makes it highly durable and stable as well. You will never experience any loose sealing with this one. It is compatible with a set of NIOSH standard 3M cartridges and filters. The 6 adjustable straps make it comfortable to wear.
Its face-shield is made up of scratch-resistant polycarbonate lens, and it includes a speaking diaphragm that allows for easy communication.
Why should you buy it: Best budget option!
|(+) Cool Flow Valve helps release humid, hot air for easier breathing||(-) Mask components are a bit loose and may fall out of place.|
|(+) Superior air seal||(-) It doesn’t have a drinking straw|
|(+) Anti-scratch lens|
|(+) Nose cup prevents fogging up|
7. Muhubaih 15 in 1 Full Face Dust Mask
This gas mask from Muhubaih comes with amazingly wide lenses so you can easily get a wide field of view. This mask is specially designed to be of utmost comfort, making it one of the most lightweight and comfortable gas masks in the market.
It is made with a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) material that is soft yet very durable. Its silicone face seal makes the mask comfortable to wear for extended periods.
This mask has a Bayonet type of connection, and it doesn’t include filter cartridges. If you’re looking for the best gas mask to keep you safe from dust, fumes, smoke, and chemical and biological toxins, consider buying the Muhubaih15in1 Dust Mask.
Why should you buy it: Most comfortable to wear!
|(+) The silicone and TPE material make it very comfortable to wear||(-) Filters need to be bought separately|
|(+) Very lightweight||(-) The sealing of this mask needs improvement|
|(+) 5 adjustable straps for a snug fit|
How long does a gas mask last?
Most of the best gas masks today can last up to 20 years. However, it’s the lifespan of gas mask filters that you need to worry about. Generally speaking, most filters can last up to 24 hours in a nuclear, biological, or chemical disaster.
Depending on the different toxic agents and their concentrations, this duration can be shortened.
Once you start using a gas mask, you will be able to use it for about 24 hours before you’ll need to replace the filter canister. But if the surrounding air is heavily saturated with particles or chemicals, this time can be drastically reduced. It also depends on the quality and capacity of filters.
Some filters come with a longer shelf life as well. We recommend checking with the gas mask manufacturer to determine the expiration date of the filter.
Also, if you buy a charcoal-based filter, make sure you store the mask as well as the filter in an air-tight box until it’s time to use them. Storing your gas mask properly will ensure it retains its quality.
How should I take care of my gas mask?
Maintenance of a gas mask involves two main steps: changing the filter and cleaning out the respirator.
You must replace the gas mask filter as soon as you are out of the contaminated area. Dispose of the existing filter if it becomes soiled, damaged, or you have trouble breathing. However, if none of this ever happens, the rule of thumb is to change the gas mask filter after 30 days or 40 hours of use, whichever comes first.
Also make sure you clean the face piece of your respirator thoroughly so that no dust, debris or facial hair are stuck in it. You can use the cleaning wipes that generally come with the gas mask or you can use a cleaning solution or detergent water and a soft brush instead. Immerse the face piece in the warm solution and scrub it gently with the brush until clean.
Just make sure the cleaning solution you use is never over 120-degree Fahrenheit in temperature.
Can anyone wear a respirator gas mask?
In the event of an emergency, such as nuclear fallout, volcanic eruption, civil unrest, accidental gas leak, and wildfires, a reliable gas mask may improve your chances of survival.
But breathing through a respirator is different than breathing in open air. For this reason, people who suffer from emphysema, asthma, or other lung diseases should think twice before wearing gas mask. Elderly people and those who suffer from claustrophobia should also be very careful in these situations. If you need to drink fluids frequently, check whether your gas mask model allows convenient use with a drinking straw.
In addition, if you have vision problems, it may get very difficult to see with the gas mask on.
How to choose a gas mask for children?
In the last few years, some of the best gas mask manufacturers have started making masks specifically for children, which is a very good thing.
Gas masks for children are usually available in two sizes:
Size 1: This is for children aged 1.5 – 6 years
Size 2: this is for children aged 6 – 15 years
When choosing a gas mask for your little ones, pay special attention to comfort. If the mask is uncomfortable to wear, children might be tempted to take it off since they might not understand the magnitude of danger.
You can buy a Mickey Mouse or some other themed gas mask as well for your children so they will be encouraged to wear it. As for the features, look for the same qualities that you’d want in your own respirator mask: sturdy quality, excellent seal, and wide lenses.
Details to walk away with!
In our assessment, the DISKIN Full Face Respirator is the best choice in terms of both quality and price. Whether you need a gas mask for your work or hobby pursuits or you are prepping, the overall quality of the materials used and the superior CBRN protection make DISKIN a no-brainer.
The DISKIN mask is an industry-favorite for a solid reason: there is really no doomsday scenario it can’t measure up to. By having this gas mask in your survival kit, you will rest easy because it will handle your safety like none other mask in the market.
But if you don’t want to spend a lot and still want a full or half face mask that is built well, the 3M Safety 7800S-L 7800S Series is a prudent option. Compared to other gas masks in its price range, this one provides best vision and doesn’t fog up.
It is impossible to say when exactly things will go so wrong that you’ll need to pull out your gas mask. It’s best to be prepared and have the right equipment and protective gear nearby at all times.
If something causes the environment to become chock-full of toxic gases or fumes that are harmful to your health, an impressive mask will become an essential commodity. Be proactive with your security and use this guide to choose among the best gas masks for you and your family.