The 3 Best Neck Gaiters

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends anyone over the age of two wear of a cloth facial covering in public, with experts recommending a face mask made of tightly woven cotton specifically. That said, a mask is only effective if you use it properly and wear it regularly, and any type of facial covering is better than nothing. If a neck gaiter is easier for you to wear without touching or fiddling — which ultimately contaminates — it’s an alternative worth considering, especially if you opt for one of the best neck gaiters on Amazon.

Masks, Decoded

First things first, while you might think that wearing a facial covering is way to protect yourself from COVID-19, in actuality the CDC recommends the use of face masks to prevent you from unknowingly spreading the virus to others. (A N-95 respirator is considered the most protective mask, but given the scarcity of them, the CDC is only recommending their use for healthcare and frontline workers.)

In terms of fabrics for non-medical-grade options, there is some evidence to suggest that certain materials are better than others; a synthetic fabric blend isn't as effective as cotton. However, if you're set on wearing a gaiter, finding a close-fitting cotton one can be challenging. And how you wear your face covering matters considerably. According to the World Health Organization, it should fit snugly over your nose and mouth without slipping down until you’re ready to take it off. Most gaiters are made of polyester or a polyester/spandex blend since it's stretchier, allowing for a closer fit. To make a gaiter a more effective option, consider doubling up the fabric.

Care Instructions

Since masks and gaiters for this purpose should be laundered after each use, choose one with care instructions that work for you. If you don’t have an accessible washing machine, the CDC recommends soaking face coverings in a bleach solution. And if you doubt you’ll wash your gaiter after every use, consider stocking up on a multipack so you’re not tempted to skimp.

To help you stay safe whether you're headed to the grocery store or out on a bigger mission, here are three of the best neck gaiters (sometimes advertised as a buff).

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This Affordable Six-Pack Of Gaiters For Stocking Up

A multipack of neck gaiters ensures you always have one on hand, and this set is offered in a nice selection of coordinated prints or muted solids, so there’s something for everyone. It's made from 100% polyester, making it a lightweight, moisture-wicking face covering, but it also can be worn as a headband or scarf for other outdoor activities. The gaiters' seamless design means no rubbing or irritation, and they're easy to care for too: you simply toss it in the washer and dryer.

What fans say: "I was buying these prior to the pandemic, so I know about these[...]What I love about the fabrication of this set is that it’s cut on the bias. This allows for 4-way stretch in fabric. This is mandatory in a multipurpose activewear piece. Bias cutting [...] increases the overall strength and stretch recovery of the fabric. It’s a much more expensive process because it requires much more fabric. That’s why this set is such a fantastic bargain. What does it mean? It means they stay where you put them and don’t roll up and down constantly like the cheap ones.[...]

  • Available colors: 8 multicolor sets


This Neck Gaiter With Ear Loops To Keep It In Place During Your Run

This neck gaiter for running comes with ear loops that are less likely to slip down during exercise, but the overall design is versatile enough to be worn in many configurations, including as a beanie and a sunhat. The ice silk fabric (aka rayon) is an ultra-soft knitted polyviscose, which feels smooth to the touch and provides enhanced breathability. You can machine wash it in cold water, then let it air dry.

What fans say: "I wanted something that I didn't have to tie and I could slip up and down as needed. This is it. Lightweight and breathable. Love it."

  • Available colors: 5


A Sun Protection Neck Gaiter To Prevent Tan Lines

This lightweight neck gaiter has a moisture-wicking polyester/spandex blend, with UPF 50 that blocks up to 98% of UV rays. It can be worn over 12 different ways, including as a balaclava, skull cap, and headband. If you want to wear it for other purposes beyond as a COVID-19 facial covering, it also has cooling technology that stays chilly for up to two hours (Note: wet face coverings should not be worn in a COVID-19 context). For care, you can simply toss it in the washing machine, and it air-dries quickly.

What fans say: "Like the fact it covers my nose and mouth and it’s much cooler than the other mask I have tried. It’s also easier to talk while wearing."

  • Available colors: 5