I’ll admit it: I don’t wear a mask when I go on runs. On the large sidewalks, trails, and roads where I live, I can maintain a distance of six feet (often many more) from others who might be passing me. And for me as a new owner of a rescue inhaler (for exercise-induced asthma), wearing a mask while running isn’t comfortable. Let’s be honest: In the thick heat of late summer, it’s not comfortable for anyone, asthma or otherwise
But the truth is that being able to generally keep a substantial distance from others isn’t possible for a lot of people. And we’re still in the middle of a pandemic. So, when I find myself in the park during busy hours, or on a single-track trail that requires socially-not-so-distant passing, I simply pull my neck gaiter above my nose and mouth.
Neck gaiters—or “buffs,” a proprietary eponym peeled from a company that makes them—are incredibly convenient during active pursuits. When you get a little too close with other folks, all you have to do is grab the edge of your gaiter from your neck and pull it above your mouth and nose. Then, when you’re alone again, simply pull it back down. No ear loops, nose bands, or ties.
While gaiters are a perfect, convenient option to solve the “something is better than nothing” conundrum while running, hiking, and the like, they are certainly not the best option for wearing indoors or when in frequent close quarters with others (even outdoors). So grab one of these five gaiters for your next jaunt outside—and then put your mask back on, please.
Buff CoolNet UV+
It’s tough to beat the simplicity of the original Buff, but the UPF 50 protection in this style ups the ante, protecting your neck and face from sunburn on summer days. Other hot-weather-ready features include CoolNet fabric—aka an evaporative cooling fabric made from 95% recycled polyester microfiber. This Buff is stretchy, soft, and can be worn a handful of different ways when it’s not over your face. Oh, and it’s seamless, so no uncomfortable chafing will be in your future.
Backcountry x Buff Floral UV Buff
This Buff has all the benefits of the OG listed above—UV protection, a lightweight feel, plenty of stretch, and a seamless construction. It’s even fabricated with recycled polyester made out of water bottles. But this one differs with lovely colorways—dusty purple, a golden orange, and deep sky blue—and happy (but subtle) flower prints that are especially sunny.
Nike Printed Neck Wrap
If you’re looking for a printed neck gaiter that is as athleisure as PPE can be, the Dri-Fit Printed Neck Wrap from Nike is it. This gaiter is super lightweight and dries quickly, so you don’t have to deal with a sweaty, swampy neck while running.
Afternoons UV Shield Cool Gaiter
This lightweight gaiter from Sunday Afternoons breathes well and wicks sweat—keeping you cool with a chemical-free fabric. It offers UPF 50+ protection from the sun’s harmful rays and comes in four solid, natural colors that are a refreshing step away from too-bright options.
Banana Republic Stretch Cotton Gaiter
Made with stretchy cotton jersey, this gaiter is the softest kind of soft. It’s gray, it’s stretchy, it’s machine washable, and it’s straightforward. And it’s only $15.
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