Review of PSolar Face Mask and Balaclava
By Matt Smith

Face masks have been around for a long time. I remember skiing with a sweaty chunk of neoprene slapped across my face and thinking, "hey this is great, my face isn't cold!" Well things have come a long way since then.

One of the most notable advancements is the heat exchanging technolgy PSolar has incorporated into their face masks in the form of the QXtec module (mouthpiece). The QXtec mouthpiece sits in a small pocket just in front of your mouth. When warm air is exhaled, plastic membranes in the module capture and store the warmth and moisture from your breath. The next time you breathe in, that warmth is moisture is absorbed by the cold, dry air before it enters your lungs robbing you of prescious heat energy.

Our staff tested both the face mask and the balaclava style PSolar EX masks in temperatures ranging from around freezing, to -5 degrees farenheit. The protection provided by the windblock fleece is exceptional. There is no question that the QXtec module warms and moistens the otherwise hostile air. I found I was able to drink less water and regulate my temperature better when resting or during mild exertion.

I wouldn't recommend the PSolar EX for use during moderate to strenuous activities in most cases; expedition or extreme altitude mountaineering would be exceptions. The struggle I faced regularly with the balaclava was keeping the QXtec module close enough to my mouth to capture the majority of my exhaled breaths. Generally, my most of my breath would escape out by my nose unless I held the module in place with my hand. The manufacterer tells me the balaclava with the VaporShield does a better job holding the mounth piece in place. I didn't experience the same challenge with the face mask, as the velcro closure in the back allowed me to adjust both the position and tightness of the mask.

Summary: PSolar masks are an excellent tool for staying warm in harsh winter weather. I would recommend the face mask for general use such as skiing and snowshoeing, and the balaclava style for snowmobiling and more extreme, technical activities such as mountaineering or expedition use. Cost is $35 for the face mask and $40 for the balaclava.

For more information contact:
Psolar, Inc.
6425 W 52nd Ave, Suite 3
Arvada, CO 80002
Phone: (303) 463-7500
Fax: (303) 421-3209

Matt Smith is the canyoneering specialist at GearReview.com.

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